The Best Stovetop Mac and Cheese

close up of creamy stovetop mac and cheese in white bowl

This Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe is loaded with large orecchiette pasta, filled with pockets of gooey cheese and ultra creamy! You’ll never make boxed mac and cheese after this! It’s the BEST Stovetop Mac and Cheese!

Mac and cheese is probably my forever favorite comfort food. There’s just something about it. The creaminess, all of the cheese, the slightly chewy al dente noodles.

But then there are people like my husband, Ben, who like to ruin all things good in the world by putting KETCHUP. ON MAC AND CHEESE. What kind of monster even does that?! How could you ever ruin something as amazingly cheesy as this? 

gold fork going in for a bite of the best stovetop mac and cheese

So, I’ve made a creamy baked mac and cheese before and it was delightful. It had crunchy golden breadcrumbs on top and was baked to perfection.

Buuuuut there are times when you’re getting home from a long day and the last thing you want is some fancy golden breadcrumb mac and cheese that’s going to take one hour to bake. You want the 15 minute condensed version. And I’m totally there with you!

Alright, so you’ve decided you don’t want the baked stuff (this time at least!) but you need something done in 10 minutes. What are your other options? Listen, I’m ALL about boxed mac and cheese. My favorite is Annie’s White Cheddar Shells. They’re delicious and they have pretty good ingredients for what it is.

But, even if you may be saving time by using boxed, you’re never going to achieve those large delicious shells filled with melty gooey cheese that this stovetop mac and cheese can produce. Like, borderline Velveeta goodness but with like, real food ingredients. It’s pretty phenomenal.

the best stovetop mac and cheese in pot with wooden spoon

So. No boxed mac. No fancy baked mac. The only other option is…you guessed it! The BEST Stovetop Mac and Cheese ever!

What You’ll Need:

  • any kind of pasta you’d like (but i really really recommend this orecchiette pasta – it’s basically like a medium sized version of shells and they’re amazing and really soak up the cheese)
  • butter
  • a little bit of all purpose flour
  • cheeeeese (i used two different kinds – sharp cheddar and gruyere)
  • whole milk (yes, whole. makes it extra creamy!)
  • a splash of heavy cream (optional but makes it extra delicious!)
  • salt and pepper to taste

So yeah, 7 ingredients. Pretty easy huh?

Here’s how you do it!

Begin cooking your pasta according to the package directions. The orecchiette pasta I picked up from Aldi took about 12 or so minutes.

While that’s cooking, begin your sauce! Turn your stove eye on low-medium heat. Melt all that good good butter in a large pot. Add in flour and stir quickly to make a roux/slurry action. Add ½ of your whole milk in slowly and begin stirring. It should thicken pretty quickly. Add in the remaining milk a little bit at a time, continually stirring as you go.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You never want to bring this mixture to a boil, just a simmer. If you boil it, you could scald the milk. 

Continue to stir with a rubber spatula for about 5-7 minutes. When it is pretty thickened, add in your cheese and mix to combine until your cheese is fully melted. It didn’t take long for me! You just have to make sure you incorporate it really well until it’s one creamy thick sauce. Take it off the heat.

wooden spoon stirring the best stovetop mac and cheese in the pot

At this point, your noodles should probably be done. Drain those quickly and add them directly into the cheese sauce. Stir to combine and watch the beauty of extremely cheesy mac and cheese come to life.

If you’d like, stir in a tablespoon of heavy cream for EXTRA GOODNESS. Totally optional, though. Once it’s all stirred together, add a heavy dose of salt and pepper. Red pepper flakes are optional.

close up stovetop mac and cheese in white bowl

Consume immediately while hot. It’s so good and wow the cheese is extra melty and the noodles are extra tender with a slight al-dente bite and it’s all so thick and velvety.

Reheating This Stovetop Mac and Cheese:

Reheating this worked so well! All I did was store the leftovers in a sealed glass tupperware. I popped it in the microwave for about a minute or a minute and a half. Then when I took it out, I stirred in a splash of milk to get that creaminess back into the texture.

the best stovetop mac and cheese in white bowl with red pepper flakes

I really hope you guys love this version of Stovetop Mac and Cheese as much as I do! Try it out instead of a box next time. I promise you won’t regret it!

5 from 2 votes
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The Best Stovetop Mac and Cheese

This Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe is loaded with large orecchiette pasta, filled with pockets of gooey cheese and ultra creamy! You’ll never make boxed mac and cheese after this! It’s the BEST Stovetop Mac and Cheese!

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword easy homemade mac and cheese, stovetop mac and cheese
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 498 kcal
Author Haylie

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. orecchiette pasta
  • 3 tbsp salted butter
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese
  • 1 and 1/4 cups whole milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream (optional)

Instructions

  1. Begin to cook your pasta according to the directions on the package. 

  2. While your pasta is cooking, melt better in a large pot on medium-low heat. Add in your flour and stir quickly to make a roux. Add 1/2 cup of whole milk and begin stirring. It should thicken up pretty quickly. 

  3. Add in remaining milk a little at a time, continually stirring as you go. Do not let this mixture begin to boil! Continue to stir for about 5-7 minutes, until thickened.

  4. Once creamy, add in your cheese and mix to combine until the cheese is fully melted and it is one thick, creamy cheesy sauce. Take it off the heat. 

  5. At this point, your noodles should be done. Drain them and add them directly into the cheese sauce. Stir gently to combine. Add in a heavy amount of salt and pepper for seasoning and a tbsp of heavy cream for extra richness if desired. 

  6. Eat while hot and melty! Enjoy! 

Recipe Notes

To re-heat pasta: Simply store leftovers in well-sealed tupperware. Microwave for a minute or two. Add a splash of milk and mix well. 

4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Tried this last night! Sooooo much better than Kraft or Annie’s! Even my picky kids loved it 😂 thanks for the amazing recipe!

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