Make this quick, simple, and easy stovetop mac and cheese for dinner! It requires only a few ingredients and can be made in under 30 minutes. It’s the perfect no-bake mac and cheese recipe for an easy weeknight meal!
Sometimes I crave a fancy mac and cheese. But honestly, most of the time, I just want a basic, quick, and simple mac and cheese. This easy stovetop mac and cheese is my go-to recipe for busy weeknights! It’s so smooth, cheesy, cheddar-y (yes, I made up that word), and absolutely delicious. And the best part? It takes less than 30 minutes to make.
What’s in the Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese?
- elbow macaroni or cavatappi pasta
- shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- unsalted butter
- all-purpose flour
- whole milk
- seasonings (garlic powder, salt, and pepper)
If you want to make the best stovetop mac and cheese, here are the keys: a good bechamel sauce and flavorful cheese.
What Is Bechamel Sauce?
Bechamel sauce is made of butter, flour, and milk. It serves as a base for other sauces, and it’s also considered one of the mother sauces in French cuisine. Oh yes, it’s that big of a deal!
To make bechamel sauce, first melt some butter in a saucepan or dutch oven and add equal parts of flour. Then, you need to whisk whisk whisk. Whisking or stirring consistently for about 3-4 minutes prevents lumps in the sauce and cooks the raw flour. This is called a roux. Then you whisk in milk, simmer for another 3-4 minutes stirring often, and you’ll see how the sauce starts to thicken up. And, just like that, you’ve got bechamel sauce!
What Cheese Should I Use?
First of all, if you can grate your cheese, please do so! I find that pre-grated bagged cheese takes longer to melt, AND it’s less flavorful and drier. To grate cheese, you can use a box grater or a food processor (much faster!).
Alright, so what types of cheese should you use? Basically anything that melts well and has a strong flavor. Here are some suggestions:
- Sharp cheddar
- White cheddar
- Sharp cheddar + gruyere
Bonus: this easy mac and cheese reheats well, so you’ll have plenty of leftovers! Enjoy! 🙂
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- Grate your own cheese with a box grater or a food processor. The cheese sauce will be creamier and more flavorful.
- Cheese is usually somewhat salty, so be conservative when adding final seasonings.
- If possible, use whole milk for creaminess.
Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese
This cheesy, smooth, gooey easy stovetop mac and cheese will become your new dinner favorite!
- 1/2 lb elbow macaroni or cavatappi
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
In a medium saucepan or dutch oven, melt butter over medium low heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk for about 3-4 minutes, until thickened. This is called a roux.
Gradually, add the milk, stirring. Bring to a boil (turn up the heat a little) and then simmer for about 3-4 minutes in medium-low heat, stirring often until thickened.
Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir until well combined. Season with garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Remember the cheese will be somewhat salty.
Stir in the cheese and mix well until melted and warm, and the pasta is coated evenly with melted cheese. Serve immediately. Enjoy!