You too can now enjoy this homemade stove top macaroni and cheese at home in just 15 minutes. This creamy and cheesy dish will become a family favorite and you will never have to go for the boxed one ever again!
What makes this hearty meal so delicious is the cheese. Everyone has a preference when it comes to the cheese (or blend of cheeses) that they like in their mac and cheese. If you really like other types of cheeses than cheddar, this recipe is completely flexible regarding cheeses, add in whatever you like.
In most mac and cheese recipes, the most recommended cheese is sharp cheddar camp, due to its extra cheesy flavor, appetizing color and nice, stretchy texture when melted. Meltiness is one of the key things you should be looking for in your cheese (aside from flavor, of course).
For a creamier texture, you can opt for gouda or fontina, as they also combine well with cheddar and complement its strong taste.
Regardless of what type of cheese you throw in your macaroni and cheese, the one rule you should always stick to is to never use freshly grated cheese. This is because most pre-shredded cheeses at the store are coated with several agents, such as potato starch, powdered cellulose, and natamycin or a mix of all three, that prevents the shreds from clumping in the bag, which in turn prevents them from melting uniformly. The best thing to do is buy block cheese then shred it yourself just before you make your homemade stove top macaroni and cheese.
If you are really in a pinch and don’t have anything else but shredded cheese, you can still use it for this recipe, and the taste will still be great, but the texture will not be as velvety smooth.
Kinds of Cheese for Homemade Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese
While the classic recipe calls for good sharp cheddar cheese, you can easily switch things up by adding gouda, brie, provolone, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Colby, goat cheese, gruyere, taleggio, raclette, fontina, or asiago cheese. All the aforementioned cheeses melt well and are regularly used in pasta recipes.
Do I Really Need to Make the Roux?
The cheese sauce is based on the traditional roux, which is flour whisked into butter which is then simmered with milk or cream to form a creamy sauce.
The role of the roux is to thicken and allow the cheese to melt uniformly, without any clumping. But some make their mac and cheese without a roux. You can whisk a little flour with some of the milk before adding the sauce to the pan.
Can I Add Other Stuff to my Mac and Cheese?
You can add anything from meats and veggies to nuts to your mac and cheese.
Most people really like how bacon goes with this recipe, but you can also add in cooked chicken bits, shrimp, salami, hot dogs or any type of meat or deli you like.
Roasted or cooked veggies can also mix well with your mac and cheese, and it is a great way of sneaking in those greens for fussy eaters. Broccoli, cauliflower, baby spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes, onions, peas, mushrooms, or peppers- the sky’s the limit when it comes to veggies!
Nuts have always gone well with cheeses, as the milky and nutty flavors combine so divinely. Pine nuts, toasted almonds, roasted walnuts, all go well in this recipe.
Sauces are also a great and easy way of switching up your mac and cheese. You can use any type of hot sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce or even bechamel sauce.
Homemade Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
What You’ll Need
- 1-pound dried short pasta (cavatappi or macaroni, preferably)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups water
- 4 cups milk
- 4–5 cups freshly-grated sharp cheddar cheese (I used sharp white cheddar)
- 1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan/gouda/ Monterey Jack/ or any other cheese/s
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
- Take a large pot with water, add in your salt and cook the macaroni as it says in the package. Make sure to not skimp on the salt, as it makes a great deal of difference in the overall taste of your pasta dish. Be careful to not overcook your pasta; you are aiming to have them al dente.
- Drain the macaroni after it has cooked but do not rinse it. Add the garlic powder, and mustard and stir until all the ingredients are combined.
- While the pasta cooks, grate your cheese or cheeses.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Let it cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add and whisk 1 cup of the water (or use can use only milk for more creaminess) until the mixture is entirely smooth has started to thicken. At this point, you can add some sour cream if you want to make it even creamier.
- If you like minced garlic and diced onions in your homemade stove top macaroni and cheese, add them in the butter before adding the flour when making the roux. For this, you will need to add a bit more butter to coat your garlic and onions while they cook.
- Progressively pour in the rest of your water and milk, whisking until all the ingredients are evenly combined.
- Be careful to not let your sauce boil! This may result in a sauce that is too thick.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the cheeses until they have completely melted. Taste, and add any additional seasonings, to preference.
- Add the cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and stir vigorously to cover all the macaroni with the cheese sauce.
- Add in your bacon, meats, veggies and nuts, if you wish and stir some more.
- Serve immediately, and enjoy!
For those cold weeknights, sit down with your family and enjoy a homemade stove top macaroni and cheese which will warm their souls and delight their taste buds.