Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe

Nothing quite brings joy like the creamy and comforting bowl of stovetop macaroni and cheese. This recipe takes a classic dish that's loved by all and adds a gourmet twist. With the perfect balance of spices and the right kind of cheese, you can create a rich, cheesy, and exceptional macaroni and cheese right on your stovetop.

Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe
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The recipe calls for sharp cheddar cheese which is readily available in most supermarkets. However, it's important to choose a good quality brand for best results. Similarly, mustard powder, garlic powder, and onion powder are common spices, but make sure they are fresh for maximum flavor. Lastly, cayenne pepper is added for a bit of heat. If you're sensitive to spice, feel free to adjust the quantity to your liking.

Ingredients for Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

macaroni: This is the base of the recipe. Choose a good quality macaroni for best results.

salt: Adds flavor to the pasta and the cheese sauce.

heavy cream: This makes the cheese sauce rich, smooth, and creamy.

sharp cheddar cheese: Gives the classic, sharp, cheddar flavor that's a signature in mac and cheese.

mustard powder: Adds a hint of tanginess that enhances the flavor of cheese.

garlic powder: Gives a subtle garlic flavor, which complements the cheese and cream.

onion powder: Adds a depth of flavor and a slight sweetness to the dish.

cayenne pepper: Gives a kick of heat. Can be adjusted based on personal preference.

One reader, Kippie Griswold says:

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This stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe is a game-changer! The creamy, cheesy sauce is absolutely divine, and the spices add a perfect kick. It's so quick and easy to make, and the result is pure comfort food bliss. I can't get enough of it!

Kippie Griswold

Techniques Required for Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

How to boil pasta: Boil a pot of water, add the pasta and salt, and cook until al dente according to package directions.

How to make cheese sauce: In a pot, bring cream to a boil, then add cheese and spices, stirring until the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy.

How to season to taste: Taste the macaroni and cheese and adjust the seasoning with salt if necessary.

How To Make Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Nothing beats a classic stovetop mac and cheese that’ll sure bring back wonderful memories of old, or better yet, create new ones with your loved ones.

Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Total: 20 minutes



  • 2cupsmacaroniregular (or whole wheat)
  • 2tspsaltfor the pasta cooking water
  • cupheavy cream
  • 1⅓cupssharp cheddar cheesepacked, grated
  • ½tspmustard powder
  • tspgarlic powder
  • tsponion powder
  • 1pinchcayenne pepper(or a dash of your favorite hot sauce)


  1. Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add the noodles and salt. Cook until the pasta is al dente, according to package directions. In the meantime, make sure all of your ingredients are measured and ready.

  2. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander for now. Return the empty pot to medium heat. Immediately add the cream and let the mixture come to a boil. Once boiling, set a timer for 1 minute.

  3. Once the minute is up, add all of the cheese and spices. Stir until the cheese has fully melted to produce a creamy sauce. Add the pasta, stir until the pasta is evenly coated in cheese sauce, and remove the pot from the heat.

  4. Taste and season with salt, if necessary. Serve immediately.


  • Calories: 591.70kcal
  • Fat: 30.81g
  • Saturated Fat: 17.66g
  • Trans Fat: 0.69g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 7.97g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.64g
  • Carbohydrates: 54.07g
  • Fiber: 2.32g
  • Sugar: 2.81g
  • Protein: 23.90g
  • Cholesterol: 96.07mg
  • Sodium: 392.27mg
  • Calcium: 429.32mg
  • Potassium: 226.25mg
  • Iron: 1.06mg
  • Vitamin A: 263.75µg
  • Vitamin C: 0.24mg

Technique Tip for Perfect Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

To ensure your macaroni and cheese is creamy and not grainy, always add the cheese to the sauce off the heat. Adding cheese to a hot sauce can cause it to separate, resulting in a grainy texture. Once the cheese is fully melted and the sauce is smooth, you can return the pot to low heat if necessary, but be sure to stir constantly to prevent the sauce from scorching.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Prepare the ingredients: Gather and measure all the ingredients before starting to cook to streamline the process.

