Miracle Mac and Cheese

$2.72 recipe / $0.68 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.34 from 83 votes
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It’s a MIRACLE. Macaroni and cheese that is smooth, creamy, and gooey, is made in one pot, with only a few ingredients, and is every bit as easy as the blue box. I’m serious. I’m seriously serious about this Miracle Mac and Cheese.

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.

Originally posted 6-5-12, updated 10-25-18.

A big bowl full of easy and creamy Miracle Mac and Cheese

Why this works:

If you try to melt cheese into milk, you won’t get very far. The water in the milk repels the fat in the cheese, and everything will just clump up instead of creating a creamy sauce. To get a creamy sauce you need an emulsifying agent. By simmering the pasta in milk for this recipe, you create a starchy milk slurry that helps emulsify the cheese into a smooth, creamy sauce.

Why I love Miracle Mac and Cheese

  • It’s SUPER fast. Just as fast as the blue box, in fact.
  • No unusual ingredients are needed (just milk, macaroni, cheese, and whatever you want to season it with)
  • No flour-based béchamel sauce needed
  • Easy to memorize
  • Great for last-minute meals, uses only pantry staples
  • The sauce is rich and creamy with less cheese than other mac and cheese recipes

Why I don’t love Miracle Mac and Cheese

  • You really need to eat this one fresh because it doesn’t stay creamy when reheated

Since first discovering this Miracle Mac and Cheese method, I’ve found a new easy mac and cheese method that I like even better. The new method uses evaporated milk to emulsify the cheese, and the creamy texture holds up much better. To check out the newer version, see the Will it Skillet Mac and Cheese recipe.

If you’re looking for a traditional mac and cheese recipe that uses a roux-based cheese sauce, be sure to check out my Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese recipe.

A forkful of rich and creamy Miracle Mac and Cheese

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Miracle Mac and Cheese

4.34 from 83 votes
Miracle Mac and Cheese is a quick and easy way to make creamy macaroni and cheese, in one pot, with only a few ingredients, and no processed cheese! 
A forkful of rich and creamy Miracle Mac and Cheese
Servings 4
Prep 5 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 25 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups milk, divided ($0.70)
  • 2 cups dry macaroni (about 1/2 lb.) ( $0.65)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese ($1.25)
  • 3/4 tsp salt ($0.04)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard, optional ($0.04)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, optional ($0.02)
  • 10-15 cranks fresh cracked pepper, optional ($0.02)

Instructions 

  • 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.
  • As soon as it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low and let simmer, stirring often, until the pasta is tender (about 10 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 you finish stirring to help hold in the steam.
  • 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 1/4 cup of milk.
  • Turn the heat off and stir in the shredded cheese until melted and creamy. Serve immediately.

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Notes

Adapted from Revolutionary Mac & Cheese from Macaroni & Cheesecake

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 409.48kcalCarbohydrates: 50.3gProtein: 18.4gFat: 14.78gSodium: 784.28mgFiber: 1.88g
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More Mac and Cheese Recipes:

How to Make Miracle Mac and Cheese – Step By Step Photos

Add Milk to Macaroni
First, combine the dry macaroni noodles and 2 cups of milk in a medium pot. I prefer whole milk, but 2% also works.

Macaroni simmered in milk in the sauce pot until tender
Place a lid on the pot and bring it up to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. As 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 minutes), then turn the heat off. It is VERY important to stir often during this process and replace the lid as soon as possible after doing so. Once the pasta is tender, there should be a bit of starchy, milky sauce in the bottom of the pot.

Season Macaroni
I 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 splash more milk. 

Add Cheese to Macaroni
Add the shredded cheese and stir until it has melted in and created a smooth sauce. 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 béchamel sauce made with butter.

Finished Miracle Mac and Cheese
And 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.

Bowl of Miracle Mac and Cheese ready to eat
Really easy miracle mac and cheese, made with just a few ingredients.

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  1. I made this Mac and Cheese exactly as described except I added a little more milk and cheese. To quote my husband after he took his first bite, “Oh he** yeah! This is way better than Annie’s”. Needless to say no more boxed Mac and Cheese for us!

  2. This was the best homemade Mac and cheese I’ve tried!! Other recipes have been a fail and I’d go back to the boxed stuff. This was so easy and it’s items I have on hand all the time. I couldn’t believe how good it was and my kids loved it too! We reheated ours the next day and it tasted great! Thank you!

  3. This is sooooo good!! Super easy to make as long as you baby the pasta a bit at the end. The flavour is delish and I added a couple pinches of garlic powder. It has a really rich flavour without being too much 

  4. I’ve been making this amazing recipe now for 3 years and it’s now known in my house as Mom’s famous Mac n cheese!  All other Mac n cheeses (store bought, at a restaurant or someone else’s recipe) get compared to it by my kids and none ever displaces the 10 out of 10 score they give this.  Creamy & delicious, fun to make with kids, or great to try with different types cheeses mixed in.  It’s memorised now and our household fav, thank you!

  5. Wow!  This is a great recipe!  I’m not good in the kitchen but somehow I’m able to follow your instructions and make consistently satisfying meals.  Thanks again!

    1. The water content of cream is lower than milk, so there won’t be as much for the pasta to absorb, so you may have trouble cooking the pasta.

  6. Can this be made with plant based milk such as almond? I do eat cheese but don’t keep milk in the house because I don’t like the taste.

    1. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried this one with a plant-based milk. It might be a little tricky with this one, since the milk is involved in emulsifying the cheese, so the plant-based milk might act differently.

    2. Did you ever try this is plan based milk? I don’t keep any milk either but I was wondering if it creates enough of a starchy liquid anyway

  7. I love the simplicity of the recipe. My son loves mac n cheese (I do too) – his “go too” is Velveeta Shells & Cheese. However I am always concerned about the sodium in any prepared box mix.

    My question is, do you shred your own cheddar or do you use pre shredded? Many recipes warn against pre shredded cheese because it doesn’t melt correctly. I almost always have shredded cheese on hand, which would absolutely make this an easy meal or side dish.

    1. I’ve used both. I’m sure it probably depends on the brand, too, as some probably use more cellulose (anti-caking powder) than others.

  8. Loved this!  Delicious and easy!!  Made sure to simmer macaroni on low slowly to not stick or burn. Took like 12 minutes but I started tasting it at 8 until it reaches my desired doneness.  YUMMMMMM

  9. I made this! Had to add lots of extra milk not sure where I messed up but still turned out well! Serving with hotdogs :)

  10. Going to try this with fresh pasta, will it work? It’ll cook faster, so perhaps will need less milk?

    1. Yeah, I’m not sure how that would turn out without testing it first.

  11. I’m so glad I came across this recipe! It’s now my favorite instant mac and cheese recipe for when I want something quick and delicious!

  12. I was skeptical but this was delicious! I highly recommend including the “optional” items, they made the dish very flavorful, especially the dijon. I did make a double batch, and despite the note it reheated just fine. I put a tiny bit of milk in the bowl before sticking in the microwave and while it wasn’t exactly as creamy as day one it was still great!

  13. This has become my go-to mac and cheese recipe! Don’t even bother with the boxed stuff or the “real thing” anymore. It’s a good happy medium. Reminds me of that Food Network show, Semi Homemade w/ Sandra Lee.