Skillet Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
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.
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.
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)
Skillet Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- 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
- 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.
Recipe Source: adapted from The Best Skillet Recipes
212 Comments on “Skillet Creamy Macaroni and Cheese”
I didn’t want to turn on the oven for my usual mac & cheese and was too scared to try an instant pot version (tragic experience, not your recipe) so gave this a try.
It worked well, your recipes never fail me.
My pasta was done in 6 min, i used mild gouda and sharp cheddar, added a dash of smoked paprika and garlic powder and FORGOT the butter which no one seemed to notice.
I see this is from 2009, that little boy with the buzz cut would now be a fully grown man!
Love this recipe! I make half the recipe for myself and sometimes one other person. I like to add 1-2 ounces extra cheese, not quite as creamy but I prefer it richer and cheesier.
The creamy mac and cheese was delicious and easy to make. Thank you!
Delicious and easy.
I’ve seen comments about which type of cheddar to use but can’t find it specifically stated in the recipe. Do you suggest mild, medium or sharp cheddar?
Hi Jennifer, I use medium or sharp cheddar.
My kids love this. I tried making the pressure cooker version, which is really very much the same and this still wins hand s down. Thank you so much
I made this several times at written, then adapted it for the instant pot. It turns out great every time! I found my family and I prefer to use havarti (from Aldi) instead of monterey jack, and pair that with the sharp cheddar. It’s extra creamy that way. For the instant pot—Add 3 cups water, 1 cup of the evaporated milk, macaroni, and salt to Instant Pot. Cook at high pressure 4 mins, then quick release pressure. Whisk the remaining evaporated milk, cornstarch, mustard and hot sauce then stir into the pot, stir until thickened. Add cheeses and butter. So easy and hands-off! Thank you for one of our go-to recipes!
How is 12 ounces 3 cups? Isn’t 3 cups 24 ounces?
The 12 ounces is the weight of the noodles not the volume so even though 1 cup has a volume of 8 ounces, the weight will differ based on the ingredient.
Thanks! So its 1 1/2 cup of shredded cheese?
It calls for 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar and 1 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack.
Hi Mel-I want to double this recipe for a potluck at work. Would you make any adjustments to the amount of water and evaporated milk that the noodles boil in at the first step? Should the water and milk be doubled as well, or maybe not quite as much?
I would double all the ingredients – good luck!
I am a fourth grade girl, and I make this recipe a lot! I really love it, and my family does too! But instead of hot sauce, we usually use red pepper because we have little ones and they are not fans of spicy things. Thank you so much for this recipe!
Way to go, Laura! So proud of you!
It really is the best. And so easy!
Why the cornstarch?
The cornstarch makes the cheese thick and creamy 🙂
I made this last night and the texture wasn’t grainy but it wasn’t creamy either. It was a lot of stretchy cheese between noodles. Is that how it’s supposed to end up? People keep commenting on the creaminess and I’m not sure how to get that. I added more milk and butter but couldn’t really reduce the stringy factor. I used a Colby-jack mix and evap milk.
I’ve made this twice. The first time, I used sharp cheddar, added extra cheese and extra ground mustard. I erroneously thought since I use sharp cheddar in a casserole I should do the same here. Sharp cheddar is not as creamy and too sharp for stovetop mac n cheese. The second time, when I FOLLOWED the recipe, it was glorious!!
I need to take my own advice and follow a recipe as written the first time; especially after reading the thought process Mel used and how hard she worked on it.
Do you think this could be baked?
I haven’t tried it, but maybe? I worry it might dry out a little, though.
Made this the other day to take to a bbq. It was great! I made it with a whole box of macaroni since it was for a party and increased the rest of the ingredients by a bit. I ended up having to add water to it to thin it out and the consistency turned out great. It didn’t separate like I thought it would and it reheated fine. Other than having to add more salt, this recipe was perfect!
So yummy! My family loves this. Thank you again for another amazing recipe.
I made this recipe tonight and it was super chalky. Not grainy, but chalky. We used extra sharp cheddar cheese but did everything else the same (besides not adding mustard). Any ideas why it was so chalky?
Hi Brittany – the extra sharp cheddar is probably the culprit. The sharper the cheddar, the less creamy the texture (but the tradeoff is that the more mild the cheddar, the less cheddar flavor comes through)
Hi Mel, made this today and I think the cheese was a little too sharp for kids’ palates. I used a sharp cheddar and Monterey jack. What other cheeses should I try? They’ve been eating Kraft mac n cheese (the bowl version, which is unpalatable in my opinion), so I’m trying to wean them gradually off of that, but I think that’s what they’re comparing it to. They also said there was “too much cheese” – I think they meant it was too thick? Should I just have used more water to thin it? Any advice you could give would be most appreciated!! Trying to help these kids get off of the processed stuff…
Or could the extra sharpness (bordering on bitterness) in flavor be due to the mustard? Should I cut that out? I don’t know…
Hey Leah – why don’t you try less cheese overall and use Colby jack instead of the sharp cheddar/Monterey Jack combo? Colby jack is much more mild but will still melt well.
I’ll be honest – I was a little skeptical about this recipe (I should learn by now that you never disappoint me :)), but it turned out delicious! And ridiculously easy! Thanks for adding another easy meal to our meal rotation.
