15 Minute Mac and Cheese

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Everyone loves Mac and Cheese and even better when it’s ready in minutes!

This easy recipe is made on the stovetop with elbow macaroni in a quick creamy cheese sauce. Simply perfect.

pot full of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese with bowls full beside it

A Quick Meal or Snack

  • This easy, homemade 15-minute mac and cheese takes the same amount of time a box does.
  • The texture is rich and creamy and the flavor is deliciously cheesy.
  • Hearty and economical this meal satisfies kids and grown-ups alike.
  • Dress it up, add in sausage, chicken, or broccoli. It’s easy to make your own.

Serve with Homemade Garlic Bread and Tossed Salad. It’s time to eat!

ingredients to make 15 Minute Mac and Cheese

Ingredients

PASTA: Elbow macaroni is the traditional pasta for mac and cheese, but any short pasta will do. Shells are another great shape that the thick sauce will cling to. For best results, avoid rinsing the pasta so it’s a little starchy—that helps the sauce stick to it.

CHEESE SAUCE: Choose sharp cheddar (orange or white!) for that bold signature flavor that makes mac and cheese so famous.

Variations

  • My kids love mac and cheese mixed with bacon or broccoli and topped with crunchy breadcrumbs.
  • For a fancy entrée, stir in chunks of crab meat, lobster, even smoked salmon.
  • Add a sprinkle of extra cheese and place it under the broiler for a crispy, browned topping.

process of adding ingredients to pot to make 15 Minute Mac and Cheese

How to Make Mac & Cheese in 15 Minutes

While mac and cheese can be made in the Crockpot or baked in the oven, this version is a quick stovetop meal.

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan & whisk in flour per the recipe below (this is called a roux).
  2. Whisk in liquid a bit at a time until smooth. Add seasonings.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in cheese until smooth. Stir in the cooked elbow macaroni.

Tips for Perfection

  • Allow the flour and butter to cook for at least one minute before adding liquid. This gets rid of any starchy flavor.
  • Shred your own cheese, packaged shredded cheeses have additives so they don’t melt as well.
  • Use sharp cheddar for a cheesy flavor. Milder cheeses won’t make for a cheesy sauce.
  • Add the cheese after removing the sauce from the heat. Overheating it can cause a grainy sauce or cause the cheese to separate.

bowls of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese

Leftover Macaroni and Cheese

Leftover macaroni and cheese can be reheated!

Store it covered in the refrigerator and it will last up to 5 days! Add a splash of milk (or cream) and heat over medium-low heat until warmed.

close up of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese in the pot

More Mac & Cheese Faves

Did you make this 15 Minute Mac & Cheese? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below! 

bowls of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese
5 from 8 votes
Review Recipe

15 Minute Mac and Cheese

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author Holly Nilsson
Cheesy and creamy, this mac & cheese is cooked on the stovetop in just 15 minutes!

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni or short pasta (approx 3 cups dry pasta)
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 dashes hot sauce such as Tobasco
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese shredded

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Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well, do not rinse.
  • While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add milk and broth a small amount at a time, whisking smooth after each addition.
  • Add dry mustard, salt, pepper, onion powder, and hot sauce. Continue to cook over medium heat and allow to come to a boil. Boil 1 minute while whisking. Remove from heat, add cheeses, and whisk until smooth. Stir in pasta. Season with additional salt & pepper to taste.

Recipe Notes

  • It is important you are using bold or sharp cheeses in this recipe or it won't have enough flavor.
    Do not use pre-shredded cheeses, they don't melt smoothly.
  • To make this recipe quick, shred cheese while you're waiting for the water to boil. Make the sauce while the pasta is boiling.
  • Allow the flour and butter to cook for at least one minute before adding liquid. This gets rid of any starchy flavor.
  • Shred your own cheese, packaged shredded cheeses have additives so they don't melt as well.
  • Use sharp cheddar for a cheesy flavor. Milder cheeses won't make for a cheesy sauce.
  • Add the cheese after removing the sauce from the heat. Overheating it can cause a grainy sauce or cause the cheese to separate.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 754, Carbohydrates: 74g, Protein: 33g, Fat: 36g, Saturated Fat: 22g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 101mg, Sodium: 1482mg, Potassium: 412mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1137IU, Vitamin C: 4mg, Calcium: 658mg, Iron: 2mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword 15 minute mac & cheese, best mac and cheese, mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese
Course Dinner, Pasta
Cuisine American
pot of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese with plated dish and writing
bowls of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese with writing
cooked 15 Minute Mac and Cheese in the pot and bowls with a title
bowls of 15 Minute Mac and Cheese with a title
About the author

Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

More Posts by Holly

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Comments

  1. I have made this twice. Both times I made enough so there would be leftovers. Both times all leftovers were gone! It’s a keeper.5 stars

  2. This was delicious. So glad to use the real cheeses. Your tips were helpful. Wrote this one down. 5 stars