Say hello to the BEST mac and cheese recipe on the internet! This Classic Mac and Cheese recipe is cheesy, creamy, and made completely on the stovetop. Enjoy!
Not only does this mac and cheese taste great any night of the week, but it’s also an excellent recipe to serve at holidays and gatherings such as Thanksgiving and Christmas!
This is our most popular Mac and Cheese recipe on Cheese Knees! It’s been rated 5-stars countless times and we hope you love it!
Srsly the BEST Mac and Cheese Recipe!
We’re firm believers that when it comes to cheesy recipes, mac and cheese is just a MUST. That ooey-gooey cheesy comfort food dish we’ve loved since we were kids. But this isn’t your average mac and cheese recipe, and don’t you dare think this is in the same category as boxed mac.
We’re sharing our go-to CLASSIC mac and cheese recipe today that’s made completely on the stove-top and will quickly become a family favorite dinner recipe at your house.
PS: if you’re a Mac and Cheese pro, check out our Tuscan Chicken Mac and Cheese recipe. It is BOMB.
Classic Mac and Cheese Ingredients
This classic mac and cheese comes together in just 9 ingredients (and 2 of those are salt and sea salt!), and makes the most delicious comfort food dish for you and your family. Start by gathering the following:
- Macaroni noodles (any pasta works!)
- All purpose flour
- 2% milk
- Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Granulated garlic or garlic powder
- Hot sauce (we used Franks)
- Sea salt
Can I sub any other cheeses?
Since this is the BEST mac and cheese recipe on the internet, it obviously uses a classic cheese – sharp cheddar cheese. If you want to sub a different shredded cheese, we recommend using 2 cups of cheddar and subbing the last cup for something else. Here are some ideas:
- colby jack
How to Make Mac and Cheese Healthier
Looking to lighten things up a bit? We got you. Here are a few swaps you can make to make this mac and cheese recipe a little bit healthier.
Noodles – use a whole wheat macaroni noodle or even a garbanzo bean-based noodle!
Flour – swap all-purpose for white whole wheat flour in the roux.
How to Make Mac and Cheese
Here is a quick rundown of how to make mac and cheese. Remember, scroll down to the recipe card to get the full instructions!
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Then, follow the package directions on the back of your macaroni pasta box to cook your pasta to al dente.
Drain the water from the noodles and set noodles aside.
How to Make a Roux
You need not be intimidated by this roux business because it’s actually rather simple. And, every homemade mac and cheese recipe deserves an epic cheese sauce, which typically requires a roux!
- To prepare a roux, you’ll start by heating a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium/high heat. Then add butter, and allow it to melt fully.
- When the butter is melted add the all-purpose flour and whisk (consistently!) until the butter and flour mixture form a crumble.
- Slowly add milk to the pot by pouring slowly, and whisking constantly. Continue to whisk the roux over medium/high heat for about 4-6 minutes or until the roux thickens.
- When the roux is thick, remove it from heat, and then it’s time to melt the shredded cheese! Congrats, you’ve made your roux! This will give your mac the thick and creamy texture you’re looking for.
Slowly add the shredded cheddar cheese and continuously whisk until the cheese melts. Add in the garlic, hot sauce, salt, and pepper, and mix to combine.
Finally, pour the noodles into the pot with the mac and cheese sauce and mix everything together until combined.
Secret Sauce for Mac
Shhh, we’ve got a secret ingredient in this mac and cheese that gives it a bit of a flavor kick without overpowering the star of the show (CHEESE, of course).
HOT SAUCE is a must in this recipe! And it doesn’t take much: we used 1-2 tablespoons.
If you like things a little spicier, go ahead and up this to 3 tablespoons. If you’re more of a mild lover, start with 1/2 tablespoon, and taste test from there.
We love Franks Hot Sauce, but feel free to use whatever your fave is, whether that’s Sriracha, Cholula or another go-to you have on hand in your fridge.
Feel free to serve this mac and cheese as-is or top it with something yummy. Here are some ideas:
- bread crumbs
- hot sauce
- grated parmesan cheese
Can you Double this Recipe?
Heck yes, you can! You can divide this recipe in half or even double or triple it if you’re feeding the entire family.
If you make a smaller batch of this recipe, your roux will come together more quickly. Reversely, if you double or triple this recipe, your roux will take a little longer (get ready to whiskkkk!).
How to Store Mac and Cheese
Store this mac and cheese in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3-5 days.
Reheating Mac and Cheese
The key to reheating mac and cheese is to add a little moisture (milk works great!) since the noodles continue to absorb moisture even after it’s originally cooked, and to reheat low and slow to avoid the cheese breaking down and changing texture.
If you have time to reheat your mac and cheese in the oven, that is a great method! Simply add a little milk (start with a tablespoon, and go up from there depending on how much mac you’re reheating!), and stir thoroughly before covering an oven-safe dish and placing in the oven at 350°F.
You’ll need 10-20 minutes of reheating time, depending on how much mac you’re reheating.
The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 1 lb. macaroni noodles
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups 2 % milk
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
- 1-2 tablespoons buffalo hot sauce we used Franks
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the uncooked macaroni noodles and salt to the water and stir.
- Let pasta cook until al dente. Strain noodles and set aside.
- Next, prepare a roux by heating a large pot or dutch oven over medium/high heat. Add butter.
- When the butter is melted add flour and whisk until the butter and flour form a crumble.
- Slowly add milk to the pot, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk the roux over medium/high heat for about 4-6 minutes or until the roux thickens.
- When the roux is thick, remove from heat and add the cheddar cheese. Whisk until the cheese has melted.
- Add granulated garlic, hot sauce, and salt and pepper to the cheese sauce. Mix well.
- Finally, add the cooked macaroni noodles to the cheese sauce and mix until the noodles are covered in cheese sauce.
- Enjoy immediately.