This creamy mac and cheese recipe hits the spot in so many ways. It’s easy to make and all done on the stovetop (fewer dishes to clean!). And this homemade mac and cheese is completely, absolutely, to-die-for creamy.
When I was little, we ate a lot of boxed macaroni and cheese. Not the healthiest option for sure. But, hey, this health stuff is always a work in progress, right?
It was a special occasion when Mom announced that we’d be having homemade mac and cheese for dinner. It was so good, it was never considered a side dish. It was the main course.
That’s how homemade mac and cheese became my favorite comfort food.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had barely been married a year and was still getting the hang of cooking for our soon-to-be family of three. My mom passed down the stovetop mac and cheese recipe to me and I tweaked it a bit (because I never thought cooking was much fun if there wasn’t some kind of tweaking involved!).
Hint: the hot sauce and mustard powder are a couple of my personal tweaks. 😉
This was when I was first starting to learn about being healthy, so one of my goals while I was pregnant was to get plenty of protein.
Homemade mac and cheese was my favorite way to get my protein in!
I made this recipe at least once or twice a week (ahem, pregnancy cravings), and then made several batches as freezer meals to use once my daughter arrived. Arrive she did, and soon her little brother followed.
After having kids, I struggled deeply with body image issues, which led to a vicious cycle of dieting and binge eating. For a few years, food was my enemy.
My old creamy mac and cheese recipe went to the wayside because such decadent comfort food wasn’t allowed on any of those “healthy” diets. Too much fat, too many carbs, not “real” enough — no matter what the diet was, mac and cheese was the black sheep that none of them wanted to talk to.
But eventually, I realized how truly unhealthy this cycle of so-called “healthy” diets actually was and started working to repair my relationship with food and with my body.
Today I know that a variety of foods (including comfort foods!) can have a place in a healthy lifestyle, and that’s a message I want to pass on to my kids.
Tips for Making This Creamy Mac and Cheese Recipe
This recipe is no-frills and super easy to make. It takes about 20 minutes from start to finish and can be made in one pot (cutting down on those dinner dishes!).
I wrote up this stovetop mac and cheese recipe the old-fashioned way with no specialty ingredients, but it’s very adaptable. For instance, I love to use Einkorn flour and Einkorn pasta — they’re made from heirloom wheat. (Read more about Einkorn wheat here.)
Also, feel free to experiment with blending different cheeses for more complex flavors. Colby, gouda, parmesan… get creative and have fun.
Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe
- In a large pot, cook macaroni until al dente or desired tenderness. Strain and let sit while you prepare the cheese sauce.
- Place the empty pot back on the stove over medium heat. Melt butter until it starts to bubble. Whisk in the flour. Allow the flour and butter mixture to simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Slowly stir in the milk. Add hot sauce, mustard powder, and sea salt. Cook over medium heat just until the mixture starts to thicken.
- Reduce heat to low. Stir in the shredded cheese until it just starts to melt. Stir in cooked macaroni, and slowly turn the pasta over in the sauce mixture until cheese is completely melted. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Serve warm as a side dish or a main dish with a side of steamed veggies.
More recipes like this homemade mac and cheese:
- Healthy Shrimp Tacos with Lime Slaw
- Homemade Garlic Butter Recipe
- How to Make Taco Seasoning Mix
- 100+ Healthy Instant Pot Recipes
What’s your favorite comfort food? Share in the comments below!
Elizabeth is the founder and creative director at The Nourished Life. Her mission is to help people find a more balanced (less stressful!) approach to living a happy, healthy life. Read more about Elizabeth here.