Is the evaporated milk key to the finished product? I always have milk on hand, but not evaporated milk.
Yes, I do think it is important for this recipe. I’ve used regular milk before and the texture is different.
I had all the ingredients so I went ahead and made this ahead of your FB Live segment tomorrow. Delicious and super creamy. Sadly, not everyone was home for dinner so I have quite a bit left. Whenever I reheat cheesy sauces, it turns grainy/clumpy…any recommendations? Maybe you can address reheating during tomorrow’s video? Thank you!
Yes, I’ll definitely talk about it! I’ve found the best way to reheat this mac and cheese is to drizzle a little evaporated milk or half-and-half (milk can work, too) over the leftovers and reheat on low power in the microwave. I usually add just a small handful of shredded cheese, too, to liven it up. It definitely is best right after making, but my kids gobble up the leftovers, too.
Thank you! Thank you!
Oh Oh! I just totally made this in my instant pot for lunch! I found on the internet where someone talked about cooking plain pasta in the instant pot (http://recipesforinstantpot.com/pasta-in-the-instant-pot/), and used that as my starting point!
I put my pasta and salt in the pot, added the 1 cup of evaporated milk and just enough water to completely cover the pasta (I use a full 16 oz box of shells so it was more like 4 1/2 cups of water). Then I set manual high pressure for 4 minutes and quick released (with a damp towel over the valve because it totally sputtered). Then I added the rest of the evaporated milk with stuff in, turned on saute, waited for it to start boiling, turned off saute after about 30 seconds of active boiling, and continued to stir it for another 30 seconds or so. Then I proceeded with the cheese and butter. The amount of liquid left in the pot was just right for the amount of pasta I had and I’m super excited about how it turned out!
The noodles were a little on the too soft side, but not too bad. I think I might do 3 minutes of pressure next time (or be ready to quick release as soon as the timer goes off instead of after I finish the row I’m knitting :-). This is one of my favorite meals, but I hate standing and stirring the pasta while it cooks! I will definitely be using my instant pot for this again!
That is amazing, Jeri Lynn! I’m almost in disbelief but you better believe I’ll be trying it. Thanks for all the details!
I am a huge fan of this recipe…have made it many times over the years…I’m wondering if anyone has made this (or your other skillet pasta recipes) using brown rice pasta…I have a brand that I love and feel like it would work but something is telling me it might not be successful…
I tried a skillet meal (not this one, I think it was the lemon chicken pasta) with a brown rice pasta from Trader Joe’s and it didn’t fare very well – the pasta kind of fell apart. I’m guessing the liquid to pasta ratios would need to be adjusted somehow.
thanks for the quick reply…a lot of brands do fall apart but I’ve had good results with the Tinkyada brand…I’m going to give it a whirl =)
Can this be frozen and reheated successfully? We love this Mac and cheese but I’d love to make a big batch and freeze it if possible.
That’s a good question, Kelli – I haven’t tried it so I’m not sure. Sorry!
Sorry if this question has been asked before…..can you you use the small preshredded chesse mixtures? I’ve heard the pre-shredded stuff doesn’t melt as well.
I highly recommend grating your own cheese since you are right, the pre-shredded cheese is coated with a powdery substance to prevent clumping and it doesn’t melt as well.
Made this tonight and was really skeptical that it would be good. I thought the noodles might turn out too mushy (I am a BIG fan of al dente cooked pastas). Anyways, this recipe was hands down one of the BEST mac and cheeses I’ve ever made. It was delicious, so creamy, and the noodles were just right. I easily halved the recipe and me, my husband, and our 1.5 year old all devoured it.
Hi, we were guests at a dinner party and host made this delicious dish. I am cooking it tonight for a birthday dinner. Total, how long does it take? Thanks and sorry if it’s already in the comments.
Right around 20-30 minutes probably.
Oh! And I forgot to mention I used whole wheat elbow noodles (Walmart brand) and they cooked up beautifully!
How did it take me this long to try this recipe?? I guess after so many failed attempts at home made mac and cheese I was a little hesitant but this recipe is perfection!! Thank you!! Instead of dry mustard I added smoked paprika and then threw in some ground sausage I needed to use up. So yummy! Thank you again for bringing home made mac and cheese back into my life!!
I’ve made this a good couple of times now. it’s perfect. This time I replaced half the butter with truffle oil and just literally threw in all the odds and ends of cheese in my kitchen.
The creamiest and tastiest mac and cheese recipe out there. I will NEVER make any other type again. Thanks Mel!
I see now that Mel thinks there might be an issue with curdling if regular refrigerated cow’s milk is used. With this cooking method, I doubt that would be an issue.
My macaroni was in 7 ounce bags from the Mexican food section of my grocery store. With 14 total ounces of noodles, the only thing I did differently was add 1/2 cup extra water in the beginning.
I followed the recipe, but wonder if it would taste the same if I used 3 total cups milk and 1.5 cups less water. I didn’t have any Jack cheese, so I used two kinds of cheddar and some shredded Parmesan.
I saved this recipe quite some time ago, and tried it for the first time tonight. It’s a keeper! Great recipe for someone who is just learning to cook. I think next time I’ll double the amount of dry mustard and try it with 3 cups of milk instead of using a can of evaporated milk.
