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.
Our go-to macaroni and cheese recipe is simply made with macaroni elbow noodles and a thick and creamy cheese sauce. Read on to learn how to make it!
Classic Mac n’ 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
What cheeses can you use for this mac and cheese recipe?
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 (step-by-step)
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.
Mac and Cheese Sauce
No matter if you’re making stovetop mac and cheese or baked mac and cheese, this is the best mac and cheese sauce on the internet!
Finally, pour the noodles into the pot with the mac and cheese sauce and mix everything together until combined.
Secret Ingredient for the Best Mac and Cheese Sauce
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.
How to Reheat 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.
Add mac and cheese into a medium pot. Then, add in a splash of milk.
Reheat over low/medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring every so often. Continue to add more milk, as meeded.
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.
The most cheesy and delicious mac and cheese I’ve ever had! Will be making this again for sure!
Yum! Loved this recipe. It turned out perfectly, but I did end up using lactose-free cheese and almond milk (sorry if that’s blasphemous here). I will say that the roux took a bit longer to thicken, but I’m assuming that might have been because of the almond milk. Definitely keeping this as my go-to mac and cheese recipe.
So glad your dairy-free changes worked!!
The best Mac and cheese! And easy to make too!
YAY! Glad you loved this!
Super good!!!! Easy to make as well. I like your instant pot mac and cheese recipe too!!!
Oh yes! We need a new IP Mac and cheese for TCK!
Classic family Thanksgiving may be cancelled this year, BUT I’m very excited to try this recipe out for our small household meal. Thanks for filling the cheese needs!
Wonderful, easy recipe! Looks gourmet without any extra work.
We made this recipe for Thanksgiving and I already can’t wait to eat the leftovers! Congrats on the new website as well – I’ve followed FFF for years and am also a huge fan of cheese so I can’t wait to try more of these recipes. Thanks and Happy Holidays!
Thank you thank you! Glad you guys loved this mac!
Insanely delicious! Leftovers reheated well in the oven too! Will be making again
This mac and cheese was much better than any boxed mac and cheese you can get (let’s be real it’s hard to beat the OGs. Kraft and velveeta shells ftw!) It’s delicious and creamy! The roux was easy too, don’t be intimidated just be attentive. I added a little mustard powder as well to cut the richness… Highly recommend!!
So glad you loved this mac!!
This was incredible! I think this is the first time I’ve made Mac n cheese from scratch and it was a hit at our small family thanksgiving dinner! My parents and sister both took leftovers, and I have had it for lunch and dinner today! I was worried about consistency with reheating but it was perfect just in the microwave. I also may have accidentally added too much cheese- never actually a problem- but I did half white cheddar too and almost 2 tbsp of hot sauce. Definitely making again 🤤
This mac is restaurant quality. It is so creamy and delicious. My husband and I are about as bland and midwestern as it gets with our food so we left out the hot sauce and it turned out amazing. I usually burn a roux, however, with FFF directions, I have successfully mastered that part with their recipes! Thanks FFF – I’ll be making this one over and over again!
LOL. SO glad you guys loved this!
Another great recipe! It was easy to make and lasted us through the week. It reheated nicely too!
We made this last night and it turned out PERFECT. We used fresh sharp cheddar and added some frozen peas in too. Usually, leftover mac is dry but this reheated perfectly for lunch today! Will be making again!
LOVE the pea add!
Made this for dinner tonight and my family inhaled it! Only variation was using gluten free quinoa pasta….this was cheesy and swish!
YAY! So good to hear!
Made this in the Instant Pot, but with chicken broth noodles (4 cups chicken broth to 16oz noodles, use saute to heat broth to boiling before stirring in noodles and sealing, Manual for 5 minutes). Otherwise followed the recipe to a T with 2tbsp Frank’s Red Hot. This is the first from-scratch mac ‘n’ cheese my kids have all actually eaten!