Simple Macaroni and Cheese


Quick, easy, and tasty macaroni and cheese dish. Fancy, designer mac and cheese often costs forty or fifty dollars to prepare when you have so many expensive cheeses, but they aren't always the best tasting. This simple recipe is cheap and tasty.

Prep Time:
10 mins
Cook Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
25 mins
4 servings

Looking for a homemade alternative to boxed mac and cheese that's just as quick and easy? This stovetop mac and cheese uses staple ingredients and comes together in just 25 minutes. You'll want to bookmark this recipe for busy weeknights. The good news is, it's so simple that once you make it a couple times, you'll likely have it memorized.

overhead view of a full bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese topped with black pepper and fresh parsley

Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

How to Make Macaroni and Cheese on the Stovetop

Step 1: Boil Macaroni

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni until al dente, about 8 minutes.

Tip: For a thicker mac and cheese, double the amount of macaroni.

Step 2: Make a Roux

While the macaroni is cooking, go ahead and start on the roux. A roux is a thickening agent made of one part fat and one part flour that makes up the base of this creamy mac and cheese.

To make the roux, start by melting butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, salt, and pepper and stir until smooth. Slowly pour in milk and stir until the mixture is smooth and bubbling. Be careful to not let the milk burn.

Step 3: Add Cheese and Macaroni

Finally, the most crucial step: Add cheese! Slowly stir in Cheddar cheese until smooth and melted. We recommend you grate your own cheese because pre-shredded cheese won't incorporate into the mixture as well as block cheese.

Once the macaroni is finished cooking, drain and stir into cheese sauce until coated.

Can You Bake This Mac and Cheese?

This stovetop mac and cheese is all about convenience, but if you find yourself with some extra time and a desire for bubbly, baked mac and cheese, you can bake this recipe.

To do so, complete the first three steps above, then top with any desired toppings such as bread crumbs, Parmesan, crushed crackers, etc. Bake at 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) for about 15 minutes, or until golden-brown and bubbling.

How to Store Mac and Cheese

Refrigerate leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container for three to four days. To reheat, stir in a splash of milk or cream and reheat in the microwave or on the stove, stirring periodically.

You can freeze mac and cheese for up to six months. Allow the mac and cheese to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe bag, removing as much air as possible. Label with the date and freeze. When you're ready to serve, simply transfer the dish to the fridge to thaw overnight. Reheat as normal.

Mac and Cheese Add-Ins

This is a great starter recipe that allows for endless customizations. Here are some add-in suggestions from Allrecipes reviewers:

"I added onion powder, Parmesan cheese and a little bit of cayenne pepper," says RRL.

"I always recommend using different cheeses for taste. I use white cheddar and four cheese Mexican blend together," says Angel.

"I like to add diced ham and peas or diced chicken and broccoli…" says Fred Cannon.

"I added yellow mustard and topped with crushed Ritz crackers," says Memmere.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

"This is a simple and creamy basic mac and cheese!" says Allrecipes Allstar Christina. "I used light Velveeta and 2 percent milk with great results. Very easy to put together, and a nice recipe to customize to your own tastes."

"For a simple macaroni and cheese recipe as the title suggests, this recipe was fabulous!" says reviewer Karli F. "I'm throwing out my box macaroni!"

Editorial contributions by Melanie Fincher


  • 1 (8 ounce) box elbow macaroni

  • ¼ cup butter

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ground black pepper to taste

  • 2 cups milk

  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, 8 minutes.

    Elbow macaroni cooking in boiling water

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  2. At the same time, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

    butter melting in a sauce pan

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  3. Add flour, salt, and pepper and stir until smooth, about 5 minutes.

    butter and flour being whisked in a saucepan

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  4. Pour in milk slowly, while stirring continuously. Continue to cook and stir until mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 5 minutes, making sure the milk doesn't burn.

    milk being added slowly to butter and flour mixture

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  5. Add Cheddar cheese and stir until melted, 2 to 4 minutes.

    Cheese being whisked into roux

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

  6. Drain macaroni and fold into cheese sauce until coated.

    Folding pasta into cheese sauce

    Dotdash Meredith Food Studios

Cook's Note:

You can never have enough cheese, and I usually add an extra 1/2 cup without ruining the recipe.

Keep a careful eye on the milk when boiling, as milk boils fast and burns easily. Burnt milk will show up in the recipe's flavor if overcooked.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

630 Calories
34g Fat
55g Carbs
27g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 4
Calories 630
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 34g 43%
Saturated Fat 21g 105%
Cholesterol 100mg 33%
Sodium 777mg 34%
Total Carbohydrate 55g 20%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 8g
Protein 27g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 568mg 44%
Iron 3mg 15%
Potassium 380mg 8%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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