Thank you, Mel! You haven’t let me down, yet!
Hi Mel! Have you tried subbing the evaporated milk with regular milk (or anything else)? I tried skimming the comments, but did not see that substitution made by anyone.
Thank you! I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
I haven’t Lori but it’s probably worth a try (the evaporated milk won’t curdle as easily as refrigerated cow’s milk, though).
Made this tonight and it was AMAZING! I was skeptical because, like you, my homemade mac and cheese is always grainy and this recipe didn’t have any significantly different ingredients. But, was so SO creamy and smooth. Thanks Mel, my kids love you forever 🙂
Hi Mel! I, too, loved this and I am so glad I found your amazing website with all these great recipes! This macaroni and cheese recipe is delicious, and I feel like I can finally stop searching for the perfect mac and cheese recipe now. I live in Wisconsin, and we have these restaurant chains called Noodles… they have mac and cheese just like this and it’s so good, but it’s expensive, so I hardly ever get to treat myself to it. Well that isn’t a problem anymore because now I can get a huge pan of it for a much more affordable price! Thanks so much. Your website is the best recipe website I’ve ever found!
This is hands down the best mac n cheese recipe I have tried. My girls absolutely loved it!!!!
okay, first of all i must say that this recipe has my mind completely blown…mac and cheese is one of my go-to comfort foods and i’ve made many recipes over the years…i absolutely adore a good baked macaroni and cheese…BUT when my friend told me she had made this recipe and it tasted like Kraft White Cheddar mac and cheese (my fave back in the day, before i wised up to processed foods and their evil ways) i knew i must make it and SOON…well, i made it…oh My GOODNESS…i used small elbows and it looked and tasted exactly like the blue box from the good ole days…the next day, in the name of science, i reheated the entire pan on the stove, adding water as needed…it reheated beautifully…it was perfect.
so here’s my question for you, Mel…do you think this would keep well on warm in a slow cooker for a pot luck?? i don’t have much experience with a slow cooker…thanks soooooo much for you hard work and dedicaton to this blog…i have tried many of your recipes and they’ve all been exceptional!!
I’m glad you loved this recipe, Cyndi! Your question is a good one. Although I haven’t tried it, I think it stands a fare chance of working to stay warm in a slow cooker as long as the slow cooker isn’t actually cooking it – I can see it curdling and drying out. If your slow cooker has a “warm” function (some do, mine doesn’t but my mom’s does and it seems to just heat gently), that may be the trick. Good luck!
just to follow up in case anyone else is curious…this didn’t fare well on warm in the slow cooker…folks seemed to love it, but i knew how it was SUPPOSED to be…it lost all of its luxurious creaminess over the 2 hours that it was kept on the warm setting in the slow cooker…just a little fyi……..however, i have very successfully reheated from refrigerator cold on the stovetop over low heat adding water as needed =)
I made this again tonight and it came out PERFECT!!!! I did not cook the noodles so long ( I think I would get busy getting other things together and just ended up cooking the noodles too long) As far as preshredded cheese you have already changed my thinking on that many recipes ago. Now all I use is the block cheese:)
So I absolutely love all your recipes! Thank you sooo much:) I have attempted to make this a few times and it always comes out kind of floppy and the noodles get mushed. It tastes great but What am I doing wrong? And how can I get it creamy?
Sarah – Hmmm, not really sure…maybe try cutting the cooking time back especially if the noodles are getting mushy. Are you using preshredded cheese or grating your own? (it will be less creamy if using preshredded cheese).
I don’t usually respond to recipes on blogs but I just had to chime in tonight. Great recipe. Had to use Monterrey Jack and Mozzarella because I didn’t have enough Jack but still turned out great! Thanks for a great Mac n Cheese recipe!
Thanks, Tisa! Happy you loved it!
Every time I make this I have to stop myself from over eating.. it’s so good it’s hard to stop!! I have overdone it a few times and don’t feel so well after.. haha. SOOOOO good.
Hi Mel! New to your site and LOVING IT! I am making this and your roasted garlic potatoes for Father’s Day this Sunday and I was wondering if this dish can be made ahead then reheated or no? I will be making the potatoes in advance and keeping them warm in the crockpot but not sure if I can get away with reheating or using a crockpot for this recipe. Thanks so much have a fantastic week! Gina
Gina – Unfortunately this recipe tastes much better served right after it has finished cooking – I have found the leftovers don’t reheat quite as well. If you want to try it, you could add a bit more milk when reheating and that may help the consistency not turn kind of lumpy.
Thanks for the quick response Mel much appreciated! I think I will make this on location then:) thanks again, Gina
I have found that omitting the butter when making ahead to refrigerate or freeze makes it reheat much better and less grainy. While reheating, instead of adding milk to thin out, I add the butter at that point. I discovered this by accident when I inadvertently forgot the butter while making it. Thanks, Mel, for a great recipe! This is much faster and easier and less dishes dirtied than your other macaroni and cheese recipe, which I used to make. Which is your favorite?
Kim S. – I prefer this one over the other but just slightly. It’s hard to choose with mac and cheese!
