October 15, 2012
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.
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:
- Pasta: any shape works.
- Milk: for a creamy and velvety texture.
- Shredded Cheese: Cheddar is a favorite, but Cheddar Jack or Italian cheese blend are also great options!
- Flour: to thicken the sauce.
- Salt: just a little to enhance all the flavors.
- Dijon Mustard: for extra flavor!
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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 mac and cheese out of their lunch box at school.
Easy Creamy Mac & Cheese Recipe
- 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.