Homemade Stove Top Macaroni + Cheese

I cannot tell you how many times my kids have asked(begged) for macaroni and cheese that comes in a box.  Levi, without fail, will ask each and every time if we can buy “Sponge Bob Mac n’ Cheese”.  The way he stares at it, you would think it was a very expensive, small jar of caviar. He knows the answer, but he is 5 (after all) and what would a day be like without the 400 questions, many of which are repetitive?!

My older boys always preface the question with, “I am pretty sure I know what your answer is going to be, but could we – just once- get this kind of macaroni and cheese”?  I don’t always have the luxury of strolling through the grocery store, alone.  Wouldn’t that be a beautiful concept?!  So upon entering the store, with the kids in tow, I take 3 deep breaths, repeat my private mantra, and prepare myself for the begging.  The begging for “lunchables”, “nacho flavored corn chips”, “packaged cookies” and the coveted macaroni and cheese.  They see their friends eating it, so why can’t they?

Why you ask?  Well, for one – If I cannot pronounce the name of the ingredients listed on the package( and I am college educated), I am not going to eat it.  Two – with a pantry and a refrigerator filled with whole ingredients why on earth would I bring that into our home?  Three – when you have a mom that loves to cook and prepare food as much as I do, one day you will appreciate the fruits of my labor.

Summer camp makes my kids famished.  I guess 7 hours at the beach would increase any-one’s appetite, even mine!  So when they arrive home I am prepared. On the days that it is my days to pick up carpool, this recipe is a great way to satisfy their hunger pains.  I usually boil and drain the pasta before I leave, then let it sit at room temperature.  While the kids are “cleaning themselves up”, I prepare the cheese sauce.  Most cheese combos work.  Yet, our favorite is one cup of white cheddar, 1/3 cup Gruyere, and the balance with fresh, shaved Parmesan.  You can come up with our own combo and be sure to come back and tell us about it!


Stove Top Macaroni + Cheese


2-3 cups dried pasta (if using elbow noodles or shells – if you choose penne or a larger noodle – add more to the pot)
1 Tbsp. unsalted, organic butter
1 Tbsp. organic white, wheat flour
1/2 cup organic, heavy cream
3/4 cup whole, organic milk
1 1/2 cup grated cheese (I usually use whatever is in the drawer. favorites: Gruyere, white cheddar, Parmesan)
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
very small pinch of nutmeg


• in a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook pasta until al dente, 7-8 minutes.  drain and set aside(if you do in advance, run warm water over room temp noodles before tossing with cheese sauce).
• in the same pot that you made your noodles, add the butter.  when melted add the flour and whisk to combine.  cook for about 30 seconds to get rid of the raw flour taste.  add the milk and the cream, whisking the whole time.
• whisk until slightly thickened, but don’t boil.  add the cheese, whisk until cheese melts.  add a pinch or two of salt, a pinch of pepper and a very, very small pinch of grated nutmeg.
• stir in noodles.  serve and eat at once!

The Urban Baker / SusanSalzman.com

More Macaroni and Cheese Love:
Thomas Keller’s Mac ‘n Cheese – Almost Bourdain
Chili Macaroni Cheese – What Kate Ate
Creamy Spinach + Feta Macaroni and Cheese – Babble Food
Three Cheese Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese – Recipe Girl
Gluten Free Macaroni and Cheese – Gluten Free Girl and the Chef

Showing 20 comments
  • Georgia Pellegrini

    What a wonderful quick and delicious summer meal. Love it, love it.

  • Amanda

    Love mac & cheese, can’t wait to give this recipe a try 🙂

  • Esi

    One of my faves. I can’t have it often though.

    • Susan

      oh, Esi – I am so on your same page. wouldn’t it be great to be 10 again and eat whatever the heck you wanted to eat with out any consequences??!!

  • Linda

    Now what kid would not want that….I would love it too…right now!

  • Reply

    I want to be the same way with my future child(ren). Nothing beats homemade stove-top mac n cheese!

  • Kristen

    7 hours at the beach each day sounds wonderful. I bet this fills them up super quick!

  • Marla

    I would have eaten pounds of this at 2am when I was pregnant & that is all there is to it. Awesome!

  • Lucy Lean

    Love it – and yes why are those boxes so tempting to the kids – forbidden fruit?

  • Blo

    When I was a kid my mom would always made these for me, but she used to add some tomatoe pure on it, it was delicious. Now I’m married to an italian guy who never heard about this plate 🙂

    • Susan

      I hope you hubby has passed on some of his mama’s recipes! I think the closest italian pasta dish to this is carbonara. What do you think?

  • Reply

    Macaroni and cheese is my all-time favourite food, but definitely not out of a box. Usually I bake mine, but a quick stove-top version is much appreciated.

    • Susan

      Nicole – baked is the classic and I have one that I love. But for a quick fix and a whole meal – nothing beats this!

  • brian

    love that the cheese in the picture is locatelli

  • Blo

    Susan, there’s a few recipes in my blog that were made with my MIL’s recipes/notes. The truth is that Carbonara doesn’t include any kind of cream or milk on the original recipe, the creamy-delicious sauce is made exclusively from eggs and pecorino cheese 🙂

  • Kim

    I so agree with you, it’s better eating stuff we know, not the things we can’t even pronounced the name…. Homemade mac and cheese is 100 times better than the orange stuff in a box!

  • Amanda

    Wow that picture is amazing… and the recipe!! I am SOOOO trying this. You always inspire me girl!

  • Jazmyn

    Thank GOD I found a macaroni recipe that doesn’t use mustard or fake cheese! I kept searching the web for “organic macaroni and cheese”, but all said to use “low-fat” ingredients and to add “dry mustard”.
    This is just the type of recipe my family would love. Wholesome, Organic, and full of whole milk and cream! Just because we want non-toxic foods, doesn’t mean we skimp on flavor!
    Thanks so much for the recipe!

    • Susan

      Hi Jazmyn – so glad you found me and this recipe. This is one of those recipes that not only uses what’s on hand but it’s wholesome and delicous. And perfect for those weeknights when you are shuffling everyone here there and everywhere! Let me know how you like it! s

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