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Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

All you'll need for this Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese recipe is pasta, cheese, milk, butter, and less than 20 minutes of cook time!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
A Dutch oven filled with macaroni and cheese.

It’s official! This is the best Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese recipe! All you’ll need to get this creamy, cheesy dish on the table is some pasta, cheese, milk, butter, and less than 20 minutes of your time. This easy recipe makes the ultimate weeknight dinner.

Isn’t macaroni and cheese just one of the all-time ultimate comfort foods? I know it is for me.

A Dutch oven filled with macaroni and cheese.

All that cheesy, creamy goodness wrapped around soft pasta. What more could you want?

As much as I love a good baked macaroni and cheese, sometimes you just need to make dinner in a pinch. With this delicious stovetop version, you’ll save a ton of time without sacrificing any of that rich, comforting flavor.

And there’s no need to dirty a bunch of dishes because the sauce and pasta are made in a single pan. All the cooking and cleaning for this recipe can easily be finished in under half an hour.

This no-bake macaroni and cheese recipe boasts simple, nostalgic flavors that you and your family are sure to love. Gooey cheese, salty butter, creamy milk, and tender macaroni noodles combine to create a dish that’s truly greater than its individual parts.

And, because you won’t use any flour or cornstarch to thicken the cheese sauce, you can swap in your favorite gluten-free pasta and make this dish completely gluten friendly!

❤ Why We Love This Recipe


  • No need to turn on the oven!
  • 20-minute dinner.
  • Features simple, classic flavors that the whole family is sure to love.
  • Easily customized to meet your dietary needs.

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING …

“Thanks for an easy, quick method, that does not come out of a blue box.”
— Miss P

🥘 About the Ingredients


This post contains affiliate links.

  • MacaroniElbow macaroni is traditional, but you can easily swap in any tube or twist shaped pasta. I’ve used ziti, rigatoni, rotini, gemelli, and cavatappi with equal success.
  • Cheddar cheese – I prefer an extra sharp Cheddar but you might like yours mild. Choose what suits your family.
  • American cheeseAmerican cheese is very mild and adds an extra measure of creaminess to the finished recipe. Plus, it’s BeeBop’s fave, so there’s that 😏.
  • Parmesan cheese – A little parm added to the mix adds a subtle, nutty flavor.
  • Butter – The butter helps round out all the cheese-y flavors.
  • Milk – Thins out the melted cheeses and helps coat the pasta.
  • Salt and Pepper – To taste.

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

🔪 How to Make Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese


  1. Cook the elbow macaroni according to its package directions.
  2. When the macaroni is cooked, drain it briefly in a colander and then return it to the pan.
  3. Add the butter and the cheeses, put the lid on the pan, and sit it back on the still-warm burner (the burner should be turned off but will still be warm from cooking the macaroni). Let it sit for about 5 minutes or so until the cheese starts to melt a little.
  4. Add the milk and stir until all the cheese and butter have melted adding more milk if needed to get the consistency you want.
  5. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste.
A Dutch oven filled with macaroni and cheese.

🔀 Fun Options and Add-ins


  • Want to add more protein? Try including some grilled chicken, crumbled bacon, steak bites, shrimp, or even chunks of juicy lobster!
  • Going gluten free? You can still make this stovetop macaroni and cheese with Barilla’s line of gluten-free pastas.
  • Get your kids to eat their veggies by including a few steamed peas, carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, or broccoli.
  • Don’t be afraid to be creative with the spices! Make this simple mac and cheese your own by adding your favorite savory spices. White pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, onion powder, Italian seasoning, and ground dry mustard are a few of my favorites.

💡 Recipe Tips


  • Looking for an easy way to feed a crowd? You can easily double or even triple this recipe. The finished dish is so creamy and cheesy, everyone is sure to love it!
  • Don’t have American cheese on hand? Or maybe parmesan isn’t something you always keep in the fridge. No problem! You can make this easy recipe with whatever cheese you happen to have. Swiss, Gruyere, Gouda, Monterey jack, and even blue cheese make great additions.

🍚 How to Store and Reheat


Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

To reheat, add the leftovers along with a splash of milk to a saucepan or a microwave-safe bowl. Heat until warmed through.

