quick, essential stovetop mac-and-cheese

A couple years ago, at my second home (the grocery store, alas, not, like, the shore) I was passing through the boxed macaroni and cheese section and realized my son, then five, had grown up so far without ever trying it. I realize some people pat themselves on the back about this, but I’m more skeptical about things. Realistically, by the time my kids grow up, I will have inundated them so with so many kale caesars, farro salads and wholesome slaws, sweet potatoes, and homemade from-scratch birthday cakes they’ll have no choice but to rebel with a steady diet of sugar cereals, frozen pocketed foods, and frosting from a can. Maybe leveling things up earlier on will help avoid this outcome? So I bought a box, made it for dinner that night (with the requisite steamed broccoli on the side, nobody ever tells you how much broccoli you’re going to steam when you become a parent) and oh, I’m sorry, were you waiting for me to call it terrible? A disappointment? A memory from childhood that did not hold up? It was anything but. I love orange cheese powder and I do not wish to keep it to myself any longer.

NEW: Watch me make this on YouTube!

i love this ruffly shapea little water and a lot of pasta is fine hereparmesan is all you needsometimes I get fancy with aged cheddar

I understand that the internet can supply me with orange cheese powder but I promise, that’s not where I’m going with this. I want to talk about why we like it and what I — an adult who doesn’t want to make a habit of the boxed stuff, nor live a life devoid of the dish it creates — do when I’m craving stovetop pasta with a sauce of melted cheese intensely* and nothing else will do.

stir the cheese in off heat
mix it

Please note a perfect recipe for a decadent, show-stealing, centerpiece casserole of macaroni and cheese with baked buttery crumbs on top already exists and we’ve been making it for years. A miraculous hack (you don’t even pre-boil the pasta or make a sauce) of a rich, bronzed macaroni-and-cheese also exists in the archives, but it spends a long time in the oven. This isn’t for those times. This is for 15 minutes from now, all in one pot, from ingredients you already keep around. And it’s a single serving, so when your craving has passed, you can return to a life of leafy greens, or, you know, do it again tomorrow.

quick, essential stovetop mac-and-cheese

* often on days I thought I’d be fine just eating, like, a hard-boiled egg for breakfast after going for a run and roar into the kitchen an hour later ready to tackle any food that isn’t already dead


One year ago: Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes and Pomegrante Grapefruit Paloma
Two years ago: Broccoli Melts and White Russian
Three years ago: Perfect Corn Muffins and Spaghetti Pangrattato with Crispy Fried Eggs
Four years ago: Stuck Pot Rice with Lentils and Yogurt and Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew
Five years ago: Italian Stuffed Cabbage and Blood Orange Margaritas
Six years ago: Double Coconut Muffins
Seven years ago: Green Bean Salad with Pickled Onions and Fried Almonds and Spaghetti with Lemon and Olive Oil
Eight years ago: Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Cream and Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe
Nine years ago: Alex’s Mom’s Stuffed Cabbage, Toasted Coconut Shortbread, Devil’s Chicken Thighs with Braised Leeks and Red Kidney Bean Curry
Ten years ago: Pear and Almond Tart and Greens, Orzo and Meatball Soup
Eleven years ago: Mom’s Chocolate Chip Meringues and For Beaming, Bewitching Breads

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Fried Rice with Zucchini and Tomatoes and Cheesecake Bars with All The Berries
1.5 Years Ago: Burrata with Lentils and Basil Vinaigrette
2.5 Years Ago: Frozen Hot Chocolate
3.5 Years Ago: Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake
4.5 Years Ago: Kale Salad with Pecorino and Walnuts

Quick, Essential Stovetop Mac-and-Cheese

  • Servings: 1
  • Print

I use parmesan or pecorino here, because I find them to have the maximum salty, cheesy impact in small quantities, plus, I always keep them around. However, if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll swap half of it with a very sharp aged cheddar. Please note that if you use a Microplane rasp to grate your cheese, it’s going to be a lot lighter at a 1/2 cup quantity, and therefore less cheesy in the end, which would be tragic.

A few other tips: I find using smaller quantities of water than usually recommended for pasta is fine for mac-and-cheese, where we want a starchier effect. I like to season mine with a good amount of black pepper for a cacio e pepe vibe. For pasta, you’ve probably noted that no “mac” or macaroni was used in the making of this dish, but you can use it here. I am forever weak in the face of an unusual pasta shape, however, and used something called “sagne a pezzi” which looks like broken pieces of ruffly lasagna edges. I also love this with medium shells. Do not go crazy measuring two teaspoons of butter from a stick, just use a little shy of the tablespoon mark. Finally, and I forgot to mention this initially, but sauces like this can be great with a touch of finely grated garlic — just half a small clove, Microplaned, would be ideal for this volume.

  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) dried pasta, such as macaroni or another small twisty shape
  • 2 teaspoons (10 grams) salted or unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) low-fat or whole milk
  • Many grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 cup (1 ounce or 30 grams) finely grated parmesan or pecorino cheese

Bring a small-to-medium pot of very well-salted water to a boil and add your dried pasta. Cook it until firm tender, then drain. Return pot to stove and melt butter in the bottom. Using a spoon or whisk, add flour and mix until it disappears. Add milk, a tiny splash at a time, stirring constantly so no lumps form. Season with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and many grinds of black pepper. Bring sauce to a simmer. Cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in grated cheese until combined. Add drained pasta, stir to evenly coat. Scoop into a bowl (okay, I won’t tell anyone if you don’t) and finish it with more black pepper, if you wish. Repeat as needed.

** I talk about my cheddar cheese fixation here, actually, and a few other favorite things.

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339 comments on quick, essential stovetop mac-and-cheese

  1. SallyT

    My kids VASTLY prefer Annie’s mac and cheese (and Kraft, even more) to ANY homemade version that I make, which is truly ironic given how much I cook. For my daughter’s 4th birthday, we tried the Serious Eats version of mac and cheese that is supposed to taste like Kraft and it was a big fail!

    Nevertheless, I’ll definitely try this!

      1. SallyT

        YES – it was heavy – but my older daughter and husband loved it. I ate so much homemade mac and cheese during my second pregnancy that it turned me off for years…!

      2. LAURA

        Sadly my children don’t really like homemade Mac n cheese (yet) so this seemed like a good gateway. Just made it for the kids and it’s so good. Highly recommend doubling it “for the kids.” It was also really easy, not harder than boxed and only a few minutes extra hands on time. They like it too so I’ll definitely make it again!

      3. Liz Corsini

        I made this as written, but quadrupled the recipe. I did about half Parmesan and half sharp cheddar. It was EXACTLY what we were all hoping for! Totally gives you the “boxed” Mac n Cheese feel, but better, and it’s basically the same or similar amount of work.

    1. june2

      I can’t find a stand alone excerpt of the mac and cheese part (starts at min 6:40) but Heston B has the definitive on superior mac and cheese… ; ) It’s straight up food science for the win:
      How To Cook Like Heston: s1 ep5: Cheese

    2. Sylvia

      100g of macaroni, cook 1 minute before the packet says, drain and add 2 slices of kraft slices, stir while it melts, take off stove and add a heaped tablespoon of butter. Voila, mac and cheese.

      I am definately going to try this recipe from smitten as my 2 year old son is obsessed with the above recipe but I think the parmesan is more healthy!!

      1. Sylvia

        OK I’ve tried smitten recipe and it is so good! My 2 year old loved it today for lunch. 115g is a perfect amount for him and enough leftovers for 2 small portions for dinner

  2. Anna

    I have been obsessed with cacio e pepe this winter! It’s a snack a few times a week at least. I will have to try out your slightly more complicated version. Thanks!

            1. Katie

              I tried it and LOVED it. Then I doubled it (bc the 1 serving wasn’t quite enough for me) and it was terrible and gummy. Strange. But I think I’m going to try the original version again.

          1. It works! If the liquidity doesn’t absorb, take the lid off or turn up the heat (but keep an eye on it). Don’t just let it go longer – that’s when it goes gummy.

          2. answergirl

            I too was worried about the gumminess of using broth, and then I read somewhere to cook the broken angel hair pieces like risotto and add the broth slowly, not all at once. Worked like a charm! I doubled the recipe, used Not Chick’n broth, and added some frozen peas at the end. Both husband and 5 year old had seconds.

      1. CarolJ

        Thank you for posting this – it was perfect for my home-alone supper last night: something warm and satisfying using ingredients I needed to use up and so easy to make. I used GF cappellini, Better then Bouillon chicken base, 1/4 lemon, and a generous sprinkle of Parmesan. Creamy and delicious. I’m definitely keeping this in my back pocket for future solo dinners.

      2. Sarah

        Doubling it or tripling it is where it gets tricky – for the single serving, it’s magic. You just have to make sure you are adding enough liquid and keep an eye on it, not leaving the pot lid on the whole time. You’ll need to check it, stir, and really make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom or get to the gummy stage. Timing and liquid is tricky with this one, but so worth it if it comes out right! Practicing helps :)

  3. This is funny…my two oldest kids grew up on a steady diet of everything fresh from the garden, homemade everything, rarely touched anything out of a box – and now they are teenagers who refuse my cooking to have cheap freezer pizzas, McDonalds and yes, frosting straight out of the can. I’m hoping it’s a phase and by the time they have kids of their own, they will be eating healthy again. That’s how it works, right? RIGHT?

    1. Sidney

      Right! My kids, 33 and 36 now, had a junky food phase but have come full circle to healthy homemade meals. Especially when the ever-adorable grandkids started arriving!

    2. Karen

      My oldest was raised, for most of his young life, as a vegetarian/vegan, until our third was born and I was found to have a serious nutritional deficiency related to our diet. We switched to an omnivorous diet and I swear my oldest loves meat above all things now. And shuns most vegetables, despite my assurances that veggies and fruits are good for you.

