This super creamy macaroni and cheese (made with real cheese!) is made start to finish in ONE skillet and done in less than 30 minutes!

For years, I have struggled with homemade mac and cheese. It just doesn’t work when I make it. It turns out grainy and clumpy and just plain gross.

Creamy macaroni and cheese is definitely more my style.

I’ve always thought my failures were because I was using “real” cheese instead of processed Velveeta. Until I tried this recipe, that is.

creamy macaroni and cheese in a white bowl

This skillet mac and cheese fits the creamy bill perfectly. Creamy, flavorful and pretty healthy as far as mac and cheese goes – no heavy cream, just a perfectly working combination of evaporated milk, cornstarch and “real” cheese.

Oh, and talk about easy – completely made in ONE skillet and definitely done in less than 30 minutes, start to finish.

I often use the ham and pea variation (below the recipe) to make it more of a complete meal for my family, but it’s delicious either way.

The only word of warning is to eat it while it is warm – cold mac and cheese is pretty grody, if you ask me.

little boy eating a bite of macaroni and cheese in 3 successive pictures

My oldest son, Jackson, has declared cooking his favorite hobby (love that boy and his buzzcut!) and made this nearly start to finish with a few helps with the hot stovetop.

He was so proud! Upon which I declared he will be making this mac and cheese at least weekly for dinner while I sit eating bonbons on the couch. We love this one!

What To Serve With This:

Cheesy Basil Stuffed Chicken Breasts or Crispy Oven Baked Chicken
Steamed vegetable (or this Cheesy Cauliflower Bake if you want to continue the cheese theme)
Fresh fruit

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Skillet Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

4.56 stars (117 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 3 ½ cups water, plus extra if needed
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 12 ounces (about 3 cups) elbow macaroni
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 6 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small chunks
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Bring 3 1/2 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, the macaroni, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a simmer in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the macaroni is tender and the liquid has thickened, 9 to 12 minutes.
  • Whisk the remaining 1/2 cup evaporated milk, the cornstarch, mustard and hot sauce together in a small bowl, then stir into the skillet. Continue to simmer slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  • Off the heat, stir in the cheddar and Monterey Jack, one handful at a time, adding water as needed to adjust the consistency of the sauce (I didn’t need any additional water when I made it). Stir in the butter and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

Notes

Ham and Pea Variation: follow the recipe, adding 4 ounces deli-style baked ham, diced medium, and 1/2 cup frozen peas to the skillet with the cornstarch mixture in step 2.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 542kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 25g, Fat: 27g, Saturated Fat: 17g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 630mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 8g
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Recipe Source: adapted from The Best Skillet Recipes