I don’t have a 12″ skillet but I’m thinking this would turn out if cooked in a pot rather than a skillet, is that right?
Amy G – Yep, that should work just fine.
I use rice noodles since I’m allergic to wheat. Rice noodles produce A LOT of starch when cooking, so cooking them with other ingredients can sometimes make the recipe taste starchy. I’d love to try this creamy Mac & Cheese, since my homemade version always turns out clumpy. Any idea how much total liquid I’d need if I didn’t cook the noodles with the sauce? Do you think it would still turn out creamy?
Sharon – I’ve only ever used rice noodles in Asian-type dishes. I agree that rice noodles have a tendency to get gummy. You will have to experiment with this but I have a feeling that it might clump a bit. Sorry I don’t have more advice!
Mel, I just want to let you know we love you in this house. I have made a few of your dishes, and they are always fabulous. I really rely on this website to get ideas on how to feed my family!! Thanks so much!!
Your mac and cheese is going on this week’s meal plan.
Ooooh la la, this was fantastic and so simple compared to my baked Mac n cheese recipe. Another awesome recipe! Thank you!
This looks yummy! Have you ever halved the recipe? My junior high students love mac and cheese and I want to have them make a smaller version for a dairy foods lab 🙂
Teacher – I haven’t halved the recipe but it should work just fine.
I’m curious if anyone has ever halved the recipe? Just wondering if you halved the liquid too, would there be enough for the pasta to cook all the way?
I have to say, this food blog has been a God send (and perhaps a marriage saver!) I had the good fortune to marry a very wonderful man, but one with a VERY. PICKY. PALETTE. We’ve been married a little over four years and I have been sure several times in those years that food was going to end us in divorce court! He’s my meat-and-potato man through and through, while I prefer more exotic and unique dishes. Your website has something for both of us…and this cheesy skillet mac and cheese…PERFECTION! He seriously ate half a skilletful and said it was BETTER than Kraft from the box (and this from a man who wouldn’t TOUCH any other kind of mac ‘n cheese….till now!) Thank you Mel for this super easy, super tasty winner! Thanks to this recipe and several others from your site (we loved the Tuscan Sausage and White Bean soup as well) there is FOOD PEACE at our dinner table!
I also have a young son that loves to cook. I saw this on pinterest and I’m going to pin and use it as a recipe for my son. He prefers minimal help and this would be perfect. Or for me when I feel cruddy (fibromyalgia) and want a simple meal on the table fast.
DELICIOUS!!! my sister made this for dinner and it was amazing.It was the most delicious mac’n’cheese i have ever tasted.me and my brother ate it like there is no tommorow.
I made this again for the 100th time tonight! I had great success using 2% milk! It was just as creamy and smooth as before. I also used more like 18 ounces of noodles, and I still think it needs more noodle! I think I’ll do 1.5lbs next time. I love this recipe!
Just made this tonight. It is so creamy. This is the 4th recipe i have tried. They have all been great. Thanks
Made this today after seeing your FB post and had to try this odd little recipe. LOVED it! I can safely say that I will not make Mac & Cheese any other way again. It only took ONE pan. AMAZING! The only thing I would do different is to add the full lb of pasta as storing the remaining 3oz from a 16oz box is a hassle. Thanks Mel!
EXCELLENT!! And I have several “go to” recipes for homemade Mac & Cheese – this may be the winner. Of course, I used very good cheddar – Beecher’s White Cheddar and Tillamook Pepper Jack. For the hot sauce I used Frank’s Red Hot – just the 1/4 tsp gave just the right amount of heat. Thank you for posting such a “keeper” recipe.
This morning was the WORST, so I knew today was the day to indulge myself with your creamy skillet mac and cheese for the first time.
25 minutes later, I am eating straight out of the skillet and feeling a million percent better!
Yes, macaroni and cheese is health food – mental health, that is 🙂
Delicious! First homemade mac and cheese I’ve ever done and it was so easy! I can’t believe it, followed recipe exactly, not too hot, tastes great, boyfriend said I should make it on a regular basis!
I just finished cooking this for Bible study tonight, and gave my kids a taste and they asked if we could stay home so we don’t have to share! 🙂 This is so amazingly delicious. I thought it was going to be too runny but it thickened perfectly. I used 1 teaspoon Texas Pete hot sauce and added one large sliced grilled chicken breast.
We had this tonight for dinner and the kids LOVED it!!! Thanks for having a website with recipes that are realistic for a mom on the go. My hubby thanks you as well:)
Found this on Pinterest and just made it for lunch. FINALLY a Mac&Cheese that both the kids AND I can enjoy. Bonus: came together easily and quickly. Double Bonus: didn’t make a mess of my kitchen! No more boxed orange powder!
This is so good! It was my first shot at a homemade Mac & cheese. I used all cheddar (1/2 mild and 1/2 sharp), and white fiber mini shells, because that’s what I had. It’s great. My toddler is stuffing his face as I write, so what more could I hope for?! I will try the baked Mac and cheese next time!
So good and so easy. My oldest had seconds and even warmed up the leftovers later in the day.
This recipe was fantastic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you for sharing. 😉
Am I the only one struggling with the ounces to cups conversions in the recipe? There are 8 ounces in a cup.
