One Pot Mac And Cheese

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This Mac and Cheese recipe is the absolute best! It’s got tender pasta, a blend of delicious cheeses, and the “secret” is in the amazing seasoning blend. Made in just ONE POT, this mac and cheese is the richest, cheesiest, and creamiest around!

If you’d rather use a pressure cooker, try my favorite Instant Pot Mac and Cheese!

The dish in a pot with a spoon scooping some out.

One Pot Mac And Cheese

Like many of you, I know it’s not unusual to say my kids are obsessed with mac and cheese. It’s common, right? But my daughter takes it to the next level. She would rather have mac and cheese than brownies, chocolate cookies, or cake. Seriously, she even asks for it for breakfast!

Obviously, I end up making mac and cheese quite often in my house. And I’ve finally perfected the easiest and most delicious stovetop recipe. I’m hooked on it, my kids can’t get enough, and I’m even more obsessed because it’s so simple to make and clean up is a breeze!

This Mac and Cheese Recipe Is…

  • Downright Delicious: Classic and creamy — a total crowd-pleaser!
  • Made with Simple Ingredients: Uses basic pantry staples.
  • Quick to Make: Ready in about 20 minutes — no veggie chopping needed!
  • Customizable: Easily add your favorite mix-ins.
  • A One-Pot Wonder: Just one dish to wash!

Ingredients prepped out for easy assembly.

Ingredients

  • Thickening: Butter and flour are key to getting a nice thick sauce. Use regular, unsalted butter to control the saltiness and all-purpose flour for best thickening.
  • Liquid: Whole milk creates a rich, creamy texture. Balancing milk with chicken broth makes sure this dish isn’t too heavy. The broth adds a great savory flavor to the mac.
  • Pasta: Elbow macaroni, the traditional choice, is perfect for holding the sauce, but any small pasta that cooks in a similar amount of time will also work well.
  • Cheeses: Freshly grated cheese ensures a smooth melt and rich flavor. Mozzarella adds stretchiness, sharp cheddar brings depth, and Parmesan offers a nutty, salty touch. (Use leftover cheese in my favorite one pot Taco Spaghetti!)
  • Seasonings: A blend of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, mustard powder, and paprika perfectly seasons the mac and cheese, making it absolutely delicious.

The cream sauce being whisked together in the pot for this one pot mac and cheese.

How To Make Mac And Cheese

The full recipe is below, but here’s a quick overview:

  • Start with the Base: Melt butter in a pot on medium heat. Mix in flour until it’s smooth. Keep stirring so it doesn’t get lumpy.
  • Add Liquids: Slowly pour in milk and broth, stirring until it gets thick and creamy.
  • Cook the Pasta: Put the pasta in and cook on low heat. Stir often to stop it from sticking.
  • Mix in Cheeses: Take the pot off the heat and add the cheeses one by one, stirring until they melt and the sauce is smooth.
  • Season and Serve: Taste it and add more salt or spices if you need to. Serve it warm and enjoy!

Cooking Tips For Mac and Cheese

  • Set Out Milk: Set out milk first thing — the less cold it is, the quicker the dish will go. 
  • Pick Cheeses You Like: Try some different cheeses like gruyere, gouda, or others. Mix and match your favorites!
  • Take Pot Off: As soon as the pasta is almost tender, take it of the stovetop. Even though it still looks liquidy, it will continue to thicken especially when cheese is added. If it cooks too long, it thicken to much and be less creamy.
  • Grate Cheese Yourself: Avoid pre-shredded cheese from bags. They have stuff added that stops them from melting well. More tips for grating cheese below.

The pasta being added and the different cheese being mixed in.

How To Grate Cheese Quickly

  • Food Processor: For large amounts, use a food processor with a grating attachment. Cut the cheese into chunks that fit the feed tube.
  • Stand Mixer: If you have a KitchenAid mixer, use its cheese grating attachment. Right after shopping, grate the cheese and store in zippered bags for easy use come meal time.
  • For Soft Cheeses: Freeze for 15-20 minutes before grating to avoid messiness. This is especially useful for mozzarella.

