This stovetop Homemade Mac and Cheese is just as easy to make as the box mix, but oh-so-much tastier. We use wholesome ingredients like milk, butter, flour, cheddar cheese and seasoning to make a creamy dreamy cheese sauce to mix with elbow macaroni pasta.
Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese
Time to ditch the box mix - this is the best stovetop Homemade Mac and Cheese recipe of all time. It can be made from start to finish in just about 20 minutes and has none of the chemical additives of the stuff from the store. Kids love it, adults love it - it truly is comfort food at its finest.
There are plenty of super easy ways to upgrade your Homemade Mac and Cheese if you want. You can add ham, sausage, hot dogs, peas, broccoli, onions and so on. The sky’s the limit! We’ve also given you directions on how to easily turn this into a baked mac and cheese dish if that’s your jam.
What to Serve with Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese
Depending on who is eating it, how much and what else you are serving, this recipe can either be a main course or a side dish. It also works for BBQs, holidays or quick weekend lunches for picky eaters. Honestly, no matter what you serve with it, people will be happy. It's like a secret weapon!
Here are a few sides and proteins that taste great with mac and cheese:
- Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Best Cornbread Muffins
- Sausage and Apple Stuffing
- Slow Cooker Pot Roast
- Oven-Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings
and if you love mac and cheese, be sure to try this Baked Mac and Cheese too.
Ingredients in Homemade Cheesy Mac and Cheese
- Elbow Macaroni - of course you can use another shape of pasta, but this is the traditional mac and cheese shape. We will often use mini shells, too.
- Butter - you can use salted or unsalted butter. If you choose to use unsalted, you may want to reduce the additional salt in the recipe slightly.
- Flour - this is added to the butter and cooked to make a roux. It helps thicken and bind the sauce.
- Salt and Black Pepper
- Milk - we recommend that you use either whole milk or 2%.
- Dijon Mustard - this adds a great punch of flavor.
- Cayenne Powder - this is optional, but tastes great. There is a very small amount in the recipe and it is definitely not an overpowering spiciness.
- Nutmeg - this spice could also be combined with a touch of garlic powder if you’d like.
- Cheddar Cheese - we like to use sharp cheddar, but really any cheddar will work. You could also mix it up and use white cheddar, monterey jack, colby, havarti or even gouda cheese. Keep in mind that the better quality cheese you use, the tastier the Homemade Mac and Cheese will be!
How to Make Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- Cook pasta. Cook macaroni according to package instructions, then drain and set aside.
- Make the cheese sauce. In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 3-5 minutes stirring constantly to form a roux. Add salt and pepper, then slowly add the milk, stirring well after each addition. Cook and stir until simmering, then add the dijon mustard, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Cook for an additional minute before stirring in the cheese. Reduce the heat and stir until the cheese has completely melted.
- Mix together. Add the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce and stir to coat.
- Serve. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
- Different cheese. Try sharp white cheddar, havarti or even gouda cheese.
- Add hot dogs. While you might find it odd, kids love it this way.
- Add veggies. Peas, broccoli or cooked spinach all taste great and add a little extra boost of nutrition.
- Use a different pasta shape. You can make Homemade Mac and Cheese with any other type of pasta shape. A few favorites include cavatappi, farfalle and shells.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
If you want to make this a little more “grown up” and find yourself with a little extra time, baked mac and cheese is a delicious upgrade.
All you need to do is prepare as directed, then transfer into a casserole dish covered with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a bit of grated Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and bubbly.
How to Store and Reheat
Refrigerator: you can store leftover Homemade Mac and Cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Freezer: it is possible to freeze this, although we recommend you just make it fresh since it is so simple and tastes so much better that way! If you do choose to freeze, make sure it is completely cool before transferring to an airtight container and freezing for up to 2 months.
Reheating: to reheat, transfer the mac and cheese to a pot and add a splash of milk. Warm over medium low, mixing to be sure it doesn’t burn. Taste and add a touch more seasoning, milk or a bit more shredded cheese if it needs.
Homemade Mac and Cheese Stovetop Recipe
- 8 oz Elbow Macaroni
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Flour
- ½ tsp Salt
- 1 pinch Black Pepper
- 1 ½ cup Milk
- 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
- 1 pinch Cayenne Powder
- 1 pinch Nutmeg
- 2 cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese shredded (you can sub any other kind of cheddar cheese)
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, then drain and set aside.
- In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 3-5 minutes stirring constantly to form a roux. Add salt and pepper, then slowly add the milk, stirring well after each addition.
- Cook and stir until simmering, then add the dijon mustard, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. Cook for an additional minute before stirring in the cheese. Reduce the heat and stir until the cheese has completely melted.
- Add the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce and stir to coat. Serve immediately, and enjoy!
Here are some more simple pasta dishes that we love!
- Easy Baked Ziti
- Homemade Lasagna
- Creamy Garlic Tortellini Alfredo
- 4 Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells
- Chicken Pesto Pasta
If you’ve tried this recipe, please rate it and leave a comment on this post. I love hearing feedback from you helps me and other readers too! If you love Pinterest, feel free to leave a comment and photo there too. Also, if you like to share, use the hashtag #thecarefreekitchen on Instagram and tag me @thecarefreekitchen so I can find you and give your post some love. You can also find me on Facebook at The Carefree Kitchen. Thank you!!
This stovetop Homemade Mac and Cheese is comfort food at its finest. It uses wholesome ingredients like milk, butter, flour and cheddar cheese and can be ready in just about 20 minutes flat.