miracle mac n’ cheese

$2.72 recipe / $0.68 serving

It’s a miracle. Macaroni and cheese that is smooth, creamy, and gooey, is made in one pot, requires only a few ingredients, and is every bit as easy as the blue box. I’m serious. Seriously serious.

I’ve seen versions of this recipe around the internet for a while and I really don’t know what took me so long to try it out, but thank god I finally did. This is going to be a new staple in my house and if you’re a fan of mac n’ cheese then you MUST try this today.

Why does it work? Well, if you’re familiar with regular macaroni and cheese recipes, then you know you have to go through the whole bechamel sauce process, which can be tedious and absolutely terrifying to new cooks. The roux in the bechamel sauce is what helps the cheese melt into the sauce rather than sticking together in one big, melted clump. It’s those tiny flour particles that keep everything uniform and smooth. Wellll, this recipe has a short cut version of that. By simmering the pasta in the milk, all of those little starch particles that usually make your pasta water cloudy are in the milk acting just like the flour in the bechamel sauce!! It’s a one step process! BINGO!

Anyway, when I came across this recipe on pinterest and saw the process for the 100th time, I finally decided to give it a try. …and I hope I’ve convinced you to do the same today.

I used sharp cheddar and I’ve found that cheddar melts in better than other cheeses. I seasoned with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and a bit of dijon, but you can use your own blend. Onion or garlic powder would make a nice, subtle mac n’ cheese and a dash of hot sauce will add a zing. Use your taste buds to make it your own!

Miracle Mac n’ Cheese

miracle mac n' cheese

4.4 from 26 reviews
miracle mac n' cheese
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 2¼ cups milk $0.70
  • 2 cups (1/2 lb.) dry macaroni $0.65
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese $1.25
  • ¾ tsp salt $0.04
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard (optional) $0.04
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika (optional) $0.02
  • 10-15 cranks fresh cracked pepper (optional) $0.02
  1. Combine the dry macaroni and 2 cups of milk in a medium pot. Place a lid on top and bring it up to a boil over medium/high heat while occasionally stirring.
  2. As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer until the pasta is tender (about 10-15 minutes). Make sure to stir often during this process to keep the pasta from clumping or sticking to the bottom of the pot. Promptly replace the lid each time to help hold in the moisture.
  3. Once the pasta is soft and has absorbed most of the milk, season with salt, pepper, paprika, and dijon, or the spices of your choice. If the mixture begins to look dry, add the remaining ¼ cup of milk.
  4. Turn the heat off and stir in the shredded cheese. Serve immediately.
Adapted from Revolutionary Mac & Cheese from Macaroni & Cheesecake

miracle mac n' cheese

Step By Step Photos

dry macaroni and milkFirst, combine the dry macaroni noodles and 2 cups of milk in a medium pot. I used 2% milk and it was quite perfect.

bring to boilPlace a lid on top to help hold in moisture and heat. Bring the pot up to a boil over medium/high heat, stirring every few minutes or so. I wouldn’t suggest turning the heat all the way up to high because milk can be delicate and may scorch.

simmerAs soon as it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer until the noodles are soft and have absorbed most of the milk (about 10-15 minutes). It is VERY important to stir often during this process and replace the lid as soon as possible after doing so.

seasonI like to season the mixture before adding the cheese because I feel like it dissolves in easier. Season with whatever you like. A little bit of salt (.5 to 1 tsp) is pretty necessary, but after that just go with it. Even just a touch of onion powder would be great. The type of cheese you’re using will also dictate what seasonings to use. If the mixture begins to look dry here, add a little bit more milk. Turn the heat off at this point.

add cheeseAdd the shredded cheese and stir it in. The residual heat should be enough to melt it into the seasoned milk mixture. I love that this recipe only needs 1 cup of cheese… most macaroni recipes require 2 cups, plus a bechamel sauce made with butter.

smooth, creamy, mac and cheeseAnd then, like magic, you have a smooth, creamy, super cheesy macaroni and cheese! In less than 30 minutes! And no more steps required than with a box mix… it’s a miracle.

miracle macaroni and cheeseReally easy macaroni and cheese made with REAL ingredients.


  1. Lucy says:

    I have been following your blog for the longest time now! My first review! I’ve made so much from your blog! This recipe is so good that I couldn’t stop myself from eating the gooey macaroni off the spoon! Soo good!! :))

  2. This came out great! I used a too small pot and ended up with a boil over mess, so next time I’ll use a much bigger one, but otherwise this just really rocked. I skipped the paprika, used just .5t salt, subbed a bit of dry mustard for dijon, and used 2 slices American cheese with the rest shredded jack. Not a bit grainy. Creamy and so cheesey tasting. It got thick as it cooled but with a little more milk stirred in was creamy again. 4 year old loved it and I wanted to lick the pot. And it was so quick and easy. Thank you Beth!