🕒 How to Make Ahead


You can make this easy pasta dish from start to finish up to 24 hours in advance! Simply store it in the fridge until about an hour before serving. Pop it in a 250°F oven for 30 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the dish reads at least 165°F.

A white bowl with a serving of macaroni and cheese.

🍽 Make it a Meal


This recipe is a great weeknight dinner all on its own! Or, you can always round out the meal with a side of apple cranberry salad, tomato zucchini tian, or oven roasted asparagus.

😉 Make it Fancy


This is a very easy, classic recipe but you don’t have to stop there! You can always take it a step further by placing the mac and cheese in individual gratin dishes (or one big casserole dish for that matter), adding bread crumbs on the top, dotting it all over with butter, and placing it under the broiler until the butter has melted and the bread crumbs are toasted.

Or take it even further by adding cooked veggies (peas and carrots are great) or a protein to the mixture. I’ve stirred in spicy cooked ground beef and made a tex-mex style mac and cheese out of this that was fantastic! Leftover roasted chicken mixed in is perfect. You could even adapt it to your favorite seafood – just think of shrimp or lobster mac and cheese! 

❓ Frequently Asked Questions


Can I make this stovetop mac and cheese for two?

Absolutely! I recommend cutting the recipe in half and dividing the finished pasta between four ramekins (this way you can top and bake them if desired). Serve and eat two of the portions tonight and save the other two for later in the week!

Can I make this easy mac and cheese extra creamy?

If you like a super rich macaroni and cheese, replace the milk with heavy cream to make your finished dish extra creamy.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
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📖 Recipe

A Dutch oven filled with macaroni and cheese.

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

All you'll need for this Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese recipe is pasta, cheese, milk, butter, and less than 20 minutes of cook time!
5 from 2 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 432kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 7 ounces sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 4 ounces processed American cheese torn in pieces
  • 3 ounces parmesan cheese grated
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk (may need more)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook the macaroni according to the package directions.
  • When the macaroni is cooked, drain it briefly in a colander and then return it to the pan.
  • Add the butter and the cheeses, put the lid on and set the pan back on the burner which should be still warm but switched off. Let the pan sit for about 5 minutes until the cheeses start to melt.
  • Add the milk and stir until all the cheese and butter have melted. Add more milk if needed to get the consistency you like.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

  • For a large dinner to feed a crowd, you can easily double or even triple this recipe.
  • Substitute any good melting cheese you happen to have on hand. Swiss, Gruyere, Gouda, Monterey jack, and even blue cheese are great.
  • Leftovers may be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, add the leftovers along with a splash of milk to a saucepan or a microwave-safe bowl. Heat until warmed through.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 432kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 55mg | Sodium: 591mg | Potassium: 185mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 559IU | Calcium: 470mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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— This post was originally published on July 26, 2009. It has been updated with new photos and additional information.

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20 Comments

  1. Mac & cheese has always been a favorite at our household.
    I do add a small handful of Bacon Bits in my mac& cheese @ the same time I put in the cheese.

  2. This one is another keeper. I only had American sliced cheese, Sharp Cheddar and the Parmesan in shaker like I use on Spaghetti but it still got two thumbs up from DH. Thanks Lana!

  3. Hi Linda! Thanks for visiting. This recipe is nothing fancy, but it is so quick and easy and good! You may like more milk and/or butter. Just keep adjusting until you get the creaminess that you want.

  4. Thanks, Calamity! Well, around here I’m Nana and my husband is BeeBop. BeeBop came from our oldest grandson trying to say “Pop” which came out as “Bop”. Then one day we asked him, “what is Bop’s real name?” and he says, “BeeBop!!” It stuck. And now all the nieces call him Uncle BeeBop :-)

  5. I found your blog over at Tasty Kitchen, and now my mouth is watering with all your tasty recipes…and your photos are beautiful too. By the way, my grandmother name is Bebop!

  6. That looks fabulous. If you just don’t feel good, there is nothing like something with melted cheese to make you feel better. Thanks for an easy, quick method, that does not come out of a blue box.

    Miss P

  7. I have been looking for a receipe that does not require making a cheese sauce. This is great and looks soooo easy.

  8. Comfort food for summer. Sounds good to me. I’ll take a big serving of that. Looks at the cheesy goodness!!!