    3. Emma

      Yes. Speaking as a 31 year old who grew up with dinners of brown rice and veggie/tofu stir fry, homemade healthy everything, it will come back around! In college I rejoiced at the sugary cereals in bulk containers in the dining hall and tostinos pizza rolls and doritos. While I still do love junk cereals, I also make my own granola (of course with Deb’s recipe!) and lots of homemade healthy meals now. Let them rebel and remember that all those junk foods are usually fortified with lots of vitamins. Heh.

    4. I grew up on a totally homemade diet – and I didn’t rebel. Now I am a cake snob and discerning eater in general (not necessarily “healthy” – but discerning, butter yes!). But… I still love me some boxed mac and cheese!
      (Annie’s over Kraft though)

  4. Theresa Carey

    Ever since my severe gluten allergy was diagnosed 7 years ago, I’ve been searching for ways I can still eat pasta with thick creamy sauces. The state of gluten-free pasta has vastly improved and there are several brands that are terrific. I use potato starch rather than wheat flour for thickening, and it works great. My gluten-loving friends and family cannot tell the difference!

    1. Sarah F

      Thank you for this! My mouth waters over Debs recipes but I skip many because of my daughter’s celiac. I’m not accomplished enough to know what to substitute for wheat flour, besides using the g-free subs. You made my (and my daughter’s) day!!

          1. DAR

            As does Arrowroot powder. If the recipe calls for 1 Tablespoonful of Flour ss your thickener, then you would use 1/2 Tablespoonful of Arrowroot Powder instead.
            I couldn’t edit my first comment. (-;

  5. Sudie

    Can’t wait to try this. I fear I will end up buying one of those small plastic tubs of pre-grated parmesan because it always takes me forever to do so myself – are there any tricks there?

      1. Lauren Carella

        Hi Deb – fellow native central-Jersey girl with an 11 year old son here. Been a fan since (at least) 2012. (I’ve lost count.) Wondering if I use the same amount of flour per serving if I’m adjusting for five servings (or more)? Thanks!

    1. I like to just pop my chunk of parmesan (or other hard cheese) into the food processor with just the blade and whir it into submission. Anything to avoid grating my knuckles or nails…

    2. danitaday

      I use my vitamix to chop parmesan cheese. Cutting it was into chunks first. I buy the large block of parmesan from Costco. I save some of the block to have for snacking and grating larger chunks as needed.

  6. Charlotte in Toronto

    I tried the after seeing it on your Instagram stories. I love it. Its a keeper. And you’re right about needing salty cheese. There is a chain restaurant in Canada called The Old Spaghetti Factory (maybe you American guys have it too) that makes a simple spaghetti with brown butter and this salty cheese (I can’t remember or pronounce the name). It’s my fave. I’ve ordered every time I’ve been there.

        1. Charlotte in Toronto

          In Toronto we have access to an impressive line-up of cheese varieties bit I can’t find this salty wonder anywhere. It’s a shame because this is such a simple dish and it’s so straight forward. I’ve tried parm and pecorino but it’s just not the same.

        2. Claire

          Try a Greek food specialty store. It’s a Greek cheese. Add some leftover roasted lamb and spinach to the dish and it’s a one dish meal!

          1. Charlotte in Toronto

            Wow! Thanks guys, for answering my call for help. I’ll go looking locally on Saturday and if I can’t find it I’ll do Amazon. I can taste it now…

        3. Kristen

          Tammy, I’ve reliably found mizithra cheese in Greek food stores! Any place that you would find fresh phyllo and vats of feta probably has mizithra. It’s a little bit weird looking: it’s usually white and dome-shaped. Sometimes it comes in a block, and sometimes I see it shredded and bagged.

        4. Maria

          Mizithra is a Greek cheese. It can be found at any Greek Market.

          It comes in hard-for grating and soft-for slicing and eating as is.

  7. dianahubbell

    I’ve been reading this blog for just shy of forever and while I’ve loved many of your recipes, I’ve never felt compelled to comment… until now. I’m currently a grad student with way too little time to cook, plus a desperate need for comfort food, and this post just saved my whole dang week. Thank you!

  8. enemycoward

    Ok good job posting this just before lunchtime! My one-year-old and I are scarfing this down right now. I used egg noodles and extra sharp cheddar, but kept your measurements and everything. Very yummy!

    I confess the three-year-old consumed quite a bit of the boxed stuff (mostly because I wanted it for lunch too!) until I read those articles about how much plastic is in that cheese powder from the production process. Thanks for a quick and yummy alternative!

    1. sinaasappeljetzt

      Yeah, that 2017 study on phthalates in cheese products was disturbing. The amount of phthalates found in cheese powder was even four times higher than in other cheese… :-/

  9. Evana

    Thanks for sharing, Deb! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe during what my boyfriend and I have named “parm-week”. We purchased a large wedge of parmesan, and are dedicating a week to trying recipes that feature parmesan. So far we are planning on Caesar salad; your asparagus, artichoke and shitake risotto; and will definitely be adding this to our list. Any other recommendations would be appreciated!

    1. Oooooh, make some frico – just put mounds of shredded parm on a parchment covered sheet pan and bake at 375 F for 5-6 minutes. You can even be fancy and shape the warm frico chips into cups or use herbed goat cheese between two frico chips to make an amazing frico sandwich snack.

  10. Michelle C.

    I have been using a very similar recipe (only difference is a higher sauce-to-pasta ratio) for several years – courtesy of a poster named “Canice” on the old Cooking Light BB. Try it with half cheddar, half smoked gouda some time ;-)

    1. deb

      You can get it saucier with 100 grams/3.5 ounces of dried pasta instead, which is more the Italian Standard serving size. But of course we sell pasta here in 1 pound/16oz packages so a quarter package makes more sense. (In Italy, or imported brands, it’s 500g/17.6oz packages so, you’d get 5 servings.)

      1. WN

        Fantastic! Made it on a whim after work, came together quickly. Made it for the fam so i did 4x this recipe. 3 cups grated cheddar, 1 cup freshly grated parm, 2 cups oat milk (that’s what we drink!), couple of shakes of garlic powder was the only extra addition. Really delicious.

    2. kcarolan06

      omg, I was just thinking about Canice the other day. It’s crazy how often I think of the old CLBB regulars and wonder what’s happened to them, where they are, how they’re doing.

      Can’t wait to try this–especially since the husband is weirdly not really a mac n cheese guy.

        1. Canice Flanagan

          Hi! I was notified by a friend that I’d shown up on this thread! How incredibly sweet to know that you remember/were thinking of me. (And I made mac ‘n’ cheese for two just last weekend.) This is not a quest for followers -scarcely ever use the platform- but I can be found on Twitter: @SoupOnSunday (and now you know it’s really, really me!!)

          1. Hi Canice and other past CLBB’ers. After it closed, several of us started The Great Food Forum. I don’t want to step on toes here…so if interested, please find us there. :)

  11. deb

    Just an etcetera, btw, I was thinking about adding some vegetables to this but my actual favorite way to eat this is with a side of a sharp, lemony green salad, like the kale caesar in my new book or the kale salad here. The contrast is aces here.

    1. Ellen

      I made this, but used only 2.5 oz. pasta, with 3.5 oz julienned zucchini. While the pasta cooked, I steamed the zucchini in a sieve above until tender, then tossed it together with the pasta…and added them both to the cheese sauce. Just as delicious, and a bit lighter.

  12. Emily

    My 2.5 year old has recently decided (so, realistically, she could change her mind at any given moment) that she likes the “cheesy pasta” at Panera, so I can’t wait to make this for her the next time my cheese-averse husband is gone for dinner.

    And Deb, your love for the orange powder is what keeps me coming back. More often than not you write something that makes me exclaim “Yessssss!”

  13. Listen, boxed shells and cheese is still my favorite food. If I’m sick or sad it is what I want- and I have no shame about it.
    However, I do want to make my own version so I’ve gone through every corner of the internet trying every variation I could find. Last month I caved and finally ordered a bag of sodium citrate from amazon and I’m never looking back. It makes the perfect ‘from the box’ style mac and cheese. It also makes the world’s greatest non-velveeta queso. You gotta try it Deb.

    1. Charlotte in Toronto

      How are you using the sodium citrate? I may need to order some. And I love the KD shells with 3 cheeses so fear not, you are not alone.

        1. Neil

          Would highly recommend this version as well. It’s very, very easy to make (provided you have the sodium citrate), and you can experiment with a bunch of different cheese combinations.

          That said, I do actually like béchamel versions, but the Modernist one is definitely the way to go if you want the cheese to take center stage.

        2. Patryce

          I tried the Modernist recipe and thought it tasted plastic-ey. So I use half the amount of sodium citrate called for, and half the butter/flour quantity from my usual recipe (One from a Mueller’s macaroni box, which calls for 8 oz pasta and 8 ox cheese) also. The sodium citrate ended up being 5.5 grams, which is pretty much one teaspoon so I just use the teaspoon. I think the texture is better with the butter and flour in it also.

  14. melissa

    i assume it should work ok to triple this for a family of three? can’t wait to make this for my daughters! i have a beloved homemade recipe, with the breadcrumbs, but it’s a pretty big investment of time and effort. i admit to giving my daughters the boxed stuff pretty regularly, but have lately experimented with a few versions in the instant pot, which were universally hated (too soupy and clumpy!). so this seems like a good quick option that they may actually like!

    1. Cy

      Love this, I only buy the Annie’s brand because of all the crap in the Kraft version. This is the perfect solution to had to homemade. Thanks!

  15. Peetu @ 1825Steps

    My husband who’s an amazing home cook and can whip up a meal was stumped when our kid started raving about mac n cheese (thanks daycare!) which we’d never had (we are from India, so growing up our intro to this was cartoons and syndicated tv shows). So we finally got a Kraft box and would make it for her. Recently she’s been open to trying ‘white’ version and she loves the Panera one. She has quite the critique of the white mac & cheese that he dad made and not in a way that was a confidence booster for her dad. But this one sounds like a keeper. Thanks!

  16. Mama Eckert

    I don’t know if this really qualifies as a “I made this”, but I did make the version from your Instagram stories, and it was amazing. Looking forward to trying the revised version…maybe today for lunch!

