Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese Recipes
I probably love Kraft Macaroni and Cheese a lot more than I should, especially in their small microwaveable single-serving containers. It's a quick snack and very handy if I'm on the way out the door and don't have time to make anything else. But when I do have the time, I really do enjoy a homemade stove top macaroni and cheese recipe, as opposed to the one that comes in the blue box. There is just something incredibly creamy and comforting about macaroni and cheese cooked stove-top style as opposed to baked mac and cheese, and it certainly takes a lot less time than the baked recipe as well!
Since there are quite a few different ways to make stove top mac and cheese, I thought I would share some of my favorite recipes, starting with Alton' Brown's Stovetop Mac & Cheese recipe. This is the recipe that convinced me that I prefer stove top to baked, so be sure to check it out if you find the notion dubious. You will be convinced! Stovetop Mac & Cheese is just yummier, especially when it is homemade. It has a creamier texture than baked macaroni and cheese and I think it also tastes a lot better reheated for lunch the next day because it retains a lot more moisture.
You'll note that most of these recipes are very similar, but one or two changes in key ingredients can make a big difference in both texture and taste. For example, some recipes call for evaporated milk while others use half and half. Others are roux-based (with flour), but quite a few recipes dispense with the roux in favor of a much faster and easier stove top recipe.
Choosing and Adapting Recipes
I think the key is to find a base recipe that you like and then experiment with various additions. For example, try substituting sour cream for some of the half and half. Try changing up the pasta. Elbows are traditional, but Rotini or shells is fun too.
Or try different cheeses. Cheddar is traditional, but try a mix of Colby and Cheddar or how about a package of the Mexican shredded cheese combined with Cheddar for a bit more bite. One idea I've seen suggested is to use Applewood smoked cheddar. I think that sounds great and plan on trying it, and then I will add some crushed up Applewood-smoked bacon bits as a garnish because I think everything tastes better with bacon!
And don't forget, you don't need to miss out on the crunchy baked goodness of baked mac & cheese. Once your stovetop dish is completed, just toss it into a casserole dish, spread some crushed croutons or breadcrumbs across it and then bake for a few minutes. You'll get that tasty crunchy topping in a lot less time.
Alton Brown's Stovetop Mac & Cheese
My favorite tv cook is Alton Brown. I love watching him on television and I love reading his books. I hardly ever actually cook anything from the cookbooks I buy, but sometimes I do and this recipe for Alton Brown's Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese is like mac & cheese heaven. It is awesome and I probably make it at least once a month.
The hot sauce and the mustard add the perfect flavor and just the right amount of bite. As much as I love Kraft Mac & Cheese (and I'm an addict!), this stuff is world's better and takes about the same amount of time to cook up.
It also is a terrific treat for potlucks. Cook the mac and cheese the night before and then bring it in a crockpot to work or whether the party is -- it will disappear very quickly!
Alton's Stovetop Mac & Cheese
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs
- 6 ounces evaporated milk
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Fresh black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
- 10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat. Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.
Alton's Mac & Cheese Good Eats episode
Chow's Stovetop Mac & Cheese Recipe
Chowhounders love to eat and so its not surprising that the folks at Chow have a great mac & cheese recipe. The tabasco is reminiscent of Alton Brown's recipe, except this one calls for half and half instead of evaporated milk and doesn't use any eggs Also, with the recipe calling for 1 ½ lbs of elbows (you are going to need a big pot!), the servings are quite a bit larger.
- 1 1/2 pounds elbow macaroni pasta
- 16 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 6 cups)
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Add pasta and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Drain pasta and return to the pot over very low heat. Add remaining ingredients and stir until cheese is melted. Season with additional salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed and serve.
Three Great Ways to Top Your Mac & Cheese
Roux-based Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese
For a more traditional recipe, here's a great one that you can build on. It's a plain, but tasty recipe and it just calls out for some additions, I think. Serving 4, this recipe comes from Everyday with Rachel Ray. That link will take you to a photo how-to guide as well.
- 2 cups elbow macaroni
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups half-and-half, warmed
- One 8-ounce bag shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 cups)
In a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, cook the macaroni until al dente; drain in a colander.
In the same saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the warmed half-and-half and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is steaming hot and thick, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar until melted. Stir in the cooked macaroni and season to taste with salt.
Five-Cheese Macaroni & Cheese is Amazing!
Cheese Buying Tip!
Looking to try the five cheese Mac & cheese recipe or any other recipe that requires more than one type of cheese? Ask the deli folks at your supermarket if they sell "cheese ends". It's a grab bag of leftover cheese from the deli counter!
More Mac & Cheese Recipes!
For some interesting flavor ideas for making your stovetop macaroni and cheese more exciting, here are links to some of my favorites. Just try out a new one whenever you feel like you are getting bored with your current favorite.
- Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon!
This beschamel-based recipe calls for six slices of bacon, shallots, garlic and fontina or gruyere cheese. Sooooo good. And the pictures outlining how to make this are terrific. I'm pretty sure this would also taste great without bacon too.
- Tex-Mex Macaroni and Cheese
This Tex-Mex recipe is awesome and includes my favorite ingredient, bacon, along with garlic, tomato and jalepenos! I highly recommend trying out out.
- Baked Macaroni Flavor Without Using the Oven
Feel like you are missing out on the breadcrumbs? Get the toasty flavor without the oven in this delish recipe.