Easy One Pot Mac & Cheese

7 ingredients and ready in 10 minutes! This easy mac & cheese recipe is full of ooey gooey cheese and the perfect comfort meal! Serve it as a main dish or side dish, it’s delicious either way!

An overflowing bowl of one pot mac and cheese surrounded by a block of sharp cheddar cheese and a large pot filled with the remaining macaroni and cheese

Is there anything more nostalgic than macaroni and cheese?! Because I can’t think of a single thing. (In fact, I still remember the best days in elementary school were when my mom packed some store bought EasyMac in my lunch box. Let me tell you, BEST. MOM. EVER!😉) But now that I’m an adult and feel the need to do more “adult-like” things, I really felt like I should learn how to make my own mac and cheese…and not from a box. And honestly, that terrified me! (Everytime I googled it, it just sounded so complicated and overwhelming…) But that was before discovering one pot mac and cheese! This mac and cheese recipe is so simple and easy to follow and practically foolproof too! Not to mention it’s full of ooey gooey cheee and loaded with flavor!

Ingredients used to make creamy one pot macaroni and cheese

Ingredients for your macaroni & cheese

This recipe is only 7 ingredients and there’s no flour, no butter and no roux making too! Most mac and cheese recipes you’ll find on the interent require making a roux first (mixture of flour and butter) which is used to thicken your cheese sauce. But for this recipe, it’s not needed at all! That’s because we’re boiling the pasta in milk and broth which provides a creamy base for our sauce!

  • Milk: Whole milk, skim and dairy free milk can be used for this recipe. (I’ve noticed that the sauce will be slightly thicker and creamier if using whole milk as opposed to skim or dairy free milk.)
  • Chicken or vegetable broth: This recipe works great with both kinds of broth. If you don’t have broth on hand, don’t worry! Water can be used as a replacement but it might not be as flavorful.
  • Dry pasta: I personally love using rotini but any short pasta will work too.
  • Cheddar cheese: I always use sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese whenever I make this recipe. (I’m a traditionalist when it comes to mac and cheese so I love the extra cheesy flavor using sharp cheese adds.) Whichever cheese you choose, make sure to buy block cheese and shred it yourself too! Most pre-shredded store bought cheeses have a coating on them so they won’t melt as smoothly.
  • Ground mustard: Just a pinch is all you need! (Plus it helps to deepen the flavors of your pasta too.)
  • Salt & black pepper: Essential ingredients for every recipe!
Stovetop mac and cheese in a large pot with a white spoon digging into it

How to make one pot macaroni and cheese

  1. Pour your milk, broth and pasta into a large pot and bring it to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and boil your pasta for 8-10 minutes. (Your liquid should reduce by half and the pasta should be tender to the touch. There should be very little liquid in the bottom of your pot.)
  2. Next add your cheese, ground mustard, salt and pepper. Give it a good stir and keep stirring until the cheese has melted completely. Taste it and adjust your seasonings accordingly.
  3. Serve immediately!

But wait – what if my mac & cheese isn’t creamy enough? Add more milk and continue stirring until it reaches your desired consistency.

What if there’s too much liquid? Keep your pot on the burner and let the liquid reduce until you reach your desired consistency.

Toppings & More!

Now it’s time to get creative! Feel free to stir in or add any toppings you like! Here are a few of our favorite options:

  • Proteins: Cooked chicken, shrimp & bacon bits are so good stirred into your pasta.
  • Veggies: Steamed broccoli, roasted veggies, baby spinach and sun dried tomatoes are all delicious too!
  • Extra cheese: Sometimes we’ll add a little extra shredded cheddar or parmesan cheese on top!
  • Toasted breadcrumbs: (A must try in my book!) Melt some butter in a pan and add a handful of panko breadcrumbs. Then let them toast on low heat until they’re golden brown and sprinkle them over your mac and cheese….AMAZING!

If you’re looking for a spicer version, try my green chile mac & cheese! It’s to die for!

Another fun way to switch up this recipe is to substitute 1 cup of cheddar cheese for a different type of cheese! Parmesan, Asiago, Monterey jack or even Pepperjack cheese are all great additions! (Always make sure to use block cheese for the best results!)

Close up photo of a bowl of macaroni and cheese topped with toasted breadcrumbs, cracked pepper and chopped parsley

How do I reheat my homemade mac and cheese?

Stove Top Method: Pour your mac and cheese into a pot and add a splash of milk. Then heat it over medium heat and give it a good stir. Keep stirring until it reaches your desired temperature & consistency. (You might need to add more milk as you go until it becomes creamy.)

Microwave Method: Place your mac and cheese in a microwave safe bowl and add a splash of milk. Then dampen a paper towel and place it over your bowl. Heat it at 30 second intervals (stirring in between each) until the milk and pasta become creamy and reach your desired temperature.

Why you’ll love this easy mac and cheese recipe

  • The easiest clean up! We’re literally dirty-ing one dish with this recipe!
  • Fun to customize! Use different cheeses, sprinkle some bacon bits over the top or even add steamed broccoli. You can spruce up this dish however you want!
  • More simple than making a roux and just as tasty too! Because who really has time for all that work anyways?!

Need it gluten free? Use your favorite gluten free pasta instead!

More pasta recipes you might like:

[Made one of my recipes? Make sure to tag my social media @kalefornia_kravings & write a review in the comments! I love seeing what you create!]

Easy One Pot Mac and Cheese

Quick, easy and full of cheesy goodness! This simple macaroni and cheese recipe is only 7 ingredients and cooks in one pot! Serve it as a main dish or a side dish, it's delicious either way!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Pasta
Keyword: easy, mac and cheese, mac n’ cheese, macaroni and cheese, one pot, one pot meal, pasta
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Caitlin

Ingredients

  • 1 box dry rotini pasta
  • 3 cups milk*
  • 2 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2-3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¾ tsp ground mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Black pepper, to taste

Instructions

  • Pour the milk, broth and pasta into a large sauce pot and bring it to a boil. Reduced the heat to medium high and boil the pasta for 8-10 minutes. (The liquid should be mostly evaporated and the pasta should be tender.)
  • Once done, take the pot off the burner and add your cheese, ground mustard, salt and pepper. Stir it together until the cheese is fully melted.
  • Serve immediately!

Notes

This dish thickens as it cools! Just add some extra milk to thin it out if desired.
*If using whole milk – your sauce will be creamier. If using skim or dairy free milk – your sauce will be thinner. 
I’ve made this recipe several times with different brands of pasta and noticed that some brands vary in their cooking time (take more or less time to cook). I would suggest checking the pasta at 8 minutes to see how much more time it needs.

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