An easy, homemade creamy, mac and cheese made on the stovetop, a simple mac and cheese recipe without flour, and no roux required!
To be honest, I didn’t even know that macaroni and cheese even was supposed to be made with a roux until a few years ago. Yeah, it makes sense looking back, but when I was growing up it was never made that way. There was a very simple process that my mom used: boil your pasta, strain your pasta, stir in milk, butter, and cheese (American cheese, only), and voila, you’re done! No flour whisking required.
As far as I’m aware, there never was a real “recipe”, just a brief eyeballing of ingredients as they went into the pot.
But, when I decided on a whim make Macaroni & Cheese the other day and was in a hurry trying to cook three other things at the same time and not burn any of them, I didn’t want to just eyeball things, I wanted it to come out tasting right and I just wanted to follow a really simple recipe.
Every single recipe that came up in Google used flour. I had no time for flour or for a roux.
So I did what my Mom did and I eyeballed things. It came out great.
And the next day I decided to make an actual easy stovetop mac and cheese recipe to share. One that didn’t require whisking flour into milk for a roux (don’t get me wrong, I appreciate a recipe with a nice simple roux, but not when I’m in a hurry for some quick and easy mac & cheese).
I tweaked this recipe many times (seriously, I still have several pounds of edible reject batches in my fridge — batches that didn’t quite make the cut) and finally settled on a nice, simple recipe that I think you’ll like.
I do use American cheese here. If you’d prefer, you can use just cheddar (I included notes in the recipe), but I love the creaminess that the American cheese offers. Plus it felt like an appropriate nod to the macaroni and cheese of my childhood.
I also added a few extra spices — a dash of ground mustard and a sprinkle of smoked paprika, but these are totally optional. Feel free to add any extras into the pasta that you see fit (bacon comes to mind).
And there you have it, the simplest, best macaroni and cheese recipe.
Easy Macaroni & Cheese (no flour/no roux)
- 8 oz dried macaroni about 2 cups (227g)
- 1 cup milk (235ml)
- 2 Tablespoons butter (30g)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika optional
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard optional
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (113g) Shred your own cheddar off the block, don't buy pre-shredded which is often tossed with a powder that will keep the cheese from melting properly and can leave you with mac & cheese that is both clumpy and runny.
- 4 slices American Cheese (if you don't have American cheese, you can substitute another cup (113g) of cheddar cheese, but the macaroni will be less creamy)
- Bring 3 cups of well-salted water to a boil in a medium-saucepan over high heat.
- Once water comes to boil, add pasta, return to a boil, and cook 7 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Strain pasta, leaving the pasta in the strainer and returning the saucepan to burner over medium-low heat.
- Combine milk, butter, salt, pepper and paprika and mustard in the saucepan.
- Stir frequently until butter is melted and increase heat to medium.
- Once mixture comes to a simmer, return pasta to saucepan and stir well.
- Reduce heat to low.
- Add cheeses, allow to sit about 30 seconds until slightly melty and then stir until all noodles are coated. Don't turn up the heat too high or the cheese will not melt properly.
- Serve immediately. Sprinkle with additional smoked paprika, if desired. Stir in any desired add-ins (such as bacon) immediately before serving.
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