20-Minute Stovetop White Cheddar Mac and Cheese — Almost as FAST and EASY as using a box but tastes a million times BETTER!! So creamy, ridiculously cheesy, and the extra sharp white cheddar cheese gives this mac and cheese so much FLAVOR!!
Ultra Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe
If you’re the type of person like my daughter who loves extra creamy and very cheesy macaroni and cheese, this is the recipe for you.
I won’t judge you if you’ve been known to use boxed mac and cheese where the cheese is neon orange and comes in powder form. We’ve all been there.
But I promise you that this creamy stovetop mac and cheese is nearly as fast and easy as using a box and tastes a million times better. It’s ready in 20 minutes and has so much depth of flavor from the white cheddar cheese.
It’s ridiculously creamy, uber cheesy, and it’s pure comfort food that’s like receiving a big warm hug.
Being that I already have other homemade mac and cheese recipes on my site, I wanted to play with the kind of cheese I used for this recipe. Specifically, I used an extra-sharp white cheddar cheese. Because you’re using a pound of it, make sure it’s a cheese that’s high quality and that you like.
What’s in White Cheddar Mac and Cheese?
To make this homemade stovetop mac and cheese, you’ll need:
- Small pasta shells
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Spices (mustard powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, garlic powder)
- Whole or 2% milk
- Extra sharp white cheddar cheese
How to Make White Cheddar Mac and Cheese
In a large pot, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
In that same pot, melt the butter. Once melted, stir in the flour and spices. Whisk that up until smooth (you’re making a roux here, which will thicken the cheese sauce).
Slowly whisk in the milk, followed by the shredded cheese. Stir in the cooked pasta shells and enjoy!
How to Reheat Mac and Cheese
If you’re reheating individual servings of this easy stovetop mac and cheese, go ahead and nuke it in the microwave. It’s a creamy mac and cheese, so it won’t dry out.
However, if you’re reheating multiple portions pop it back into a saucepan and reheat it gently on the stove. You may need to add a splash of milk if the mac and cheese seems dry.
Can You Freeze Mac and Cheese?
There’s no secret that a pound of pasta, a pound of cheese, a stick of butter, and 4 cups of milk make a ton of mac and cheese. Unless you’re feeding a big family or having a gathering, you will likely have more mac and cheese on your hands than you need at one time.
Thankfully this recipe is very freezer-friendly. Just portion it out into (plastic) freezer-safe containers and you are go to go.
When I have had one of those days in the kitchen where all I make are desserts, the last thing I actually want to do is make dinner for my daughter and I love being able to pull out a container of mac and cheese for her.
Tips for the Best Stovetop Mac and Cheese
If you prefer mac and cheese with a crunchier topping, I’m sure you could add breadcrumbs to the top and bake it in a 400F oven until it’s as crisped on the top as you like, although I haven’t personally gone this route.
If you don’t like your cheese to be quite as sharp, I recommend going with ‘sharp’ rather than ‘extra-sharp’ white cheddar. But for us, we relish a little extra bite and sharpness. You may say this mac and cheese tastes a bit more ‘grown up’ than varieties made with basic or mild cheddar.
I highly recommend grating the cheese by hand on the coarsest blade of a box grater (or dirty your food processor and do it in there). Pre-grated cheese in bags can be coated with chemicals that can make it resistant to melting smoothly which would be a disaster here.
I don’t know that I’ve ever actually seen white cheddar cheese in bags — usually white cheeses like mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack are the usual bagged varieties — but just pointing it out to avoid bagged cheese for this recipe and go with a brick of cheese.
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20-Minute Stovetop White Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound small pasta shells, cooked according to package directions, drained, and set aside
- ½ cup unsalted butter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
- 4 cups 2% or whole milk
- 1 pound 16 ounces extra-sharp white cheddar cheese, grated by hand
- To a very large pot or Dutch oven, cook the pasta according to package directions, drain; set aside.
- To the same pot, add the butter and heat over medium heat to melt.
- After the butter has melted, add the flour, mustard, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper, optional cayenne (does not make it spicy at all, solely for depth of flavor), and whisk constantly until smooth. Note - this is a very important step and if your butter-flour mixture (roux) is not okay or is not smooth, your mac and cheese will not have the right texture or consistency.
- Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.
- Add the cheese and whisk constantly until it's melted and the mixture is perfectly smooth.
- Add the cooked pasta, stir to coat and combine, and serve immediately.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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