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two white bowls of macaroni and cheese with black pepper on concrete background
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Homemade Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Delicious creamy, smooth and cheesy homemade macaroni and cheese on the stove top.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 8 servings
Author: Erin


  • 8 ounces dry elbow shells, or cellentani pasta
  • ½ cup starchy pasta water reserved
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese or organic American cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup heavy cream can substitute milk, or half and half
  • 8 oz cheddar cheese or white cheddar shredded off block
  • 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, cream cheese/American cheese, milk and shredded cheddar. Stir until melted and smooth. Keep heat on lowest setting to melt the cheese.
  • Add the cooked pasta and starchy water back to the pan. Turn off the heat. Toss until silky and coated, and salt (if necessary) and pepper to taste and serve right away.


  • for 12 oz of cheese: this is ¾ of a 1 lb, or 16 oz block
  • taste test for salt, it probably won't need it
  • heat cheese sauce on lowest setting possible to melt the cheese
  • sharp cheese don't melt as well and don't get silky the way a mild or medium cheddar, for example does
  • use cream cheese or organic American cheese, shredded; this helps to "anchor" the other cheese and  create a silky smooth cheese sauce
  • can use low fat milk instead of cream