  17. SG

    I’ve been making this at least once a week since you shared in on Instagram. So happy to have it recorded somewhere other than a screenshot!

    I am interested in trying the smaller amount of butter – I had been adding just a tablespoon or so if the pasta cooking water to thin it out.

  18. Kate

    This recipe is the number one comfort food from my childhood. I call it (so elegantly) Parmesan pasta.The most challenging weeks end with a bowl of this, some red wine, and chocolate ice cream.

  19. Gerley

    Your kids are adorable! Jacob looks exactly like software would have predicted your child to look like with Alex, the perfect mix :D

  20. Anna

    Oh good lord, I just made this and ate it in about 25 min. Earth-shattering-ly good on a cold windy day like today. I’ve been making stovetop mac n cheese with a quick bechamel base for many years (my mom is the source of my recipe) but never with “good” cheese like this — always a mild cheddar. The mix of parmesan and sharp cheddar was an incredible kick. I topped my bowl with a handful of baby kale so I could feel it was a teensy bit more defensible for lunch. But it was actually a tasty, peppery addition. THANK YOU DEB!

  21. erin

    Oh dear, I just made this for dinner tonight and I don’t know where I went wrong! As soon as I took the drained pasta and added it to the sauce, the sauce seized up and turned almost to a gum-like texture. Taste is great, but not smooth and creamy :( To be fair I seem to have this problem a lot with bechamel sauces!

    1. I don’t usually have that trouble with bechamel, but every time I’ve tried making something like this recipe or “cacio e pepe” (using either Pecorino Romano or Parmesan), I get the same thing as you – globs of gum. Apparently it’s caused by too much difference in temperature between the pasta and the cheese. They talk about the issue here:

      I used to have grainy cheese sauce all the time when I tried to make it with cheddar cheese, but found that the problem was the bechamel being too hot and/or the cheese too cold. I had much better results when letting the cheese warm to room temperature, and taking the white sauce off the heat and letting it sit for a minute or so before adding the cheese.

    1. deb

      It’s 4 ounces, or a 1/4-pound, not cheap, but even at I think I’m remembering Parmigiano-Reggiano at $14/pound at my store, a few dollars. But I’m not here to tell anyone what they should or should not spend on food. I also really like Grana Padano cheese; it’s made in a similar way to the Parmigiano Reggiano but over a much wider area and with different regulations and controls, and it costs about half as much. It would work well here.

      1. Yes I am from Italy and can confirm this: Grana Padano is a perfect substitute for Parmigiano, especially if you manage to fin a well-aged type (say at least 24 months). It’s got a DOP (Protected Designation of Origin), just like Parmigiano, so you can be sure it’s made exactly the areas and by the method it should be made. And it’s cheaper as well (the difference isn’t so striking here in Italy, but still it lets you save a nice little amount of money).

        1. deb

          Glad to hear this. Earlier on in the site, I always mentioned grana as an alternative but so many people hadn’t heard of it, I ended up just going with parmesan. I’m long overdue to talk here about good vs. every day olive oil and butter, which mozzarella for which dishes, etc. i.e. when I splurge and where I don’t.

            1. deb

              Okay, I’ll start thinking about it. Tell me: What ingredients stress you out when you have to buy them because you’re not sure whether its worth the price — I know olive oil, butter, fancy cheese are the big ones for most people, what else? Of course, I will not have any answers as to “worth it” but I can tell you how I choose.

              1. Katie

                I tend to want to buy EVERYTHING HIGH QUALITY but legit don’t have the budget for that, nor does it really make sense. So, I guess I’m interested in knowing which cheeses are worth it, if there are any spices that really need to be high quality purchases, when you really should splurge on a quality ingredient, etc etc etc. I know that basics – use good quality EVOO on salad or when the ingredient is the shining star, but wondering if I am missing anything.

                Also, I made this mac and cheese for dinner last night – doubled it, used half parm and half sharp cheddar, added a dollop of sour cream because I was winging it, and it was delish. Of course, my kid only ate raspberries and croutons, but at least my husband liked it.

              2. Tracy

                Canned tomatoes! I tend to go for the Muir Glen fire roasted for most recipes but would love to hear your thoughts on what to splurge vs save on.

              3. For me, it’s alcohol! I always have white and red wine on hand, and they’re easy to source cheaply. But when recipes call for sherry, brandy, rice wine, or some kind of liqueur, I really want to know if it’s worth shelling out $$ (and giving up cupboard space) for yet another bottle of booze that I may or may not use for anything else.

  22. Oh I loooooove the boxed stuff and haven’t let myself indulge in a few years. I always find that homemade mac and cheese isn’t cheesy enough, and I think it’s the fault of the milk-based sauce, the way a chocolate milkshake never tastes enough like chocolate ice cream because it is watered (milked?) down. I never thought about bolstering my cheddar with parm or pecorino, though! I’m eyeing you, stove and the half box of orcchiette in my closet….

  23. Athina

    Interesting Deb, I always try to avoid starchiness with mac n cheese-(actually, with any pasta) so I always boil with copious amounts of water, and cook the pasta very al dente. To me, it allows the cheesiness to really stand out and the cheesy flavor seems to stay more concentrated as well. Ah, Vive le difference!

  24. I started making this after you posted on IG haven’t turned back. It really hits the guilty pleasure but with real ingredients sweet spot, and is so easy for nights I don’t want to cook. My one tweak is to add a good bit of hatch green chile powder which really pumps it up.

    1. Lynn R

      Alex – I was just thinking of adding a note about hatch green chile powder, then I saw your post! I first encountered hatch flavored mac ‘n cheese at “Sprouts” – they have a boxed hatch mac ‘n cheese (store brand) that is yummy. I then found the hatch powder and have added it to both boxed and homemade mac’n cheese. LOVE the flavor! I haven’t tried using fresh roasted hatch chiles yet (they are available on just about every corner in Denver in late summer/early fall) – I always have lots frozen in the freezer to use throughout the year. BUT, if you aren’t near New Mexico and can’t find hatch chiles, the powder works very well for all sorts of recipes. Unique flavor.

  25. I make mac and cheese with a bechamel, too- but find that when I add just the pecorino (pre-grated from the store, but nothing added) that I have on hand, the texture of the sauce is always grainy. Do you think it is because it’s pre-grated, and thus a little drier?

    1. deb

      I haven’t worked with pregrated cheese here, but in other recipes, I find that the cheese is added and then cooked into the sauce for a minute (or several) and for me, this is when it seems grittier.

      1. Tina

        Oh, maybe this is what happened to mine. I made it a couple of nights ago and it was *delicious*, but it was slightly gritty. I was worried about my cheese melting so I popped the heat on briefly. I’ll try completely off the heat next time as per instructions. Otherwise though, it was amazing. It really did remind me of the tanginess of boxed mac&cheese with some pepper on top. But definitely better. I had to go out and get more pasta and parmesan tonight for repeats. :)

        1. deb

          I often mix the sauce with the pasta when it’s only, say, 90% melted. It looks like it’s not fully, but once it goes over the pasta, it’s all smooth.

    2. Sue T.

      I’ve read that pregrated cheese has a starch powder added to keep it loose and separated. Perhaps that is what’s throwing off your sauce. It’s enough that it is not recommended for people trying to do the low carb diet.

  26. JP

    In the bad old days, one might add a drop of red and yellow food coloring to this to give the impression that yellow cheddar was used, or to impersonate Kraft Dinner. Today, perhaps one could add a tiny bit of carrot juice to accomplish the same thing (if you have ever read the Little House books, you would know that in olden days pioneer women would add color to their butter with a little bit of grated carrot juice). I know it is crazy for an adult to say, but this looks so white. I need my mac and cheese to look orange…at least a little orange.

  27. banjaloupe

    I’ve been making this exact quick mac n’ cheese for a while and love to doctor it with some white cheese, salsa, a south-of-the-border spice mix, or even with fajitas on the side (or on top!)

  28. Jenn

    I make my mac & cheese this way too but after I portion out the kid’s shares (making a larger batch) I put some in a little ceramic dish with extra grated sharp cheddar on top and throw it under the broiler for a few minutes. For me mac & cheese is mainly about the delicious crispy cheesy lid… mmm. Anyway I just made this exact recipe for my three year old and she scarfed it all down very happily. I’m with you on serving it (for myself) with a sharp, lemony kale-slaw/ salad or Heidi’s shoyu/ sesame kale chips – sooo good!

  29. MR in NJ

    One of my prouder moments as a mom (many years ago) was when the mother of my son’s friend ruefully told me that while my son was visiting, she pulled a blue box of Kraft macaroni and cheese out of a cupboard and my son said, “What’s that?” (I made from-scratch mac and cheese all the time.)

  30. Kate

    My version of quick homemade mac and cheese tastes just like the box but is (if I may offer humbly) even quicker and easier. Drain pasta with a lid so there’s a bit of water still clinging to everything. Over high heat, stir in a couple tablespoons of butter, a couple tablespoons of creme fraiche, and a handful or two of pre-grated sharp cheddar (right from the bag!). Stir like crazy till everything’s melty and incorporated. Done and delicious! I make it for my 5-year old but make extra for me!

    1. Kathy D

      This is basically what we’ve done in our house for years – goes by the name “cheesy spaghetti “. Variations include different kinds of cheese, some milk or 1/2 and 1/2 or sour cream (whatever is around), sometimes a squeeze of garlic, etc. Always delicious and devoured.

    1. Cameron

      This is the perfect recipe for these shelter-in-place times. Made tonight as part of dinner, really good! Small recipe so great way to use up a little leftover ingredients when you don’t have high-quality dairy. Had a little small shells left, probably close to 6oz, some parm found in the back of the cheese drawer, and Some random low fat milk. Smooth sauce and I added a ton of black pepper. Toddler and I basically lapped it up.