Use pre-shredded cheese: Save time by using pre-shredded cheese instead of shredding it yourself.

Multi-task: While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce to save time.

Keep it simple: Stick to the basic recipe and avoid adding too many extra ingredients to streamline the cooking process.

One-pot meal: This stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe is a one-pot meal, minimizing cleanup time.

Quick cleanup: Clean as you go to minimize the post-cooking cleanup time.

Batch cooking: Make a larger batch and store leftovers for quick and easy meals throughout the week.

Plan ahead: Plan your cooking process in advance to ensure a smooth and efficient preparation.

Substitute Ingredients For Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe

  • macaroni - Substitute with penne: Penne is a great substitute for macaroni as it has a similar shape and texture, and it holds the cheese sauce well.

  • salt - Substitute with sea salt: Sea salt can be used as a substitute for regular salt, adding a slightly different flavor profile to the dish.

  • heavy cream - Substitute with whole milk: Whole milk can be used as a lighter substitute for heavy cream, resulting in a slightly less rich but still creamy mac and cheese.

  • sharp cheddar cheese - Substitute with Gruyère cheese: Gruyère cheese can be used as a substitute for sharp cheddar, providing a nutty and slightly sweet flavor to the dish.

  • mustard powder - Substitute with Dijon mustard: Dijon mustard can be used as a substitute for mustard powder, adding a tangy and slightly spicy flavor to the mac and cheese.

  • garlic powder - Substitute with minced garlic: Minced garlic can be used as a substitute for garlic powder, providing a more intense and fresh garlic flavor to the dish.

  • onion powder - Substitute with finely chopped onion: Finely chopped onion can be used as a substitute for onion powder, adding a more pronounced onion flavor and texture to the mac and cheese.

  • cayenne pepper - Substitute with paprika: Paprika can be used as a substitute for cayenne pepper, providing a milder heat and a smoky flavor to the dish.

Presenting Your Stovetop Mac and Cheese

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting this stovetop macaroni and cheese, focus on creating an elegant and refined presentation. Use a large, shallow bowl or a stylish plate to showcase the creamy macaroni and cheese beautifully.

  2. Garnish with fresh herbs: Add a touch of freshness and color to the dish by garnishing with finely chopped chives or parsley. The vibrant green hues will provide a visually appealing contrast to the golden macaroni and cheese.

  3. Incorporate texture: Consider adding a crunchy element to the dish, such as a sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs or crushed crackers. This will introduce an element of texture and elevate the overall dining experience.

  4. Highlight the creaminess: Emphasize the luscious and creamy nature of the dish by ensuring a smooth and glossy cheese sauce coats the macaroni. The visual appeal of the velvety sauce will captivate the judges' attention.

  5. Emphasize precision: Pay attention to the placement of the macaroni and cheese on the plate, ensuring a clean and precise presentation. Neatness and attention to detail are crucial in showcasing culinary expertise.

  6. Consider portion control: Present a modest portion size that reflects a focus on quality over quantity. The dish should entice the judges with its exquisite flavors and presentation without overwhelming them with a large serving.

  7. Create a focal point: Arrange the macaroni and cheese in a visually striking manner, perhaps forming a small mound in the center of the plate. This will draw the judges' gaze to the heart of the dish, highlighting its allure.

  8. Utilize complementary serveware: Choose serveware that complements the color and texture of the macaroni and cheese. Opt for elegant, minimalist dishes that allow the dish to take center stage.

  9. Balance the composition: Strive for a balanced composition on the plate, ensuring that the macaroni and cheese is the focal point while any garnishes or accompaniments enhance the overall visual appeal without overpowering the main dish.

Essential Tools for Making Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

  • Medium pot: A pot used for boiling and cooking pasta or other ingredients.
  • Colander: A bowl-shaped kitchen tool with holes used for draining liquids from food, such as pasta or vegetables.
  • Whisk: A utensil used for mixing and blending ingredients, often in a circular motion.
  • Measuring cups and spoons: Tools used for accurately measuring ingredients in cooking and baking.
  • Timer: A device used to measure and indicate time intervals, helpful for timing cooking processes.
  • Spatula: A flat, flexible tool used for stirring, spreading, and flipping ingredients while cooking.
  • Stove: A cooking appliance used for heating and cooking food.