3 cups of noodles is 24 ounces. Not 12.
1 1/2 cups of cheese is 12 ounces, not 6.
So which is it?
Kirstin – the ounce measurements in this recipe are for the weight, that’s why you may be confused. A cup is 8 ounces in size but different ingredients measured in a cup will weigh differently. So the 12 ounces of noodles is the weight of the noodles not how much it would be in cup measures. If you don’t have a kitchen scale, go by the weight on the package of noodles and cheese.
Success!! All 4 of my kids (3 picky) ate and called me the best cooker ever. Then my son asked if he could have the rest for dinner tomorrow. =)
Loved this! Not only did it taste awesome, but it was super easy to make. Thanks for sharing 🙂
We just had this with dinner tonight and it was AMAZING!!! I was craving creamy mac’n’cheese and this totally hit the spot! I was a bit skeptical about cooking the macaroni in the milk, but it worked so wonderfully and I definitely did not miss having to make a rue! I also messed up a bit at the beginning of the recipe and accidentally poured the whole can of evaporated milk in with the water. Luckily I caught it quickly and scooped out 1/2 cup of the mixture before it started cooking. (And it still worked out just great!). Thank you so much for this recipe, I’ll never make another kind again!
Wonderful! Even converted my 9 year old who thinks Kraft Mac and Cheese is the best. This was loved by all! I did need to add extra water to adjust the thickness but I used a 16 oz box of elbows vs a 12 oz and kept the remaining ingredients all the same. Will definitely make this one again. Thank you!
Really good! I ended up making this with pepperjack in place of the Monterey Jack because I had it on hand and then just didn’t add the hot sauce to the sauce and it was delish! Such an easy method for a creamy mac and cheese.
This looks great! I also always tend to be unsatisfied with the mac and cheese that I make. I am going to try this and I hope it comes out looking as yummy as yours! Crossing my fingers that everyone likes it here 🙂 Thanks for the recipe!!
Mac and cheese can DEFINITELY be done with other cheeses! My favorite is Parmesan Reggiano (HAS to be the really fine grated stuff or else Mel is right–doesn’t melt so well), a touch of feta for creaminess, and Bleu cheese as a kicker. Great with crab meat mixed in, which is big here on the Chesapeake. I kept the total amount of cheese the same at 12 ounces and upped the butter to 3 or 4 tbs (crab tends to soak that stuff up). Add the Parm Reg slowly and get ahead of the melting, or else it’ll jst end up clumpy. Depending on how this melts for you, you might also want to add a touch more milk (evap or regular, depending on how thick you like it) to keep the creamy quality.
Made this for dinner tonight and it was really good! This is definitely the easiest Mac and cheese recipes I’ve made and one of the best. I didn’t have any Monterey Jack, so I just used a mix of othe cheeses I needed to use up. This was just a great recipe! Easy and delicious!
Just made this last night and it was great! I used 1% milk because that’s all I had, and was worried it wouldn’t thicken well but it did! Next time I will use evaporated milk though, since I’m sure it adds a bit more flavour. It will still yummy and my 2 year old loved it! Thanks!
This was even better than I hoped it would be! I’m always skeptical of mac & cheese recipes, but this was actually creamy and delicious. So happy to have found it!
OK so oh my goodness i am eating this right now and it is my new recipe for mac and cheese!!!! Thanks for the share 🙂
What kind of hot sauce should I use?
Momof2 – I use the Tapatio brand.
Made this for a quick dinner tonight and it was SO good!!! I was totally going to blog about it but we got too hungry for me to take a picture. Delish!
Okay, so I’ve made this three times now (it’s just so tasty… will I ever make another mac and cheese again?), and with a little bit of trial and error, I personally prefer it with 9 ounces of cheddar and 3 ounces of Monterey Jack. I’m not a huge fan of the flavor of the jack, but I think too much cheddar is also a little over powering. AND having made it with regular milk this last time, I’d say evaporated is definitely preferable – the final result was a little runnier and not quite as smooth. But it did work.
Thanks for another fantastic recipe!
(I also added about 8 ounces of diced ham, and that seems like the right amount for us…)
This mac and cheese was amazing! It was exactly was this pregnant woman was craving for =) To be honest, this was my first time making it from scratch but this blows away any I’ve ever had in restaurants. I added 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for an extra kick and omitted the butter. Thank you so much!!
How many does this serve? I am hoping 8?
Laura – this serves 4-6.
First let me say I LOVE YOUR BLOG, and I think it has saved my family meals! It’s my first go to for any recipe I want to try! I’ve made quite a few of your recipes, and every one was a hit! Especially loved the sweet and sour chicken and smothered pork chops!
Anyway, my question is, have you ever tried your mac and cheese recipes with whole wheat pasta? We try and avoid white pasta, but I’ve tried several other recipes (before finding your blog) and every time the whole wheat tastes kinda gooey and yucky! If you have tried it with success, can you also let me know the brand of WW pasta you use, as I’ve found some taste and work better than others. I personally love trader joes ww pasta, but it was a miss when I tried several mac and cheese recipes!
Hi Fenella – I haven’t used whole wheat pasta for this recipe. Sorry! I actually haven’t had great luck with whole wheat pasta overall so I don’t have a tried-and-true brand to recommend. Good luck!
