This Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese is an easy 30-minute meal that your family will always agree on! It’s the BEST dinner recipe for a busy week and it’s easy to customize with different cheeses and add-ons.
Stovetop Mac and Cheese
It is really nice to have a few 30 minute meals that you can fall back on during a busy week, and this is definitely one of those recipes. It’s picky eater approved, takes no more then 30 minutes to make, and you can jazz it up all you want (more ideas on that below)!
The consistency of the cheese sauce is perfectly thick and creamy, (but not too thick). It’s just right. The flavors are enhanced with a touch of mustard powder and hot sauce, which you can’t taste at all in the recipe. (I promise).
Feel free to use a variety of different kinds of cheese for this recipe. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Gouda, and Gruyere are all great options!
How to Make It
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
Boil macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. Melt butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the heavy cream/milk in splashes, stirring continuously. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Add hot sauce and seasonings.
Reduce heat to low and stir in the shredded cheese.
Add the drained macaroni and stir to combine. Serve!
What to Add to Mac and Cheese
- Pasta Options: Medium Shells, Cavatappi, Rotini, Fusilli/Bow Tie Pasta may also be used, just note that the cooking times may vary slightly.
- Cheeses: A combination of Smoked Gouda, Monterey Jack, Gruyere, Fontina, and Mozzarella may also be used. Note that extra sharp cheddar or aged cheeses won’t melt as well.
- Meats: Cooked Chicken, Ham, Pulled Pork, Bacon, Buffalo Chicken, Sausage, Kielbasa, and Hot Dogs.
- Vegetables: Corn, Peas, Mushrooms, Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Caramelized Onions, Green Onions.
- Shred the cheese from a block as it will melt and taste much better than packaged shredded cheese. I use Cracker Barrel Sharp Yellow Cheese.
- You can’t taste the hot sauce or mustard powder in the mac and cheese, they are used as flavor enhancers. I usually use Texas Pete Hot Sauce. (Frank’s hot sauce is my trusty backup!)
- Love Mac and Cheese? Check out my recipes for the Crock Pot and Instant Pot. I also have a Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese, Chili Mac, Bacon Mac and Cheese and One Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese!
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Tools For This Recipe
(Amazon affiliate links)- Check out all of my kitchen essentials here.
- 3.5 quart dutch oven. -This is the one I use and love, excellent quality.
- Box Cheese Grater– Shredding from a block tastes and melts much better than packaged cheese.
- Pinch Bowls– for measuring out seasonings ahead of time.
- Pasta Strainer– This is the one I have and love.
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Tried This Recipe?
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Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups macaroni, uncooked. (equal to 1/2 lb.)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup milk
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon each: salt/pepper
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, shredded
- Pro tip: Shred the cheese from a block. It will melt and taste much better than packaged shredded cheese. See notes for brand of cheese that I use.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the macaroni. Bring back up to a boil and cook according to package instructions. Set a timer to avoid overcooking. Drain once cooked.
- While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Use a silicone spatula to stir in the flour. Continue to stir for 1-2 minutes. Add the heavy cream/milk in splashes, stirring continuously. (If you add it too quickly you’ll “break” the roux and the sauce will be thin.)
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the seasonings and hot sauce. Reduce heat to low.
- Gradually sprinkle in the shredded cheese. Stir continuously until smooth and combined. Add the drained macaroni and stir to combine. Serve!
- I use Cracker Barrel Sharp Yellow Cheese for this recipe.
- You can't taste the hot sauce or mustard powder in the mac and cheese, they are used as flavor enhancers. I usually use Texas Pete Hot Sauce. (Frank's hot sauce is my trusty backup!)
Love Mac and Cheese? Check out my recipes for the Crock Pot and Instant Pot. I also have a Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese, Chili Mac, Bacon Mac and Cheese and One Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese!
From my son to my mom – everyone loves this recipe every time. I use a mix of cheddar and guyrer cheeses. I used to be a baked mac and cheese only snob, but after hearing from my son 3 too many times that he liked boxed mac and cheese better than my homemade baked mac and cheese, and one night he asked for mac and cheese and I had none of those boxes with fake cheese – I decided to make it my way (homemade) on the stovetop. As much as I enjoy the baked cheese atop a baked mac and cheese, I can’t (and won’t) argue with my son that my homemade stovetop mac and cheese is the best (better than the fake cheese boxed stuff too). And, imo, better than baked because the cheese is equally distributed and creamy and flavorful throughout. My son even noticed the touch of spice (from the hot sauce) and liked it!! This recipe will no doubt go down as one of my son’s “Home Feeling” favorites, right up there with my “Meatlove.”
Hiiii there! I am so happy to hear that this Mac and Cheese was a hit and is a great replacement for the boxed stuff!! 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a review, I really appreciate it! -Stephanie
Could I make this the day before and then heat it up in the oven on 350 the next day?
Hi Lexi! You can, but it may become a little dry. To mitigate that, you could try using a little less macaroni so that there is ample cheese sauce for the pasta to absorb. You can also make my Baked Mac and Cheese recipe!
Spectacular basic stove top Mac and cheese, just made it. Enjoying now! Put tiny bit of turmeric for color but that’s because we’ve become used to the blue box look.
I’m glad that you enjoyed the mac and cheese Nate!
My new go-to Mac & Cheese. The seasonings are perfect. Keep these ingredients on hand (most are kitchen staples anyway) and you’ll have a wonderful lunch or dinner in no time. My son is a mac & cheese snob and this recipe won his wholehearted approval. Try topping it with some crispy french-fried jalapenos (like the french-fried onions, but with more flavor and a better “kick”).
Thanks for sharing this recipe!
I’m so happy your son approved of this Mac and Cheese! My daughter is a bit of a mac and cheese snob too lol. You have me really intrigued with the crispy French fried Jalapeno topping, I have to try that! Thanks so much for the great review!💖
Thanks for the great review!
Great, straightforward recipe!! My boyfriend was craving Mac and cheese and I was able to whip this up for him! (I didn’t have any whole milk so just used the full fat oat milk I had in the fridge with the heavy cream and it worked well) Thank you so much, I’ll definitely add this to the recipe box!
I’m so happy it was a success Patty! Thanks so much for the great review!💖