This 15-minute, one-pan mac and cheese is just as easy as from the box but so much better!
I admit it. My family eats macaroni and cheese from the box from time to time. It’s just so easy and my kids love it. And if I’m being completely honest, I kinda love it too. It’s got huge nostalgic appeal and sometimes it really hits the spot.
When I came across an article on Serious Eats with a recipe for a homemade version— just as quick, easy and cheesy, but made with all real ingredients— I had to try it myself.
And you know what? It really is amazing!
The Easiest Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Here’s why you should make this recipe:
- All you need is 15 minutes to make it
- It’s all done on the stovetop, no baking required
- Awesome cheesy flavor
- Super smooth texture
You guys, this is comfort food at its finest!
So let’s get started, shall we?
Ingredients You’ll Need
You’ll need just 7 ingredients:
- Macaroni noodles— or other short pasta
- Evaporated milk
- Cheddar cheese— or other melting cheese like Jack, Fontina, Swiss, Gruyere, or young Gouda
- American cheese
Why this combination of ingredients? Serious Eats explains “A combination of multiple thickeners and emulsifying agents—cornstarch, evaporated milk, eggs, and American cheese—ensures an extra-gooey texture with real cheese flavor.”
All I can add is that this recipe works so well! If this isn’t quite what you’re looking for, try my classic baked macaroni and cheese, it’s delicious too!
How to Make Stovetop Mac and Cheese
While this recipe requires a few more steps (and dirty dishes) than the one in the blue box, it’s still so easy!
Here’s how to make it:
- Cook pasta. Cook noodles til al dente and drain.
- Combine other ingredients. While pasta is cooking, whisk together evaporated milk and eggs. In another bowl, toss the cheddar and American cheeses with the cornstarch.
- Stir in butter. Return drained pasta to the pot, set over medium low heat, and stir in butter until melted.
- Add remaining ingredients. Add evaporated milk mixture and cheese mixture to the pot.
- Stir until smooth. While still over medium low heat, stir pasta until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth, 3-4 minutes.
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Note: This recipe was originally published January 2017.
Easiest Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb macaroni or other short pasta (455 grams)
- 12-oz can evaporated milk (360 ml)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 lb sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (see Notes) (455 grams)
- 8 ounces American cheese , cubed (see Notes) (225 grams)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ cup butter , cubed (113 grams)
- Salt , to taste
- Cook macaroni or pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente (look for time recommendations on box). Drain.
- While macaroni is cooking whisk together evaporated milk and eggs. In a separate bowl , toss together the shredded cheddar, cubed American, and cornstarch.
- Return drained pasta to pot and set over medium low heat. Add butter and stir until melted.
- Add evaporated milk mixture and cheese mixture and stir until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth, about 3-4 minutes.
- Taste and add salt as needed.
- You can use any good melting cheese, such as American, cheddar, Jack, Fontina, Swiss, Gruyere, Muenster, provolone, or young Gouda, or a combination of multiple cheeses. Stay away from aged cheeses as they have low moisture and won't melt as well.
- I couldn't find any block American cheese. Instead I used pre-sliced (but not individually wrapped) and gave it a rough chop.
- To reheat, combine in a pot with a few tablespoons of milk over medium low heat and cook, stirring gently, until smooth. To reheat in the microwave, add a few tablespoons of milk and warm in 30 second intervals, gently stirring after each.