  3. Dana H says:

    Whoops, silly me, I messed up on the comment above mentioning that the finished product while darned tasty was also grainy as it cooled. That didn’t fly with the kiddos. I love this recipe though, and wonder Miss Beth if you think using cooked pasta would eliminate that weird consistency – and if measurements of liquid would need to be changed as a result…? Way yummier than nasty old box stuff, but I just need to get a smoother consistency for a big win.

    • I think that graininess is just because it’s not a proper cheese sauce. The starch from the pasta helps make it smooth a little, but not as much as a real butter and flour roux does in a traditional mac and cheese recipe. So, I don’t think there’s a way around that part (the price you pay for it being so quick :( ). If you use cooked pasta, you’d definitely want less milk because none of that will be absorbed by the pasta. That being said, I’m not sure if the cheese will melt into the milk correctly (it may just clump together in a glob) without having some of that starch that dissolves off the pasta into the milk as it cooks. So, I’m not sure it would work. :/

  4. Not a flaw with the recipe by any means but fyi to others, it doesn’t work at altitude. I live at over 5000 ft above sea level and the pasta always comes out crunchy With this recipe. Too bad, otherwise it’s perfect! Just be warned if you’re at high elevation like me.

    • Matt says:

      I modified this recipe after reading these comments, since I am at a high altitude. As a result, it came out creamy with no grit! I cooked the pasta 3/4 way with water. Dumped all the water minus 1/4 or 1/2 cup for the starch and used a cup of milk or a little more to finish off the cooking (eyeballed it). When the noodles were done I poured most of the milk (left some to mix) to a reusable container, added 2 tbs of butter with mustard and spices. When I added the cheese and stirred, I re added some milk, I was able to mix that rue consistency without the grit! It took a few extra steps but worked great!

  5. Morgan Wiegert says:

    So. Good. It’s great with sharp cheddar or a mix of cheddar and monteray jack!

  6. Misty says:

    First time I’ve ever made a recipe from this website!! I added waaaay too much cheese but it was still delicious. I also used shells instead of the traditional macaroni noodles. Came out looking and tasting like my grandma’s. I’m so glad I’m learning how to cook. This was a great beginner’s recipe.

  7. littlemom says:

    I absolutely loved, loved your recipes. I hate, hate prepackaged food so, this recipe was just for me. I made it for my toddler and I added some vegetables to it. He ate the whole thing. Thank you so much for a fabulous recipe.

  8. I used extra-sharp cheddar and it was still kind of blande for my taste. I think I will use more cheese next time. And my pot still dried up a little even with all the milk, so less pasta. Maybe my pot let’s off more steam than yours :)

  9. Instead of smoked paprika and dijon, I used regular paprika and spicy mustard. I used Mexican blend shredded cheese for the cheese. Threw in a whole cup of milk at the end and some flour to thicken it up, and a little butter for flavor (so bad, but so good). Followed the directions otherwise. It came out super tasty. The cheese melted just fine, so I’m not sure what other commenters meant about shredded cheese not working. Maybe it depends on brand?

  10. Sweetjanetoo says:

    First time I made it, was a bit grainy as it cooled. Fixed that, this time, by adding MORE MILK (like 1/2 cup) at the end so that the noodles can absorb it and it doesn’t dry out.

    Also, this time, stirred in 1 cup of thawed peas (for color) at the end. It’s January in the Midwest and we’re longing for color.

    Another hit out of the ballpark. THANK YOU!

  11. awesome GF cooker says:

    This recipe is great! But I do have a suggestion, add different cheeses to the recipe to make the cheese sauce thicker.

  12. Christine J says:

    You’re seriously missing out if you omit the Dijon and smoked paprika. Very easy if you’re vigilant about not letting it boil over.

  13. Edee Lemonier says:

    This was so good and so easy it borders on ridiculous! My store was out of elbows (what the what?) so I used Rotini. I don’t think it matters, as long as it has good surface and nooks and crannies for the cheese sauce. Shells would probably be great, too.

    If you are getting a grainy texture, please make sure you’re not using pre-shredded. They have something added to keep the shreds from sticking together in the bag (something akin to sawdust) and it affects both melting and texture. I used extra sharp cheddar and grated it on my box grater on the side with the teeny holes. It’s super fine, almost like hair, and it melts almost instantly. Ooey Gooey!

