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.

© 2009, Evil Shenanigans. All rights reserved.

Author: Kelly

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  • mmm . . . one of my favourite comfort foods. I think it’s time I made some of that.

  • Golly! That sure sounds good!
    Do you do a little shimmy when you eat it because it’s so tasty? 😉

  • This looks amazing – I’ve never made mac and cheese with evaporated milk before, I definitely need to try this.

  • That looks absolutely delicious… I am getting hungry just reading this post!

  • Kelly

    I may do a ShimmyShimmy in fact! 😉

  • This looks so yummy! Definitely going to give it a try over the weekend. Thank you for sharing! 😀

  • Kelly, I adore you. First amazing chocolate cupcakes with cream filling (which I just bought all the ingredients for, by the way), now mac & cheese!?! You’re amazing.

    I should write you another poem.

    I am going to try this mac & cheese recipe at my next pot luck ^_^

  • My niece loves the stuff in the blue box … I’ll have to make this healthier version for her to see if she’s duped *fingers crossed*. That’ll be the real test!

  • Oh oh oh! I love Velveeta, but am shamed to admit it. Looks like the evap milk and reduced fat cheddar might make me leave it behind altogether.

    I’d been working on a roux-based cheese-free mac n cheese recipe, but well, just decided it’s not worth it. =) Thanks for sharing!

  • Kelly

    Thank you Katy! If I had known all it took to get poetry made just for me was to make mac&cheese, I would have made it so much sooner! 😉 Thanks again!

    Muneeba: I hope it works for your niece!

    Aleta: I like Velveeta too … shhhh! Our secret!

    Heather: I hope you like it! Please let me know how it works out!

    To all the rest of you beautiful people: Thank you all so much for your kind words!! 🙂 You have made my day!

  • This looks absolutely delicious. But I have a question. What can be a substitute for evaporated milk?

  • I was just wondering if it’s possible to substitute something in for the evaporated milk? Is regular milk alright?

    Otherwise, this looks like the recipe I have wanted for years. Fantastic stove-top mac&cheese. 😀

  • wow this really does look as quick as the boxed the stuff. def. gonna try it, love your healthier modifications.

  • Kelly

    I suppose you could use whole milk, but it may not thicken as much. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Just 1 little problem with this post – the bowl is too small! 😀
    Seriously, it looks soooo yummy – I’d be afraid I might eat the whole pot!

  • tedula

    Looks fantastic! Have you tried making it without the egg? I happen to be vegetarian so I was wondering if that changed the final result much.

  • Kelly

    Tedula – No I haven’t, but I imagine it would make the sauce less thick. The egg, as it cooks gently, thickens the milk mixture. Is there a vegetarian alternative to egg?

  • Creamy and thick cheese. Those photos look amazing.

    I’m tempted to eat my computer screen just by looking at this. haha…

  • This was DELICIOUS and so easy to make!! Thanks for the recipe!! 🙂

  • Kelly

    I’m so pleased you enjoyed it!!

  • this looks so good. the last homemade mac and cheese i made was so far removed from the blue box i couldn’t appreciate it but this recipe looks like it just might hit the spot

  • Shen

    The mac & cheese looks delicious! But I do have one question – is 8 oz pasta really enough? 8 oz usually makes 2-3 meals for me, and I don’t even eat that much compared to most people I know…

  • Kelly

    Shen – it is rich and I have found that even among the mac and cheese lovers I serve it to, one 2oz cooked portion of pasta with sauce is enough as a side dish. Of course, your results may vary, and as a main it would serve fewer people. I am only listing it based on my experience.

  • Joyce

    Looks fabulous! I can’t wait to try it! How well does it reheat?

  • Kelly

    If you reheat it slowly, either in a pan over low heat or in a microwave, it reheats well enough. It is best fresh, but if you take your time it still tastes good the next day, it is just less creamy.

  • This looks delicious! Sometimes I add my own cheese to the box kind to make myself feel like I’m making a semi-homemade version 🙂

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  • As a real fan of mac & cheese I am definitely going to try this recipe. It looks yummy!

