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This ultra creamy, easy one-pot mac and cheese is a huge crowd pleaser and perfect comfort food. And you cook everything in one pot in less than 20 minutes.
Easy as can be, and totally delicious!
Now you may be thinking: macaroni and cheese, really? And I say YES, really.
I know, there’s a gazillion mac & cheese recipes on the internet, but I couldn’t resist sharing this pot full of creamy cheesy goodness.
Because this no bake mac and cheese is so embarrassingly easy to make. I mean, VERY easy, and makes a terrific family meal during busy weeknights. And I’m totally in love with that kind of easy recipes.
Okay, here’s the deal. You cook everything in one pot, the starch released from the pasta mixes in with the milk making a silky cheese sauce, and you’ll have dinner ready in no time. Amazing, right?
You’re basically going to cook macaroni with milk, salt, pepper and garlic powder for flavor. Then turn the heat off, throw in cheddar and cream cheese, stir until super creamy and melty. Finish with parmesan and black pepper. That’s it, all done!
It’s super cozy, satisfying, and customizable depending on what you have or your preferences. You can toss everything in, and it will still come out delicious and perfect to feed a crowd.
Now, let’s make dinner a breeze!
List of the ingredients
- Milk + water
- Cream cheese
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Garlic powder
- Salt & pepper
Let’s make one-pot Mac and Cheese
(Note: this is a quick description, the full recipe is at the bottom of the page)
- Add milk, water, garlic powder, salt, pepper to a large pot or Dutch oven.
- Bring to a simmer, add macaroni pasta, and cook gently until al dente.
- Turn the heat off, stir in the all the cheese until creamy and melty.
- Taste, adjust the seasoning, serve. All done!
Mac and cheese recipe ingredients
Pasta: This recipe was tested with 5 cups of liquid and lb/450 grams of macaroni, so that by the time the pasta is cooked, the milk is absorbed. The liquid to pasta ratio is just right, if you change pasta shape you need to adjust the liquid accordingly.
Milk: I use whole milk for flavor and texture. If using low fat milk, I would recommend cooking macaroni with milk only, don’t use any water.
Garlic powder: Convenient garlic powder is easy to use and great to add flavor.
Salt & pepper: I add salt and pepper at the beginning, but make sure you taste and adjust the seasoning before serving. And don’t forget a generous amount of black pepper at the end.
Cheese for mac and cheese…
Cheddar: Sharp cheddar cheese adds plenty of flavor and melts beautifully, but the recipe is very flexible and almost any melting cheese such as gouda, gruyere, Monterey jack, and fontina would work just fine.
Cream cheese: I add cream cheese to make it ultra creamy. Either block or cream cheese tub can be used for this recipe. I used Philadelphia, but any nice full fat cream cheese would do. If you have any cream cheese leftovers, don’t forget to check out my cream cheese recipes.
Parmesan cheese: Although parmesan cheese is not classic ingredient for mac and cheese recipe, I LOVE it. Freshly grated aged Parmesan cheese will melt wonderfully into the cheese sauce adding its nutty, savory flavor. But I leave it optional.
Look at how creamy and wonderful this is?!
The recipe is SO flexible that’s easy to switch up and experiment with any of your favorite add-ins. You can stir in handfuls of spinach at the end, roasted veggies, sun dried tomatoes. You can also add your fav protein, from beans to meat such as rotisserie chicken or crispy bacon, if you don’t keep it meatless. The possibilities are endless if you’ll love to upgrade this simple mac and cheese!
What to serve with Mac and Cheese
While this creamy one-pot macaroni cheese is easily a meal in itself, it’s always great to add on the side fresh salads such as a lettuce salad or a spinach arugula salad. And to take things over the top, serve it with some black pepper focaccia or pesto garlic bread.
Storage tips & leftovers
Mac and cheese tastes best when made right before serving. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Leftover mac and cheese will dry out in the fridge, you need to add a splash of milk to bring back the creaminess while reheating and stirring on the stovetop or in the microwave. Enjoy!
More easy pasta recipes you’ll love
- Pasta with artichokes
- Creamy spaghetti
- Spinach pesto pasta
- Creamy tomato pasta
- Mushroom ricotta pasta
- Lemon caper pasta
- Penne arrabbiata
- Creamy spinach tomato pasta
Lastly, I hope you’ll love this one-pot mac and cheese recipe as much as we do. And if you have any questions, let me know. Leave a comment, send me a message, or rate it. I would love to hear from you!
One-pot Mac and cheese
- 3 cups full-fat milk, plus more if you need to thin the sauce
- 2 cups water
- ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon fine salt, or to taste
- 1 lb (450 grams) macaroni pasta
- 2 cups (120 grams) grated cheddar
- ⅔ cup (120 grams) cream cheese
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve (optional)
- freshly grated black pepper
- Add the milk, water, garlic powder, and salt to a large pot to Dutch oven and bring to the boil, then lower the heat down to medium low.
- Add the macaroni pasta, and cook stirring frequently, until al dente. Cooking time depends also on the pasta brand, please keep an eye on it. If the pasta seems too dry, stir a touch of milk in as needed.
- Turn the heat off, take it off the stove and stir the cheese in quickly until smooth and creamy. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately with more freshly ground black pepper if you wish and extra parmesan cheese. Enjoy.