Easy 30-Minute Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese


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Easy Stovetop Mac and Cheese — This is a no-frills stovetop mac and cheese recipe using shells that the whole family will love. It’s easy, ready in 30 minutes, and uses real cheese!

Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese — This is a no-frills stovetop mac and cheese recipe the whole family will love. It’s easy, ready in 30 minutes, and uses real cheese!

My daughter, like most kids, would eat mac and cheese for every meal. Homemade creamy mac and cheese is her idea of pure comfort food, bliss, and happiness.

This stovetop homemade mac and cheese is a basic, straight-forward, no-frills recipe the whole family will love. No breadcrumbs, no lobster, no bacon. Just classic macaroni and cheese. 

It’s easy, ready in 30 minutes, and uses real cheese. No processed blocks of cheese or neon orange powder!

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!!

Recipe Ingredients

To make homemade shells and cheese on the stove, you’ll need:

  • Pasta shells (or pasta of choice)
  • Unsalted butter
  • All-purpose flour
  • Milk (I used Silk Unsweetened Cashewmilk)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Dry ground mustard
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • Parmesan cheese

Note: Scroll down to the recipe card section of the post for the ingredients with amounts included and for more complete directions.

Silk Cashewmilk

How to Make Mac and Cheese on the Stovetop

Making mac and cheese shells on the stove is so simple and tastes way better than anything you’d get in a box! Here are the basic steps:

  1. Cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain and set aside. 
  2. Make the cheese sauce. Start by whisking together melted butter and flour in a large skillet until the mixture turns light brown and has bubbled for about 2 minutes. 
  3. Slowly whisk in the milk, followed by the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and dry mustard. Whisk the shredded cheeses in last. 
  4. Stir in the cooked pasta gently so you don’t break any noodles. Enjoy!
Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese — This is a no-frills stovetop mac and cheese recipe the whole family will love. It’s easy, ready in 30 minutes, and uses real cheese!

Recipe FAQs

What’s the Best Pasta for Mac and Cheese?

Use your favorite shape of pasta. I like using medium shells to make shells and cheese, but rotini or bowtie are fun, too. And, of course, classic macaroni pasta will work here too. 

What’s a Good Substitute for Milk in Mac and Cheese?

I used Silk Unsweetened Cashewmilk to make this stovetop mac and cheese recipe, and it’s so irresistibly creamy and thick but with fewer calories than skim milk. Eating more plant-based protein is a great goal and Silk Cashewmilk or Silk Almond Milk are my milks of choice for baking and smoothies. They’re so low in calories and fat, they’re vegan and dairy-free, and I always get impressive-tasting results. You could also make this mac and cheese with almond milk — use whatever dairy or non-dairy milk you like! 

Why is my stovetop mac and cheese dry?

You didn’t add enough milk and / or cooked the cheese sauce for too long.

Why is the cheese sauce grainy?

The cheese sauce for the stovetop mac and cheese can turn grainy when using pre-grated, bagged cheese. Pre-grated cheese contains anti-caking agents, which can make for a grainy sauce. For the creamiest sauce, buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself using a box grater.

Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese — This is a no-frills stovetop mac and cheese recipe the whole family will love. It’s easy, ready in 30 minutes, and uses real cheese!

Recipe Tips

Cheese: Grate your own cheddar rather than buying pre-grated because pre-shredded cheese is resistant to melting. It also tends to clump up when added to a cheese sauce. 

To make it creamier: After adding the pasta to the cheese sauce, you may need to add a splash of milk to loosen things up. It really just depends on how thick you like your homemade creamy mac and cheese.

Reheating: If you have leftovers, be sure to reheat them gently on the stovetop. You don’t want the cheese to separate, nor do you want to dry out the pasta. 

Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese — This is a no-frills stovetop mac and cheese recipe the whole family will love. It’s easy, ready in 30 minutes, and uses real cheese!

What to Serve with Shells and Cheese

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Fridge: Let cool completely, then store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Freezer: The recipe halves easily but I make it as written because I have a real mac and cheese fan. I freeze leftovers in single-serve portions and can pull them out and re-heat at a moment’s notice. I love planned leftovers. Frozen shells and cheese will last up to 3 months.

To Reheat: Warm over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes or heat in 30-second bursts in the microwave. If the mac and cheese seems dry, add a splash of milk to loosen it up.

