Easy Mac and Cheese

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Everyone loves Mac and Cheese and even better when it’s as easy and totally cheesy like this recipe!

This quick macaroni and cheese takes about 15 minutes (from scratch!) including cooking the pasta and making a cheesy sauce. Simply perfect.

easy mac and cheese in a pot

Why This Mac and Cheese Recipe is a Favorite

We make this for lunch at least every other week if not more.

  • This easy, homemade 15-minute mac and cheese takes the same amount of time a box does.
  • It’s rich, creamy, and totally dreamy.
  • Hearty and budget friendly, everyone loves it.
  • This recipe is great for add-ins. Stir in sausage, chicken, or broccoli.

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

ingredients to make 15 Minute Mac and Cheese

Ingredients in Easy Mac and Cheese

PASTA – Elbow macaroni is our choice for mac and cheese, but any short pasta will do. Shells are great too, since the cups hold the sauce (more cheese = better!!). For best results, don’t rinse the macaroni, the starches on the pasta help the sauce stick.

SAUCE  – This recipe starts with a simple roux (butter and flour) but don’t worry, it’s super quick. The sauce is ready by the time the pasta is cooked.

CHEESE – Choose sharp cheddar (orange or white!) for a great flavor and be sure to grate your own cheese from a block. Pre-shredded cheeses don’t work well.

Variations

  • Fry some bacon and set aside. Use the bacon along with the butter in the sauce and crumble the bacon over the mac and cheese before serving.
  • Stir some small broccoli florets into the boiling water about 2-3 minutes before the pasta is finished cooking.
  • Add a sprinkle of extra cheese or a bread crumb topping and place it under the broiler for a couple of minutes for a crispy, browned topping.
  • For a fancy mac and cheese, stir in chunks of crab meat, lobster, even smoked salmon.

steps for making easy 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 is an easy mac and cheese ready in minutes.

  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 and cook until thickened.
  3. Remove from heat, stir in cheese until smooth. Stir in the cooked elbow macaroni.

adding pasta to easy mac and cheese sauce

Tips for Best Creamy Mac and Cheese

This mac and cheese is incredibly easy but here are our favorite tips for perfection!

  • Allow the flour and butter to cook for at least one minute before adding liquid to get rid of any starchy flavor.
  • Don’t rinse the pasta.
  • 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

This easy mac and cheese is great when freshly made and is also perfect to reheat for lunches throughout the week!

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. If using the microwave, reheat on 70% power stirring occasionally.

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

More Mac & Cheese Faves

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

easy mac and cheese in a pot with a spoon
5 from 16 votes
Review Recipe

Easy Mac and Cheese (in 15 Minutes)

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
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

  • This recipe needs bold or sharp cheeses 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 to get rid of any starchy flavor.
  • 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