This is my go to recipe for a quick & easy Mac & cheese! You make it on top of the stove. No baking. No making sauces. Just a simple one pot recipe that your family will ask you to make over & over & over!
If you prefer a baked style macaroni and cheese or, like my family, enjoy changing it up once in a while, check out my crock pot macaroni & cheese!
History of Macaroni & Cheese
Have you ever wondered how and when this magical combination that has graced the tables of Americans for generations got its start?
According to the Smithsonian, “The exact origin of macaroni and cheese is unknown, though it most likely hails from Northern Europe, with the earliest known recorded recipe being scribbled down in 1769. A staple of American cuisine, the creamy combo made its way to the United States courtesy of Thomas Jefferson, who, while visiting France, became enamored of fashionable pasta dishes served there. He brought back noodle recipes and a pasta machine, since this foodstuff was unavailable in the Colonies. As president, he served macaroni and cheese at an 1802 state dinner.”
I like making it with large elbow macaroni, but not every store carries it & it can be hard to find sometimes. Where I live, Rose brand is the only that I can find for large elbows. If you can’t find large elbows, regular macaroni works, but I prefer to substitute with ziti or medium shells.
This is also in the directions below, but it is so important I’m posting it twice. Cook the macaroni until most, but not all of the water is absorbed and DO NOT DRAIN! The starch in the water acts the thickener.
For the cheese, I usually use a mix of half American & half mild cheddar. Tonight, I didn’t have any cheddar, so I used half American & half colby jack. If you use sharp cheddar, I would recommend using less cheese, maybe 3 or 3 1/2 cups.
Recipe for Quick & Easy Mac & Cheese
- 1 lb large elbow macaroni
- 8 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 4-5 cups of cheese
- Bring water & salt to a boil in a large pot. Add macaroni & cook over medium heat until almost all the water is absorbed. DO NOT DRAIN! The starch in the water acts the thickener.
- Stir in butter, milk, & cheese until melted.
- Allow to sit for about 10-15 minutes before serving to thicken. Add salt if needed.