Stovetop Mac and Cheese is the homemade comfort food we all crave. The best part is that this is a 5 ingredient recipe and is ready to eat in 25 minutes!
First Published May 2014; Updated October 2020
Mac and Cheese Backstory
Gone are the days where I make boxed mac and cheese. I have nothing against making food from a box but I am glad my kids have realized there is a mac and cheese world "outside of the box". My daughter has always been a homemade lover but it took my son a bit of time to come around.
While we all love baked and fancy mac and cheese, it can take more time than I have most week nights. So I solved my problem and created this homemade mac and cheese that cooks right on my stovetop. It is creamy enough where it doesn't have to be baked and there are minimal ingredients involved. It is a perfect 5 ingredient recipe!
What ingredients are needed for this recipe?
Only 5 INGREDIENTS are required! And right now I know our grocery store trips are limited so this works for me A LOT! You might even have the ingredients in your kitchen. This is what they are:
Butter - any brand works but I would not use light butter because can be watery when it melts.
Flour - All purpose flour is perfect but you could use whole wheat too.
Milk - I like to use low fat 2% milk but 1% milk, non-fat and whole milk all work. The more fat in the milk, the richer the sauce so I like something right in the middle.
Pasta - My family loves elbow pasta but use any small pasta you have on hand. Shells are a good choice and I have used penne pasta in stovetop mac and cheese too.
Cheese - My family likes sharp cheddar so that is what I typically use to make a creamy delicious cheese sauce. But this is where you can also get creative. Any type of cheddar works but Gouda and Monterey Jack cheese are great too. Try some pepper jack if you like spicy. I like to shred my own cheese. But since you might have to use what you have, use already shredded if that is what's in your fridge. It does contain some extra starch but should be fine in a pinch. No judging here!
Optional Salt and Pepper - My son says this recipe doesn't need any but you can be the judge of this.
What recipes go well with this mac and cheese?
Another favorite dish of mine is Braised Collard greens with Turkey Bacon. It goes so well together even though the collard greens take longer to cook!
To me this is a big hearty meal but I live with a 6 foot 3 growing teenage boy. So this is just a side dish for him.
Here are some main courses that he loves this mac and cheese with:
Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken via Snappy Gourmet
Copycat Popeye's Chicken via My Incredible Recipes
Can this 5 ingredient recipe be reheated or made in advance?
This stovetop mac and cheese reheats well in the microwave. It only takes 2 minutes. I add a few extra spoons of milk to make it extra creamy. You can also do the same by reheating it in a pot on the stove on low heat.
I would not freeze this homemade mac and cheese as it could change the texture.
This pasta dish is one I have made again and again. It has always been perfect for my kids to eat after a soccer game or other school event. It heats up well whether I have made several hours or the day before.
I guarantee if you make this, you will love the ease and it will go into your dinner rotation! It's one of my kids favorites.
If you like this Stove Top Mac and Cheese recipe, please give it a 5-star rating below!
Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- sauce pan
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low fat milk 2%
- 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- salt and pepper, to taste (optional)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and cook macaroni according to instructions on the box for al a dente. Drain well.
- In the same pot, melt the butter on medium heat and stir in the flour. Mix with a wire whisk and slowly add milk. Cook on low heat for a few minutes until thickened.
- Add shredded cheese and mix well until the sauce is smooth.
- Stir in the pasta and mix until hot and well combined.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste if necessary.