Stovetop Mac and Cheese is the homemade comfort food we all crave. The best part is that this is a 5- ingredient recipe and this creamy mac and cheese on the stove is ready in 25 minutes! It is the perfect recipe for weeknight or quick meals.
Why I love Mac and Cheese on the Stove
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 recipe that cooks right on my stovetop. It is creamy enough where it doesn't have to be baked and there are minimal ingredients involved found in all my local grocery stores. It is a perfect 5 ingredient recipe that the whole family will enjoy!
To see details of how it's made, check out my Mac and Cheese Webstory!
Ingredients for Stovetop Mac & Cheese
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 for this easy recipe. This is what they are:
- Butter - any brand works but I would not use light butter because can be watery when it melts. I also use unsalted butter so that I can control the saltiness in the recipe.
- Flour - All purpose flour is perfect but you could use whole wheat too.
- Milk - I like to use at least 2% milk but whole milk makes it really rich. The more fat in the milk, the richer the cheese sauce so I like something right in the middle. If you use low-fat milk the sauce will be thinner.
- Pasta - My family loves elbow pasta but use any small kind of 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 block 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. Make sure to whisk it well because the extra starch could cause it to be a bit grainier. No judging here! Use the kind of cheese that is most convenient or you like best.
Optional Kosher Salt and Pepper - My son says this recipe doesn't need any but you can be the judge of this.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat and cook macaroni according to package directions on the box for al dente. Drain well.
- You can make the sauce in another pot while the pasta cooks or wait until it is cooked and use the same pot. Melt the butter on medium heat and stir in the flour. Mix with a wire whisk until it becomes a paste and slowly add the milk. Cook on low heat for a few minutes until thickened.
- Remove sauce from heat and slowly add the shredded cheese. Mix well until the sauce is smooth. Use a whisk for best results.
- Stir in the pasta and mix until hot and well combined. You can put on the stove and cook on low heat if you need it to thicken a bit more to get a creamy texture..
- Season with salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
See recipe card below for complete ingredient amounts, instructions and nutritional information.
I pair this 5 ingredient mac and cheese with a Garbanzo Beans and Beet Salad, a spinach salad, or some asparagus for a complete meal and dinner is on the table in 25 minutes.
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. My son likes this next to crispy chicken legs and it's also very popular in my family with as a side to these Juicy Grilled Pork Chops or my BBQ Chicken Leg Quarter recipe.
More Main Courses to serve with 5 Ingredient Mac and Cheese
- Grilled Lemon Rosemary Chicken via Snappy Gourmet
- Tenderloin Beef Tips and Mushrooms
- Grilled Flat Iron Steak
- 15 Minute Lemon Dijon Pork Chops
- Slow Cooker Roaster Chicken
- Panko Parmesan Pork Chops
- Copycat Popeye's Chicken via My Incredible Recipes
Storing and Reheating Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Store the leftover mac in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 3 days.
This stove top mac and cheese reheats well in the microwave. It only takes 2 minutes. For best results, I add a few extra spoons of milk or heavy cream 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. Make sure to store it in your fridge in an air tight container for up to 3 days.
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!
Note: This recipe has been updated in Nov 2022 to make 6 main dish servings but as a side dish will easily serve 8.
5- Ingredient Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- sauce pan
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons butter
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk 2% or whole milk work best
- 16 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 until it becomes a paste and slowly add the milk. Cook on low heat for a few minutes while stirring until thickened.
- Remove sauce from heat and slowly add the shredded cheese. Mix well until the sauce is smooth.
- Stir in the pasta and mix until hot and well combined. You can put on the stove and cook on low heat if you need it to thicken a bit more. Or if it is too thick you can add a few spoons of milk to thin out.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste if necessary.
Count me in : -) This sounds delicious and I love a good creamy mac n' cheese.
Looks great Lisa...thanks for sharing this!
Pamela @ Brooklyn Farm Girl
I love some mac and cheese so can't to taste a big bowl of this!
