Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese – this rich and creamy homemade mac and cheese is the perfect comfort food.
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Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe
Creamy, cheesy and delicious! This recipe is perfect if you are looking for a homemade version of the boxed mac and cheese. The cheese sauce is made right in the same pot as the macaroni. It works as a quick side dish when you have something in the oven already, but it’s hearty enough for a main dish. I’ve adjusted this recipe over the years after trying many others that were never quite what I wanted. This is the perfect combination of creamy, cheesy comfort. A simple stovetop show stopper, and you only have one pot and one bowl to clean up.
Ingredients for Stove Top Mac and Cheese
- Elbow Macaroni – Any similar size pasta will work. Medium shells are a favorite alternative. Cook pasta just until al dente to avoid overcooking.
- Butter – The recipe calls for salted butter. If using unsalted butter, slightly increase salt to taste.
- Evaporated Milk – a 12 oz can
- Eggs – adds richness and a smooth finish
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese – freshly grated sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese for the best flavor.
- Jack Cheese – freshly shredded jack cheese for extra smoothness. If you don’t have jack cheese, you can sub with mozzarella or just use extra cheddar cheese.
- Salt and Pepper
- Optional Add-Ins – a few dashes of hot sauce, dry mustard, garlic powder, onion powder
- The secret ingredient, that really sets this apart, is evaporated milk. It gives the mac and cheese a rich, home-style flavor that is sure to please even your pickiest eater.
- Take pasta off about a minute before stated package cook time to prevent it from overcooking. We want the macaroni to be al dente.
- For the smoothest mac and cheese, use freshly shredded cheese.
- Add extra flavor by splashing in a few dashes of hot sauce, a sprinkle of dry mustard, onion powder, and garlic powder.
How to Make Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- In a large pot, boil pasta according to package instructions in water seasoned lightly with salt.
- While pasta is cooking, shred cheese and whisk together evaporated milk, eggs, and seasoning.
- Drain pasta a minute shy of package cooking time. Return pasta to pot and heat over a low medium heat.
- Melt butter into pasta by stirring both together.
- Once butter is melted, stir in milk and egg mixture stirring over low heat.
- Add shredded cheese a handful at a time and stir until melted.
- Adjust seasoning as needed.
What Kind of Cheeses to Use
You can use a variety of cheeses in this recipe, alone or in combination.
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese – the best quality sharp cheddar will give the Mac and cheese the most flavor.
- White Cheddar Cheese or Extra Sharp Cheddar – Adds so much flavor and is amazing, but can be on the dry side and might get grainy when melting. Try combining this with medium cheddar or Jack Cheese.
- Medium Cheddar Cheese – this will give you the most mild flavored Mac and cheese and is great for a kid-friendly mac and cheese
- Jack Cheese or Mozzarella Cheese– a great melting cheese that is good for adding extra smoothness to the mac and cheese. Jack cheese won’t add a lot of flavor so it’s best to combine with a more flavorful cheese.
- Pepper Jack Cheese – for a spicy kick, try pepper jack cheese.
- Gruyere Cheese – a smooth and creamy Swiss cheese that has a subtle nutty flavor. Makes a delicious, more elegant mac and cheese.
- Fontina Cheese – a French cheese made from cow’s milk, this is also a great choice to elevate your Mac and cheese and create a more complex flavor.
How to Make Mac and Cheese Creamy Again
Once leftover mac and cheese has been refrigerated, or if it has been sitting on the stove for a while before serving, you may find the creamy sauce has been mostly absorbed by the pasta. The best way to make mac and cheese creamy again is to slowly add more whole milk, half and half, or heavy cream over a very low heat. Once it’s creamy again, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Can I use pre-shredded cheese?
I recommend shredding your own cheese for the best results. But in a pinch, pre-shredded cheese will work with adjustments. Here are my tips for using pre-shredded cheese.
- Better quality shredded cheese will have the best results.
- Do not use fat-free shredded cheese, it will not melt. Reduced fat cheese may also have mixed results.
- Pre-shredded cheese is coated to prevent the shreds from sticking together. That coating will thicken the sauce very quickly, so you will probably need much less cheese. Add cheese slowly and only add as much as needed.
What to Serve With Mac & Cheese
If you are serving Macaroni and Cheese as the main dish, a crisp classic salad with crunchy croutons or side of roasted broccoli are great choices. If you are serving it as a side dish, it is great paired with Hasselback Kielbasa Sausage or Slow Cooker Whole Chicken. For a meat free dinner, a side of fresh garden tomato slices with a sprinkle of salt and pepper are a delicious pairing. The acid from the tomatoes pairs so well with the creamy mac and cheese.
- 1 pound macaroni shells or rotini
- 1 stick salted butter cubed
- 1 12 oz can of evaporated milk
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup shredded jack cheese
- Kosher salt
Cook pasta according to package directions, add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt to boiling water.
Drain pasta well and return to pot while still hot.
Turn heat to low and mix butter into cooked pasta. Stir until melted.
Combine eggs, milk, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and a few dashes of pepper in a small bowl. Whisk together.
Add milk mixture to pasta and stir, follow with cheese. Continue stirring over low heat until cheese has melted.
Troubleshooting: Why is my stovetop mac and cheese gritty?
The most common cause of a gritty sauce is that the cheese has not melted smoothly. Cheese, especially a lower moisture cheese like cheddar, needs plenty of fat to melt smoothly. This particular recipe calls for butter and evaporated whole milk and egg to help the cheese melt smoothly. Using reduced fat ingredients can cause grittiness. You may also notice a gritty texture if the sauce has broken. This happens if the sauce has gotten too hot once the cheese has been added, or if the Mac and cheese has been reheated at a high heat.
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I have a total weakness for mac and cheese! This looks DELICIOUS!
Ellen B Cookery
I don’t think I’ve ever met someone that doesn’t love mac and cheese. This looks wonderful!
Michael Wurm, Jr.
i’m dying! This looks fabulous!
Melissa @ No. 2 Pencil
Oh I can’t wait to try this!!! We love homemade Mac and Cheese. But question…how is the sharp chedder in it? We don’t use sharp often at all? So I’m wondering if I can subsitute??
Melissa @ No. 2 Pencil
We are a sharp cheddar family:0) But you can definitely substitute, the cheese flavor might not be as strong, but it will still be delicious!
YUM! Now I know what’s for dinner! 🙂 (Found you from the Martha Stewart paint group!)
Kelly @ View Along the Way
Sounds yummy! Thanks for sharing your fab recipe!
We tried this for dinner tonight. HUGE hit!! This is going into our rotation! 🙂
Hi there. The current Food on Friday is all about pasta and noodles! So it would be great if you linked this in. This is the link . Have a good week.
This is delicious!! Does it freeze well
Thank you! I don’t think the sauce would hold up very well in thawing and reheating, but I could be wrong. Please let us know if you try!