  31. JuliaKateLucy

    I made this for myself tonight. I had 6 ounces of penne rigate on hand, so I scaled all the other ingredients up to the slightly higher quantity of pasta. I used an ounce of cheddar and half an ounce of pecorino romano in the sauce. I remember as a child my mother adding dried Coleman’s mustard to her version of mac n cheese. Since mine was stale (got lost in the back of the spice shelf) I used vadouvan instead when I made the roux. I liked the way it turned out and had a hard time only eating half. Of course I served it with the obligatory sautéd spinach and kale. I find it genius that this recipe is infinitely scalable. Well ok, maybe not infinitely, but easily scalable up to about a pound of pasta.

  32. I put more grated cheese on top and put it under the grill to brown. Actually I make cauliflower cheese these days because it’s far less carbs and yummy. I have never made macaroni cheese from a packet. I add a little dried mustard powder and a teaspoon of stock powder to increase the flavour.

  33. Dahlink

    The comments remind me that years ago a cousin who is an excellent cook had her daughter come home from a sleepover raving about a dinner with (I think) meatloaf and mashed potatoes. The mom said “But I make those things, too,” and the daughter said “But, Mom, this was GOOOOD.”

    And having dinner with another cousin we asked what was for dinner and she said
    “Just steaks.” My then 5-year-old said “Mom, what’s a steak?”

  34. MadeleineC

    Your opening comment, Deb, about the grocery store being your second home reminded me of my times in the grocery aisles with a child in the cart, almost 30 years ago now. I can’t help sharing the time my 3-year-old son was in the cart, leaned his head sweetly against my chest and said. loud and clear, “oh Mommy, I just love your breasts!”

  35. Katie C.

    I make the Martha version all the time but only half the recipe since we are only two people. It reheats very well too. I even gave some to one of my neighbors who then wanted the recipe.

    When I was in college, back in the dark ages pre-internet, one of my roommates kept taking the cheese powder out of the Mac and cheese box to put on her popcorn. We ended up with so many boxes of just plain noodles. She needed that big container of cheese powder!

  36. Kirsten

    I made this tonight immediately after reading the recipe. It tasted great, but turned out kind of gummy and all stuck together, not really saucy. It almost had the consistency of mashed potatoes before I added the pasta. I did use spaghetti (it was already cooked in the fridge), which maybe made it all get stuck together even more, but I wish the sauce had been a bit more… loose. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. deb

      Hm, what kind of cheese? Was the spaghetti cold? That might have done it, where the sauce that would slip easily over hot, just-boiled pasta, would seize up on cold spaghetti.

  37. Kate

    No worries, Deb. My daughters, now 25 and 26 (how did that happen!) say they were the ONLY ones with fresh fruit and veggies in their school lunch, homemade meals for dinner and ‘healthy’ snacks, (with plenty of sweet homemade desserts) etc., and now they remain healthy eaters who bake their own dinner and desserts at the amazement of their friends! Love Mac and cheese with steamed broccoli! Thanks, as always, for another winner!

  38. Teri from Vancouver

    Deb I don’t know if you are familiar with Delia Smith’ s method for making a béchamel but it was a game changer for me. She whisks the flour into the cold milk FIRST and then puts it on the heat with the dollop of butter floating on top. The butter melts, the béchamel thickens and there is none of this gradual addition of milk into the roux! It works! I love it!
    And I’ll still see you in September ;-)
    Don’t forget you promised to show me where to get Sicilian oregano!

    1. Me

      Thanks for the tip! I used this to good effect. I should have thought of this earlier since this is how I dissolve constarch/flour when making gravy.

      I made this with half parmesan and half sharp cheddar which I made twice as the first got scarfed. I think this may now be my go-to fast mac and cheese recipe going forward. The Serious Eats 3 ingredient mac and cheese was my previous go-to fast recipe.

  39. We made stovetop mac and cheese just the other night (off and used elbows from Granoro which are a DEAD RINGER for Kraft-style elbows, if you’re looking for something like that ( We used some hatch chile cheddar we had picked up in Wisconsin, which I can highly recommend. We made the mac and cheese the day before you posted this recipe–I’ll have to give yours a try (particularly since it’s scaled down, hmmm…)

  40. Madison

    This was outstanding. I intended to double the recipe for two of us, but only had 5 oz of pasta in the pantry (rookie mistake!) I doubled the sauce and stirred in two cups of steamed broccoli along with the noodles. Also, I had the ends of a well-melting gruyere and a sharp Irish cheddar, so I subbed out about half of the pecorino for those.

    OMG it was good–warm, comforting, and oh-so-delicious. Thank you for yet another perfect and simple weeknight dish, Deb! My partner is still talking about how great this recipe was. You’re the best!

  41. Marne Rogers

    Since you enlightened me to the difference between Morton and Diamond Kosher Salt, I hope you will be more specific which you used in any given recipe, please. Because of you, I now have both on hand along with a whole raft of others you had no influence over.

      1. Marne Rogers

        Thanks, Deb! Until you posted about salt, I had no idea there was anything generally available other than Mortons. My all time favorite is not Kosher, but Celtic Sea Salt. I also use pink Himalayan salt and Swedish flake often and occasionally fleur de sel or smoked salt. My husband thinks I am nuts to have so many different ones on hand, but I can taste the difference because I have a light hand.

  42. Kitchenbeard

    I make my catering and pop up crews a derivation of this for family meal all the time and usually jazz it up with scraps from what ever we’re making for the clients. It’s usually inhaled and very much appreciated.

  43. Beverley

    Hello. The print button is adding all the “previously” information, which takes up an entire page (and the first page!) Is this happening to anyone else? If yes, might it be possible to fix it? Thanks!

  44. Brooke R.

    I made this after your insta-story and just now. Both times I’ve only done 1/3 cup Parmesan and added a slice of American (🙈😱) cheese for creaminess. Huge hit.

  45. Amber

    Last year, while I was pregnant I had one truly prego meltdown. I was living in a foreign country where the cheese game was a bit sad and cheddar was nearly nonexistent. One day I was craving a good sharp cheddar and broke down knowing I couldn’t get any. I spent the next 2 hours crying in bed trying to find a way to have some shipped to me. Now that I’m back in the states, my fridge is never without a good sharp cheddar! I’m glad I’m not the only cheddar nut out there, and can’t wait to try your favorite!

  46. This is the first mac and cheese recipe I’ve made that’s been a success! Every time I make it I overcook the roux and burn the flour. Your instructions are perfect! Thank you!

  47. aloneinthekitchenwithaneggplant

    I’m just going to endorse all the other commenters – I was raised eating healthfully with lots of veggies and no white bread (with treats out and about) and then yes, when I was a teenager, I was constantly eating candy and cookies, there was a year in college when I would eat an entire bag of Milanos routinely as my only food for the day, somehow felt fine (?!?) and it all settled back down. Learning to try everything and enjoy greens early and understand cooking makes a huge difference!

  48. Oh my god Deb. YOU LIFESAVER. It’s snowing like crazy here in London, my bank have left me without a debit card, my heart got broken a few weeks ago, and I’m feeling more than a little blue right now. I have EVERYTHING to make this at home and plan to do this as soon as I battle my way there from work this evening. Comfort food is absolutely required today.

    Already planning to add some spinach, wilted in the pasta water, so I can justify it as a “well balanced meal”.


  49. DanaNC

    This saved a really crappy day for me yesterday! Funny enough, only pasta I had on hand was a box of my 5 year old son’s Annie’s ‘Mac and Trees’. Ha. Used the pasta, tossed in this delicious homemade cheese sauce (I used grated sharp cheddar) and swooned with every bite of my well-earned comfort food dinner. Posts like this are why I love SK so so much. Thanks!!

  50. Babs

    I had a recipe similar to this except it also included dashes of garlic and onion powders and it was amazing and I made it all the time as a teen. It was the first meal that I would routinely cook by myself (after, of course, the boxed version).

  51. Sierra

    I just made this for lunch with spaghetti noodles since that’s what I had on hand. Wonderful! Deb, how would this reheat? I would imagine not very well. I guess I’ll just enjoy it all in one sitting!

  52. Kates

    I will second the previous comment on the King Arthur Vermont Cheese Powder. I use it to make stovetop box-style mac & cheese and routinely add it to biscuits, traditional baked m&c to up the cheese flavor, and on popcorn. I can’t speak to any nutritional advantages, but I love using it and at least it doesn’t have that neon orange color additive.

  53. Dee

    Danger – besides some of the obvious, there are toxic chemicals in most boxed mac n cheese products.

    Some folks say don’t worry – but if it’s your kids?

    (From the article: “If you asked most scientists about the top 10 or 20 endocrine-disrupting chemicals they worry about, phthalates would be on that list,” Dr. Patisaul said. “We have an enormous amount of data.”

    Emerging research has also suggested links between early childhood exposure to phthalates and neurodevelopmental and behavior problems in young children, including aggression, hyperactivity and possible cognitive delays, said Dr. Sheela Sathyanarayana, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington in Seattle, who studies phthalates)

  54. erineaguayo

    When I read this a few days ago, I figured I’d never have a call for just one serving of mac n cheese. Lo and behold, I am somehow home alone for the first night in a decade (oh, children, how you change things) and I got to make it as written. I’ve made plenty of cacio e pepe, and vats of mac n cheese, but this is incredible–the smaller portions mean it comes out in 20 minutes flat, and it’s so much better than the box without any real extra effort. Thanks for “boiling” this down for us!

  55. I love mac-n-cheese, but we are rarely able to have it in our house. My wife has a visceral childhood aversion to homogenous white(ish) foods, so that rules out white sauces, porridge, and even custard (sadface). Does anyone else suffer from this?

    I used to try to cook ‘the best’ mac-n-cheese, in the hope that I could be the one to turn her, but to no avail. Needless to say, if I’m ever alone for the evening, I whip up a huge pot and gorge myself. It’s great baked, but I often don’t have the patience once it’s glistening and melty in the pan – forking in mouthfuls straight from the stovetop.

    I Make my M&C with extra-mature cheddar and a teaspoon of English mustard powder, for piquancy and extra depth. I’m looking forward to making your version furtively next time I’m alone, though!

  56. Jamie

    Oh my!!!! I just made this for lunch and it’s sooooo good! I didn’t have milk so I used almond milk and it tasted fine. It tastes like Cacio e Pepe!!!

