Easy Ultra Creamy Mac and Cheese

Everyone needs a go-to homemade mac and cheese recipe in their back pocket, and this one is ours. It’s effortless to make, tastes fantastic, and makes super creamy macaroni and cheese. Jump to the Easy Ultra Creamy Mac and Cheese Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.

Easy Ultra Creamy Mac and Cheese Recipe

How to Make the Creamiest Macaroni and Cheese

You’re only looking at six ingredients (plus salt and pepper). It can even be made in under 30 minutes (maybe less!).

I love that you can keep this as a quick stovetop mac and cheese or slide it into the oven to get bubbly and browned. I love it both ways.

We’re going to call this our basic mac and cheese — not because it isn’t incredibly delicious, but because it’s the perfect base for other variations. Take a look below for some suggestions.

How to Make the Best Mac and Cheese

To make our go-to macaroni and cheese, you will need the following:

  • Pasta: The shape and size are entirely up to you. Look for pasta that will hold onto the creamy sauce. Elbow macaroni and shells are great options.
  • Butter and Flour: It’s the combination of butter and flour that thicken the sauce. We like to use unsalted butter for this and then adjust salt to taste when making the sauce. That said, salted butter will work if that is all that you have.
  • Cheddar cheese: Whenever we make macaroni and cheese, we reach for sharp white cheddar cheese. It’s flavorful and melts beautifully. For more cheese suggestions see our notes below. Whatever cheese you use, it’s best to grate it yourself. I know it’s extra prep time, but hand-grated cheese melts so much easier into the sauce.
  • Cream cheese: The mac and cheese would be excellent with just cheddar cheese added, but to make it ultra creamy, we’ll stir in some cream cheese. It adds a lovely silky texture, and since it has a little zinginess, it brightens up the flavor a bit.
  • Salt and Pepper: Nobody wants an unseasoned cheese sauce! Make sure that you taste the sauce before serving. If it doesn’t pop, add a touch more salt to the pot.
How to Make the Best Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese Variations

This recipe is easy to adapt to other variations. Here are some of our favorites:

Baked Mac and Cheese: Once the pasta and cheese sauce are combined, add it to a baking dish and bake with a little more cheese and breadcrumbs sprinkled on top. We shared this Baked Macaroni and Cheese a while back.

Garlic Mac and Cheese: Fresh garlic and roasted garlic are excellent in this recipe. Add either to the butter just before adding the flour. For fresh, I’d use 2 to 3 cloves. For roasted garlic, you can increase to 6 cloves or more. See our recipe for making roasted garlic.

Use a Variety of Cheeses: Cheddar isn’t the only cheese to use. Try easy melting Gruyere, Fontina or Monterey Jack. For more flavor, a bit of parmesan or pecorino cheese is lovely, and for a more adult dish, try blue cheese!

Spiced Macaroni and Cheese: Mustard (Dijon or mustard powder), nutmeg, and a pinch of cayenne pepper are classic additions to the cheese sauce. Smoked paprika is also delicious.

Broccoli Mac and Cheese: A kid favorite! Stir roasted broccoli or steamed broccoli into the pot before serving. Here’s how we make roasted broccoli.

Lighter Mac and Cheese: Swapping half of the cheese sauce for pureed cauliflower cuts calories and still tastes incredible.

Easy Ultra Creamy Mac and Cheese Recipe

More Easy Recipes

Easy Ultra Creamy Mac and Cheese

  • PREP
  • COOK

This is our basic, quick, and easy homemade macaroni and cheese recipe. It’s made on the stovetop and does not require any baking. That’s not to say that you could not bake it. We’ve shared how in the recipe below. Thanks to butter, flour, and milk the sauce is like velvet and super creamy. To the sauce, we add a whole pound of cheddar cheese (the sharper, the better) as well as a bit of cream cheese. The cream cheese is optional, but it does add tanginess and even more creaminess.

Makes 8 servings

You Will Need

1 pound dried pasta like elbow macaroni, shells or penne

5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter

5 tablespoons (45 grams) all-purpose flour

5 cups (1180 ml) milk, warmed, whole or 2% reduced fat preferred

1 pound white cheddar cheese, shredded

4 ounces cream cheese, optional

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


    Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, add the pasta then follow package directions, but cook 1 minute less than the package calls for. Drain.

    Meanwhile, make the creamy cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a large high-sided pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and whisk the butter and flour together and around the pan until they smell toasted and look light brown; 2 to 3 minutes.

