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Stove-top Macaroni and Cheese

Forget the boxes, the mixes, and don’t even think of waiting an hour for macaroni and cheese on a week night.   I have the super-fast solution for homemade macaroni and cheese, and it is SO good.

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

I have something of an addiction to macaroni and cheese.   When I was a child I ate mac & cheese from the blue box at least once a week.  My mom just did not always feel up to making homemade side dishes every night, and I never complained!  When I got older I discovered a whole world of macaroni and cheese that did not involve powdered cheese and I have tried more than I care to tell you about.


The recipe I am about to share with you makes the creamiest macaroni and cheese I have ever made, and it is nearly as fast as making the stuff in the box.   I make this at the holidays now because it is more popular than the baked one I used to make.  In fact, my brother (who is himself something of a macaroni and cheese aficionado) told me that going forward this was the ONLY recipe I should use.  High praise indeed.

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

One thing I feel I must add is that you really should grate your cheese fresh.  Cheeses that come ready-grated have anti-caking agents in them which change the way they melt.  They also change the overall texture of the cheese sauce.  Of course, if it makes your life easier you can use the ready-grated stuff but the sauce may not be as creamy.

Also, if you are watching your figure, as so many of us are, you can use reduced-fat cheese (this you must grate yourself, reduced-fat ready-grated cheese will not work).  You can also use 2% evaporated milk.  The results are just as creamy, just as delicious, but far kinder to your thighs.

Stove-top Macaroni and Cheese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 8 ounces macaroni, or any smallish tube shaped pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 6 ounces (about ⅔ cup) evaporated milk
  • 6 ounces (about 1 cup) freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions, but reduce the cooking time by one minute. Drain and pour back into the cooking pot.
  2. Over medium-low heat, add the butter and stir until melted.
  3. In a small bowl combine the egg, milk, and spices. Whisk until thoroughly combined then pour over the pasta. Stir until the sauce begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat then add the cheese in four installments, making sure the first is melted completely before adding the next.

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Serve immediately.

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128 Responses to “Stove-top Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. MFA says:

    Great recipe! Family could not get enough of it!! This was my first experience with evaporated milk and found it just as creamy as using regular milk. Thanks for sharing – this was a hit for me.

  2. It looks a lot better than that rubbish that comes in a packet.

  3. Awesome post. I don’t suppose you would mind if I added your blog to my linkexchange directory?

  4. I knew there was a reason I liked you.

  5. melody says:

    been wanting to try this recipe for a while now..finally got some evaporated milk! can’t wait, sounds good!

  6. This looks delicious! I love homemade macaroni & cheese! I’ve spoiled my children so much they don’t even like the boxed kind!

  7. Courtney says:

    Just made this, with a few changes: used paprika instead of cayenne pepper, and no hot sauce (we do NOT like spicy in my household), and added a little milk (2%) toward the end of the cheese-adding process. TASTY! This has become my new macaroni and cheese recipe!! (I’ll be adding a little less mustard next time, though….)

  8. Sam says:

    What exactly is it that makes the mac n’ cheese sauce thick? There’s no flour or anything…

  9. Recently found this via foodgawker. Made it tonight with a smoked apple cheddar, and oh-em-gee it may have been the best mac’n’cheese I’ve ever had. Thanks for the recipe!

  10. Angela says:

    I just made this and it totally rocks! I didn’t know making homemade Mac & Cheese could be so easy! Plus it was so good that I’ll never eat the boxed stuff again!

  11. Kelsey says:

    I made this tonight. Used half muenster. Yum!

  12. Tess says:

    I made this today and my boyfriend loved it. I used Tillamook mild cheddar & Cholula chili garlic sauce. I felt it was a little too much mustard but I’ll just cut the amount down next time. Other than that, this was perfect!

  13. Christine says:

    Any tips for saving and reheating this?

  14. Kelly says:

    Christine – It does not reheat terribly well … but I have found that if you add a little milk to the pasta while reheating in the microwave it helps keep it from getting grainy.