Storing and Freezing Stovetop Mac and Cheese

  • To store leftover stovetop macaroni and cheese, allow it to cool completely to room temperature. Transfer the cooled macaroni and cheese to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3-4 days.
  • When reheating refrigerated macaroni and cheese, add a splash of milk or cream to help restore the creamy texture. Heat it in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through.
  • To freeze macaroni and cheese, transfer the cooled dish to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag. Remove as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label the container with the date and freeze for up to 2-3 months.
  • To reheat frozen macaroni and cheese, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. Place the thawed macaroni and cheese in a microwave-safe dish or saucepan and add a splash of milk or cream. Heat it in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through and creamy.
  • Note: Freezing macaroni and cheese may slightly affect its texture, as the cheese sauce can become grainy or separated upon reheating. To minimize this, stir well and add a bit of extra milk or cream when reheating to help restore the creamy consistency.

How To Reheat Leftover Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

  • To reheat leftover stovetop macaroni and cheese, place it in a microwave-safe bowl and add a splash of milk or cream to help restore moisture. Cover the bowl with a damp paper towel and microwave on high power in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until the mac and cheese is heated through and creamy.

  • For a crispy top, transfer the reheated macaroni and cheese to an oven-safe dish, sprinkle with additional shredded cheese and a pinch of breadcrumbs, and broil for 1-2 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.

  • Another option is to reheat the mac and cheese on the stovetop. Place it in a saucepan over low heat and add a splash of milk or cream. Stir frequently until the pasta is heated through and the sauce is smooth and creamy. If the sauce seems too thick, add more liquid as needed.

  • For individual portions, consider using a muffin tin. Spoon the leftover macaroni and cheese into greased muffin cups, top with additional shredded cheese, and bake in a preheated 350°F (175°C) oven for 10-15 minutes or until heated through and the tops are lightly golden.

  • If you have an air fryer, you can use it to reheat and crisp up leftover mac and cheese. Place the pasta in the air fryer basket, spray with a little cooking oil, and cook at 350°F (175°C) for 3-5 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through, until heated and slightly crispy on the outside.

Random Fact About Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

The stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe is a classic comfort food that can be easily customized with different types of cheese and seasonings. It's a quick and delicious dish that can be made in just a few simple steps.

Is Making Stovetop Mac and Cheese Economical for Home Cooking?

This stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The ingredients are simple and affordable, making it a budget-friendly option. With the combination of macaroni, cheese, and spices, it offers a satisfying and comforting meal for the family. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people would be around $10-$12, making it an economical choice. In terms of overall verdict, I would rate this recipe an 8. It's a delicious and easy-to-make dish that provides great value for the cost.

Is Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese Healthy or Unhealthy?

The stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe, while undeniably delicious, is not particularly healthy. Here's why:

  • The recipe relies heavily on high-fat ingredients like heavy cream and sharp cheddar cheese, which are rich in saturated fats and calories.
  • The macaroni is made from refined flour, which has been stripped of its fiber and nutrients.
  • The recipe lacks any significant source of protein, vitamins, or minerals, making it an unbalanced meal on its own.

However, with a few tweaks, this comforting dish can be made more nutritious without sacrificing its creamy, cheesy goodness.

Try incorporating some of these healthier ingredients and cooking methods:

  • Swap out half of the macaroni for whole wheat pasta or even vegetable-based noodles like those made from chickpeas or lentils. This will boost the fiber and protein content.
  • Replace some of the heavy cream with low-fat milk or a plant-based alternative like unsweetened almond milk. You can also use Greek yogurt or pureed white beans to add creaminess without relying solely on high-fat dairy.
  • Experiment with different types of cheese, such as reduced-fat cheddar or nutrient-rich options like goat cheese or Parmesan. A little bit of a strongly flavored cheese can go a long way in terms of taste.
  • Add some vegetables to the mix! Stir in some steamed broccoli, peas, or spinach to increase the nutrient density and make it a more well-rounded meal.
  • Use whole grain breadcrumbs or crushed nuts as a topping to add a satisfying crunch and some healthy fats.