Because I don’t have an oven right now, this recipe really appealed to me- I missed my baked mac’n’cheese! I was a bit skeptical about using evap milk, and the hot sauce, but wow! Both worked out great and I LOVED this stuff! There was no heat with the hot sauce, but I liked the color it gave it. Thank you!
Thanks so much for letting me know!! I can’t wait to try!
I can’t wait to try it this weekend! How many servings does this recipe make?
Rachel – it serves about 4-6.
Made this tonight and my 2.5 year old had 3 servings. I’ve been stalking your blog and made several things that have been a huge hit. Lemon bread is to die for, skillet lasagna was a huge hit, and I’m even branching out into making my own pizza dough thanks to you!
This is the best. I love all of your recipes. Thanks for sharing them! We add broccoli and bacon to this one and it is such a hit with my family. So creamy and delicious!
I’m in disbelief of how creamy and cheesy this is-even as leftovers!! Because it is so yummy and fast, I can not justify buying Kraft anymore. Thank you!!!
Delicious! My 2 boys are lays asking me to pick up Mac n cheese from Noodles, but it is about a 25 minute drive, especially at dinner time. They loved this, said it was better than Noodles! I did sub fat free evaporated milk and did not add the butter and it was wonderful, very creamy! Thank you!
Really looks good,, can’t wait to try it,, Thank you for pinning it
gigi – I think you should be able to use a large stockpot or saucepan to increase the batch.
I have made this a few times and I love it. I want to make it for a party and was going to triple it. The single batch is perfect for my skillet. Any idea how to make so much other than one batch at a time?
Thanks so much for posting! Mac and Cheese is an absolute favorite at our house, and I love that this one only requires one pot. I’m sure it will become my go-to recipe!
I’ve always had problems with my sauce going grainy, too…or it’s too soupy. It’s frustrating because everyone loves mac n cheese but I can never get it right. I’m going to try this one out for sure!
Oh! Made this tonight and was so surprised at how smooth it was. I have always been turned off by homemade because of the texture. This is a keeper and going in our rotation. The 3-year-old would not stop eating it. I served it with parmesan roasted cauliflower and roasted delicata squash. Thanks, Mel!
I tried it last night and it was wonderful!!! I just cubed and sauteed the squash with some onions and garlic until soft then pureed them and added to the noodles instead of the cornstarch. Had to add a little milk to thin it out but worked great!!
Jocelyn – I’ve never tried that but it’s probably worth a try. Good luck if you attempt it!
Do you think if I added cooked and mashed butternut squash to this recipe that it would effect it adversly? I love this mac and cheese recipe but I am obsessed with butter nut mac and cheese lately and can’t find a recipe I like. So I figured why not??
I LOVED this recipe – I thought it would be hard to top baked macaroni & cheese but I really think I like this better! Thanks for sharing your superb recipes!
WOW! Like you I have NEVER gotten homemade mac and cheese to come out amazing… but this was just great! It would have been better with breadcrumbs but I didn’t have any so we put bacon in it and I put fried onions on top (sorry if that sounds gross to anyone I’m pregnant and it was yummy!)
Thank you so much for a homemade mac and cheese recipe that does not consist of onions. Every recipe I have ever found has called for them and to me it just doesnt seem right to have onions in there…yuck!! I have been obsessed with this website for about six months and every recipe we have tried we have loved and thats saying alot with the pickiest husband every 🙂 Thank you so much
Thank you, I ended up doing it before I got this message and it didn’t taste great. I also used wheat noodles, we didn’t love it. I will have to try it the right way next time! By the way, I have been using your recipes like crazy, thank you!
Des – I wouldn’t sub for the Monterey Jack unless it is another cheese that melts creamy and smooth like Monterey Jack. Cheddar tends to get a bit grainy upon melting but it really boils down to your taste preference.
Can you sub Monterey jack with colby or other cheeses?
So I didn’t really think this type of creamy, smooth mac & cheese was possible using non-processed cheese! What a hit at our house, with the whole family! My husband saw it and said- is this velveeta? I had to use all sharp cheddar, because that’s what we had, but it was awesome. Also, i used fat-free evaporated milk and an entire box-13.25 oz- of mini penne pasta. It all worked great, but I did use a bit of water in the last step, most likely because of the greater pasta amount. I didn’t want to save just under 2 oz of pasta. Anyway, delicious! Thank you so much for this and all the other recipes you have that are so wonderful! I have loved every one we’ve tried. Thanks for your hard work:)
Celia – I’ve never tried that substitution but you certainly could try it.
Can regular milk be used in place of the evap milk?
I tried this recipe today on a whim when my daughter requested Macaroni and Cheese for lunch, but didn’t want the Kraft stuff… I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, so I went for it. It was a hit! Creamy and delicious, as promised. Not even slightly grainy as I’ve come to expect with so many homemade Mac and Cheese recipes. This one really delivers and I hope the leftovers heat up well for tomorrow!
This was so yummy!!! Our family loves it and I love it because it is so easy to make. I wanted to tell you that instead of ham, I used turkey bacon and it added a great flavor to it. So yummy!!
I made this yesterday (just the original – no peas/ham) and then finished it off in the oven with some bread crumbs on top. DELISH!!!