  15. Mel says:

    Ahhh thank you for giving me exactly what I have been searching for for like, a year! I live out in a world where the blue box does not exist, and it is a total comfort food, so being without it sucks! However, the amount of sodium in said blue box is definitely something I don’t miss! So yes, homemade! But like 98% of homemade recipes are for the casseroles, which can be great but that’s not the same thing!! hahaha. Trying to find recipes, I got stuff like Paula Deen, who uses like 80 pounds of fat cream, butter, milk, cream soup, egg, and, as much as I loooove cheese, she uses like triple the appropriate amount! In other words, thank you for an EDIBLE, awesome version! You rock! ;D

  16. Olivia Igoe says:

    It only uses 8 oz of macaroni but still surves 4 to 6 people? how does that work?

  17. Kelly says:

    Olivia – That is the serving size for a side dish. As a main it feeds 2 to 4. Also, that is the dry weight of the pasta. If you check your package you will also see that 2 ounces dry is a serving. Thanks for stopping by!

  18. Olivia Igoe says:

    How many cups of uncooked pasta is 8 oz?

  19. Kelly says:

    Olivia – It is about 3 cups

  20. Stephanie says:

    Can you do the metric measurements please???? What is this like re-heated, I am considering taking this to school to make everyone jealous.

  21. Amber says:

    okay so I made this and it was awful, I have no idea what I did wrong :(

  22. Judy says:

    Do you think the egg cooks enough to eliminate any risk of salmonella- as I’m making this for my very young grandson?

  23. LaurenZ says:

    I made this tonight and it was pretty good. I feel like I followed the directions to a t, but it didn’t turn out very creamy. I think I thickened the sauce too much. I’ll try again soon. Husband loved it though!

  24. I am going to try this soon. It looks so good and it sounds really easy to make. My two favorite things about cooking!

  25. V. Kinsey says:

    Mine turned out kind of grainy, not creamy. Any idea what I did wrong. Taste is yummy. Texture, well, my picky 6 year old mac-n-cheez lover, won’t touch it. Love your blog!

  26. V. Kinsey says:

    Oh, one more thing, I used brown rice pasta, could be the reason it’s grainy?

  27. Lynda says:

    I can’t believe there’s such a thing as macaroni cheese in a box! I use gluten free pasta and it’s fantastic but here in New Zealand people add all sorts of thing to mac cheese, ham, bacon, tomato etc. I just love the plain and simple macaroni cheese as in the recipe above.

  28. Bailey says:

    This dish tasted great, but wasn’t near as creamy as I was expecting. I was only able to find a 5oz can of evaporated milk… do you think that one ounce could have had that big of an effect on the sauce? I also didn’t find it to be overly cheesy, but that could just be the type of cheddar I used.

  29. Carlie says:

    I just made this and it is amazing!!! I didn’t have red pepper so I used cayenne instead. If you want it to turn out perfect make sure you follow her instructions perfectly!

  30. HeatherHH says:

    I reduced the red pepper just a tad and omitted the hot sauce. And it was still too spicy for my family’s tastes. I think it should be edited to say 1/8-1/4 tsp indicating that the higher amount is spicy.

    It definitely was creamy, but cheesy is a bigger deal to our family. This was also a good bit of work. So, I think I’ll stick to my usual, stir a lot of butter into hot pasta, add a lot of cheddar cheese, then stir in powdered chicken seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper.

  31. Heather J says:

    Hi – I’ve used this recipe a fair amount, since I found it about a year ago. Now I have to bring a crock pot dish to a pot luck… I’m wondering if you’ve ever tried this in a crock pot? I was thinking maybe stir it on the stove top for a minute or so, then add to the crock pot w/ the cheese and let it melt and hopefully thicken more in the crock. Just thought I’d see if you have any experience/feedback about this. Thanks so much! I love the recipe!!! HJ

  32. kc says:

    Oh.My.Goodness! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this!

