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Ditch the boxed stuff! In 15 minutes you can have made-from-scratch Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese ready to enjoy. With only a few ingredients, it’s simple to make and is so much better for you! The bonus? You can make the sauce ahead to use throughout the week or even freeze for later!
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WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
When my kids were younger, we ate a lot more processed food than we do now. Over the years, I’ve been looking for or developing recipes that provide the same convenience but are a whole lot better for you.
There are lots of ways to make macaroni and cheese: baked, pressure cooker, slow cooker. I won’t lie, I’ve never met a mac and cheese I didn’t like, but when I want it quick, I make it on the stove top. It satisfies that comfort food need quickly and as a bit healthier alternative too as it’s made from whole ingredients.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE STOVETOP MAC AND CHEESE
What goes in Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese?
Here’s what you need to make my Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese.
- Milk – I use skim milk to help keep it a bit healthier and it still makes a super creamy sauce. Feel free to sub 1%, 2% or whole milk. I haven’t tried this recipe with any of the nut or soy milks.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese – I like to buy cheddar cheese in the blocks and shred it myself in my food processor. It saves money and I can freeze any extra cheese for other recipes. Feel free to mix it up by experimenting with different flavors of shredded cheese like cheddar jack, gouda, swiss, etc. We like sharp cheddar cheese for a stronger flavor (our favorite).
- All-purpose Flour – I like to use the unbleached flour
- Salt – regular table salt blends in the best
- Ground black pepper – you can sub ground white pepper if you don’t want the “specs” but I find it gives a slightly different flavor
- Pasta – my family likes to mix up the shapes and generally I’ll choose the whole wheat variety. My local grocery store has a whole wheat organic pasta that is about the same price as traditional pasta so that’s what I will often get.
What are the steps for making Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese?
The recipe card has all the details but one thing to remember is that low to medium heat is the way to go when making the sauce! If you try to rush things and have the temperature too hot, then the milk and cheese are more likely to burn so watch out! Also, whisking the mixture constantly helps make the sauce smoother and less likely to burn. Think of it as a workout for your arm!
The pasta is made according to the package directions so that part is pretty simple!
Adding that creamy sauce over the warm pasta…yum! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!
HOMEMADE STOVETOP MAC AND CHEESE MAKE AHEAD TIPS:
Can you prepare it ahead of time?
This Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese is perfect to make ahead! I store any leftover sauce in the refrigerator for up to five days (if it lasts that long). I normally store the sauce and any leftover cooked pasta separately so it’s easier to heat up just what we need.
Can you freeze it?
Yes! I have also frozen this sauce. I love to use Souper Cubes to freeze sauces and other foods for the freezer. They are great because they freeze the sauce in uniform blocks that saves space in the freezer. They have half cup and one cup portions so that makes it easy to heat up just what we need when we want it.
How do you reheat it?
From the refrigerator, I just heat it up for a couple of minutes on high in the microwave.
From the freezer, I make the pasta fresh and then heat up the frozen sauce for about three minutes (for one cup portions). Stir it to blend it well and add another minute or so until it’s warmed through.
You can also heat up the prepared sauce in a small saucepan over low heat.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
How Should I Serve It?
Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese is something our family enjoys as a meal on its own. Paired with some veggies or fruit, it makes a great lunch or light dinner.
You can also serve it as a tasty side dish. I like to pair it with a simple salad or this Delicious Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad. I think it would also be tasty paired with another comfort food variation like my Easy Copycat BLT Chicken Salad Sandwich.
My kids also liked packing it in their lunches. We would just heat it up in the morning and send it in a pre-heated Thermos food jar and it will stay warm until lunchtime at school.
If you’re watching your carbs, check out this recipe for Baked Cauliflower Mac and Cheese from The Suburban Soapbox. Or maybe this lightened up version from Midlife Healthy Eating, Weight Watchers Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese. You know I love make ahead recipes so this Crock Pot Mac and Cheese from Princess Pinky Girl looks so simple and delicious too!
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Easy Homemade Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 3 cups skim milk divided
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper or less to taste
- 16 ounces whole wheat pasta we like the gemelli or shells shape
- In large pot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and return to pot.
- In medium saucepan, combine 1 cup milk and flour, using whisk to blend into a smooth mixture.
- Stir in remaining 2 cups milk and salt and bring mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring often to avoid burning or sticking.
- Turn heat to low and simmer for about 3 minutes, until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and add shredded cheese and black pepper, stirring until cheese is melted. Set aside.
- Add cheese sauce over cooked pasta in pan and serve.