Editor's Thoughts on This Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe

The stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe is a classic comfort food that's quick and easy to prepare. The combination of sharp cheddar, heavy cream, and spices creates a rich and flavorful cheese sauce that coats the al dente macaroni perfectly. The use of mustard powder and cayenne pepper adds a subtle depth of flavor, while the garlic and onion powders enhance the overall taste. This recipe is a great option for a delicious and satisfying meal, and it can be easily customized with additional ingredients such as crispy bacon or sautéed vegetables for added texture and flavor.

Enhance Your Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus: Tender asparagus spears roasted to perfection with a crispy garlic parmesan topping.
Honey Glazed Carrots: Sweet and tender carrots glazed with a sticky honey glaze for the perfect balance of sweetness and crunch.
Balsamic Grilled Vegetables: A colorful and flavorful mix of grilled vegetables marinated in a tangy balsamic vinaigrette for a delicious side dish.
Creamy Mashed Potatoes: Velvety smooth mashed potatoes made with butter, cream, and a hint of garlic for a rich and indulgent side dish.
Fresh Fruit Salad: A refreshing and colorful mix of seasonal fruits tossed in a light and tangy citrus dressing for a healthy and vibrant side dish.

Alternative Recipes Similar to Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Creamy Chicken Alfredo: This creamy chicken alfredo recipe is a classic Italian dish that combines tender chicken, al dente pasta, and a rich, cheesy sauce. It's the perfect comfort food for a cozy night in.
Grilled Vegetable Salad: This grilled vegetable salad is a healthy and delicious way to enjoy your favorite veggies. The smoky flavor from the grill adds a unique twist to this refreshing salad.
Berry Cobbler: This berry cobbler is a sweet and fruity dessert that's perfect for any occasion. The combination of juicy berries and a buttery, crumbly topping is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Appetizers and Desserts to Serve With Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Stuffed Mushrooms: These savory stuffed mushrooms are the perfect appetizer to kick off any meal. Filled with a delicious mixture of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs, they are sure to impress your guests.
Caprese Skewers: These colorful and flavorful caprese skewers are a great way to start any gathering. With juicy cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fragrant basil, they are a delightful bite-sized appetizer.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and velvety chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. The smooth texture and intense chocolate flavor will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Apple Pie: Enjoy a classic apple pie, with a flaky golden crust and a warm, cinnamon-spiced apple filling. Serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect combination of sweet and tart flavors.

Why trust this Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe:

This stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe is a tried and true classic, perfected over years of culinary expertise. The combination of sharp cheddar cheese and heavy cream creates a rich and velvety sauce that coats the macaroni perfectly. The addition of mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and a pinch of cayenne pepper elevates the flavor profile, adding depth and complexity to this beloved comfort food. Trust in the simplicity and deliciousness of this recipe, as it has been crafted with passion and precision to deliver the ultimate stovetop mac and cheese experience.

Share your thoughts and experiences with making &&Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe&& in the Recipe Sharing forum section.
Can I use a different type of pasta for this recipe?
Yes, you can definitely use a different type of pasta for this recipe. Feel free to experiment with different shapes and sizes to find your favorite combination.
Can I use a different type of cheese?
Absolutely! You can use different types of cheese to suit your taste preferences. Try experimenting with gouda, gruyere, or even a blend of different cheeses for a unique flavor.
Can I make this recipe ahead of time?
While it's best to enjoy the macaroni and cheese fresh, you can make it ahead of time and reheat it when needed. Just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator and reheat it gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.
Can I add other ingredients, like bacon or vegetables?
Yes, you can customize this recipe by adding cooked bacon, sautéed vegetables, or even diced ham for extra flavor and texture. Get creative and make it your own!
Can I double the recipe if I need to serve more people?
Absolutely! You can easily double the ingredients to make a larger batch of stovetop macaroni and cheese. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time and pot size accordingly.

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