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White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Enjoy every creamy bite of this simple White Cheddar Mac and Cheese. The best part is that it’s ready in under a half hour and made with simple ingredients!

A QUICK STOVETOP MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE

If you’re looking for an easy, creamy side dish for your weeknight meal, this White Cheddar Mac and Cheese should be at the top of your list! It comes together so fast and easily on the stovetop and it features tender pasta with a fresh, creamy, smooth sauce that you’ll fall in love with and will want to make with every meal!

A wooden utensil holding some white cheddar mac and cheese above the pot.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Can I use different cheddar cheese?

Absolutely! This recipe is delicious with pretty much any creamy style cheese. Orange cheddar or American or Gouda all work great.

Can I use different pasta?

Sure! I used shells but you can use elbow macaroni or any other small pasta that you prefer.

What else can I add?

Just like any other macaroni and cheese recipe, you can add other things. Try adding in other cheeses, add in some small diced veggies, maybe try some protein like diced chicken (or taco seasoned ground beef like my Taco Mac and Cheese!) You can even sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top for another fun texture.

Should I use freshly grated cheese?

It is generally the best option for homemade mac and cheese. Most pre-shredded bagged cheese has an anti caking agent in the cheese mixture that can sometimes make it a bit harder to melt in recipes like this. I am totally not against pre-shredded cheese – I love it as you can tell by my many other recipes.
There are a lot of people out there that use scare tactics to make you think that the anti caking agent is somehow unsafe to eat or that it uses sawdust and it is just not true at all but scary and false statements get engagement and shares on social media. It is usually just cornstarch or potato starch or cellulose (which is simply dietary fiber from plant cell walls). That is it. Nothing scary.
It’s just that, in general, freshly shredded cheese melts easier and will make your mac and cheese even more smooth and creamy; however, please use pre-shredded cheese if that is easiest for you. Tillamook makes a great pre-shredded cheese that melts well.

How to store white mac and cheese?

White Cheddar Mac and Cheese can be stored safely when allowed to cool slightly and placed in an airtight container. If refrigerating, it is best to consume within 3-5 days.

Can I freeze macaroni and cheese?

White cheddar mac and cheese can also be frozen for 1-2 months if kept in an airtight, freezer-safe container. When ready to eat, allow white cheddar mac and cheese to defrost in the refrigerator overnight and then warm in a microwave or on the stovetop.

A bowl of macaroni and white cheddar cheese with a spoon in it.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • medium pasta shells – you can use any pasta you enjoy, just use the same amounts.
  • salted butter – it needs to be real butter, not margarine.
  • all-purpose flour 
  • garlic powder – this is optional. Some folks love seasoning in their mac and cheese and some folks are purists and only want salt and pepper. This is totally up to you. Another option would be to use a little ground mustard instead of the garlic powder to get a more traditional taste.
  • salt and pepper – Even with the salted butter, you still need more seasoning. I give amounts below but please season to taste. If you don’t like to see black specs of pepper in your mac and cheese, you can use white pepper instead.
  • whole milk – whole milk is going to give you the creamiest macaroni and cheese. You could certainly use 2% but you will always get the best texture and taste with whole milk.
  • white cheddar cheese – you really want freshly shredded here. It will melt the best for you rather than pre shredded. The easiest way to shred these is with a food processor or with a hand crank cheese grater (paid affiliate link). I find it easiest to freeze the cheese for a little bit, this hardens it just enough to make it much easier to shred.
pasta shells, white cheddar cheese, butter, all purpose flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and milk.

HOW TO MAKE WHITE CHEDDAR MAC AND CHEESE

In a medium/large pot, cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Place the empty pot back on the stove and melt the butter on low heat. Whisk in the flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook on low heat until smooth and bubbly, about 1-2 minutes (continuing to whisk.)

collage of two photos: a large pot melting a stick of butter; large pot with melted butter, flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Turn the heat to medium and whisk in the milk. Whisk continuously for 3-5 minutes on medium-high heat until the mixture bubbles and the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and add in the shredded white cheddar cheese and stir until melted through. 

collage of two photos: milk mixed into the sauce mixture; shredded cheese on top of sauce in a pot.

Place the drained pasta shells back into the pot and mix thoroughly with the cheese sauce.

A pot of creamy white cheddar mac and cheese.

Serve warm with freshly cracked pepper (optional).

Close up looking at a pot of white cheddar mac and cheese.

CRAVING MORE RECIPES?

Close up looking at a bowl of White Cheddar Mac and Cheese.

White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Enjoy every creamy bite of this simple White Cheddar Mac and Cheese. The best part is that it's ready in under a half hour and made with simple ingredients!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups medium pasta shells (measured uncooked)
  • 4 Tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • fresh black pepper (for garnish, optional)

Instructions

  • In a medium/large pot, cook pasta shells according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Place the empty pot back on the stove and melt the butter on low heat.
    A large pot melting a stick of butter.
  • Whisk in the flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Cook on low heat until smooth and bubbly, about 1-2 minutes (continuing to whisk so you don't get lumps).
    Large pot with melted butter, flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
  • Turn the heat to medium and whisk in the milk
    Milk mixed into the sauce mixture.
  • Whisk continuously for 3-5 minutes on medium-high heat until the mixture bubbles and the sauce thickens.
  • Turn off the heat and add in the shredded white cheddar cheese and stir until melted through.
    Shredded cheese on top of sauce in a pot.
  • Place the drained pasta shells back into the pot and mix thoroughly with the cheese sauce.
    A pot of creamy white cheddar mac and cheese.
  • Serve warm topped with freshly cracked pepper (optional)
    Close up looking at a pot of white cheddar mac and cheese.

Notes

  • Please refer to my FAQ’s (Frequently Asked Questions) and ingredient list above for other substitutions or for the answers to the most common questions.
  • You can store this in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to 3-5 days. Reheat on the stovetop (you may need to add a splash of milk). 
  • You can freeze this for up to 1-2 months. Let thaw and then reheat when ready.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 491kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 30g | Sodium: 657mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“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.

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