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One Pot Mac & Cheese

One Pot Mac and Cheese is a quick and easy recipe you’ll turn to again and again! Serve it as a side dish or add some broccoli and protein to make it a meal.

Close up of a white bowl filled with one pot mac and cheese

Every year around this time, I get in a dinner rut and find myself making the same meals over and over again. Whether it’s homemade meat sauce with spaghetti, Crockpot Mississippi Roast, or my husband’s beloved Cranberry Chicken, I swear the same meal plan seems to happen over and over again.

Maybe it is because it’s too darn cold to grill or because I am super preoccupied with our Thanksgiving feast – I’m not totally sure. Whatever the reason, I needed to switch things up a bit.

Say hello to my new favorite dinner: One Pot Mac and Cheese.

I might be a little obsessed, but once you make it you’ll understand why!

Ingredients for one pot mac and cheese arranged on a countertop

THE BEST ONE POT MAC AND CHEESE

I love macaroni and cheese. I’m really not picky. If there are noodles and a cheesy sauce, I’m in.

I always enjoy Baked Macaroni and Cheese, but I don’t always have time to make it. And a lot of stovetop mac and cheese recipes have you cook the noodles in one pot and make the sauce in another.

Macaroni noodles cooking in a wide skillet

Look, I know that’s not hard to do, okay? But sometimes I need something super quick and easy to feed my family before they go off the rails, especially this time of year.

I came up with this One Pot Mac and Cheese recipe for those exact days. Cook the noodles in one pot, then add the ingredients to make the sauce.

Making this mac and cheese takes about the same amount of time as it would to make a box of the store-bought stuff, and it really does taste way better!

Shredded cheddar cheese being added to a pot of macaroni

HOW TO MAKE MAC AND CHEESE IN ONE POT

You only need to keep a few ingredients on hand to make this super simple mac and cheese recipe:

  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni or similar shaped pasta
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 8-10 ounces freshly shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt/pepper to taste

You can add a bit of butter at the end if you want, but that’s totally optional! Sometimes I add it and sometimes I skip it, just depending on my mood.

Overhead view of a skillet filled with one pot mac and cheese

The one thing that you can’t skip is using freshly shredded cheese. Packaged shredded cheese has anti-caking agents added to it; that makes it fine for putting on top of your tacos, but not so great for cheese sauces.

For the smoothest, creamiest cheese sauce, make sure you shred your own cheese! I promise that it’s a small amount of work when this recipe is so easy.

Grab your favorite high-walled pan or skillet and add the pasta to it. Then add just enough cold water to cover the pasta, along with a pinch of salt. 

Two white bowls filled with creamy one pot macaroni and cheese

Bring this to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently until almost all of the water has been absorbed. The pasta should be just shy of cooked at this point. 

Add in all of the evaporated milk and the butter if you’re using it. Bring this to a simmer, still stirring frequently. 

Add the cheese and reduce the heat to low. Stir constantly until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve!

Bowl of one pot macaroni and cheese with peas and ham added to it

RECIPE VARIATION IDEAS

As written, this One Pot Mac and Cheese recipe is a great classic side dish recipe. Serve it alongside your favorite easy weeknight dinner, such as Ritz Cracker Chicken, Italian Beef Sandwiches, or Easy Meatloaf.

But you can totally riff on this recipe to make it your own, too!

Fork lifting a bite of one pot mac and cheese out of a skillet

Try swapping out the cheddar cheese for your favorite cheese or combination of cheeses. Pepperjack would make for a spicy version, while smoked gouda would make for a more “upscale” version.

You could also add in vegetables and protein to make this a whole meal on its own! Add in roasted broccoli or peas, and a protein such as chicken, bacon, ham, or smoked sausage. 

Get creative with your add-ins and enjoy having a full meal ready in one pot!

White bowl of one pot mac and cheese set on a gray countertop

STORAGE AND REHEATING

If you find yourself with any leftover mac and cheese, pop it into an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

One of the best things about this recipe is how well this mac and cheese reheats. Most mac and cheese doesn’t reheat well – either the sauce splits and gets grainy or the mac and cheese gets kind of gluey.

But for some reason, this One Pot Mac and Cheese reheats like a dream! Just microwave it until hot, stirring every minute or so. 

Fork holding a bite of mac and cheese with ham and peas mixed in
Close up of a white bowl filled with one pot mac and cheese

One Pot Mac & Cheese

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

One Pot Mac and Cheese is a quick and easy recipe you’ll turn to again and again! Serve it as a side dish or add some broccoli and protein to make it a meal.

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni or similar shaped pasta
  • 1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)
  • 8-10 ounces freshly shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt/pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place pasta in a 10-inch or 12-inch high-walled pan or skillet with just enough COLD water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently until almost all of the water has been absorbed by the pasta and is just shy of cooked.
  2. Immediately add all of the evaporated milk and optionally 1 tablespoon of butter; bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Add the cheese, reduce heat and stir continuously until the cheese is melted and reduced to a creamy sauce, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

Notes

Using freshly shredded/grated cheese will result in the creamiest sauce. Pre-shredded cheese contains anti-caking agents that could cause the sauce to become grainy.

We love a mixture of mild cheddar and sharp white cheddar, but use any good melting cheese(s) you like.

To make this a complete meal, consider adding mix-ins such as thawed frozen peas, roasted broccoli, crumbled bacon, cubed ham, shredded chicken, etc, before serving.

Nutrition Information
Yield 6
Amount Per Serving Calories 456Total Fat 19.6gCholesterol 61mgSodium 312mgCarbohydrates 48.5gProtein 20.7g

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