  57. Keri

    I don’t drink milk and never have any so I substituted reserved pasta water (risky but it worked) and added a little extra parm and holy cheesy deliciousness. The best stovetop mac and cheese I’ve ever had, hands down. I’m broke and eat a lot of pasta with butter and cheese so this is a game changer. Thank you!!!

  58. Anastasia Parkin

    Yum! Can’t wait to make this! My go to for years has been Martha’s stovetop mac with Monterey, white cheddar, Parmesan, and a titch of Old Bay. It’s amazing. Although this looks like a little less work and a nice serving size! Thank you!

  59. Ann Brody

    Hi, Ann the RVer here. This post bought back many memories. Many, many years ago, when my children were growing up Mac and Cheese was a favorite. However, I never used the box. I boiled elbow macaroni, when done I added milk, margarine and velveeta cheese until it was a consistency that I was happy with. It was always delicious and my children loved it!

  60. Lindsey

    I used this recipe as a base; however, what I hand on hand at home was this: with goat milk, goat cheese, lentil pasta, and Parmesan cheese (I didn’t have an the full ounce of it.) The dish turned out delicious!

  61. Kate

    So good! Thank you for another go-to. I did this with a combo of parmesan and montgomery cheddar. Added freshly shelled peas (spring!). Such a delight. Thank you!

    1. Kate

      Oh! Meant to add – I used a thick nut milk (Nutpods – combo of coconut and almond) bc I had no regular milk at home and it still worked great.

  62. Eleanor Krol

    Hi Deb: I have been following you for years…ever since I found a picture of your kitchen in NY. It looked just like the kitchen in a NY apartment he shared. He did not cook at that time so I only saw it once. I had a good size kitchen but still found your suggestions very useful. I have no downsized and I am really taking your advice although at 84 it is difficult to change. I made this mac and cheese last night and it is a keeper, I doubled it because I had to make some for my husband and it was fast and easy. Perfect for a raging storm when you need comfort. Made sweet potatoes the night before just a little too salty but yummy. Have both cookbooks and use them often. Tell Mom we all love her apple cake.

  63. Kelly

    This is pretty much my standard quick weeknight “I need cheesy pasta ASAP” recipe, except I use goat cheese (it melts down super easy in a really creamy way with less butter/milk needed) and a good dose of crushed red pepper!

  64. Laura in CA

    Made this, but my kid (2yo) wouldn’t eat it – then he went and pointed to a box of mac ‘n cheese and said he wanted that (insert the palm to face emoji here). This is certainly fast, but I had to add a lot more milk to thin in out and, overall, thought it had too much sauce. Next time I’ll reduce the sauce amount. I 4x’ed the recipe, which might have been the issue, plus we have way too much pasta and WAY more than 4 people would eat…

  65. Emma O

    So, this is an UNHOLY amount of cheese to sauce. I actually used more milk and less cheese than specified because I was scaling it up x1.5 and I am crap at mental arithmetic – also, I got tired of continuously grating while the numbers on my scale slowly crept up 1g at a time! -, and it was still a crazy amount of cheese. I could barely get it to melt into the sauce. That being said, it was very very tasty and the toddler certainly had zero complaints. I might tone it down a notch next time though.

    1. Heather

      For fast easy grated Parmesan: I grate/grind it all at once in the food processor, dump it in a Tupperware, and stick it in the freezer. Then I always have it when I need it in a recipe.

  66. hicjacetmelilla

    No kidding, I have “Unusual or interesting shaped pasta” on my Amazon wishlist :) I too cannot pass up a weird or out-of-the-ordinary pasta shape.

  67. Kat

    just a thank you – i made this today (during the second nor’easter of our wintery march of 2018) and it really hit the spot.

  68. I had to chuckle reading this because I make homemade Mac and cheese for my 5-yr old son and never give him the boxed kind. im afraid I’m spoiling him and setting myself up for times when he’ll refuse anything boxed.

    This recipe looks similar to mine too. I use a combo of Chedar, Monterey Jack and Colby.

  69. Erin

    I quadrupled this last night for my family of 5. It worked very well with about half Parmesan and Romano and half white cheddar. The kids loved it and declared that it was as good as or better than the box. Next time I will try using some sharper cheese at the end for the adult portion. Thanks Deb!

  70. Jodes

    Oh my goodness! This was perfect for my can’t even be bothered ordering pizza state tonight! I added a spoonful of homemade tomato relish just cos I had it there. It’s totally going on my list of weekend lunches when there’s no food in the house.

  71. Raewyn

    I made this last night and it was delicious! Neither my husband nor 2 year old are big mac & cheese fans, but both cleared their plates. Now I can indulge my M&C cravings more often, thanks Deb! Also, I thought the sauce by itself would be fantastic poured over steamed broccoli or cauliflower, or perhaps sauteed leeks.

  72. I was 18 before I ever tasted Kraft dinner Mac n cheese, and sliced store bought bread, and broccoli wierd as that sounds for the broccoli…my mother grew her own veg and froze or canned it. And not only did broccoli not process well it was always full of bugs that needed too much dumping into vinegar water before steaming. And still the critters made it to the sure it grossed her out so any broccoli from the store was just too suspect with pesticides. Broc was high maintenance same with cauliflower. I remember her experimenting every year in the garden with pesticides free Broc and cauliflower. To no avail. It usually ended up in the compost. This is a women who is 83 and still goes out with her tongs and plastic bags on slug patrol most evenings to protect her veg in the garden. But when I left home to my own kitchen I spent first years enjoying Broc from the grocery store. My go to gourmet dinner was Broc pork chops and plain Jane uncle Ben’s rice. Then my husband and I bought our first house in June one year….and it came with a huge veg garden. With rows upon rows of Broc. I thought I was in heaven. Until I cooked it. Ooooh the bugs… That was 1979. I still don’t eat it often. In fact my kids didn’t get it very often. But all three adults with their own kids now love the stuff and make it often and chastised me often “how come we hardly ever had any”. It’s the same with milk my son was allergic to milk…as a baby he broke out in hives ….so after much research I decided that the only things that should be drinking cow’s milk are calves. So they rarely got it. We ate cheese and ice cream etc just not milk by the glass. But all three looooove milk as adults. And they love pkgd Mac&cheese and serve it often to their kids. It’s a staple for my gkids though apparently a healthier brand than Kraft . Sorry for the length

  73. This was perfect, so creamy and cheesy. I’ve made a lot of stovetop m&c’s over the years but never quite cracked the code. I used a blend of parm and pecorino and loved it. Even my picky mac n cheese connoisseur kid liked it (though the pecorino was a touch funky for him; next time I’d try cheddar for him…there will definitely be a next time!)

  74. Jeannette

    I just made this for breakfast (I work third shift, don’t judge!) and it was divine! Deb, have you tried Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar? It is made in Pike Place Market in Seattle, but they also have a store in New York. I highly recommend it!

  75. Elizabeth

    I usually make baked mac-and-cheese, but just made this using your ingredients and proportions, Deb, but the Delia Smith technique (thank you, SK readers/posters!), and it was so delicious. Dangerously easy, hahaha. I’m teaching my 12, 14, and 16 year-olds to cook (it’s a life skill, and if you like to eat, you ought to know how to cook, right?), and this is the next thing I will have them make.

  76. Susan

    This was perfection — I used a cheese combo of half pecorino romano and half Cabot Serously Sharp cheddar, and it was very similar in taste to Annie’s or other white cheddar box mac & cheese. Only waaaaaaay better! Couldn’t be simpler, honestly waiting for the water to boil/pasta to cook was the only thing that took any time. Thanks so much for this recipe, it’s officially my go-to stovetop mac and cheese!

    1. Susan

      Can’t find a way to edit my post — anyway if anyone cares, I forgot to mention that I totally omitted the pepper (don’t care for it and others can add at table) and used medium size shell pasta.

  77. Jamie

    I’m 37 weeks pregnant, living in the Netherlands (where Annie’s is impossible to come by), and have already made this recipe twice since you posted it. Thanks for helping me satisfy my craving!!

  78. Kelly

    there was a day when I was zipping through the grocery store trying to both shop for the week and figure out what to make for lunch when we got home from the grocery store. I spied the blue box with the orange powder inside and had all the cravings…it was one of maybe 10 things I’d eat in my picky eating childhood days, but my kids had never had it. My 7 year old’s response, when I proudly served it up, was “But mommy, it doesn’t taste like cheese!” I was torn between being proud of her palate and aghast that she didn’t love my childhood favorite (that I STILL LOVE SO MUCH!). And then I ate her portion.

  79. I didn’t know how much I needed this recipe! I made it tonight, except I used fusilli and a hunk of extra sharp yellow cheddar and paired it with buttery peas and cheap sauv blanc. Admittedly, as much as I like to cook, I make boxed Mac n cheese a few times a month. But this will definitely work it’s way into the rotation…. so much more satisfying and classy.

  80. I found this cooking recipe to be so simple yet so necessary! I love how you incorporated your own little flare of personal experiences to the post. Great meal for young kids or adults!

    How was cooking the pasta in broth sounds a bit interesting?

    The tips were also very helpful. I can’t wait to try out this stovetop mac and cheese! Thanks for sharing. I look forward to more yummy post

  81. Katie

    Just a quick tip I picked up somewhere about simple noodle and butter/ noodle and cheese dishes– add frozen peas and BAM! well rounded dinner.

  82. I’ve eaten this for the past four days. Yesterday I doubled it so my husband could have some, but he didn’t eat any. I just reheated it for lunch. Don’t worry, I packed a side salad.

  83. Blair

    This is exactly what I needed today! My favorite mac and cheese recipe is a labor of love, and I only make it when I have people visiting because it makes a ton. This was perfect for a single serve dinner, and it’s definitely more than enough to split two ways as a side dish. And so, so quick to make.

    I used Parmesan and a small piece of leftover Comté. Delicious. I’ll make again soon with some cheddar!

