This homemade macaroni and cheese recipe is the ultimate comfort food. The cheese sauce is thick and creamy, and perfect for transporting you to a cheesy bliss. Plus it comes together in about 25-30 minutes from start to finish on the stovetop, and under 10 minutes in the Instant Pot!
In 2012, I was a sophomore in high school. I was obsessed with cooking and baking, but due to my extensive dance schedule, they were just hobbies I was able to pursue in my (almost nonexistent) free time. So when it came time to pick my semester schedule and I was able to sign up for a “foods” class, I jumped right in!
In this foods class, we had lessons Monday-Thursday in which we learned about knife skills, healthy eating, food chemistry, etc. These days were helpful, but Fridays– oh Fridays– were the exciting day. Every Friday we would get to use the ovens and stoves in the classroom and cook something!
We made quite a few different recipes in this class: bacon-wrapped dates, veggie dip, risotto. But the recipe to end all recipes, the recipe I make all the time to do this day, is this homemade macaroni and cheese recipe.
I don’t like baked macaroni because I don’t like how it dries out when it bakes for too long. No, the right kind of macaroni for me is macaroni and cheese, cheese, cheese. To make this recipe, milk, butter, and flour combine to make a roux, which then gets four types of cheese added into it.
The cheese melts into the milk and a thick, creamy cheese sauce is born. Just look at that creaminess!
What Ingredients are in this Recipe
- Macaroni: You can, of course, use any shape of pasta that you want. I advocate for macaroni noodles. If changing the shape of the pasta, make sure to look up the correct cook time before cooking, as this could affect the final result.
- Mozzarella Cheese: Buy a block of mozzarella and shred it yourself!
- Cheddar Cheese: I use sharp cheddar, but you can use whatever level of sharpness you’d like. You can cut the cheese into cubes (this is what I do) or shred it. Do not buy the pre-shredded kind, as it doesn’t melt quite right.
- Velveeta Cheese: Velveeta Cheese is a controversial addition to macaroni and cheese, but I stand by this addition. This makes for creamy, luscious mac and cheese that you will never forget!
For full ingredient measurements, visit the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
How to Make Stovetop Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Step 1: Make the Paste
Melt butter and garlic in a medium saucepan.
Mix flour, salt, pepper, and ground mustard together in a small bowl.
Add to the butter mixture in the pan. A paste will form. Stir for three seconds.
Step 2: Make a Roux
Mix worcestershire sauce into the milk, then add the milk into the pan, forming a roux.
Stir roux until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly, as your roux can burn easily.
Step 3: Add Cheese
Once the roux has thickened, add the cheeses and stir on low heat until all cheese is melted. Pour this cheese sauce over your cooked noodles.
The cheese sauce will thicken as it cools, so wait about 10 minutes to eat it.
How to Make Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
Step 1: Cook the Noodles
In your instant pot, add 2 cups macaroni noodles, 2.5 cups of water, salt, pepper, ground mustard, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.
Close the lid of the instant pot and set to manual for 6 minutes. Once the noodles have cooked, immediately use a quick pressure release to release the steam. Open the lid.
Step 2: Add the Cheese
There will be extra water in your Instant Pot. That is okay! Add 1/4 cup milk and 4 oz of Velveeta cheese into the pot. Stir until the cheese melts.
Then, add the mozzarella and cheddar cheese into the pot, along with the rest of the Velveeta. Stir again until all of the cheese has melted. Add a little more milk if you like your macaroni and cheese a thinner consistency
Finish by mixing in the parmesan cheese.
Enjoy! Leave a comment on this post letting me know what you thought
- You know your roux is thick enough when you can coat the back of wooden spoon with the mixture and it doesn’t run right off
- Add salt to the water when cooking the noodles. It gives the final noodles so much more flavor!
What’s a Roux and How Does it Work?
A roux is an incredibly helpful cooking concept you will love! It is a paste made by stirring together flour and a fat (in this case butter) to thicken gravies, sauces, soups etc.
There are three different types of roux: white roux, blonde roux, and brown roux. White roux is the most common, as it only cooks for a few minutes. The blonde roux and the brown roux change colors as they cook for longer times.
Each roux is used in different types of recipes. For example, blonde roux is used in chowders, and brown roux thickens gumbo.