    While whisking, pour in the warm milk. Continue to cook, constantly whisking until the sauce begins to simmer and thickens.

    Turn the heat to low then stir in the cheddar and cream cheeses, salt, and black pepper. When the sauce is smooth and velvety, stir in the cooked pasta. If the sauce looks wet/thin, don’t worry, the pasta absorbs some the extra moisture as it cools. Turn the heat off, and then cover with a lid. Leave for 3 to 5 minutes, stir once more, and then serve.

    • Baked Mac and Cheese
    • After adding the pasta to the cheese sauce, spoon into a large baking dish, scatter breadcrumbs (optional), and more shredded cheese on top. Bake, uncovered, in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven until bubbling and browned on top; 25 to 30 minutes.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Storing: Keep covered in the refrigerator up to 3 days. To freeze, transfer to a freezer safe container and freeze up to 2 months. Bake, covered, in a 350-degree F oven for about an hour. Or, thaw overnight and reheat on the stove (if it seems dry, add a tablespoon or two of extra milk).
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1/8 of the recipe / Calories 571 / Total Fat 31.9g / Saturated Fat 18.2g / Cholesterol 89.6mg / Sodium 564.7mg / Carbohydrate 48.7g / Dietary Fiber 2g / Total Sugars 2.3g / Protein 21.8g
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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23 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Max September 27, 2020, 8:32 pm

    I’ve tried many mac and cheese recipes to look for my favorite….and this one wins hands down! AMAZING

  • Stanley August 15, 2020, 7:11 am

    I made this to the T and it was way to wet. I may try again but I will cut it to 2 cups milk instead of 5.

  • Dawn August 1, 2020, 4:41 pm

    Made this 2 weeks ago. Hubby says its the best mac/cheese he has had…as i type i am whisking the butter/flour/milk mixture (multi tasking )…thank you so very much for sharing your recipe

  • Stacy May 14, 2020, 1:43 pm

    This is going to be my go to mac&cheese. It was easy and so good. Made it for a pot luck and it nearly didn’t make it to the party.

  • Sarah April 15, 2020, 6:09 pm

    My kids loved this! I made it for my son’s seventh birthday. I used a little more than half sharp white cheddar, 4 oz. Monterey Jack, and 2 oz. Parm and just a little cream cheese (I think I could have omitted it entirely). He doesn’t like baked mac and cheese, but he LOVED this. Thank you so much! It seemed like way too much milk, but it absorbed it. By the next day, when I reheated it, I had to add more milk. Thanks for a great recipe!

  • Gerry January 18, 2020, 5:59 pm

    Followed the recipe to the letter and then added bacon bits – OMG! it was delicious!

  • Sarah January 13, 2020, 1:41 pm

    I have never made Mac and cheese but have eaten plenty of it in USA. This recipe is fantastic and easy and lovely. Thanks for sharing

  • Alex December 3, 2019, 4:42 pm

    Making it tonight

  • James November 20, 2019, 11:49 am

    I made this according to your instructions came out great. But I now need to make twice as much. Would it just be a matter of doubling the recipe?

    • Joanne February 9, 2020, 1:36 pm

      Hi James, I’d just double it.

  • Debbie November 19, 2019, 7:27 pm

    Followed the recipe exactly and used Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese with the cream cheese added. I think it’s the best macaroni and cheese I have ever tasted! The recipe is definitely a keeper. So easy to make too.

  • Lauren July 26, 2019, 6:42 pm

    Needed turmeric, garlic and onion powder and papirika and it was then flavorful and amazing.

  • Jan April 29, 2019, 3:55 pm

    This was delicious! My company had thirds! A great hit and I will make often! Yummy! Thank you for a great recipe!

  • Patricia February 25, 2019, 5:19 am

    What do you think of frying onion rings till almost crispy, and making a thick layer about one third of the way down in the baked version.? Seems that even slightly sauteed(well seasoned) sliced tomatoes would add some added interest too..love your comment! Appreciate ALL your recipes!

    • Joanne February 9, 2020, 1:36 pm

      That would be amazing!

  • Kara January 1, 2019, 9:13 pm

    Hey! I was thinking of subbing the cream cheese for goat cheese, do you think it would be similar and not mess up the texture??

    • Joanne January 2, 2019, 2:02 pm

      Goat cheese would be excellent.

  • Tami Schwendemann December 2, 2018, 6:40 pm

    Very easy, very good! Added a bit of leftover pepper jack cheese, a dash of cayenne pepper, and some bacon pieces I needed to use up! New family favorite!!!


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