If you can boil pasta you can make this easy macaroni and cheese recipe. The recipe is simple and it comes together in the same amount of time it takes to make the one out of the box. Check out how easy it is to make in this recipe video.
Ask a kid what one of their favorite food is, often the answer is: macaroni and cheese, of course!
While it’s always easy to pull out a box of the grocery store variety, and great to have it for emergencies where you’re out of milk or cheese, this recipe is worth making, on repeat. Once you’ve made this recipe using basic, real-food ingredients, your family will never want to go back to boxed macaroni.
If you’re trying to make more recipes at home using what you already have on hand, check out the Pantry Staples Meal Plan.
Inside the meal plan, you’ll find 2 weeks of delicious family meals made with simple, easy to find ingredients. This means you can go to the store a lot less, save money and still eat the food your family loves. More info here!
Back to this quick and easy macaroni and cheese recipe. This is what you need to know to make it.
With just six easy ingredients, this mac and cheese recipe is easy to whip up. You’ll need:
- Shredded Cheese
- Dijon Mustard
Mac and Cheese Add-Ins
My kids would eat mac every day if I let them, and sometimes, it’s easier to just go for it. If you’re making this recipe often, you can mix it up by adding in some extras. Here are some of our family favorites:
- Bacon Bits – store-bought or homemade
- Grated Parmesan or Romano
- Ground beef, cooked
- Cubed ham
- Leftover chicken
- Tuna fish
- Chopped veggies: peas, carrots, broccoli, peppers
Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to mix-ins because everything is better with cheese sauce!
How to Make Stovetop Mac & Cheese
This recipe is SO EASY, just five steps, and one of those is putting it on the table!
1. Cook the Pasta – Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain & set to the side.
2. Start the Simple Sauce – Warm 1 cup of milk in a saucepan over medium heat. In a small bowl whisk ½ cup of milk and 2 tablespoons of flour until there are no lumps. When steam begins rising from the warm milk, whisk in the extra milk & flour mixture. Continue whisking until the milk thickens to the consistency of heavy cream. This should take 3-4 minutes.
3. Add the Cheese – Turn the heat to low and add shredded cheese to the milk. Stir in the salt and mustard. Adjust the seasoning as desired. Remove from Heat.
4. Mix it All Together – Combine the pasta and half of the cheese sauce. Stir until the cheese coats the pasta evenly and then add the rest of the cheese sauce and any desired mix-ins.
5. Serve! – Dish it up into bowls and serve this warm, creamy mac & cheese right away. YUM!
How Long Does Mac & Cheese Last?
Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week, but this recipe is always such a hit, it’s hard to find them in the fridge that long unless you double the recipe.
You can also freeze macaroni and cheese if you’re planning on saving it for a later day. When reheating, you can add a splash of milk to make it just as creamy as the first day.
Related: How to Freeze Mac & Cheese
Not only does this mac and cheese make a great lunch at home, but your kids will be the envy of their classmates when they pull it out of their lunch box at school.Print
Easy Creamy Mac & Cheese Recipe
This easy, no-roux mac and cheese recipe is the ultimate comfort food, with fresh, real ingredients!
- Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
- Total Time: 9 minute
- Yield: 8 servings
- Cuisine: Lunch
- 1 pound pasta, any shape
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- In a large pot, over medium-high heat, bring water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Once the pasta is cooked, start on the cheese sauce.
- Warm 1 cup of the milk in a saucepan over medium heat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining ½ cup of milk and the 2 tablespoons of flour until there are no lumps and set aside.
- When the milk in the pot is warm and you begin to see steam rising from the milk, whisk in the milk-and-flour mixture. Continue whisking until the milk thickens slightly to the consistency of heavy cream, for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to low and add the shredded cheese into the milk. With the whisk, stir to combine. Add in the salt and dijon mustard. Continue to stir until all the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy. Turn off heat.
- Add the pasta to the pot and with a large spoon, combine the sauce with the pasta until it’s evenly coated.
- Serve the mac and cheese immediately while still warm. Leftovers will keep for up to a week and can be reheated. If the sauce is a little dry after re-heating, mix in a splash of milk to make it creamy again!
- For a gluten free version, use gluten free pasta and an all purpose gluten free baking flour.
- Serving Size: 1 bowl
- Calories: 319
- Sugar: 4.1g
- Sodium: 507.3mg
- Fat: 6.6g
- Saturated Fat: 3.7g
- Carbohydrates: 46.9g
- Fiber: 1.9g
- Protein: 16.8g
- Cholesterol: 15.3mg
My kids are allergic to milk and milk products so I was wondering if I can use soy or almond milk and dairy free cheese instead of regular milk and cheese in this recipe?
If you can’t use dairy or cheese, try this recipe http://www.laurafuentes.com/better-than-boxed-homemade-mac-cheese-dairy-free-vegan/ Enjoy!
Delicious. Next time I think I will add just a little more dijon mustard and a sharp cheddar…. I used mild for the first time. Though a colby jack would be good too. :)
I just made this and it’s delicious! And my kids liked it! Thank you!
Those are the best recipes! Awesome, Marianne!
Can this be frozen? For how long?
Yes you can freeze this! I’d defrost and then reheat on the stove. Probably up to a month or so!
Margaret Anne @ Natural Chow
This recipe looks so simple and delicious. I think I’m going to try it with whole wheat pasta though. What a great recipe!
You mentioned three possible cheeses. What cheese did you use or did you do a mixture of all three? I’m thinking of doing white cheddar. Do you think that would work well? Should I lean toward sharp or mild?
Liz, the beauty of macaroni and cheese is that nearly any cheese works! I like white sharp cheddar as one of them.. others use gouda… what you use is up to you. it is, after all… one of those “for the love of cheese!” recipes :)
Thank you. I will try the white sharp cheddar.
I’m not a fan of dijon mustard. Can that be left out? Could I just put some pepper in its place?
I do have yellow mustard that I could use if you have to use mustard. Can you substitute yellow for dijon?
You sure can Liz. Enjoy!
I can skip the mustard and use pepper? or I can use yellow mustard instead of dijon? or both?
my only question my kids find it a bit lumply or should i stay stuck together when they open their lunch ,even thermos !1 can you help
Add liquid when you reheat it will gain back the creamy texture.
Made this for the family the other day and it was a hit! Sent the leftovers in my daughter’s thermos the next day for lunch. That is, once I stopped my husband from helping himself to them!
Thank you Rachel for letting me know your family enjoyed it! It’s hard for me to keep everyone from eating it all too!
Made this gluten free by using brown rice pasta and using corn starch in place of the flour. It was really easy and came out super creamy. Thanks for the recipe!
thank you Laura! glad you were able to adjust and your family enjoyed the meal!
Can you use RF milk and cheese?
So if you use it for school lunches, eat kids eat it cold?
Katie, When I send it in my kids lunch I put it in a thermos to keep warm.
Is there a sub for dijon mustard? I don’t have any in the pantry. Thanks!
Michele, you could also use a teaspoon of dry mustard. If you don’t have that it’s okay to leave it out altogether, it just adds a bit of tanginess and flavor to the mac ‘n cheese.