  84. nicole

    I quadrupled this for dinner with my husband with pipette shape pasta, using 2 tablespoons bread flour (alternative was whole wheat) and 2 tablespoons butter for 2 cups milk. After mixing the pasta and cheese sauce, I also stirred in some kale i had sauteed with garlic while the pasta cooked (couldn’t help myself). I was so surprised that the Parmesan, when whisked into the sauce, really blended well and wasn’t gritty at all. Really, super delicious, and the leftovers were great the next day cold for lunch.

  85. Susan

    Hi Deb.. I have a yen for a Noodles Romanoff. That’s Russian, right? Or is it a figment of Betty Crocker’s imagination, because there once was a boxed mix for this dish and it’s been discontinued. I loved that stuff. Can you ask your dear Mother in Law if it’s a real Russian recipe or an American invention.
    I am posting this here, because this Mac and cheese is what I’d model this noodle dish after but with the addition of sour cream stirred in at the end.. There are recipes out there..but they all don’t use a white sauce base..and don’t seem very authentic because they are trying to replicate Betty’s recipe..Thanks!

  86. This is way too delicious and easy to make. I don’t think I ever want to eat anything else again. I was so upset that I only had spaghetti around today and didn’t want to leave the apartment, and lo and behold, this recipe is to die for with spaghetti too!!

    I’ve been using lactose-free milk and butter (Parmesan is naturally pretty low lactose), and I’ve been throwing in microwaved frozen peas.

  87. Stephanie F.

    This was just so reassuring after a difficult day. Made it exactly as written, and I think I’ve already memorized it. Thank you!

  88. Babs

    I loved this. I made it with a really good white sharp cheddar. It was amazing. I used half as much pasta and all the cheese sauce because I like it extra saucy. Mmmm… licked the bowl clean.

  89. Emjay

    Made this as written except I tripled it (YAY LEFTOVERS) and ran out of black pepper and had to use white. (The horror…. the horror)

    O.M.G. I do long shift work and came home extra tired and stressed, and this met my “COOKING MAKES ME FEEL BETTER ABOUT THINGS BUT ALSO I DON’T WANT TO HAVE TO TAKE MORE THAN 30 MINUTES TO MAKE DINNER” need, as well as my and my partner’s “CHEESE AS A STRESS REDUCER” needs.

    Deb, your food is perpetually a lifesaver, but I could practically cry about this today. Thanks!

  90. Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the web the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I definitely get annoyed while people consider worries that they plainly don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top as well as defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  91. Sophia Chamberlain

    If you’re out of milk/never have milk in the house and wondering if this can be made with half and half and vegetable stock the answer is YES.

  92. annemcdonald28

    This is just ineffably perfect. All of the joy of cacio e pepe with none of the hearbreak of the congealed globs of cheese we so often end up with making the classic version. And it took less than 10 minutes start to finish after my kids went down for naps! I can’t imagine a more blissful mom lunch. And on the day my two-year-old bit his brother at church and then came home and started pounding his baby sister in the face with a stuffed bunny. I needed this. Thank you!

  93. AnnieN

    I made this twice last night. First time for me and the munchkin. Second time for my husband who came home later than usual. We really enjoyed it. Great flavor (used parm reg and mild white cheddar) and surprisingly “light”. I’m often disappointed with a lot of stovetop mac n’ cheese recipes because the cheese sauce was so heavy and overly cheesy (didn’t think it was possible, but yes, too cheesy). This was just right, so creamy, cheesy and light that I didn’t feel like I had a gut bomb after eating more than half the pan. The little one initial spat it out because this was technically her first time with mac n’cheese. She didn’t quite know how to deal with it. Eventually, she managed to eat 3/4 of her small bowl. I consider that a thumbs for the recipe. Looking forward to this again soon.

  94. David

    “Previously: I shared this quick recipe on Instagram Stories last month using 1 tablespoon butter and flour for 1/2 cup milk, which had always been my formula here, but have tweaked it since after finding the sauce a little thick and dry, and now use less; I find this just right.”

    What the heck does that paragraph mean, less of what? Actually, the listed ingredients use MORE butter and flour, not less:

    2 teaspoons (10 grams) salted or unsalted butter
    2 teaspoons (6 grams) all-purpose flour

    But there’s yet another problem: 2 teaspoons is 10 grams NOT 6 grams. So which is it for the flour?

    This recipe is a mess of contradictory and erroneous information. Please clean it up.

    1. AnnieN

      Calm down, @David. Please read the post again.

      2 tsp of FLOUR is ~6 grams. 2 tsp of BUTTER is ~10 grams. You are trying to equate weight with volume. The volume (2 tsp) of a solid powder (flour) is not going to be the same volume as a liquid (butter) because their densities are different.

      The current recipe uses 2 tsp flour and 1/2 cup of milk. So if Deb had previously used 1 tablespoon of flour with the same amount of milk (1/2 cup), then it follows that she now uses less flour (for the reasons that she cited above).

      The recipe is fine and correct. There are no contradictions (none that I can see anyway). The differences in weight and volume often trip up a lot of us. They aren’t the same and we need to understand that when reading a recipe.

      1. AnnieN

        Argh, I need to write more carefully too! Let me try this again:

        The teaspoon is a volume measurement. The weight of 2 teaspoons of flour (solid) is not got to be the same as the weight of 2 teaspoon of butter. They have different densities.

        Apologies for the confusion.

  95. melissarina

    I made this and I loved it! I used almond milk as I was out of normal milk and din’t realise until I was half way through making it, and it turned out great.

  96. Heather

    This recipe really works. One thing to note: I made it with tiny elbow macaroni and it really made enough for two (small) servings, not one. Bonus!

  97. Made this with whole wheat spaghetti broken up into pieces, Tillamook Medium Cheddar, and a roux made with olive oil and whole wheat flour; also mixed in some sauteed spinach and garlic when adding the cheese sauce. Even with all these modifications, it was still delicious and the proportions were spot on! Delicious dinner last night and, reheated, a luxurious lunch today.

  98. Annie

    I’m going back to this tonight and wanted to let you know that we’ve been trying to make cacio e pepe for years and never quite get it right. This is the closest thing to it when you use pecorino romano and you pepper things like my husband (which is to say, excessively). Thanks for the great recipe! A staple in my household for sure. Also, I realize that to say this is like cacio e pepe may be to blaspheme to purists, but I just can’t get it right ok?

  99. Naomi

    I know this is an older post, but I was just catching up after a busy few months.

    I loved the cheddar comment at the end! I’m living in Slovakia and went almost nine months without cheddar, then found some randomly at a Lidl and got embarrassingly excited and bought 4 or 6 250g packages. Thankfully, it was amazing and we’ve continued to return to the store a couple towns over to satisfy our cheddar cravings.

  100. Eliza

    I think I had too much butter so I put in more flour and then more milk and cheese. I think my ratios ended up a bit off since it’s was a bit gooey. Still really good though! I will definitely make it again, following the recipe closely next time.

  101. Abby Bernstein

    This is absolutely perfect as is, and is a new staple of the next 5 months of my pregnancy. And I’m entirely ok with that!

  102. Lindsey

    I quadrupled this to use a full pound of pasta. I used 4 tbsp of butter and 4 tbsp of flour, 1.5 cups chicken stock and 1/2 cup milk, then roughly 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup romano, and 1 cup of sharp cheddar. I also added broccoli to the pasta at the end of cooking and shredded rotisserie chicken at the end.

    All of this to say this recipe is highly adaptable and quite tasty. I also find that when making bechamel sauces, they turn out best when I add the cheese in small batches and the pasta is still warm. Also, don’t rush! That’s when my catastrophes happen.

  103. JP Colter

    What is with this part of the opening sentence? “(the grocery store, alas, not, like, the shore)” Get an editor. The recipe though, I will probably try but will add some cheddar. It’s not mac and cheese if it’s not a little orange.

  104. Tatiana

    Hands down the BEST mac and cheese I have ever had. My 14 month old devoured it and so did my husband and I. I am curious about adding things like lobster to make it more “fancy”. Thoughts?

    1. Erin Bryce

      We sometimes have “toppers” like bacon bits or diced ham or chicken that people can add and mix in as they like. It’s always a favorite to make your own flavor.

  105. Jung Ah Yoon

    This is my daughter’s favorite lunch. It is so simple to whip together in the mornings and pack for her school lunch. I am going to attemtp to make this for the United States stall for our annual Uniting Nations Day that I will keep warm in my instant pot. I will make 20 full (or 80 1/4) servings. When I did the calculations it requires 2.5 liters of milk! This is a bit daunting to say the least. Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!

  106. Maggie

    Another great recipe for home cooks. I’ve found that I prefer all-cheddar mac and cheese over even half-cheddar mac and cheese. I tried this recipe as written, half-cheddar/half-parmesan, and all-cheddar. It’s a matter of preference ;) Really like this recipe and how easy it is to double or quadruple it to make more servings for the family. Thank you, Deb!

  107. Erin Bryce

    I made 3 lbs of dry pasta’s worth of this for my 3year old ‘s birthday party (in cheddar, colby jack, and white cheddar / parm) and in rainbow colors for the sauce. The kids Loved it! (Adults loved the flavor but stayed with the 2 untinted sauces as it reminded them of that funky greens and purple ketchup thing from years ago. Anyway, this was so easy and a crowd pleaser. I think I did use a bunch more milk for extra creaminess as these were going to hang out in crock pots for 2 hours.
    Great recipe!

  108. Susan

    Your comment about grating with Microplane (which I do all the times) affecting the weight makes me wonder yet again why North Americans don’t weigh ingredients. Makes life so much simpler.

  109. Judith

    My eats almost nothing grandson just ate up two helpings—small, but two of them and declared it good. Shredded Kraft mild cheddar with a liberal few shales of Parmesan (also from can). Quick enough that I can do this nights I have him for dinner, good enough that I won’t mind and the leftover package Mac/cheese (Annie’s) won’t get pitched. over farfalle which he says is his favorite. Thank you!

  110. divinemrsm66

    Deb – as a Brit, what is Kosher Salt and why won’t any old salt do? I’ve never seen Kosher Salt here. I know you don’t keep a Kosher kitchen after your mention of Bo Ssam…!

