This easy macaroni and cheese recipe is just as simple to make as the one in the blue box! Stovetop Mac and Cheese is made from scratch with 5 ingredients plus seasonings and is ready to eat in about 15 minutes.
Boxed macaroni and cheese certainly has its benefits. It’s inexpensive, easy to make, and generally tasty, but we can do better!
It’s not any harder to make this homemade stovetop mac and cheese, and it’s made from inexpensive ingredients too. The big upside of making your own homemade mac and cheese is that you get to add in fresh milk, butter, and cheese, and adjust the seasonings so that it’s perfect for your hungry family.
If you have a little more time, I suggest you check out my recipe for Velveeta Mac and Cheese. It’s a baked recipe that is super cheesy and satisfying.
You might also like my homemade Hamburger Helper recipe!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Easy Side Dish– You can make stovetop mac and cheese in less than 20 minutes, and serve it with all of your favorite easy weeknight dinner recipes. Throw some chicken in the air fryer while you’re making this and you’ll have the fastest dinner ever.
- Kid Favorite – I’ve yet to meet a child who doesn’t love a creamy bowl of elbow noodles and cheese sauce! This is a homemade recipe that you’ll feel good about making for your kids.
- Versatile Recipe – This easy mac and cheese recipe is so simple and perfect exactly as written, but it’s also a blank slate for any add-ins or adjustments you might like to make.
Ingredients In Stovetop Mac and Cheese
5 ingredients plus a handful of seasonings – this recipe is super easy!
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Elbow Macaroni: Elbows are the classic, favorite shape for mac and cheese! You can use other shapes if you like too. I like to cook the pasta at the same time that I’m making the sauce so that they are both ready at the same time.
- Butter: Choose unsalted butter so you’ll have more control over the saltiness of the dish.
- Flour: This thickens the sauce and makes it extra rich and creamy.
- Seasonings: A combination of garlic powder, onion powder, dry mustard, salt, and ground white pepper makes the perfect seasoning blend for mac and cheese.
- Milk: Whole milk or 2% is ideal. Your mac and cheese won’t be creamy enough with skim milk.
- Cheddar Cheese: If at all possible, shred your own cheese from a block. It’s so much tastier done this way instead of buying it pre-shredded. I’m using half white cheddar and half sharp orange cheddar cheese.
How To Make Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- Cook Pasta: Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water until it’s al dente, following the package instructions. My elbow macaroni took about 10 minutes.
- Make the Cheese Sauce: In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, salt, and pepper. Cook for 30 seconds, then whisk in the milk until it’s smooth and creamy. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cheese until it’s melted.
- Mix it up: Add the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce and stir until combined. Serve warm.
Save time by making the cheesy sauce while the noodles are cooking!
- Try other cheeses: Cheddar is classic, but a bit of grated parmesan cheese adds an extra layer of flavor that is really nice. if you do this, be sure to reduce the amount of salt that you add. Other melty cheese like Colby, Monterrey Jack, Asiago, or gouda can be substituted for up to half of the cheddar if you’re feeling adventurous.
- Use other pasta: You can really use any pasta shape you like in your mac and cheese! Small shells, wagon wheels, penne, rigatoni, and other short pasta will all work.
- White Pepper vs. Black Pepper: White pepper is a bit spicier than black pepper, but also a bit less strong tasting. I like using it here because you don’t see it in the dish.
Storing and Reheating Mac and Cheese
Store leftover stovetop mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To reheat, warm it in a pan over medium-low heat. If it needs a bit of moisture, stir in a splash of water or milk.
What To Serve With Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate side dish to go with fried chicken of all sorts. Try my buttermilk fried chicken tenders, Chick Fil A Chicken Nuggets, air fryer chicken breast, or crispy oven baked chicken tenders.
You can definitely use black pepper in this recipe if you don’t have white pepper. They both taste similar, but white pepper is great for sauces where you don’t want to see the pepper flecks.
It’s easy to double the recipe! Simply double all of the ingredients and make the recipe as written. Be sure you have a large enough saucepan to hold the sauce and you’ll be all set.
If you use gluten-free pasta and gluten free-all purpose flour, this mac and cheese can be gluten free.
Enjoy this super easy, quick mac and cheese recipe! Your family is going to love it so much.
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni uncooked, see note 1
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon dry mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper or black pepper
- 1 ½ cups milk whole or 2%, see note 2
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese see note 3
- Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water until al dente, follow the package instructions. This usually takes about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, and mustard powder, salt and pepper and cook for 30 seconds.
- Whisk in the milk until smooth and creamy.
- Remove from heat and stir in the cheese until melted.
- Stir in the cooked macaroni and serve warm.
- You can really use any pasta shape you like in your mac and cheese! Small shells, wagon wheels, penne, rigatoni, and other short pasta will all work.
- Don’t try to use low fat or skim milk to make this, the sauce won’t be thick enough.
- You can use different cheese. I suggest using mostly cheddar, as that is where the classic mac and cheese flavor comes from. Add other melty cheeses such as Colby, Monterrey Jack, Asiago, or Gouda. Parmesan can be added as well, but be sure to reduce the salt in the recipe.
- To Store: Store leftover stovetop mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- To reheat, warm it in a pan over medium-low heat. If it needs a bit of moisture, stir in a splash of water or milk.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen