This Easy Mac and Cheese recipe is made in ONE pot with just SIX ingredients! Ready in 30 minutes or less, with full step by step video down in the recipe card.
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A new month of 6 Ingredient Suppers is here and I am SO excited for what this month has in store!
October is all about 6 ingredient skillet meals, and we’re kicking it off with everyone’s favorite comfort food: mac and cheese.
This one pot mac and cheese is made with just a few simple ingredients, and it is as rich and creamy as any other.
This Mac and Cheese recipe is perfect for those days when you need something easy and comforting! This year, I feel like we have plenty of those days in store.
How to make Mac and Cheese in one pot:
There are a few tips and tricks for making a one pot mac and cheese that are different from the traditional way. Here are some pointers for best results!
- Use a combination of broth and whole milk or light cream: this is the best way to get a creamy sauce that is still smooth. Since the sauce will simmer for quite a while, you need a higher fat dairy (whole milk or cream) that won’t curdle. If it does heat too quickly and curdles, just keep cooking and stirring and it will smooth out.
- Don’t overcook the pasta: it’s important to stir every few minutes and keep an eye on things as mushy pasta is not appetizing for anyone!
- Be a little flexible with your liquid: different liquids and different pastas will cook differently, so if you find that your liquid has mostly absorbed and your pasta is not cooked through, add a splash of broth of cream! Add it slowly and gradually and you can’t really go wrong. Learn to go with your gut — if you think it needs more, add a bit more.
- Keep in mind that the cheese will thicken the sauce considerably, so you want quite a bit of liquid remaining after the pasta is cooked. If you need to, add a bit more when you add the cheese to make the sauce come together
Variations on this skillet Mac and Cheese:
- Add different seasonings: hot sauce, ground mustard, cayenne, paprika, and Italian seasoning are all popular additions, but feel free to get a little crazy and see what’s in your spice cupboard that would give it that extra little something.
- Salt and pepper to taste: I generally err on the side of less salty if possible, because it’s easy to add salt later. Taste once it’s cooked and adjust as necessary.
- Add in vegetables: if you want them cooked, or slightly cooked, add during the cooking process with the pasta. Vegetables like spinach that will soften quickly can be stirred in with the cheese.
- Add in cooked meats, like this Shredded Chicken or Instant Pot Chicken Taco meat or saute meat in the same pan before adding the liquid and pasta. This is a great way to add additional protein!
How to make Mac and Cheese ahead:
Pasta can be a great make ahead meal with a few tips to get it just right!
Store it in the refrigerator:
To make ahead and serve later, ensure that your pasta isn’t overcooked. Err on the side of a little firm rather than too soft, as it will continue to absorb some of the sauce in the fridge.
Store up to 4 days in the refrigerator, tightly covered.
To reheat, add a big splash of water, milk or broth and place, covered, over low heat on the stove. Stir occasionally. If it is still thick and not saucy and creamy, add in another splash of liquid.
How to freeze Mac and Cheese:
If you know you want to freeze your mac and cheese, make sure that you quit cooking while your pasta is still slightly firm — a couple minutes before you would want to eat it.
Let cool slightly before covering tightly and placing in the freezer for up to 3 months.
To serve, I recommend thawing at room temperature for several hours or in the refrigerator overnight.
Then you can add a big splash of water, broth or milk, and reheat in the oven or on the stove top until heated through. Stir at least a couple times once the pasta starts to warm up.
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Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese
- 2-2.5 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2-2.5 cups whole milk or light cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups dry macaroni (I use white with fiber)
- 1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese (NOT pre-shredded)
- 1.5 cups shredded gruyere cheese
- In a large skillet, stir together 2 cups chicken broth, 2 cups milk or cream, butter, salt and pepper. Bring to a low simmer over medium heat.
- Stir in macaroni. Cover and cook, stirring every 4-5 minutes until al dente (about 10-12 minutes total), adding more liquid gradually if needed.
- Stir in cheese until melted — if necessary, cover and let rest a few minutes off the heat to melt the cheese and then stir. If sauce is took thick, gradually stir in additional broth or milk until it comes together.
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