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4.75 from 4 votes

Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Skip the box and make this easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese that's ready in about 15 minutes and made with pantry staples.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 493kcal
Author: Julie Evink


  • 1 pound elbow noodles
  • ½ cup salted butter
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 cups milk
  • 8 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese


  • Cook elbow noodles to al dente according to directions on the box. Drain well.
  • In the meantime, in another large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, pepper, salt and garlic powder until smooth. Cook for 1-2 minutes or until thickened.
  • Gradually pour in milk, whisking as you add it. Whisk until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 3-4 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.
  • Turn heat to low and add in shredded cheese, whisk until cheese is melted.
  • Pour cooked pasta into the cheese sauce and stir until combined.
  • Let sit for 5 minutes to thicken and then serve.


Pasta Tip: Cook the elbows until they are al dente. This means they will still have a little bit of a bite. The pasta will cook a little more once you add it to the sauce and will end up with the perfect texture!
Ingredient Tip: Like a little heat? Feel free to stir in some hot sauce or cayenne pepper to the sauce before you add the cheese. Or, try adding a little smoked paprika for a different twist.
Serving Tip: Once the stovetop mac and cheese is thick and creamy serve it right away. If you make it ahead and let it sit the cheese will not be as creamy once it’s cooled.
Storage Tip: If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They will keep for two to three days. When you warm them up, add a splash of milk to loosen the sauce.
Is baked or stovetop macaroni and cheese better?
I like them both! Baked macaroni and cheese can be just as creamy as the stove version, but it just has the added step of baking it. For quick dinners during the week, I love to make stovetop mac and cheese.
What is a good topping for mac and cheese?
If you want to add a topping and you don’t mind an extra step, place the finished mac and cheese in a baking dish. Sprinkle some seasoned breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter over the top and then place the dish under the broiler for a couple of minutes to toast the topping. 
Can you add other ingredients?
You can add cooked broccoli florets or cauliflower florets. Stir in some green peas or add some chopped herbs like fresh parsley. You can also make it a main dish by adding shredded cooked chicken or some cooked taco meat!


Calories: 493kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 465mg | Potassium: 305mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 813IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 332mg | Iron: 1mg