When it comes to homemade comfort food, you can never go wrong with easy Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese. Super creamy and flavorful.
AN EASY STOVE TOP SIDE DISH RECIPE
I think we can all agree that Macaroni and Cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods. This Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese is one of my families go-to favorite recipes because it’s quick, cheesy, flavorful and feeds us all. It’s perfect when you want homemade but also want simple. Especially now that school has started, easy recipes are what we are looking for. You really can’t get much easier (unless you use boxed) than this recipe. With simple ingredients, you can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. So if you’re looking for that perfect quick and easy meal, you have to make this Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese recipe!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
What I love about stove top Mac and cheese (as opposed to baked) is that you can often play around with the consistency before serving. For example, if you have finished your mac and cheese and the sauce is too thick, add a splash of milk or water (a little bit at a time) to get a creamier texture. Or, if you are making your sauce and want it a little thicker, whisk together 2 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and add it to the pot. Turn the heat up to medium high heat. Stir often and you should see the mixture begin to thicken. In addition, adding more cheese will often thicken up the sauce as well.
This is up to personal debate. I know a lot of people have strong feelings on the kinds of cheeses they use. Basically, you want a cheese that melts really well and you wan’t to use freshly shredded cheese from the block. For this recipe, I used a mixture of sharp cheddar and mozzarella. Some other cheeses that you can use include Gouda (another one of my favorites), Gruyere, Muenster and even Monterey Jack.
If you want to switch up your Macaroni and Cheese, you can use any of your favorite smaller pasta as long as it matches the total amount you would use if using the elbow macaroni. Some ideas would be penne, rotini, cavatappi, etc.
If you would like to use just milk, that will be fine. I don’t recommend skim milk though. That’s just gross and too water-y (sorry skim milk drinkers.) I prefer to use a mixture of milk and heavy cream for the texture and creaminess but I also understand we don’t always have heavy cream on hand. Half and half is another good alternative.
Yes. The cayenne does not give this much spice at all but you can absolutely leave it out. I think it just adds a small layer of flavor to the overall dish.
I always get these questions where there is milk in a recipe and I have to always give a disclosure that I do not use or drink any of these milk alternatives. I am purely a cow milk consumer. So I am not familiar with how other “milks” would do in recipes like this. I would say to use your own personal experience with using those types of milks to decide for yourself.
While this has amazing flavor as-is, if you want be a little “extra, try adding one cup of low sodium chicken broth to the pasta water in order to flavor the pasta. Make sure that you’re using low sodium chicken broth or else it can end up a little on the salty side.
I use some form of mustard in all of my macaroni and cheese recipes. You do not taste it at all. What it does is adds a tiny amount of acidity to the dish which ends up brightening the other flavors. It’s almost like the secret sidekick that makes the cheese taste even better. Don’t skip it – please trust me on this.
Store this Macaroni and Cheese in the refrigerator in an airtight container where it will keep for up to 2-3 days. I don’t recommend freezing this mac and cheese.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (FULL RECIPE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST)
- elbow noodles
- pasta water, optional
- unsalted butter
- all-purpose flour
- whole milk
- heavy cream
- ground mustard
- garlic powder
- cayenne pepper
- sharp cheddar cheese
- mozzarella cheese
HOW TO MAKE STOVE TOP MACARONI AND CHEESE:
Cook elbow noodles according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, optional. Drain the rest of the water and set aside.
While pasta is cooking, make cheese sauce. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour at low heat.
Whisk until it takes on a golden brown color, about 2-3 minutes.
Whisk in the mustard and then slowly whisk in the whole milk and heavy cream. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens slightly.
Once the sauce has thickened, add the ground mustard, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper and stir together until combined.
Take the pan off heat and stir in the sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheese.
Whisk together until everything is melted and creamy.
Combine the elbow noodles with the cheese sauce and stir together.
Plate and serve. Best when served warm.
WANT MORE DELICIOUS RECIPES?
Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese
- 16 ounces elbow noodles
- 1 cup pasta water optional
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ Tablespoon mustard
- 2 ½ cups whole milk
- 3 Tablespoons heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese freshly shredded
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese freshly shredded
- Cook elbow noodles according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, optional. Drain the rest of the water and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, make cheese sauce. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour at low heat.
- Whisk until it takes on a golden brown color, about 2-3 minutes.
- Whisk in the mustard and then slowly whisk in the whole milk and heavy cream. Keep whisking until the sauce thickens slightly.
- Once the sauce has thickened, add the ground mustard, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper and stir together until combined.
- Take the pan off heat and stir in the sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheese.
- Whisk together until everything is melted and creamy.
- Combine the elbow noodles with the cheese sauce and stir together.
- For Extra creaminess, add in 1/4 to 1/2 cups pasta water. This works especially well when the Mac and cheese starts to cool and harden. The warm pasta water will bring it back to life without watering down the cheese sauce. This is a completely optional step.
- Plate and serve. Best when served warm.
- I like to use a mix of sharp cheddar and mozzarella in this recipe, see my tips above for other cheese options.
- Freshly shredded cheese is best.
- You can add chicken broth/stock to this to add some more flavor.
- Use any of your favorite smaller pasta as long as it equates to the amount used in the recipe.
“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.