Potluck, picnic, or party, everyone loves homemade creamy mac and cheese!

Try making this easy homemade mac and cheese recipe! It’s stove top quick, economical, and without a doubt, it puts the Kraft name to shame! For the best homemade mac and cheese sauce, we use real butter and a super cheesy combination of cheddar and sharp cheddar cheese.

top view of 2 bowls of Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese

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It’s ten times better than the Velveeta and Stouffer’s versions, plus it’s made healthy with no preservatives or dyes! Why buy a boxed version when this simple recipe is super quick and delivers 5-star results! It will be a family favorite for years to come! It tastes great as a side dish to pork or even Smoked Chicken Breasts.

I taught my niece to make this, and she was shocked about how easy it was, and that it takes about the same amount of time as boxed mac and cheese! It’s simple and quick, and my daughter makes it for lunch regularly.

2 bowls of Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese with a bowl

Homemade Mac and Cheese Ingredients

Start with the freshest of everything for maximum cheesy flavor! Macaroni pasta is the standard for this recipe, but feel free to use pastas that are heavy enough for the cheese sauce to cling to, and to make it totally original! Try:

  • Rotini
  • Penne
  • Rigatoni
  • Bow-Tie (Farfalle)
  • Fusilli
  • Ziti

All of these will work perfectly. My boy always asks for the bow tie pasta (because he also loves bow tie pesto pasta salad)!

close up of Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese in a white bowl

Best Cheese for Homemade Mac and Cheese

  • Sharp cheddar will give mac and cheese its signature flavor of creamy tartness!
  • Using white cheddar will up the presentation appearance and make mac and cheese look super elegant!
  • But, why stop there? Try pepper jack cheese or even try smoked gouda or fontina!

Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese in a white bowl

How to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese

The best homemade mac and cheese always starts with the sauce.

  1. First, make a roux by cooking the butter and flour together in a saute pan. Slowly adding whole milk while the roux is browning is the foundation for a creamy sauce without lumps.
  2. Once the sauce mixture is the perfect consistency, fold it into the prepared pasta (al dente is best) season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

mixing cheese sauce for Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese

PRO TIP: A dash of dry mustard brightens up the creamy richness of the cheese, and so will a dash of white pepper!

PRO TIP: Heavy whipping cream makes for a super-rich sauce! Use in place of the milk, or part of the milk. Whisk in the cream little by little, adding in more once it is fully melted into the roux mixture. SO creamy!

top view of Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese being mixed

Mac and Cheese Recipe Variations

With this simple, basic mac and cheese recipe under your belt, you’re ready to make this mac and cheese your own!

  • Another reason to love this simple recipe is that it can level up to a fancy baked casserole with toasted bread crumbs on top!
  • Or add some chopped lobster and cream cheese for an extra elegant creamy mac and cheese!
  • For a Cajun casserole, add some tabasco or red-hot sauce, ground sausage, sliced okra, and a sprinkling of bread crumbs for the perfect party entrée!

Seriously, the possibilities are endless! What are your favorites?

Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese close up in a white bowl

Mac and Cheese Leftovers

Homemade mac and cheese stores beautifully and even tastes better the next day when all of the flavors have had a chance to blend!

Keep it in an airtight container and place it in a microwave-safe container for reheating.

Homemade mac and cheese can be frozen, but may thaw out a little soggy. But that’s no problem, just add some freshly cooked pasta and re-season with salt, pepper, and a bit of dry mustard. Try it with a sprinkle of parmesan on top, and serve with warmed up rotel tomatoes. It will taste as good as new!

bowl of Creamy Mac and Cheese with seasonings
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Creamy Mac and Cheese

Comforting and creamy homemade mac and cheese is ready in 20 minutes in one pot!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Candace

Equipment

Ingredients  

  • 1 pound macaroni pasta or preferred pasta (16 ounces)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 3 cups cheese cheddar, sharp cheddar

Instructions 

  • Boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter on medium heat in a large saucepan. Add flour, mix in to butter and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Slowly add milk a little at a time, whisking continuously. Add about one-third of the cheese at a time, whisking until thoroughly mixed each time.
  • Fold in pasta and serve.

Notes

Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
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Nutrition Information

Calories: 477 | Carbohydrates: 48g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 69mg | Sodium: 932mg | Potassium: 268mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 701IU | Calcium: 618mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.

Course Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American

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About the author

I am a wife, mother of two, and professional accountant. I love fantastic food, and it is so often the center of our lives, from everyday dinner, to family gatherings, and special evenings at fabulous restaurants. I have always loved cooking and baking, with my mom and grandma, and now, with my daughter and son. I love trying new recipes while enjoying my favorites too. I’m so happy to share them with you.
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  1. 5 stars
    AMAZING!! I used 16 0z of medium cheddar and 8 oz of Monterey Jack, I also kept about 1/4 cup of pasta water to thin out the mixture as needed (if you need to thin just add a little at a time until desired consistency) and to top it off I added chopped ham. My son just requested that I do straight cheddar next time, I may try a blend of sharp and medium, like I said to my son….we’ll play with it until we get it right! 😁🌻

    1. So happy to hear how much you and your family loves this mac and cheese Cynthia! We make it often ourselves, and try all kinds of cheeses depending on what we have in the refrigerator 🙂