Carol at Wild Goose Tea
Whoa Nellie, this sure beats box mac and cheese, which I can't see how could eat that stuff. Sorry Kraft Company.
Jessica @ A Kitchen Addiction
Love homemade mac and cheese!
My son won't eat boxed mac & cheese anymore - he loves homemade with extra sharp cheddar. He will love this! Bookmarked.
Cate @ Chez CateyLou
How lucky are you to have all that delicious cheese and butter?! And this is definitely the perfect thing to make with it - this looks like such a great mac and cheese recipe!!
Sarah | Wandercooks
Have to love a simple mac and cheese recipe. We also love elbows and penne as it holds the sauce so good!
Mac and cheese is the exact kind of comfort food I need right now.
I think everyone needs comfort food right now!
Delicious, warming and comforting - nothing beats homemade, and I love this recipe!
Perfect comfort food!
Helen @ family-friends-food.com
Looks deliciously creamy and very easy - terrific!
It really is!
This looks AMAZING! I love mac & cheese so will definitely be giving this a whirl xx
I hop you enjoy! It's so easy!
I love that it's super creamy. Can't wait to try it.
So good and the easiest!
This looks delicious and comforting Lisa. Just what we need at times like this.
Easy, creamy and delish! Pinning this to have my daughter make.
This homemade is a zillion times better than any box - YUM!
Carlos at Spoonabilities
I like any recipe that has less than five ingredients and under 30 minutes. So, this recipe is a winner!
The family loves this mac and cheese. Creamy and delicious and I love one pot recipes.
Very good flavor. I added 1:4 tsp of dry mustard and a few shakes of red pepper flakes. Next time I’ll do 12iz pasta or reduce milk by 1/2 cup. Too juicy for me.
Great idea! I family loves the creaminess so that is why I make it with that much milk.
We loved this mac and cheese!!! My problem is that sauce turned out a bit grainy. What did I do wrong?
When mixing the butter and flour, make sure it is really mixed together well so it almost crumbles. Also make sure the milk mixture is thick and very hot but not bubbling before adding the cheese. Last thing is to slowly add the cheese and whisk well. I hope this helps!
I’m always looking for few ingredients and easy dishes. This is what I’m looking for to add to dinner tonight, and to go with homemade baked chicken fingers, spinach and can beets. This is my go to Mac N Cheese recipe from now on. Thanks!!!
For some reason this recipe didn’t work for me. The sauce would not thicken and I followed It to the exact T. I’m wondering if it’s because my milk wasn’t at room temperature. It’s the only explanation. I ended Up putting it in the oven for a bit and it soaked it and got more creamy but it’s grainy & I believe the sharp cheddar gives that effect. Next time I’m using a medium cheddar but the store was out since it’s the day before thanksgiving. Anyone know why it would be grainy besides maybe the cheese?
Mia, What type of milk did you use? I just updated the recipe to use either 2% or whole milk. Sometimes the protein in the lower fat milk can cause it to be a bit grainy. Also the cheese needs to be added very slowly. To fix any graininess and thicken the sauce, a few tablespoons of heavy cream can be added. Thank you for your comments. I will add axtra tips in my post this weekend.
This was easy and delicious!!!
Oh I am glad! Thanks for posting.
8oz of pasta is nowhere near enough to compensate for 2 cups of liquid. I followed the recipe exactly and it was a soupy mess.
Sorry the recipe didn't work out for you. This is a very cramy mac and cheese so maybe you might like a more dry baked version? I have recently updated the recipe and post with more tips so that the recipe comes out perfect.
What brand of cheese is best to use.
I use different types such as Cabot, Trader Joes, Aldi and others but the important thing is to grate it yourself. You can use pre shredded in nthe bag but that tends to make the sauce a but grainy sometimes.
So we had a mac & cheese craving in the house and found this recipe. Only had half the cheese in cheese so we used mozzarella the rest 😊. We also added some paprika and ground mustard and had to use egg noodles! It was terrific... Thank you for the yummy and super easy recipe 😋