One-Pot Creamy Mac & Cheese

This creamy macaroni and cheese is way out of boxed mac and cheese’s league. And if you’re looking for an easy mac and cheese recipe to satisfy your comfort food craving, it doesn’t get any easier/cheesier than this: 25 minutes, simple pantry ingredients, and just one pot.

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We’ve shown you how to make mac and cheese in the slow cooker, and shared our favorite recipe for velvety baked mac and cheese just like mom made it. Now you could call this recipe the return of the mac. This time we’re making stovetop mac and cheese in just one pot.

One-pot pasta recipes are weeknight sanity-savers. And if the blue box is your family’s favorite, you’ll love serving up homemade macaroni ‘n’ cheese made from scratch with wholesome, real ingredients. This is hands-down the best macaroni and cheese recipe for busy parents, college dorm dwellers making midnight snacks with just a hot plate, and anyone who hates doing the dishes.

Our thick and silky mac and cheese sauce starts with a simple butter-and-flour roux, then we whisk in milk (low-fat is fine for lightening things up a bit), and two kinds of cheeses. With smoked paprika, garlic powder, mustard, and a teeny bit of hot sauce, the packaged stuff just can’t touch this easy mac and cheese recipe’s deep, grown-up flavor. (That’s not to say that kids won’t be licking their bowls clean, too.)

Like all of our favorite mac-n-cheese recipes, this one’s customizable, if you’re willing to think outside the box: broccoli loves mac & cheese, and so do bacon, sausage, tomatoes, avocado, cauliflower, jalapeños, peas, and chicken. Actually, does anyone not love macaroni and cheese?

One-Pot Mac & Cheese

Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes


  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 3 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk (low-fat is OK)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, or ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • 2¼ cups water
  • ½ pound elbow macaroni, uncooked
  • 2 cups (½ pound) shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¾ cup (3 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until the flour is lightly cooked.
  2. Whisk about half of the milk into the flour mixture (it will become a thick roux very quickly.) Add the remaining milk and whisk until it’s smooth.
  3. Add the smoked paprika, garlic powder, hot sauce (if using) and yellow mustard or mustard powder, pepper, and salt, and stir to combine.
  4. Add the elbow macaroni and stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a simmer. Cook the pasta at a simmer, stirring often, for 8-11 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the macaroni is just cooked (al dente). The sauce will still be somewhat thin at this stage.
  5. Turn off the heat and stir in the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. The sauce will thicken considerably at this point. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe adapted from @recipe_tin.