Quick and creamy, this stovetop mac and cheese recipe will be a go-to for years to come!
Why buy the blue box of pre-packaged mac and cheese when it is SO easy to make homemade stovetop mac and cheese? This recipe delivers creamy cheesy flavor in no time at all!
Mac and Cheese Love
One of the simple pleasures of life, mac and cheese brings a smile to faces young and old alike!
It’s quick to prepare and is made with a few pantry staples making it the perfect weeknight staple!
Ingredients & Variations
One of the great things about stovetop mac and cheese is that it can be customized! All great mac and cheese recipes have two basic things: pasta and cheese.
Pasta: Mac & cheese noodles are traditionally macaroni, but why not try these alternatives:
- egg noodles, penne, rotini, shells
Cheese: Cheddar is the go-to choice in this recipe, the sharper the cheese, the more flavor it will have!
- Other additions: White cheddar, havarti, Monterey jack,
- Toss in a handful of bleu cheese crumbles with the cheddar for a slightly tangy flavor! So good!
Do not use pre-shredded cheese in this recipe, it does not melt well.
Veggies: Mac and cheese also lend itself well to the addition of veggies!
- Frozen mixed veggies, steamed broccoli or cauliflower
- Sliced mushrooms
- Rotel tomatoes or salsa (or even a can of tomato soup)
Even mini meatballs or bacon crumbles can be delicious additions!
How to Make Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Stovetop mac and cheese is great because it’s ready faster than the baked version.
- Mix together a bit of the evaporated milk and seasonings (per recipe below), set aside.
- Boil macaroni noodles in water and remaining evaporated milk until tender. Do not drain.
- Slowly add remaining ingredients, mixing slowly until the cheese is melted.
Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
For the Cheese Sauce:
This macaroni is boiled directly in the milk/water mixture. The amount of liquid needed can vary based on the type of pasta and even varies from brand to brand. Add more water 1/4 cup at a time if needed until the noodles are tender.
Before you add the cheese in, you will want to make sure there is some liquid in the bottom of the pot (image below) before you add the cheese as this is what creates the sauce.
Tips for Creamy Mac and Cheese
Just a few simple tips to make the best stovetop mac and cheese recipe ever!
- To get it as creamy as it can get, stir slowly and gently so as not to break up the noodles.
- Using evaporated milk will produce creamier results over regular milk.
- Good quality cheese is the star of this recipe! The smaller the shred the easier it will melt.
- If possible, avoid pre-shredded cheese – this type of cheese has additives to prevent it from sticking that cause the cheese to not melt properly and the sauce to become grainy.
- A dash of white pepper before serving will bring together all the flavors!
Fave Mac and Cheese Recipes
- Velveeta Mac and Cheese
- Baked Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole
- Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
- Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese
- 15 Minute Mac and Cheese
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
Did you enjoy this creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- 3 ⅔ cups water plus extra as needed
- 12 ounces evaporated milk
- 3 cups elbow macaroni or short pasta
- ½ teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon seasoned salt
- 2 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese grated
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Bring water, evaporated milk and seasonings to a boil.
- Add macaroni and simmer stirring frequently until the macaroni is tender, 12-14 minutes. Add additional water ¼ cup at a time if needed. Ensure you have liquid in the bottom of the pot to make the sauce.
- Once macaroni is tender, remove from the heat and stir in cheese a bit at a time until melted.
- Stir in butter and season with salt & pepper to taste.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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Would it be possible to make this recipe with regular milk rather than evaporated milk? Evaporated just isn’t something I normally have on hand.
I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure if the milk would hold up or curdle. Evaporated milk isn’t quite as rich so it may not thicken quite the same. Let us know how it goes!
I really wanted to like this recipe, but it was completely flavorless. I admit that I did not read the recipe directions through first before making the mac and cheese, otherwise I would have caught your discrepancy in which you first state to add the water, evaporated milk and seasonings to the pot and bring to a boil, but then say to add the seasonings at the end. I don’t know if that makes a difference but I will have to definitely place a good portion of the blame with the way the recipe is written. However, once the mac and cheese was made and I realized that it didn’t have any flavor, I doubled all of the spices and added more at the end, plus practically doubled the amount of sharp cheddar and it still had no flavor according to me, my husband and my son.
Sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy this mac and cheese as much as we do. Did you use pre-shredded cheese? Did you add the parmesan cheese?
The notes state to mix the evaporated milk & cornstarch together per recipe below & set aside? If this is done, how much of each & when & how is it added?
Sorry for the confusion Patsy, the written recipe with measurements is correct. The write up should say has mixed the milk with seasonings.
This recipe looks great — especially since I have two boys who don’t eat turkey on Thanksgiving. We’re having a small get together with friends (under 10 people!) and I’m planning to bring this dish. Here’s the thing — my oven is on the blink, which is why I wanted a stove top recipe. Do you think it would work to make this dish and then put it in a casserole dish and melt some cheese on the top in the microwave before serving?
Yes, I do think that would work. You will want to make sure it’s saucy (add a splash of milk if needed) before microwaving and cook just until the cheese melts.
Thank you for the speedy reply! I will try it just the way you suggested. And I’ll let you know how it works out. Thank you again and Happy Thanksgiving!
Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family too!
Finally a recipe for the perfect creamy Mac and cheese! Thank you for sharing!
You’re so very welcome Lee. Glad you love this mac and cheese as much as I do!
What happened to the eggs in this recipe?
Hi Camilo, this recipe has been updated for improved texture and flavor :)
Just tried this. So yummy! I added some cheese to the top, and baked it in the oven for about 20 minutes.
So happy you enjoyed it Lisa!
Awesome and quick…you can add additional flavor, but I like the creaminess and simplicity in which I will follow with mac going inside to make meatballs stuffed with mac.
This has got to be the best and easiest mac and cheese recipe I have ever had!! I did not have any dry mustard so just left it out – but it was still wonderful. You are the best!
So glad you enjoyed it Gina! I love how quick it is too!! :)