Easy, Creamy 5-Ingredient Mac and Cheese

I love mac and cheese! Not just as a busy bloke, but as a person who likes easy meals that are simple, creamy, and comforting. I think every kitchen should have a go-to boxed version and a back-pocket homemade one. This five-ingredient mac and cheese is mine.

On nights when I get home late and our favorite box isn’t in the pantry, this one-pot recipe is my savior. It cooks in about the time it takes to boil water and only dirties a single pot (and no strainer!). Here’s how to do it.

The Best, Easiest Way to Make an Extra-Creamy Sauce

There are a lot of shortcut ways to make your mac and cheese extra creamy. You can add cream cheese or evaporated milk, heavy cream or extra butter. But this version is smarter: It uses the pasta’s own starch to make a creamy and thick sauce for the macaroni.

Subscribe to our newsletter and never miss another post!

Instead of draining the pasta and adding starchy water back to the pot, the pasta is cooked in a precise amount of water and milk. As it cooks, the pasta soaks up most of the liquid and releases a little starch into the remaining liquid. Off the heat, you’ll add some shredded cheese, butter, salt, and pepper, which will combine with the starchy liquid to create a super-creamy cheese sauce.

Sharp cheddar cheese is my favorite for flavor, but my kids seem to prefer a 50/50 mix of cheddar and Colby Jack. Use what you’ve got on hand (but skip the pre-shredded stuff, as it can get grainy in the hot macaroni).

Creamy Mac and Cheese


6 to 8

PREP TIME:10 minutes

COOKING TIME:22 minutes


  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 pound dry elbow macaroni
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)


  1. Place 2 cups whole milk, 1 3/4 cups water, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, then add 1 pound macaroni. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the pasta is tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, shred 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 cups).
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the cheese and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, and stir until melted and combined. Top with ground black pepper if desired. Serve immediately.


Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 5 days.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started
%d bloggers like this: