I feel like every year on Thanksgiving, I’m fighting for oven space and sink space. I end up making a mac n’ cheese that needs a large pot to boil the pasta and a pot to make the cheese sauce, and utensils and a baking dish and a bowl to mix the bread crumbs. And it goes on and on. And when the time comes to bake the thing, I’m always playing tetris with the damn oven contents. Not this year! 5 ingredient stovetop mac n’ cheese to the rescue! Because this mac n’ cheese is 5 freaking ingredients, one pot, no roux making, just simplicity and ooey gooey cheesiness.
This recipe is like what Kraft was aiming for, but fell short from. And not only can the recipe be doubled, tripled, to feed however many folks you need it to, it’s great for a quick recipe when you’re really just craving some mac n’ cheese. I almost always have all these ingredients in my fridge and pantry and start to finish it takes about 12 minutes. I am not even kidding.
Mac n’ cheese has always been a central dish on our turkey day, so having a mac n’ cheese I can throw together after everything has already been made is awesome. No macs drying out in the oven or sitting too long until the cheese congeals this year! Only creamy, cheesy goodness. I don’t need to say much more about the recipe, because it’s so easy, however, I will say one thing. Please do not use pre-shredded cheese. Just don’t. It takes 2 minutes to freshly grate some cheese on a box grater and this is coming from someone who LOATHES grating cheese. I usually pawn that job off on my husband, but seriously it’s something even I can do.
Pre-shredded cheese is coated in cellulose (AKA freaking wood pulp, look it up) to keep it from clumping together. But cellulose can also make your sauce feel grainy and gross, so just get a small block of cheese and spend the couple minutes grating it by hand. The type of cheese you use is totally up to you! I opted for a mix to help clean out my fridge of sharp cheddar, fontina and some freshly grated parmesan. The mix is totally up to you and can be supplemented with fun mix-ins like crispy bacon. Happy cooking!
PRODUCTS I USED IN THIS RECIPE:
This is my favorite mac n’ cheese recipe and it only requires 5 ingredients and about 15 minutes!
- 12 oz dried macaroni pasta
- 12 oz evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 tablespoons salted butter
- 3 cups mixed shredded cheese (I used a blend of sharp cheddar, fontina and freshly grated parmesan)
- Place macaroni in a wide, shallow pan/pot (for reference, I used a 3.6 quart braiser from Lodge linked above). Cover with cold water so that the macaroni is just submerged, but no more! Place the pot over a medium heat burner and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Because this recipe requires less water and no draining, the macaroni is more likely to stick to stir, stir, stir. After about 6-7 minutes, the pasta should be al dente and the remaining water in the pan should be very thick. Add the evaporated milk and bring to a simmer. After 2-3 minutes the pasta should be cooked through. Add the heavy cream and butter and stir until butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
This recipe can be multiplied as many times as necessary to feed a crowd.
The best results come from using a wide, shallow pan like a braiser or large skillet.
Please do not use pre-shredded cheese!
The mix of cheeses is up to you, but I like to use a blend of a flavorful cheese (sharp cheddar), a melty cheese (fontina, monterey jack, or similar), and a salty cheese (freshly grated parmesan). My ratio was 1 1/2 cups cheddar, 1 cup fontina and 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan.
Feel free to add whatever mix-ins you like! Crispy bacon or caramelized onions would be delicious stirred in at the end.