  33. rachyleigh says:

    Me and my friend just made this for dinner tonight. It was amazing! We have no complaints.

  34. Kat says:

    This is nearly exactly the recipe from Joy of Cooking for stovetop mac and cheese. I have been making it for years and am not shy about claiming to make the best mac and cheese in the world! I make mine with penne, however–I really just prefer its texture to mac’s.

  35. Askale Martin says:

    This is the best stove top Mac n Cheese ever!

  36. kayla says:

    **Need a whole 12 oz can of evaporated milk**I liked this recipe a lot but I think there’s a mistake in the amount of evaporated milk in the recipe. I used half of a 12oz can since the recipe calls for 6 oz. I followed the instruction to a T. It did not come out creamy at all. So I added the entire can and heated it some more. It was infinitley improved.I will use this recipe again with the whole can of evaporated milk.

  37. Payal says:

    I made this with smoked cheddar and gruyere, added more condensed milk, and put it under the broiler for 5 minutes with bread crumbs and extra cheese on top. SO GOOD.

  38. Olivia says:

    will you taste the mustard powder & red pepper or is it just to seasoning to bring it to where its supposed to be? looks great ! also can we omit the hot sauce?

  39. Kim says:

    Don’t know what I did wrong but this was a total fail. Not sure if I messed up in the process or the ingredients but I was left with cheese the consistancy of thick nacho cheese, not creamy at all. I will not give up on replacing the boxed stuff, another recipe, another time.

  40. Kelly says:

    Kim – I am terribly sorry you did not have success with this recipe. I have made it a number of times and I always have good luck with it. Based on your blog post about this recipe, I suspect there may have been issues with the amount of cheese you used, and also how much the sauce was cooked. Anyway, I hope you have success with a new recipe in the future! Good luck!

  41. Kelly says:

    Olivia – The spices only serve to round out the flavor of the sauce. You can omit any spices or hot sauce if you prefer. Kelly

  42. Kim says:

    I will definitely be trying this again and paying closer attention to the recipe. I’m just learning to cook and will try it again. Flavor-wise it was delicious. Going to research some different types of cheeses that I can use. Love the blog! :)

  43. Janie says:

    Looks super tasty! does the egg need to be tempered before adding to the pasta so that it doesn’t scramble? thanks!

  44. oh wow. I`m always looking for new macaroni and cheese recipes, but I think this one takes the cake! Thank you!

  45. Jenn Groh says:

    Just made this tonight. It was wonderful. I did not add the Tobasco sauce but might try that next time. However, for a fuller body sauce lover, this is perfect! For anyone that is getting clumps or grainy textures, you cannot use rice pasta because of the flour that comes off of it. You also should NEVER use pre-shredded cheese because of the caking agent that is put on it as this will change your texture. I may try to add a little more milk next time as I doubled it and measured everything including the cheese and it could have been creamier. All in all..great find!!

  46. Laura says:

    What is the egg for? Does it thicken the sauce? Just curious, I was suprised to see it in the recipe. (Which is very good by the way! I’m excited about skipping the whole baking process! We hate mustard though, I added a bit of nutmeg instead!)

  47. Mary says:

    I have always made mac ‘n’ cheese this way (been married 44 years) and so did my mom. So creamy, not dry and clumped up like in the oven! Never added egg though. Just cook pasta, add butter, milk and cheese, stir ’til melted. My adult kids still ask me to make it this way.

  48. Lauren says:

    I added more cheese to make it creamier

  49. lily traf says:

    I want to know if i make this mac and cheese at night and put it in the fridge, will it still be good if i eat it the next day for lunch?

  50. Crissy says:

    I have found my go to macaroni and cheese recipe!! This stuff is incredible!! Easiest mac ever, I love not having to make a roux. The egg, evaporated milk, and cheese makes a wonderful sauce. Couldn’t find my mustard powder so I used just a little Dijon. We sat outside when it was raining and ate a huge bowl. Thanks so much, I am deleting all my other bookmarks for mac and cheese!


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