20-Minute Stovetop White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

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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!!

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.

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!!

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! 

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!!

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.

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!!

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.

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!!

Pin This Recipe

Yield: 10

20-Minute Stovetop White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

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!!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound small pasta shells, cooked according to package directions, drained, and set aside
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 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

Instructions

  1. To a very large pot or Dutch oven, cook the pasta according to package directions, drain; set aside.
  2. To the same pot, add the butter and heat over medium heat to melt.
  3. 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.
  4. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.
  5. Add the cheese and whisk constantly until it's melted and the mixture is perfectly smooth.
  6. Add the cooked pasta, stir to coat and combine, and serve immediately.

Notes

Storage: Mac and cheese will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 249Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 37mgSodium: 274mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 7g

More Easy Mac and Cheese Recipes:

Easy 30-Minute Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese — Classic mac and cheese the whole family will love! The creamy, cheesy comfort food you crave! So much better than anything out of a box and just as easy!

Easy 30-Minute Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese - Classic mac and cheese the whole family will love! The creamy, cheesy comfort food you crave!! So much better than anything out of a box and just as easy!!

Easy 30-Minute Taco Macaroni and Cheese – Super creamy, ultra cheesy, flavored with taco seasoning, black beans, green onions, tomatoes, and cilantro! Easy comfort food with a Mexican flair that’s a family favorite!

Easy 30-Minute Taco Macaroni and Cheese - Super creamy, ultra cheesy, flavored with taco seasoning, black beans, green onions, tomatoes, and cilantro!! EASY comfort food with a Mexican flair that's a family FAVORITE!!

Easy 30-Minute Stovetop Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese — The pumpkin flavor is subtle compared to the super cheesy and creamy factor! The pumpkin boosts the cheesiness to a whole new level everyone loves!

Easy 30-Minute Stovetop Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese - The pumpkin flavor is subtle compared to the super CHEESY and creamy factor!! The pumpkin boosts the cheesiness to a whole new level everyone loves!!

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls – A perfect use for leftover macaroni! Bread it, bake it, devour it!

Macaroni and Cheese Baked Cheese Balls - A perfect use for the leftover macaroni that gets cold and old in your refrigerator. Bread it, bake it, devour it! Easy recipe at averiecooks.com

One-Skillet Tex Mex Beef Mac & Cheese – An EASY recipe that’s made in ONE skillet so you don’t have to cook the pasta separately!! Loaded with ground beef, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, and cilantro!

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Comments

  1. Made this with the best white extra sharp cheddar cheese. It was great and definitely will make again.Thanks for another great recipe!

    Rating: 5
    1. Top RIGHT HAND CORNER of every photo, there is a hoovering Pin It button so you can pin with ease.

  2. Averie Noting sounds better than mac n Cheese especially when Sharp Cheddar is mentioned . YUM!
    Happy WEEK END

  3. A recipe with simple ingredients always makes for a great meal. For some reason I ended up with too much roux, which made the Mac & cheese a bit soupy but not awful. Next time I will either: 1) cut back on the amount of roux; 2) add the roux to the pasta rather than the other way around; 3) use more than 1lb of pasta (who would argue with that one?)Thx for sharing Tris recipe. Way better than a box…

    Rating: 4
    1. Glad it was way better than a box for you and that you will try again to perfect it exactly to your liking.

  4. Mine came out soupy. I did turn off the heat while I was mixing the cheese in is that what the problem was? I also used elbow macaroni as I didn’t have any shells. Is it okay to put this in the oven to crisp up the top? Every other time I try to do macaroni and cheese in the oven the cheese somehow curdles I don’t want that to happen in the oven.

    1. Was your pasta drained well?

      But in time, if you just gently cook it, it will thicken up and some water will evaporate.

      In the oven, usually it’s best if you add a breadcrumb topping of some sort so that the cheese itself isn’t getting too much direct heat.

      1. I tried this 1 more time.. The second attempt was WAY better. I heated the milk rather than add it cold to the flour/ butter. This helped the most to add more thickness to the sauce. I also added the cheese very slowly and used an Emerson blender at the end to ensure no lumps. To keep the cheese stable in the oven I added about a cup of shredded Velveeta processed cheese. It didn’t really affect the flavor much but it kept the sauce from cuddling. When done right this recipe is great. The flavor is quite nice. Thanks!

        Rating: 4
    1. You would double everything BUT this makes a very big batch of mac and cheese. I would make a single batch one time and evaluate if you really need a double batch for the future.

  5. I do not like extra sharp white cheddar cheese.
    It has too much of a bite to it.
    So i will look for a mild white cheddar cheese or
    use a mild regular cheddar cheese to make this.

  6. could you please post a gluten free version of your mac and cheese because it looks irresistible and im dying to try it but am gluten intolerant and wouldn’t know how to replace the flour (the actual pasta is easier because im assuming any gluten free pasta would do fine as a base) thank you so much!!

    1. I’ve never made a gluten-free mac & cheese from scratch so I really can’t give any suggestions of what to do with the recipe or what to expect. You’ll have to give it a try see what happens.

    2. So glad I used this recipe!! I bought 8oz 11 yr aged white cheddar from Tillamook for my anniversary and while it was amazingly delicious I didn’t think we could use it all on crackers. So I perused the good old Google for a recipe and came across yours. This recipe put my amazing cheese to excellent and mouthwatering use. The sauce turned out perfectly creamy without the grain like texture that you sometimes get with home made mac. I paired it with a salad and wine and had an amazing anniversary meal!! Thanks so much for the recipe 10/10 will use again. I would like to note after adding the cheese I did need to turn up the heat slightly to thicken the sauce. I’m supposing this might be because the milk is cold.

      Rating: 5
      1. Thanks for the 5 star review and glad this recipe came in handy for your extra Tillamook and that you will for sure use again!

  7. I loved this! I plan to make it for Thanksgiving but it would be easiest if I can make it ahead of time due to other demands on the dutch oven. How do you recommend reheating it? Thanks!

    1. The only way I’ve ever reheated it is from individual plastic containers that I store my leftovers in and then pop it in the microwave. I’m not sure how well the microwave is going to work if you’re literally reheating the entire batch all at one time. I don’t know, maybe put it in a big casserole dish and put it in a low oven covered with foil, maybe put it in a pot and reheat it on the stovetop very gently. Kind of depends what other cooking pots and pans you have that are already in use and if your stove, oven, etc. are already in use. Or you could put it in a bag microwave safe bowl, and reheat may be half the batch at one time.

  8. AVERIE – I use a 3 ingredient mac and cheese recipe that doesn’t finish as nicely as yours, so I’m intrigued. Once I cook my pasta I typically add a little cream along with the cheese. Works very well, but stays stringier. At the least, I need to cook the pasta in less water. Thanks.

    Rating: 5
  9. There is nothing better than homemade when it comes to mac and cheese! Extra sharp cheddar sounds wonderful–we love strong cheese.

      1. I plan to make it for Thanksgiving but it would be easiest if I can make it ahead of time due to other demands on the dutch oven.