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Creamy Stove Top Mac and Cheese

I think that creamy stove top mac and cheese might be the ultimate comfort food.

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There is something so darn delicious about a good mac and cheese. Creamy, rich, filling, and it harkens back to my youth when a gourmet meal was the Kraft classic. It was especially fancy we if we had Oscar Meyer hot dogs chopped up in it.

I should say, that wasn’t our typical dinner. My parents are both excellent cooks. From time to time we’d get a tasty boxed macaroni as a treat.

I’m no different. As a busy mom I keep a stash of Annie’s Macaroni in the basement in case my meal planning gets away from me. That and my husband, God love him, is capable of making three things: frozen pizza, toast, and boxed macaroni. If I didn’t keep a box or two around the helpless creature would starve when I’m away.

Why make homemade macaroni?

A good homemade macaroni is a quick and easy dinner to pull out of your magic dinner making hat. Most of the ingredients are pantry staples so you can whip it up in a pinch.

I honestly don’t know a single person who doesn’t like macaroni and cheese. If I ever do meet someone I would be suspicious of their judgement and certainly their palate.

Boxed macaroni and cheese, like all boxed foods, typically have more preservative and mystery ingredients. With homemade mac and cheese you know exactly what is going in it.

Should I bake my macaroni in the oven?

I’m gonna say no on that one. I’ve tried several recipes for macaroni in the oven and I never like it. For one, I find that it dries out the sauce.

Second, if you aren’t careful about boiling your pasta so it is undercooked, after it bakes you can end up with goopy noodles.

A delicious creamy sauce tossed on freshly boiled pasta will give you the best results.

If you feel the need to bake it, you can throw some seasoned breadcrumbs and a sprinkle of cheese on top. Put it the oven (make sure your pot or baking dish is oven proof) and broil it for a minute or two.

What kind of pasta should I use to make creamy stove top mac and cheese?

organic pasta rough and tumble farmhouse

I say whatever pasta you have on hand is the perfect pasta. Technically, “macaroni” are the small tube shaped pasta we most associate with mac and cheese. I rarely have macaroni noodles on hand so what I make is technically “noodles and cheese”.

Shells, alfredo noodles, penne, whatever you have will work fine in this recipe.

What kind of cheese can I use to make macaroni and cheese?

Just like with noodles, the sky is the limit on your cheese choices.

I came up with this recipe because I was tired of looking up homemade mac and cheese options that included a slew of fancy cheeses that I don’t have. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good cheese. I just don’t keep it around all the time (because I’d eat it ALL) and I am not driving 45 minutes back and forth to town to get it.

Truly, just about any cheese will be good melted over noodles.

Here are some you might want to try:

  • Cheddar (of varying sharpness)
  • Gorgonzola
  • Parmesan
  • Cream Cheese
  • Feta
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Pepper Jack
  • Monterey Jack
  • Mozzarella
  • Havarti
cheddar cheese rough and tumble farmhouse

I recommend blending a few options together, especially if you use strong flavors. For example, if you use an extra sharp cheddar, try blending it with a milder cheese such cream cheese, Havarti, or cottage cheese. A smoky cheese would be delicious but overpowering if you don’t mellow it out with a gorgonzola for example.

The only cheese that I can see not working well is possibly a brie, and that’s more of a texture thing. But! I could b wrong. Let me know in the comments if you have a rocking brie mac.

Ingredients and Supplies for Homemade Mac and Cheese

Supplies

  • Colander or other strainer
  • Large pot to boil the noodles
  • Smaller pot to make the sauce
  • Whisk
  • Rubber Spatula

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Stick Butter (salted or unsalted will work, just season with less salt later if need be)
  • 1 3/4 Cups Milk
  • 1 Cup Cream
  • 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Sat
  • 2 1/4 Cups Cheese (I used Cheddar for this recipe)
  • 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese (Fresh grated or the type from a shaker can)
  • 4 Oz (half a pack) of Cream Cheese
  • Dash of nutmeg (1/8 tsp)
  • Pepper to taste
  • 14oz of noodles
easy mac and cheese rough and tumble farmhouse

How to Make Creamy Stove Top Mac and Cheese

First take the larger pot and fill halfway with water. Add a tablespoon of salt and bring it to a boil. Add in the pasta noodles and reduce the heat so it is down to a simmer. I always forget my pasta water on high and then have it bubbling over.