  • so sticky and cheesy ^_^

    i think i’ll only use half the amount of mustard powder next time though. i really don’t like mustard, and even the most subtle taste of it was a bit over powering for me. husband wants it again soon though.

    i also cooked the pasta just a tiny bit too long, so it started to fall apart, but was still super tasty.

    thank you so much for sharing this Kelly. now i just need to perfect it ^_^

  • Kelly

    Sorry it was too mustardy for you. :S I love the flavor it adds, so I did punch it up by 1/4 teaspoon. Feel free to reduce, or omit, in the future.

    Glad you otherwise liked it!

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  • Tim

    I’ve never make mac & cheese with egg before, but your photo looks too good not to try it!

  • Heather T

    Just made it, eating it right now. I substituted mustard powder for garlic powder. It’s so creamy and cheesy!

    Thanks for the awesome recipe!

  • Becky

    My mother made me bin it… 🙁

  • Kelly

    I’m sorry you did not enjoy it.

  • Wow, this looks really good and quicker than having to make a roux first. Thanks!

  • I don’t know how I haven’t commented on this recipe before! First of all, mac & cheese if one of my FAVORITE foods but I only like the stovetop kind. Second, I’ve made this recipe at least half a dozen times since I found it, and I LOVE it!

  • Malia

    Great gluten free macaroni and cheese (sub regular noodles for brown rice noodles)! I am looking forward to trying this tonight.

  • Anna

    This is a really wonderful recipe!

  • Amy

    Just made this and it turned out delicious, I had to use more evaporated milk then called for because I think the noodles absorbed more liquid then I expected and it was starting to get clumpy.. otherwise delicious.

  • Ophelia Bee

    Thank you for the recipe, Kelly. It was very easy to make. I have to say that my family was very disappointed by the condensed milk flavor. I don’t think I put too much in, but we could really taste the sweetness. It didn’t work for us. We will use creme legere next time.

    Thanks again.

    -Oh Bees

  • I think I know why it was too sweet. The recipe calls for evaporated milk, not condensed. Condensed is a sweetened milk where evaporated is just reduced with no sugar added. Thanks!!!

  • ELBSeattle

    Hello Cybercooks,

    I made a version similar to this that I got from Alton White’s website. Very tasty: a billion times better than the blue box version.
    A few things I’ve done (because I love to tinker)
    1) I used half cheddar cheese (the sharper the better) and half fat-free feta crumbles. Fat free feta by itself isn’t all that great but mixed with ‘real’ cheese it adds a great sharp zing.
    2) Just say YES to evaporated milk. It adds a richness you can’t get w/ even whole milk. I use evaporated milk when I make bread pudding – I’ve never gone back to whole milk since.
    3) I learned to add freshly grated nutmeg to milk-and-cheese dishes when I worked in a restaurant. It’s a fantastic addition.
    4) Chopped fresh jalapenos (abt a tsp or so) add a great bite to this when one is in the mood for a bit of the piquant.

  • I love mac and cheese. This looks like a delicious recipe. can’t wait to make it!

  • Mmm, I love macaroni and cheese. I usually cheat and use a packet though.

  • Amy

    This was the easiest (and best) mac and cheese recipe I’ve made! It was much much much easier to do than a roux, and definitely less time consuming. The result was even better! I didn’t have evaporated milk on hand so I used about 4oz of milk. It still turned out really good. I will try it with evaporated milk next time. Thanks!

  • Ashley

    I’m sitting here eating my first bowl of this DELICIOUS mac n cheese right now. YUM!

    My changes/additions:
    – Colby instead of Cheddar = extra creamy
    – 1 tbsp of regular mustard, as I forgot to buy the powdered stuff
    – Whole grain pasta in place of regular to make it even healthier (and you can’t taste the difference)
    – Fresh sliced jalapenos to my boyfriend’s serving (loves spicy food, not a big mac n cheese fan, but I have a feeling this recipe will change his mind)

    Amazing recipe, thanks for sharing!

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  • Zom

    Made this as my Thanksgiving take-along & it was wonderful!! I pulled a diy with the evaporated milk (1.5 cups 2%, 1 cup powdered milk, 1 tbps butter, all melted together) & it still turned out delicious, way better than other roux based ones I’ve tried! Thank you!

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  • Jaime

    Do you think it will be all right if I used regular milk instead of evaperated?