I LOVE how creamy this is! The texture seriously is what sold it for me!
This has become my go-to mac n’ cheese recipe. I like that it is easy, delicious, and creates very few dirty dishes.
As always you come through for me again. I was looking for a replacement for canned cheese soup and though I would see if you had one. I have a new cookbook, but some of the recipes called for condensed soups (yuck). I should be able to take this mac and cheese recipe and adapt it for the Salmon Pasta recipe in the cookbook.
Just threw this together as a last minute dinner for my kids. Of course afterwards I had to wonder if it could be made lower fat, if perhaps less cheese could have been added. So I headed over to Cooks Country to see how they did it. When I saw the changes you had made, like cutting out 2 CUPS of cheese, I was really impressed. You tweaked it perfectly without losing any of the creaminess or flavor. I just love how you operate!
Jessica – glad you loved this one!
Absolutely perfect! We will totally be making this again! Thanks for all the no-fail recipes!
I have made this about 5 times since my little girl was born. It is so quick and delicious and perfect for lunch with company who’ve come to see the baby. My husband likes to stir in a little milk, a whole leek, and some ham to the leftovers while reheating then sprinkle with breadcrumbs and stick it under the broiler (grill if I have any fellow brits that read this) for an easy dinner the next night. YUM!
Annette – what a fantastic idea to broil this with breadcrumbs and your husband’s other additions. I love those ideas and I’m thrilled that it has been such a hit…
I made this last week and it was so yummy! I’m normally not a fan of anything mixed in with my mac and cheese, but I knew that if you were recommending it, it would be perfect! And it was! My son now claims that he will always eat peas if they are in this mac and cheese! Thanks!! Hope you and your family are having a fabulous Labor Day!!
Kensi – that statement by your son made me laugh. Hold him to it! And it looks like you may be eating mac and cheese a lot now, right? Thanks for your review!
I made this one yesterday, and loved how easy it was. Creamy, and no Velveeta! The kids liked it, another winner:)
Erin – thanks for letting me know you liked this mac and cheese. It reminds me that it’s been a month or so since I’ve made it – my kids love it so I need to make it again!
So good! I loved it!
mia – I love improvising and am glad your changes worked out well! Thanks for letting me know.
okay ~ i basically decided to make this for supper AT supper time so i had to just use what i had in order to do so. i improvised a bit, but i tend to do that with all recipes so it’s all good 😉 so in place of evap milk i used skim. (since i’m a lame-o and tend to try to cook very low fat…i probably would have done this regardless) and i had no jack cheese at all on hand, of course, so i just doubled the cheddar.
this was very yummmmmy. i found it a bit too strong of a cheese flavour (but this would obviously not be the case with the monterey jack in there also…so no fault of the recipe!) i also found it very rich for some reason so i absolutely don’t regret using the non fat milk in it….definitely a keeper!
thanks so much mel for another awesome recipe!
April – I haven’t used any other cheeses but I think you definitely could as long as they are “good-melters” – you wouldn’t want to use a hard cheese like parmesan or asiago, in my opinion, since they don’t melt quite as well.
Sounds delicious and easy! Have you used any other combinations of cheeses in here?
Kayla – I’m glad this recipe was a hit – I love that it is fast, too, and my little picky eaters love it! Thanks for letting me know.
I made this last night for my husband, brother, and sister, and they all loved it. Definitely a winner! I have another mac and cheese recipe that I really like, but it is baked and uses smoked Gouda cheese. This one is so much faster and more appealing for picky eaters. Thanks for sharing!
Another winning recipe! I made this last night (minus ham and peas) as a side for bbq pork. This was very easy and extremely rich and creamy. Another recipe in the rotation. Thank you!!
Becky – thank you for commenting to let me know that you liked this side for BBQ pork – it sounds like a delicious combination!
alexandra – try substituting 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard.
can you leave out or sub something in for dry mustard?
I made it for dinner tonight. It was easy, fast, and if I had used the cheeses suggested (and didn’t have such picky children), it would have gotten eaten. I emptied out the cheese drawer and used Monterrey jack, Colby jack, cheddar, and a little bit of chihuahua cheese. Won’t do that again! I’ll try it again another day with the right cheeses.
Michelle – thanks for checking back in to let me know you liked this. So glad that it turned out for you!
Any thoughts on making this in a slow cooker?
I haven’t tried that – sorry!
Oh, consider yourself wildly hugged!! I have always wanted a creamy mac and cheese but also wanted to use “real” cheese. I can’t wait to try this. Thanks so much for sharing!!
YUMMMY!! We loved it here, perfect quick meal for after work when you feel like you’re running around trying to get supper on the table!>Thanks! I’m a huge fan of the blog and have been testing recipes out left and right!
Wow! I made this last week and found Heaven on Earth! Thanks for building up my confidence in homemade macaroni. It had always turned me off for some reason- but this! This is simple beautiful. We gobbled and gobbled!
BTW- This doesn’t stroe or reheat well UNLESS you add a little water and place it back in the skillet to reheat. The water will bring back the creamyness. I discovered this when trying to think of how to have a nice hot plate for my husband when he arrived home late from work.
Thank you for the recipe!
