The best creamy macaroni and cheese

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Did you know you can make rich, spicy, creamy macaroni and cheese from scratch in the same amount of time it takes to cook boxed macaroni and cheese?

And I'm pleased to say that this pasta is infinitely tastier than the boxes of macaroni and cheese that used to have a home in our pantry.

Creamy mac and cheese

I've tried countless macaroni and cheese recipes over the years and never found one that I really loved. However, this recipe is absolutely foolproof and turns out wonderfully creamy every time.

I am very happy to have a new favorite dinner and my children are also very excited. I've made this creamy macaroni and cheese at least half a dozen times in the past few months and we love it.

The following recipe is slightly adapted from a macaroni and cheese recipe I found at Cookie & Kate. The spices here are what change the game: adding garlic, onion, ground mustard, and a pinch of pepper makes such a lovely difference.

Everyone has their own opinion on the best macaroni and cheese recipe. For me, the best macaroni and cheese is creamy as possible. While many people swear by a baked macaroni and cheese, I am a stovetop macaroni and cheese girl for life.

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Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Do you want to make this even easier? Or would you prefer to skip the flour? Replace the milk with additional thick cream (for a total of 1 1/2 cups of thick cream). Sauté the flour. Simply steam the cream and spices and add the cheese as indicated in the recipe.

This recipe can be made gluten-free by substituting brown rice flour and GF pasta. It's tasty that way, but to be 1000% honest it's not as creamy as the traditional recipe. GF pastes and flours are simply not the same in this case.

If you want a thinner pasta sauce, an additional splash or two of milk (up to 1/4 cup) will dilute it very well.

Addons for Mac and Cheese

Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese is a great favorite with my family. I always have a little bit of pork lying in the freezer, especially for macaroni and cheese. There's something absolutely perfect on a fork filled with pasta with cheese along with tender pork and spicy barbecue sauce. I just love it.

Broccoli is another popular macaroni and cheese complement in my home. Even my kids who don't love broccoli enjoy it when it's topped with a cheesy sauce and mixed with this mac and cheese. (Who doesn't, right?)

Best Ever Taco Meat makes a frequent appearance mixed with macaroni and cheese around here too.

Cooked and minced bacon is always a hit as a topping. (We cook our bacon in the oven, it's the best for an easy bacon!)

Brussels sprouts are my personal favorite vegetables to add to pasta with cheese. I sliced ​​them and give them a quick stir fry in a pan to soften them up a bit before adding them. (If you have a few extra minutes these roasted brussels would be awesome too!)

What are the favorite things to add to macaroni and cheese?

Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe

  1. In a large saucepan (this is my favorite for pasta!), Boil about 4 liters of water. Bring the water to a boil and then add 2 tablespoons of salt (believe me, salty water makes a difference when cooking pasta).
  2. Add the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente, being careful not to overcook. The paste should still have good chewing. Drain and do not rinse.
  3. In the same pot used for the pasta, add half the milk and the cream over medium heat. In another glass measuring cup or glass, mix remaining milk and cream with flour and spices. Beat until smooth.
  4. When the milk on the stove starts to steam (do not boil!) Add the flour mixture and whisk to combine. Continue beating until the milk thickens a little, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Add the grated cheese, a handful at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to melt. Remove from the heat once all the cheese has melted. Add pasta to cheese sauce and stir to coat. Test and add salt, only if necessary.
  6. Add ingredients of your choice, if desired.

Creamy macaroni and cheese

American kitchen

Preparation time: 5 minutes.

Cook time: 20 minutes.

Total time: 25 minutes

Servings: 6 servings

Calories: 623kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dry pasta: cavatappi, shells or macaroni with a large elbow
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion granules
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 oz. Freshly grated cheddar cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 oz. Freshly grated Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese (approximately 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan, bring about 4 quarts of water to a boil. Bring the water to a boil and then add 2 tablespoons of salt (trust me, salt water makes all the difference when cooking pasta). Add the pasta. Cook the pasta al dente, being careful not to overcook. The paste should still have good chewing. Drain and do not rinse.

  • In the same pot used for the pasta, add half the milk and the cream over medium heat. In another glass measuring cup or glass, mix remaining milk and cream with flour and spices. Beat until smooth.

  • When the milk on the stove starts to steam (do not boil!) Add the flour mixture and whisk to combine. Continue beating until the milk thickens a little, about 4-5 minutes.

  • Add the grated cheese, a handful at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon to melt. Remove from the heat once all the cheese has melted. Add pasta to cheese sauce and stir to coat. Test and add salt, only if necessary.

Notes

* Do you want to make this even easier? Or do you prefer to skip the flour? Replace the milk with additional thick cream (for a total of 1 1/2 cups of thick cream). Sauté the flour. Simply steam the cream and spices and add the cheese as indicated in the recipe. ** This recipe CAN be gluten-free by substituting brown rice flour and GF pasta. It's super tasty that way, but to be 1000% honest it's not as creamy as the traditional recipe. GF pastes and flours are simply not the same in this case.

Nutrition

Calories: 623kcal | Carbohydrates: 60g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 99mg | Sodium: 647mg | Potassium: 282 mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1004IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 484 mg | Iron: 1 mg

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