Stovetop Mac and Cheese – No Need for a Box!

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Ditch the boxed mac and cheese, you can make your own tastier and better version at home. Use this Stovetop Mac and Cheese and free yourself from mixes!

Stovetop Mac and Cheese | Life as Mom

Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Mini Meatloaves

I grew up on mac and cheese from a box. And quite frankly, I still love it. About once a year I will buy a box and eat the whole thing myself. Not because I’m such a glutton, but because my family doesn’t care for boxed mac and cheese.

When my kids were little, we couldn’t afford to buy convenience foods. I made things from scratch, not because I was trying to be like Martha, but because it was cheaper.

Turns out it was better, too. 

When you think about it, boxed mac and cheese basically walks you through the process of making a cheese sauce and tossing in cooked macaroni, albeit with artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives in powder form.

Fun fact: Making a homemade white sauce, whisking in some shredded cheese and tossing in cooked macaroni — with the artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives doesn’t take much longer than doing it the boxed way.

You just have to measure. Which isn’t hard. It’s part of my 3rd grader’s math curriculum, so it’s totally doable. I promise.

Stovetop Mac and Cheese | Life as Mom

And you can serve it in the pot if you want, and save yourself an extra dish!

While I absolutely ADORE this sour-cream based mac and cheese, my kids do prefer this Stovetop Mac and Cheese recipe. You’ll have to make both and see which YOU prefer.

How to make this good and cheap:

Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:

  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. For instance, when I see a great price on noodles, cheese, or butter, I snatch them up and plan my meals around them. Or stock up so that I have it when I want it.
  • Compare prices. This year I’m trying my hand at keeping a price book so that I can know a good deal (for sure) when I see it. Costco has the best price for butter.

How I make this recipe easy:

Having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs. Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

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Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins

Ditch the boxed mac and cheese, you can make your own tastier and better version at home. Use this Stovetop Mac and Cheese and free yourself from mixes!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: macaroni and cheese, stovetop mac and cheese
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 417 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 16 ounces macaroni shells or elbows
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a large pot of salted, boiling water, cook the macaroni, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. In the same pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and stir until well mixed, hot, and bubbly.
  3. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring until smooth.
  4. Add the cheese a handful at a time, whisking until smooth.
  5. Stir in the cooked and drained macaroni and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Recipe Notes

Store leftovers covered in the fridge up to 4 days.

Nutrition Facts
Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 417 Calories from Fat 162
% Daily Value*
Fat 18g28%
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Cholesterol 49mg16%
Sodium 249mg11%
Potassium 215mg6%
Carbohydrates 48g16%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 16g32%
Vitamin A 534IU11%
Calcium 269mg27%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Stovetop Mac and Cheese | Life as Mom

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Brandette Winblad says

    Do you know if this reheats very well or does the cheese sauce soak into the noodles and become dry? My son loves mac n cheese, I thought this might be an option for dinner and lunches….but it would be eaten over several days for him.

    • I like how it reheats. It’s fairly cheesy. You could always add a little milk when you reheat it.

  2. Lizzy says

    I add few ounces of cream cheese if I have any. It keeps the sauce creamier. 🙂

    • Lizzy Jahncke says

      Whoops. Forgot to say that adding a little bit of pureed pumpkin or butternut squash also makes extra creamy sauce. It also makes it a nice yellow color. I especially like that since I use white cheese.

  3. Lizzy says

    Whoops. Forgot to say that a little bit of pureed pumpkin or butternut squash also makes extra creamy sauce and turns it a nice yellow color. I especially like this since I usually use white cheese.

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