Yum! I bet my picky 15 month old would eat that. He will eat anything with peas…weird!
This sounds great! My family loves mac n cheese.
ham and peas for me, please! that’s some creamy, dreamy mac and cheese, melanie–nicely done!
This sounds awesome. My toddler would love it I’m sure. I tried your pizza dough recipe that real mom kitchen posted this past Saturday and loved it. So did my hubby. Thanks!
I just made this for dinner with the ham and peas! It was WONDERFUL…very creamy!
The Bentley Family – I’m glad you liked the pizza dough! It is a family favorite of ours, too. Thanks for letting me know!
Yum! I’m gonna have to give this one a try.
annebabe – phew! So glad I’m not the only one walking around saying “grody.” Loved your comment and so, so glad you have liked the recipes you’ve tried so far.
ooo, this sounds just like the recipe I’ve been using for stove top mac ‘n cheese by AMerica’s Test Kitchen. I’ll give yours a try and see if I like it better!
emiflute – I actually have this on our menu this week because we love it so much. I totally agree with you, homemade mac and cheese has ALWAYS let me down until this recipe. I’m glad you liked it as much as we did. Thanks for the tip on reheating!
I just have to thank you for saving my dinner. I had seven picky kids to feed and a half hour to do it. Every single one of them loved it! They are all so picky, but thanked me and said it was sooo good! I have tried every mac n cheese out there and this one was the easiest by far. It was also the best! I tell everyone about your blog and how it has changed my cooking life 🙂 Thanks for helping all of us busy moms!
That is what I was wondering. I love how in the majority of your recipes you mention whether or not the hot sauce will make it hot or not. That helps me out so much given that my husband and I are wimps and I’m also feeding a toddler. I’ll definately add it next time I make it.
I’m all over this!! I love homemade mac and cheese and like you, have struggled to find one that works well with real cheese! Can’t wait to try it!
Thanks for posting this. We have macaroni and cheese at least once a week. I struggle with the homemade recipes. Will be trying this one soon. Looks good.
Thanks for the comment, Melanie! Yep, it’s a keeper. (I skipped the roasted tomatoes as well as the chicken last night just to keep things simple, and it was still great.) The buttermilk banana bread recipe I’ll share soon is yours! I’ve been meaning to tell you that I’m totally in love with it. 🙂 I’ll definitely link you when I post it. Thanks so much!
Oooh. Oooh. I have been using a Rachel Ray one for a long time but mine usually turns out grainy. It tastes good but the texture is a bit to be desired. I shall definitely try this out and let you know how it goes.
Evelyn – so glad you liked this! I agree that it is a winner of a recipe because it is so easy to put together. (I also agree it is best eaten right away!)>>Jenn – that’s a bummer this didn’t turn out for you. I’m sorry! I hope if you use the right cheeses, it will taste a bit better.
okay, the fact that you used the word “grody” well, pretty much seals the fact that you are my soulmate. ha! 🙂 and i have been meaning to comment for quite some time. i LOVED the skillet chicken pasta with sun dried tomatoes and broccoli. i LOVED the chocolate chocolate cookies. and i LOVED the outrageous loaded peanut butter and chocolate cookies. that recipe got around my neighborhood like the town slut. no joke, 6 families in one week made them. and hands down, best cookie ever contender. ever. so hats off to you, super mom/super foodie. thanks for sharing! i’m here to stay. 🙂>>ps- have the white velvet sugar cookie recipe on the docket for this week
Molly – thanks for your sweet comment! I’m glad you liked this mac and cheese – it was a hit at my house, too.
Natalie – thanks for listing your variations (corn instead of peas). It’s always helpful to see how others change things up. To let you know, the hot sauce doesn’t add spice at all – the end result is definitely not spicy. It just helps enhance the flavor and give a little more depth to the mac and cheese.
Tami – yum, the salmon sounds like a great addition. I’m glad you liked this.
My hubby will love this mac and cheese!
Well that just looks like heaven on a plate! I LOVE mac and cheese!
This was a hit tonight. I had some leftover salmon so I threw it in with the peas and it was super delish. Thanks for another great recipe.
Three words: YUM, YUM, YUM!! This is a great family-friendly recipe. I also love it because it is inexpensive as far as mac n cheese recipes go…it doesn’t require much. And it was so easy/quick to put together! One thing…it is definatly something to eat as soon as it is done. The longer it sits, the less creamy it is. Nothing that a zap in the microwave can’t fix, though. Thanks Melanie!!
Lauren – thanks for the comment! I agree with you, this is the best, creamiest mac and cheese I’ve had and is my go-to recipe. I’m glad everyone (wow, 7 kids???) loved it!
I consider mac-and-cheese it’s own food group – so glad you found a way you could make it easily. I’ll have to try this new recipe, sounds great! Thanks for sharing.
I made this a couple of weeks ago and my little family all loved it. I’m not a fan of peas so I used ham and corn instead but it was so delicious. A ?- I left out the hot sauce for fear it would make it hot…but did it? I hate to leave it out if it will make the dish even more tasty. Thanks again I love your blog!
looking at the picture made me hungry 🙂 looks so yummy!
Thanks for sharing this one. You have just given me an idea on what to prepare today.