The roux we use for this homemade macaroni and cheese recipe is a white roux. The butter and flour mix together and form a paste, which is immediately added to milk.
As you stir the milk, it will slowly get thicken and, eventually, start to bubble. This is when you know it’s time to add the cheese!
Should I Use Pre-Shredded or Fresh Cheese?
This is a great question! Have you ever made nachos with shredded cheddar cheese, and when you pull the chips out of the microwave you can still see how every independent cheese shred had melted on its own?
This is because shredded cheese has preservatives in it to keep the shreds from sticking together in the bag (potato starch, etc).
When making this homemade macaroni and cheese recipe, make sure to use blocks of cheese instead of pre-shredded cheese. The cheese blocks will melt a lot more evenly and create a better cheese sauce!
I cut my 1 oz of mozzarella and cheddar cheese into 5 cubes each. I also cut the velveeta into about 5 cubes, but you can also make them smaller and cut into 10.
This recipe is perfect because you don’t need to constantly be shredding cheese in order for your cheeses to melt! These are all low maintenance cheeses that will melt easily, regardless of if you shred them or not.
What Can I Add to Macaroni and Cheese to Make it Even Better?
Are you a plain macaroni and cheese kind of person or a macaroni and cheese with tons of toppings kind of person? I normally like to eat my macaroni and cheese plain. Unless, of course, I have peas on hand.
I’m not sure what it is about macaroni and cheese with peas, but it is just the ultimate comfort food for me. It’s one of my all-time favorite meals.
If you’re looking for other yummy things to add to your macaroni and cheese, you can also try the following:
- Caramelized onions
- So much more!
If you want to try a really unique baked macaroni and cheese recipe, check out my Macaroni Pie Recipe from Barbados.
How Do You Keep Macaroni and Cheese Creamy?
The most important part of keeping this macaroni and cheese creamy is the roux! The milk base plus the velveeta cheese is spectacular for making an ooey, gooey cream sauce. Plus, this macaroni and cheese isn’t baked, so there’s no opportunity for it to dry out.
How to Reheat this Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
If you need to reheat your homemade macaroni and cheese, you can microwave it or heat it up on the stove. Whichever option you choose, the key is to add ½ tbsp-2 tbsp milk (depending on how much you’re reheating). The milk will rehydrate the cheese, ensuring that the cheese stays creamy when the heat hits it again.
Did you like this homemade macaroni and cheese recipe? You might also like these other cheesy Foreign Fork recipes!:
- Cheese Fondue Recipe
- Pepper and Cheese from Bhutan
- Käsespätzle from Austria
- Macaroni Pie from Barbados
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni noodles
- 1 ¾ cup milk
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- ¼ tsp ground mustard
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Dash of worcestershire sauce
- 2 oz cheddar cheese, cut into cubes
- 1 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
- 5 oz velveeta cheese, cut into cubes
- 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
- Cook the elbow macaroni according to the instructions on the package.
- Melt butter and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Mix flour, salt, pepper, and ground mustard together in a small bowl.
- Add to butter mixture in the pan. A paste will form. Stir for three seconds.
- Mix worcestershire sauce into milk. Pour the milk in with the butter/flour mixture, forming a roux.
- Stir roux until it thickens, about 5-10 minutes. Make sure to stir constantly, as your roux can burn easily.
- Add cheese and stir on low heat until all cheese is melted. Add to cooked noodles.
- The cheese sauce will thicken as it cools, so wait about 10 minutes to eat it.
- Leave a comment on this post letting me know what you thought!
Instant Pot Instructions
- Follow the same ingredient list from above BUT only use 1/4 cup milk and NO flour.
- In your instant pot, add 2 cups macaroni noodles, 2.5 cups of water, salt, pepper, ground mustard, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce.
- Close the lid of the instant pot and set to manual for 6 minutes. Once the noodles have cooked, immediately use a quick pressure release to release the steam. Open the lid.
- There will be extra water in your Instant Pot. That is okay! Add 1/4 cup milk and 4 oz of Velveeta cheese into the pot. Stir until the cheese melts.
- Then, add the mozzarella and cheddar cheese into the pot, along with the rest of the Velveeta. Stir again until all of the cheese has melted. Add a little more milk if you like your macaroni and cheese a thinner consistency
- Finish by mixing in the parmesan cheese.
- Enjoy! Leave a comment on this post letting me know what you thought.