VARIATIONS

One Pot Mac and Cheese Variations

  1. Bacon Mac and Cheese: Add crispy, chopped bacon for a smoky, savory flavor.
  2. Lobster Mac and Cheese: Include chunks of cooked lobster for a fancy twist.
  3. BBQ Pork Mac and Cheese: Add in BBQ pulled pork for sweet and tangy.
  4. Taco Mac and Cheese: Mix in a batch of taco meat and replace mozzarella and Parm with more cheddar.
  5. Cajun Mac and Cheese: Spice it up with Cajun seasoning and sausage similar to this Cajun Sausage Pasta.
  6. Add A Crispy Topping: Use the buttered-Panko topping from this Baked Mac and Cheese recipe. 

The easy mac and cheese in the pot.

Making Mac and Cheese Ahead of Time

This mac and cheese is best when made fresh. However, you can prepare it ahead of time, though it will be less creamy.

  1. Cook it slightly less than usual and remove from the heat; do not add the cheeses yet.
  2. Let it cool, then store in the fridge, covered in an airtight container.
  3. To serve, reheat on the stovetop until warmed through, then remove from heat and stir in the cheeses.

What To Serve With Mac and Cheese:

Mac and cheese with a scoop being scooped out.

STORAGE

Storing Mac and Cheese:

  • Like most one-pot pasta dishes, this mac and cheese is best eaten right after cooking
  • Store leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for 2-4 days.
  • To reheat, add a little milk or broth and microwave with plastic wrap partially covering it. Stir frequently to ensure even heating.

More One Pot Dinner Recipes You’ll Love:

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Mac and Cheese Recipe

5 from 1 vote
This Mac and Cheese recipe is the absolute best! It's got tender pasta, a blend of delicious cheeses, and the "secret" is in the amazing seasoning blend. Made in just ONE POT, this mac and cheese is the richest, cheesiest, and creamiest around!
The dish in a pot with a spoon scooping some out.
Print Recipe

Mac and Cheese Recipe

The dish in a pot with a spoon scooping some out.
5 from 1 vote
This Mac and Cheese recipe is the absolute best! It's got tender pasta, a blend of delicious cheeses, and the "secret" is in the amazing seasoning blend. Made in just ONE POT, this mac and cheese is the richest, cheesiest, and creamiest around!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword mac and cheese, mac and cheese recipe, one pot mac and cheese
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 630kcal
Cost $16.12

Equipment

  • Large, nonstick pot

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons white, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon each: ground mustard, paprika, onion powder
  • Salt and pepper (I add 1/4 tsp each)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2.5 cups chicken broth
  • 2.5 cups uncooked elbows/macaroni
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese (Note 1)
  • 1.5 cups freshly grated sharp cheddar
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan (Note 2)
  • Optional: hot sauce, for serving

Instructions

  • THICKENER: In a large nonstick pot, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth, 1 minute. Add seasonings whisking constantly. Gradually add 1.5 cups of milk, whisking until thick (1-2 minutes). Then slowly add the chicken broth, while constantly Whisking. Bring to a boil.
  • PASTA: Once boiling, add uncooked macaroni. Stir with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-low, allowing a gentle bubble across top when not stirring. Stir often, scraping the bottom of the pot, for 8-11 minutes until the pasta is just cooked (but still a bit firm) and the sauce slightly thickens. If it looks too saucy, don't worry—it will thicken quickly with cheese.
    (Take it off heat when it looks like this picture. See Note 3 for trouble-shooting.)
    One pot mac and cheese right off the stove.
  • CHEESE: Remove the pot from heat. Sprinkle in one cheese at a time, stirring gently until fully melted before adding the next listed cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  • ENJOY: Enjoy hot, optionally with a dash of hot sauce.
  • STORAGE: Mac and cheese is best enjoyed right off the stovetop! It will continue to thicken (pasta continues to absorb any surrounding liquid) the longer it sits.

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Freshly grate mozzarella & cheddar then gently pack into measuring cup for accurate measurement. Use sharp or extra sharp cheddar for the most flavor.
Note 2: Grab Parmesan from the block and grate on small holes of box grater.
Note 3: Remove the dish from the stove as soon as the pasta is al dente, meaning it should be firm but not hard. The pasta will keep cooking and absorbing liquid as you add the cheese. It’s better to undercook it slightly than overcook, as you can't fix mushy pasta. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk. If it’s too thin or the pasta isn't fully cooked, simmer it on low heat for an extra 1-2 minutes.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 630kcal | Carbohydrates: 56.5g | Protein: 31.1g | Fat: 30.8g | Cholesterol: 91.2mg | Sodium: 1292.7mg | Fiber: 2.3g | Sugar: 11g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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