    1. smeron

      It’s a larger flake/coarser salt than table salt. I would think sea salt or maldon would work as alternatives, if you can find those in the UK?

  111. TinaD

    I quadrupled this tonight for the family and served it with roasted green beans. I made the sauce with mild cheddar (‘cause I had it) and a little grated Parmesan (‘cause there was only a rind left). Mild cheddar needs more salt & pepper than sharp, I suspect, but that said, this is the best, easiest roux I’ve ever made (I think the proportion of butter to flour in most recipes is too low) and it turned out lovely and creamy.

  112. Elif

    Hi Deb, My son had a last-minute sleepover and our hungry guest said his favorite food is mac and cheese. In a pinch, I doubled your recipe and will tell all to never resort to a box version ever again. No need; so easy and cheesy. Used a mixture of Cheddar and parmesan and broiled it a little bit in individual ovensafe bowls and it turned out great. Thanks for the recipe.

  113. Debra

    This is the mac & cheese recipe I’ve been looking for for years–even decades! Not the baked kind with crumbs–which is fine too, but it’s a different entity. This is a real (not powdered), creamy, delicious version of the stuff in the box!! Many thanks.
    FYI, I used 2/3 Organic Valley Mexican Blend & 1/3 Parmesan. That worked great. Sometime I will try shredded sharp cheddar, & maybe less Parm, for a more sharp-cheddary taste.
    P.S. “Repeat as needed”?? What did you mean by that?

  114. smeron

    I made this for dinner tonight, while on the phone with my mother in law, and it was easy and delicious. My cheese sauce did get a little stringy as some people mentioned, so I added a bit more butter/milk. It helped a little. Regardless, it was yummy!

  115. Made this, it was excellent! I modified slightly by adding a bit of cayenne for heat and stirring in a spoonful of sour cream (less than a tablespoon) at the end for a bit of extra tang and creaminess.

  116. I have wanted to make this for at least a year–so delicious even though I varied it wildly. I used whatever I had, gruyere instead of parmesan, only used 2.5 oz of pasta and added in about 2.5 oz of roasted cauliflower. I only had gemella pasta, a twisty thick shape that actually worked–instead of 11 minutes, I cooked it about 8.5 mins remembering that you advise undercooking in the Martha Stewart recipe. It was definitely fast and yummy. Thank you.

  117. Carly

    I made this with what I had on hand (almond/oat milk and pre-shredded parmesan) and it was great! Easy and pretty quick and I was surprised how smooth the sauce was given the substitutions. Will definitely make again!

  118. Ankur

    The recipe is delicious! I ended up letting the milk and flour mixture get too thick, so will watch it more carefully next time. I did the cheddar and Parmesan mix that you suggested.

  119. Allison

    I’ve been making my stovetop mac and cheese wrong for years! Too much cheese, way less milk. This recipe is perfect and is the way I’ll be making my mac from now on.

  120. Gian

    I do the Dale Talde cacio e pepe version of this! Boil and drain pasta in a small amount of water, drain and reserve some pasta water, knob of butter in the pasta, and black pepper and parm/pecorino. One pot and the starch from the pasta water acts as the binder/thickener

  121. Anad

    My mom never used the box. Our Mac & cheese was Eastern European style, elbow Mac cooked and drained, cottage cheese, sour cream and pepper. I never measured the cottage cheese or sour cream, just mixed it in until it looked right. My kids loved it. We also loved the Kraft box orange stuff. I think it’s hard to ruin pasta.

  122. Delicious. I made this using sharp cheddar. I am not usually a calorie counter, but I’d say this is two servings, at least by that measure. I halved the recipe, using 60g noodles and 15-20g sharp cheddar, 1 tsp butter and 1/4 cup milk. By my calculations, between those two ingredients alone, we are talking 250+ calories; add to that the butter and milk and you’re talking at least 400 calories for a HALF recipe. Just saying!

    Thanks for the quick/simple recipe. It’s nice to have this treat without doing the whole casserole sized quantity, plus the baking, etc.

  123. Jennifer

    I have successfully made this with a combination of gouda and parmesan, with added tuna to delight my youngest. I also used just the sauce to “bait” the same youngest to eat romanesco. The rest of the family benefitted! I love this quick – as quick as the boxed kind! – recipe!

  124. Carroll King

    Oh gosh! This is so good and so easy! I have added bacon sprinkles, sauteed mushrooms, and peas (not all together) just before serving. But it’s amazing as is. And… it goes equally well with a beer or a foofy wine.

  125. Jamie

    I quadrupled the recipe and used half cheddar, half parmesan. It was DELICIOUS! My husband–who previously said he didn’t think homemade could beat Annies boxed–has requested I make it once a week. (Which would of course be totally excessive, but a nice sentiment!)

  126. Hannah

    Delicious! I used Pecorino, added petite green peas and sautéed garlic, and added lots of black pepper. Perfect comfort food and quickly made.

  127. Omg! This is what I have been looking for all my life! I used all pecorino because I wanted a more Cacio e Pepe feel, this is amazing! And not gloopy at all like when I usually make it!

  128. Miriam Gladen

    Hi Deb, I’ve learned to let the flour cook for at least 10 minutes so the flavor can dissipate. Will the molten cheese cover?
    Greatings and love from Germany, Miriam

  129. Kim V

    What would happen if, say, I made this and then put it in an oven-safe bowl & then sprinkled a mixture of panko & grated parmigiano over the top & then put it in the oven for a brief interlude?

  130. Nan Kelley

    Delicious! Because I did a poor job of reading the directions, I drained the cooked pasta, added it back to the pot, and proceeded from there. Happily, no lumps! Used Parmesan and cheddar and added leftover cooked broccoli- the crowd went wild! Thank you 😊

  131. Since we are now mostly housebound due to the current health crisis, I have to say I have rediscovered the glorious sustenance that is Mac & Cheese. THANK YOU for this awesome recipe!

  132. Deb Evans

    Oh. My. God. This is SO easy and quick and so good. I have labored over traditional cacio e Pepe recipes dozens of times. 99% of the time, this will do the trick. And, yes- I ate it all.

  133. Susan

    Kids were not interested so made this for myself, terrific! I had pecorino and Parmesan on hand but look forward to trying with cheddar, may or may not share it when I do. Thanks for another great recipe.

  134. Caroline

    I was suspicious of this at first (no way it could be THAT easy and THAT good). But it was both that easy and that good. Whipped it up for lunch in less than 15 minutes, with ingredients I always have on hand. I felt like the amount of pasta was a bit too much for one for lunch, so I decreased the amount of pasta slightly. I loved this! Would be great for adding in additional toppings to your heart’s content!

  135. Cathy

    Totally perfect for “I want comfort food tonight but am back to leafy greens tomorrow.” And easy enough for “I’ve cooked every meal for 3 months and am totally over it.”

  136. Elana

    I made this a few weeks ago when low on ingredients between my grocery store runs. It was so good I practically cried. We had to suddenly go back into quarantine after an encounter with covid and for a week my partner kept asking me, “will you make the mac and cheese?” Sadly, we didn’t have the ingredients, so we made it our official out-of-quarantine first meal and I cannot tell you how excited he was/is, it’s cooking again right now. It’s the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had, and I used to live next to Homeroom in Oakland (which is a mac and cheese restaurant). I top it with a bunch of sauted kale, you know, to be “healthy.”

  137. Kaitlin Otts

    Hi! Your blog is always one of the first places I look when trying to find a recipe. I love everything!
    Quick question: would you make this or the Easiest Baked Mac n Cheese for a toddler’s birthday?

  138. Sydney

    I have tried this many times with pecorino or cheddar and it has always been delicious. It’s my go to for quick comfort food on a cold night!
    Today, I feel compelled to comment because I used 3/4 fontina, 1/4 parm. It was outstanding!! Idk why this combo takes this recipe to the next level but I’m even more in love now. Thanks always, Deb!

  139. This is my go-to for a quick satisfying pasta dinner for one. A few changes that have evolved over the years: I use corn flour instead of white flour as a thickener (got the idea from Heston Blumenthal) I thin the sauce with a splash of white wine or white sherry instead of milk, and some saved drained pasta water. Sometimes add some cherry tomatoes or shaved proscuttio for more indulgence.
    Deb, love what you do. You are my go-to for cooking inspiration.

  140. I make the roux separately and then slowly add milk to get the béchamel, and the advantage to this method is that I don’t have to grate the cheddar, or any other firm cheese. Instead I cube it, and it melts as I stir the sauce until it thickens. By the way, Deb, do you rinse whatever pasta you use? I do. It keeps the sauce from becoming too starchy and gluey after you add the pasta.
    And I always rinse lasagna noodles after boiling them. If you don’t, they’ll just stick together as you try to assemble the dish. Once rinsed, they wait politely In the collendar until needed.

  141. Cindy

    Just made this as a quick dinner – it’s a hit! I absolutely love that it is so quick to prep and make…oh and I should add, eat. It was quickly gobbled up with a side salad. I followed the recipe without any modifications and found zero lumps in my sauce (perhaps it is due to room temperature cheese and butter?). I highly recommend this recipe and love that you can easily double or triple the ingredients depending on your family size….or if it’s just you, no judgment at all! :) Thanks Deb for another amazing recipe!

  142. Jane Herriot

    I had my glucose tolerance test to screen for gestational diabetes today, so this was the perfect post-appointment lunch (just in case today is the last day of carbs for me until February). AND I made it gluten free (I can eat gluten but husband has celiac so I try to avoid contaminating our kitchen). Tinkayada GF mini shells for the pasta, sweet rice flour (different from plain white rice flour) for the roux (sweet rice flour makes the best GF roux IMO). About 2/3 asiago and 1/3 parmesan. Soo good.

  143. Josie

    I didn’t have any milk on hand but did have some left over heavy cream from a dessert I made last week…let me tell you, that was the best substitute decision I’ve ever made! I made sure to add in a tablespoon or so of the pasta liquid to help thin it a tad, but the creaminess was out of this world. Highly recommend.

