Classic Stove Top Mac and Cheese

Spoon in Mac and Cheese

I cook a lot of scratch made food at home. To me, there is nothing that beats a home cooked meal especially when compared to some quick fix out of a box. But my three kids (and even my wife) have a taste for the over processed crap food that is ready in 5 minutes! I set out to create an easy, stove top mac and cheese recipe that will keep that blue or yellow box out of my pantry!

The “secret” ingredient that really makes this recipe work and makes the best cheese sauce is the miraculous egg. I remember watching Alton Brown make his stove top recipe on Good Eats back in the day and thinking to myself it was kinda gross because it included eggs. But as the years have passed, I have become a big fan of dairy and eggs mixed together, aka, custard. Adding an egg to the cheese sauce really gives a smoother and luscious mouth feel.

Why You Should Make This Stove Top Mac And Cheese Recipe

Spoonful of mac and cheese
  • Often Requested – If my kids are any indicator of how good this mac and cheese is, they ask for it quite a bit.
  • Quick and Easy – This dish can be done in under 30 minutes if everything is prepped and ready to go.
  • Easily Scalable – Going to a party or making something for a luncheon? Double or triple the recipe and bring this to wow everyone.

Cooking Tips

  • Don’t overcook the pasta – To me, there is nothing worse than pasta without any texture. Make sure you cook the pasta a firm al dente as it will absorb the cheese sauce and continue to cook afterwards.
  • Be patient tempering the eggs – The last thing you want to do is have scramble eggs in your mac and cheese. Take your time, work slowly and whisk the hell out of the eggs and you’ll be fine.
  • Don’t get the cream too hot – The cream should not come to a boil. Just a bare simmer at about 180 degrees Fahrenheit. After removing the pan from the burner, there will still be plenty of residual heat to temper the eggs and melt the cheese. If the temperature is too high, the cheese may become grainy.
  • Add more roux if your choose – I like my stove top mac and cheese to be a little more liquid-y and loose. But if that’s not your jam than add more roux to thicken it all up. Just remember that as the mac and cheese cools, it will thicken and the pasta will absorb some of the excess moisture as well.
Stove Top Mac and Cheese

Classic Stove Top Mac & Cheese

Simple. Classic. And way tastier than that stuff out of a blue or yellow box.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: mac & cheese, mac and cheese, macaronni and cheese
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 pound your favorite pasta I prefer shells
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 4 cups half and half
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 pound American cheese grated
  • 1/2 pound Sharp Cheddar grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika, garlic powder & onion powder optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook and drain the pasta according to package instructions. I prefer my pasta a firm al dente for this recipe as the pasta will cook slightly more in the cheese sauce.
  • In a large pan, over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour to create a roux. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes and make sure all the flour has been coated in the butter.
  • Slowly whisk in the dairy, making sure to scrape all the roux out of the corners of the pan. Continue whisking every few minutes until the mixture is steamy, heated through out, and slightly thickened. Do not bring to a boil!
  • Turn off the heat and temper the eggs. In a separate bowl, slowly pour a couple ladles of the cream mixture over the beaten eggs while constantly whisking. Once the eggs have been tempered, pour the egg and cream mixture back into the pot and whisk for another minute to fully incorporate the eggs into the cream mixture.
    If you have not tempered eggs before please see video for more details
  • After tempering the eggs, and with the heat still off, slowly whisk in the cheese in batches. You want the cheese to melt slowly as this will yield the best cheese sauce. If the cheese is struggling to melt near the end, turn the burner on low to finish it off.
  • Add the optional paprika, garlic and onion powder and then seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Combine the pasta and the cheese sauce and then enjoy immediately!