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  • I am making this tomorrow for my hungry spawns. They will love me extra for it.

  • Jenna

    Wow, sorry, but mac and cheese with evaporated milk?! Thats only one step better than making it from the box. You can make real mac and cheese in the oven in just about the same time. Put 1/3 cup flour in a pan and whisk in 2 2/3 cup milk and heat over medium heat until thick. Add 2 cups cheese (any mix of cheddar, gouda, whatever), put in pan, top with breadcrumbs or even better, ritz cracker/butter mix, put in oven at 350 for 30 minutes, and you have REAl mac and cheese that is so delicious you will wish you never tried the evaporated milk version.

  • Jenna – Since this mac and cheese is not baked it takes about half the time of baked mac and cheese. Also, don’t knock the evaporated milk version until you try it.

  • MFA

    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.

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

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

  • I knew there was a reason I liked you.

  • melody

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

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

  • Courtney

    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….)

  • Sam

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

  • 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!

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  • Angela

    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!

  • I made this tonight. Used half muenster. Yum!

  • Tess

    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!

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  • Christine

    Any tips for saving and reheating this?

  • 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.

  • Mel

    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

  • Olivia Igoe

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

  • 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!

  • Olivia Igoe

    How many cups of uncooked pasta is 8 oz?

  • Olivia – It is about 3 cups

  • Stephanie

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

  • Amber

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

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

  • LaurenZ

    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!

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

  • V. Kinsey

    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!

  • V. Kinsey

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

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  • Lynda

    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.

  • Bailey

    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.

  • Carlie

    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!

  • HeatherHH

    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.

  • Heather J

    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

  • kc

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

  • rachyleigh

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

  • Kat

    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.

  • Askale Martin

    This is the best stove top Mac n Cheese ever!

  • kayla

    **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.

  • Payal

    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.

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  • Olivia

    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?

  • Kim

    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.

  • 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!

  • 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

  • Kim

    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! 🙂

  • Janie

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

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

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  • Jenn Groh

    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!!

  • Laura

    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!)

  • Mary

    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.

  • Lauren

    I added more cheese to make it creamier

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  • lily traf

    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?

  • Crissy

    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!

  • Made this tonight. I was really excited to have a box alternative- that tasted better too. However, it had a slight bitter taste. Wondering if it was the mustard powder? Also, the sauce ended up thick and not like your photo at all. All I can think of is that i added too much cheese? I followed the rest of the recipe to a T. Suggestions, thoughts, comments? Thanks!

  • Kalani

    I made this tonight. It was very good. I didn’t use the dry mustard because I didn’t have any. I just need to add a little extra salt and pepper the next time I make this.

  • Sherry

    Since stumbling upon this recipe I’ve made it probably around 5-6 times and it has now become a fixed dish for week nights. My boyfriend is obsessed with the stuff out of the box and I’ve tried turning him onto “real” Mac and cheese and so far no recipe besides this has worked. He’s even asking for this now and our purchase of the boxed stuff has declined drastically. I use cheddar along with gruyere and whatever else we might have on hand, and we even put sliced up hotdogs in it. Delicious results and as you said YOU MUST GRATE YOUR OWN CHEESE. Love this dish!!!

  • Melanie

    This is a great recipe, very tasty and quick, but I find it hard to believe that it serves 6 people, even as a small sidedish. 8 ounces is only 1 cup of pasta. Is there an error in the quantity of pasta required?

    (I can’t seem to read past the latest 3 comments so can’t say whether you answered this question before or not.)

    Thanks in advance!

  • 6 servings is as a side dish. As a main it serves 2 to 3.

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  • Brenda Hansen

    This is terrific without the mustard, but add Tuna and Cream of mushroom soup!!!! (Mushrooms optional also) Wow, it’s amazing!!!

  • I tried this a few nights ago and it had a more ‘floury’ taste and wasnt cheesey at all. I added extra cheese, but it didn’t help. My toddler enjoyed it but the rest of us could barely eat it. Not sure where I went wrong, but I probably won’t be trying again.

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  • Krystal StJohn

    Just made this. Doubled the cheese amount and added some salt. Used the white of the egg only. Yum! This is so good. The cheese amount measured out was two cups and I used sharp cheddar.

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