Boil the noodles as instructed on the package, or until they are tender to your liking. If you plan to add eggs (see variations below) reserve 1/4 up of the pasta water. If not, strain the noodles and set them aside.

While the noodles are boiling you can get the sauce ready.

First, grate up 2 1/4 cups of cheddar cheese. If the parmesan needs to be shredded do that too.

In the smaller saucepan, melt 1/2 stick of butter. Whisk in the 1/4 cup of flour. Slowly pour in the milk and cream. Continue whisking for around 2 minutes until it seems thicker.

Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the spices.

mac and cheese from scratch rough and tumble farmhouse

Next, whisk in the grated cheese

Cube up 4 oz. of cream cheese and add that to the sauce. Stir with a rubber spatula or whisk until it is fully incorporated.

If your sauce pot is big enough, pour the noodles into the sauce (or dump the sauce on the noodles) and fold the cheese in with the noodles until they are coated and creamy.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Variations

Add Protein

Fry up a half pound of bacon and chop it into bits. Mix that in with the pasta, especially pepper jack varieties. Mmmm!

Another option to add more protein is to whisk up two eggs. Save 1/4 cup of the pasta water. After the pasta is drained, pour the eggs and water on the pasta. Stir quickly so the eggs cook into a creamy coating. Then add the rest of the sauce.

Veggies and other Crunchies

As I mentioned above some toasted breadcrumbs on the top add an extra crunch.

To sneak in some healthy vegetables roast a head of broccoli, then mix that in the pasta. I like that best with white cheeses myself.

Peppers are also good chopped up and sautéed, then tossed in the mix.

cream macaroni and cheese rough and tumble farmhouse

Seasoning

You can fancy up your mac with any number of herbs. Basil and oregano will give it more of an Italian vibe. Red pepper flakes or a dash of cayenne will spice it up. Some rubbed sage stirred in the sauce gives it an earthy, somewhat sultry taste. Can mac and cheese be sultry? Apparently so.

The gold standard is good ol’ salt and pepper.

Watch and Learn

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Homemade Mac and Cheese Rough and Tumble Farmhouse
homemade macaroni and cheese rough and tumble farmhouse

Creamy Stove Top Mac and Cheese

Quick and easy this comes together in a half hour. Kid and husband approved!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 8

Equipment

  • Colander
  • Large pot to boil the noodles
  • Smaller pot to make the sauce
  • Whisk
  • Rubber Spatula

Ingredients
  

  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 1 3/4 Cups Milk
  • 1 Cup Cream
  • 1/4 Cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 2 1/4 Cups Cheese Cheddar Cheese or whatever you have on hand
  • 1 Cup Parmesan Cheese
  • 4 Oz half a pack of Cream Cheese
  • 1/8 Tsp Nutmeg
  • Pepper to taste
  • 14 oz Noodles

Instructions
 

  • First take our larger pot and fill halfway with water. Add a tablespoon of salt and bring it to a boil.
  • Add in the pasta noodles and reduce the heat so it is down to a simmer.
  • Boil the noodles as instructed on the package, or until they are tender to your liking.
  • While the noodles are boiling grate up 2 1/4 cups of cheddar cheese. If the parmesan needs to be shredded do that too.
  • In the smaller saucepan, melt 1/2 stick of butter.
  • Whisk in the 1/4 cup of flour.
  • Slowly pour in the milk and cream.
  • Continue whisking for around 2 minutes until it seems thicker.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the spices.
  • Next, whisk in the grated cheese
  • Cube up 4 oz. of cream cheese and add that to the sauce.
  • Stir with a rubber spatula or whisk until it is fully incorporated.
  • Combine the noodles and sauce by folding the cheese into the noodles and gently stirring until the noodles are coated.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

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