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4.44 from 60 votes

Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

By Averie Sunshine
This is a no-frills stovetop shells and cheese recipe the whole family will love. It’s easy, ready in 30 minutes, and uses real cheese!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8
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  • 1 pound medium-sized pasta shells, cooked according to package directions
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, (1 stick)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk, (I used Silk Unsweetened Cashewmilk)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dry ground mustard, (optional)
  • 3 cups grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, about 12 ounces (grate your own because pre-grated cheese in bags doesn’t melt well)
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, about 4 ounces


  • Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set pasta.
  • To a large skillet, add the butter and heat over medium heat to melt.
  • Add the flour and whisk constantly until the mixture turns light brown and has bubbled for about 2 minutes. Cook long enough to cook off the raw flour taste, but not so long it gets overly browned.
  • Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, making sure to smooth out any possible clumps that formed.
  • Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, optional dry mustard, and whisk to incorporate.
  • Add the cheddar, parmesan, and whisk until melted and smooth.
  • Add the pasta and stir to evenly coat. Depending on preference, if macaroni and cheese is on the thicker side, add a splash of water or milk to thin out to taste. I haven’t needed to do this, but it’s an option in case.
  • Serve immediately.


Storage: Recipe is best warm and fresh, but will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for 4 months. Reheat very gently prior to serving leftovers so cheese doesn’t separate.


Serving: 1, Calories: 428kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 29g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g, Cholesterol: 76mg, Sodium: 624mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

More Easy Mac and Cheese Recipes:


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

30-Minute Stovetop Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese — The pumpkin flavor is present without being overwhelming and what you notice is how cheesy and creamy the macaroni tastes.

30-Minute Stovetop Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

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!

One-Skillet Tex Mex Beef Mac & 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!!

20-Minute Stovetop White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Instant Pot Chili Mac — Hearty chili mac made with ground beef, onions, tomatoes, kidney beans, and two types of melted CHEESE! EASY, ready in 20 minutes, and a cheesy comfort food family favorite that’s perfect for busy weeknights! 

Post brought to you by Silk. The recipe, images, text, and opinions expressed are my own.

4.44 from 60 votes (52 ratings without comment)

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.

Recipe Rating


  1. I love basic mac and cheese! I like to use a combination sharp cheddar and Gruyere cheese – give it a shot! Gruyere isn’t a cheap cheese, but it adds another world of flavour to a classic mac and cheese dish.

    1. I love gruyere as well and in my recipes I try to remember my readers who may possibly be shopping more budget-consciously and so didn’t call for it here, but yes, it’s a wonderful splurge!

  2. wow yum! i’ve always loved mac and cheese, the homemade real-cheese kind :) can’t wait to make this recipe!

  3. A real nice and easy to make receipe! Just a little hint on the pasta water – adding pasta water will not thin your sauce it rather thickens it. Thus because of the starch in water ;)

  4. You have done a great idea. I will definitely dig it and personally recommend to my friends.

  5. It’s so nice to see some actual meals rather than just baked goods on this blog. Don’t get me wrong, the baked goods always look AMAZING and delicious but I just can’t keep them in the house. Please continue to share easy meals with us!

  6. My daughter would also eat macaroni and cheese for every meal – shells are her favorite. I have been experimenting with recipes using almond milk but would never have thought of using cashew milk – can’t wait to try this.

  7. Hi Averie, this is really easy to make. Thanks for sharing this recipe. :)

  8. Those boxed mac ‘n cheese meals were one of the few things my mom “cooked” while we were growing up. She didn’t like spending much time in the kitchen, so nearly everything we ate was semi-homemade. But she definitely made up for it in other ways, like driving us to every single sports and music practice, buying us a million and one books, and taking us on fun vacations. Thank goodness the kitchen gene just skipped one generation — I can’t imagine what life would be like if I didn’t like to bake and cook! But anyway, back to your mouthwatering recipe… I’d love it if a serving or two of this appeared in my freezer!

    1. What a nice story and memories :) And thanks for your persistence with the comments. This one came through right away!

  9. I just love your recipes! We made the baked macaroni and cheese balls the other day.

  10. True confession here: I could probably eat mac and cheese nearly every day of my life and not get sick of it. It is just so perfect- cheesy pasta comfort! 

  11. This looks AMAZING! Mac & Cheese is my favorite.  I will definitely need to try this recipe. Thanks Averie! 

  12. Ooooh I’m intrigued with the cashew milk in this! Definitely hasn’t hit the shelves here yet :( but I can always make my own for this delicious mac and cheese, right? ;) 

  13. I would make this recipe for my kids. I used to buy Silk almond milk at the supermarket, it is more healthy than others. I am a fan of Averie Cooks recipes. I really love this site. Have s nice weekend! 

  14. Classic mac and cheese is my favorite. Give me just noodles and cheese and I’m a happy gal. Love that you used Cashewmilk here!