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How to Melt Cheese for Mac and Cheese

We make macaroni and cheese for the cheese sauce, and this recipe how to shows you how to make the silkiest, creamiest and most cheesy smooth sauce for mac and cheese every time. close up bowl of macaroni and cheese in white stoneware bowl with course ground black pepper on concrete background

Tips for a Smooth Cheese Sauce

Shred cheese off the block for a smooth cheese, never use pre shredded because it won't melt as smoothly since there are anti caking ingredients in it.

Use one part semi sharp to sharp cheddar, with one part mild cheddar cheese.

Couple that combination with just a bit of either American or cream cheese which will make it ultra silky and creamy.

The American cheese or cream cheese act as an anchor to blend the rest of the cheese into a smooth state. white stone bowl with macaroni and cheese with black pepper and fork In addition to melting the cheeses correctly, you can reserve a half to one cup of the pasta water after you've boiled your pasta.

You might not need the pasta water, but if you notice the cheese sauce isn't clinging to the noodles, a splash of this will make the cheese sauce loosen up and stick to the pasta. Follow the directions in the recipe card below for perfect, stove top macaroni and cheese and you will never buy boxed brand again!

📖 Recipe

two white bowls of macaroni and cheese with black pepper on concrete background

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Sauce

Delicious creamy, smooth and cheesy homemade macaroni and cheese on the stove top.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to melt cheese for mac and cheese, mac and cheese sauce.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 259kcal
Author: Erin
Cost: $4


  • 8 ounces dry elbow shells, or cellentani pasta
  • 3 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese or white cheddar shredded off block
  • 2 oz American cheese or cream cheese
  • ½ cup starchy pasta water reserved, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salted. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
  • Right before draining, ladle out ½ cup of that starchy water for later. Drain, pasta in a colander, and leave set aside for now.
  • In the same pan, on low heat, add the butter, American cheese or cream cheese, milk and shredded cheddar. Stir until melted and smooth. Keep heat on lowest setting to melt the cheese.
  • Turn off the heat. Toss until silky and coated, and salt (if necessary) and pepper to taste and serve right away.
  • Only if necessary and sauce seems too thick, ladle in a bit of the pasta water and stir to loosen up.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 259kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 381mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 385IU | Calcium: 308mg | Iron: 1mg
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