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.
But every time I sprinkle that packet of gross orange stuff over the noodles I feel guilty. What is in this??
Then 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 investigate.
There’s just 6 ingredients. Macaroni noodles, butter, evaporated milk, eggs, cornstarch, and cheese. A little stir over the stove to get everything melted and gooey, and that’s it! No roux or separate sauce, no oven, no extra dishes.
The macaroni and cheese gets its creamy texture from the cornstarch, evaporated milk, and the addition of a stabilized cheese like American. I won’t explain the science of it all (I’ll leave that to the smart folks at Serious Eats), but as American cheese melts, it stays smooth and doesn’t break. So while the flavor of this mac and cheese comes from lots and lots of extra sharp cheddar cheese, a little American cheese is necessary to help keep it all nice and gooey.
And just in case you’re wondering about the eggs? They help bind the pasta to the sauce. I told you this was super ooey-gooey!
You can see by the ingredient list that this is far from a healthy meal. It’s pure indulgent comfort food. But unlike the Kraft original, at least you know what’s in it. And there’s definitely a time and a place for a quick and easy (and fabulous!) mac and cheese recipe.
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.
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