  144. Stephanie

    Today, i made this using left over baked spaghetti squash instead of pasta. It lacks the al-dente-ness of traditional pasta, but still pretty delicious! Also added sauteed mushrooms and kale to the final mix, because who can pass up cheesy sauteed mushrooms? I wanted a thinner sauce, so i ended up using 3/4 cup of milk, and it came out just how I hoped. I love this recipe so much!

  145. Barbars

    Looks delish. And yes, early introduction to a varied diet does produce adults who like indulgences but like their alternatives just as much. I produced 2.

  146. Rachel

    Have made many versions of this easy, tasty recipe for my newly-one year old! They have all been a big hit. If anyone else is trying to sneak in a few extra vegetables, I once made this with cheddar cheese and, when the sauce was done, used an immersion blender to blend in some steamed carrots. It added some sweetness and I’m sure could be done with any other steamed or soft vegetable.

    As a side note, Deb – would you ever consider making a category in your recipe index of foods that you found to be especially child/toddler-friendly, at least for your particular children? I have been enjoying your site since I was a college student (10 years ago!!) and have now introduced my baby to a lot of my favorites, and I would love to know which ones were particular favorites of your two.

    1. deb

      Thanks! I don’t think I would know what to put in it. I have two kids, one isn’t picky and the other eats literally nothing (although she eats this on occasion), so it would be an empty category. Is every kid picky in their own way? Have you found other toddler favorites here?

      1. Rachel

        That’s a great point. Mine seems to be in the former category… At least for now!

        Some really solid favorites, in no particular order:
        Tortilla de patatas (
        Fritters galore (,,
        Baked eggs with spinach and mushrooms, using the eggs that are more done and chopping things a bit more finely than usual (
        One pan farro with tomatoes (
        Cottage cheese pancakes (
        Pizza beans (
        Potato kugel (

        For me, they have all been successful because not only are they tasty, but they reheat well, store well, and are really forgiving if you step away for a minute or five.

        Thank you for all of your incredible work over the years!

  147. Jessica B

    I just made this, it’s incredible! Using 115g of pasta made enough for two small serves, or one quite large serve. And I added some seeded mustard to the roux once all the milk was in, and it was delicious. I can’t wait to make it again, it was so simple.
    I’ve never made a roux before, and have always been very intimated by them, which I now think was a bit silly of me! As well as the great advice here, I just kept thinking of Chef John, ‘hot roux, cold milk, no lumps!’ And it was true!
    It really was very quick all up, certainly within 15 minutes. And so yummy on this cold night in Melbourne, Australia. Thank you!

  148. Jo

    Hi Deb! This looks so yummy and cheesy! Do you think it will turn out as good
    if x8 the recipe for a group of people? Or, can you suggest another Mac n cheese recipe that serves about 20 people as a side dish? Thanks

  149. Susan

    I can’t believe I’ve just now made this, I always thought it looked amazing, and IT WAS. Once again, you’ve hit it out of the park. Perfect amounts of everything. I could see doing cheddar with this, or maybe adding a little truffle oil and top with bread crumbs to the original. Super yum, thank you!!

  150. Kingsley Schneider

    Hello :)
    I made this last night and although I enjoyed the flavor, my sauce was crazy grainy (used half park and half sharp cheddar cheese and I had quadrupled). How can I avoid this next time?

    1. deb

      It was either that the cheese didn’t fully melt, that it over-melted and split (though this recipe should avoid that by having you add the cheese off heat), or it could have just been the cheese itself, not all melt smoothly.

  151. Lou

    This is what my late-night, kids-are-finally asleep, pasta dreams are made of. And thank you, Deb, for making a “single-serving” meal that could technically be two servings, but let’s face it, we all know it’s going to be just one. Recipe on repeat.

  152. Michelle Billish

    Hi there! I’m wondering what you would suggest as non dairy alternative for the milk if we wanted to substitute? I think coconut milk (in a can) would be too thick, maybe almond milk?


  153. Rebecca

    hey deb! wanted to see if you can help me clarify this recipe. on your youtube video, you used 1/2 cup of sharp white cheddar and 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, but the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of parmesan.

    1. deb

      I mention it as an option in the headnote: “However, if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll swap half of it with a very sharp aged cheddar.” I’d keep the amount at 1/2 cup, though. I might have mis-measured on the video?

  154. Naomi

    This was great. I used about a cup of macaroni with half/half Parmesan and cheddar. My son still refused it because it’s not KD but I liked it!

  155. LfromSydney

    First sauce attempt: toddler screamed so I had to run out while mixing the butter and flour and it went weird.

    Second sauce attempt: I put too much salt in.

    Third sauce attempt: perfect – currently cooking more pasta for 3 yo who wants more to soak up the sauce.


  156. Sammi

    Made this on a whim for my 2-year-old who is VERY partial to the Annie’s white cheddar shells (as are his parents :)…). Couldn’t have been easier and it turned out delicious. I’ve made homemade mac and cheese a few times over the years, and it always seems to fall short (too gloopy, too grainy, etc.). This – by far – is the best, easiest recipe I’ve tried. I used Dubliner cheese and it is the closest I’ve come to recreating that sharp, addictive Annie’s white cheddar taste at home. (tip: Trader Joe’s carries it for the cheapest price I’ve come across!) In the time it took for the pasta to cook, I prepped the ingredients for the cheese sauce, so all in all it really didn’t take that much longer (or more effort!) than from the box. Highly, highly recommend!

  157. Jane Herriot

    If you have leftover cooked pasta, you can call this Emergency Mac n Cheese! Just whipped up the cheese sauce one-handed (holding a grumpy teething baby on my hip with the other) using the end of a bag of pre-shredded “Mexican blend” cheese + a schmear (2 Tbsp?) cream cheese because this is only day 1 of the baby’s 10 day quarantine. Zapped the container of leftover rotini in the microwave and dumped it into the pot with the sauce. It was definitely blander than when I’ve made it with Parmesan but nothing a little Old Bay couldn’t fix!

  158. Laura

    Wow. Wow! Ok I’m totally floored by the combination of how easy this was to make and how good it was! It really is ooey gooey mac n cheese. Yay Deb ! Thank you!

  159. Adrianne

    One thought… add the salt to the water AFTER it starts to boil. This keeps it from “scarring” the bottom of the pot.

  160. María Nichols

    This was a very easy recipe and a great way to make Mac and cheese for two people as a side dish. I had no milk so used liGht cream which worked Great. Extra cream and/or cheese never hurts. I used shells and went heavy on the parm cheese. 5 stars for sure,

  161. Ethel

    Everything went well until I added the cheese. It created a delicious but dense dough. I doubled the recipe and must have made a mistake there. Still good tasting : )

  162. Lily Hargrove

    This recipe honors the fundamental essence of mac and cheese-accessible to all, unpretentious and deeply comforting. Thank you for reminding us of this and helping us to bring some kindness into our kitchens. Chag Sameach!

  163. Margaret

    Haven’t followed your recipe but I make one basically like that. Roux, parma, salt and pepper. I toss in chicken or shrimp sometimes. Yum!

    For the parents with picky kids: I make a mac and cheese that my kids love and when we took it to a potluck, other parents were asking me for the recipe as their kids actually ate it. My kids are picky and happy to tell me they prefer canned chili to mine, not kale and eggplant loving anomalies. Pretty basic: roux, crushed mustard seed (1/2 tsp? I get it from Penzey’s), dash of cayenne, medium sharp white cheddar (I use Tillamook white cheddar which is aged 120 days), and of course milk, 1 box pasta, salt and fresh ground pepper.

    Sharp cheddar is too strong for them. 90 day aged cheddar medium Tillamook also works but it’s not as good. Mustard seed is milder than mustard and I like it much better. YMMV but it’s worth a try.

  164. Pam Poon

    I doubled the recipe-used half pasta, half zucchini (I ate the zukes, partner ate the pasta).For the cheese, I used half a cup of sharp cheddar, 1/4 cup each emmentaler and pecorino. I threw in a 1/2 tsp mustard powder–it was great even though both pasta and zukes were slightly overcooked due to a phone call from a friend. At the table, I sprinkled on some chile flakes and served it with sauteed chard. Perfect quick dinner after a 4 hour backpack!

  165. Karin

    I just made this for my almost 15 year old who is recovering from the flu. I made him your blueberry muffing recipe for breakfast and while I was making those I saw the video for THIS on the right side of the screen. I am ALWAYS looking for that quick go-to cheesy pasta recipe for when the craving strikes, (which I had yet to find.) so I was intrigued. Seemed like it was exactly what I have been looking for, but alas — no craving. He came out a couple of hours later asking for the blue box, (because that’s what you want after you’ve been sick for days and not eating much) and I asked if I could make him this instead. HE LOVED IT. He said it was WAY better than the blue box. It was REALLY easy, truly only taking minutes. I kinda wished that I had made more because I forgot that 15 year old boy serving sizes are not the same as normal human serving sizes.

    I feel like I have made ALL of the stove-top mac recipes looking for the magic one, and have always been very disappointed. Not today!

  166. Lizzie

    This was my first time making this in a while, and once I had sampled it, I had no idea why I’d gone so long without making it. So good, so easy. Used mostly cheddar, but added some pecorino to top it off. I feel like the only thing that would make it better (if you wanted to be really fancy) would be some sauteed or caramelized onions.

  167. Megan

    Soo good! It’s like Alfredo meets mac and cheese and I’m obsessed. I’ve made it twice already for a quick mac and cheese fix and I love it. Thanks for the recipe!! :)

  168. Amy

    I have a go-to mac and cheese recipe but it fills a big baking tray and so I really only eat it on special occasions. This stove top version is perfect for when I’m home alone want some mac just for myself! I made it for the first time with some sautéed kimchi and tonight I put in some quesadilla leftovers of green chiles and rotisserie chicken. I also used a mix of parm and cheddar like the recipe video. It’s so, so easy but so tasty.

  169. Cristina

    I made this but improvised too many things. To start, I missed the cautionary note about grating cheese with a microplane. Next time, will stick closer to the recipe.