    Also, you have to watch it like a hawk!! I have a bit of a mess on my stove because it boiled over. Oops!

    Hands down, one of the best recipes I’ve ever gotten from the Internet – comfort food that’s easier than the fancy schmancy stuff but just as easy (if not easier) and healthier than that crap in the blue box!!! Wahoo!!

  14. Judy says:

    This was really good and cheap to make. I googled “cheap mac n cheese” and this came up. So many of the mac n cheese recipes are expensive to make. Thank you!

  15. Theresa says:

    OMG!! Miracle Mac n cheese, indeed! My family loved this! Wasn’t grainy at all. To others that want to try this recipe, watch it like a hawk and it will turn out perfect (literally only took 10-15 mins). Shamefully, we did double the amount of cheese. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe.

  16. Kalee says:

    I’ve just finished eating this – YUM! I made a few alterations – halved the recipe to make 2 portions (but instead made 1 greedy portion!) swapped macaroni for spaghetti as that’s all I had in the house, added some crispy smoked bacon and raw spinach at the end. I added a bit of water while it was cooking to loosen it up a bit. Incredibly sticky and gooey, perfect winter comfort food!

  17. Waste of cheese. Much simpler to make a basic cheese sauce and turns out way better. Made it and threw it out. Didn’t even eat it.

    • Veronica says:

      What is a “basic cheese sauce”? The one made here seems pretty simple to me.

      • A real cheese sauce, I guess I should say. :) It starts with a flour-butter roux, then milk, then cheese. This one is MUCH easier.

  18. Monica says:

    I made this today, totally craving. Came out well. Used soy milk and it was great! You need to watch the pot because it will overflow, so keep stirring! I love this site, every time I need something quick and inexpensive to eat I come here and type an ingredient I have in my apt, never disappoints. Thank you again for helping a NYC gal eat more than just cereal all day!

  19. Estelle says:

    I was craving some comfort food the other day and Mac & Cheese strongly appealed to me only I didn’t have the boxed kind and didn’t feel like making a roux. So I did a little research and found this recipe. Made it at ounce. It was very good although it had to be eaten very quickly (not a problem!) because it hardened up pretty fast. Then 2 days later, I was feeling like Mac & Cheese again but had no milk left in the fridge. I thought about the way this recipe come together and improvised. Came up with the most simple thing ever: adding 2 TBS of cream cheese (the softer kind) and all the seasonings to the barely drained pasta (so that there’s a tiny bit of water left to amp up the creaminess factor) and then stirring in the cheese. The texture wasn’t 100% the same as M&C but it was a pretty good dupe and so easy to make :)

  20. Lakey says:

    I have made this many times, it always comes out so creamy and everyone loves it. We double the recipe and it only serves 6 here!

    The only change I make is I use evaporated milk, and a few drops of tobacco.

    • Lakey says:

      Oh and for those who find it grainy, if you are using pre-shredded cheese the cellulose (the anti-caking agent, which is made of wood pulp) adds to that.

  21. Chloe says:

    Since I have found this recipe I make it all the time when my friend comes over. She is a lover of cheese and yes, this recipe is ridiculously easy.
    I love the paprika and dijon. Just. Wow. I also love to add onions and garlic, because they may or may not be my favorite foods (I do like 4x the garlic you usually do in your recipes and onions are the best) :P
    Lastly, I just wanted to share that I love making this recipe with almond milk. It adds this nuttiness that is so subtle and delicious. Also, I usually use this recipe as guidelines. My friend and I usually add a lot more milk and cheese, oops :)

  22. Keri says:

    Omg. This is delicious. I made this recipe for myself, and it turned out wonderful. :] I didn’t use the paprika or the mustard. Super delicious, and full of comfort. Thank you!

  23. Made this as a comfort food brunch. It will never serve 4 in this house :-) But that’s okay. I was over-generous with my “cup” of cheese, as I am wont to do with cheese in general.

    Had to add more milk, and it was a bit grainy, but still stellar. I find most homemade mac’n’cheese will get grainy, so it doesn’t bother me and it’s not just this recipe that does it.

  24. This is probably the only recipe of yours that I’ve tried that really didn’t work for me. :( I found that the cheese sauce was very sticky/clumpy and not creamy at all, even after I added more milk and even a little butter to try to loosen it up. It was edible, but not at all what I was looking for in a mac and cheese. I’ve had better success with this recipe (http://www.thekitchn.com/weeknight-recipe-easy-homemade-82588), which requires a bit more work but gave me better results.

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