This creamy stovetop mac and cheese recipe is a classic recipe made with half and half, sharp cheddar, and whole-milk mozzarella. It's the perfect weeknight dinner for the family and will have everyone asking for seconds.
- Creamy: This stovetop recipe starts with a basic roux made with butter and half-and-half. Sharp cheddar and whole milk mozzarella make this creamy and cheesy.
- 20-Minute Meal: From start to finish, this recipe takes less than 20 minutes.
- Vegetarian: Creamy stovetop mac and cheese is a vegetarian-friendly dinner recipe when you use vegan Worcestershire sauce. See substitution notes below.
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- macaroni elbows
- unsalted butter
- all-purpose flour
- half and half
- shredded cheddar sharp
- shredded whole-milk mozzarella
- Worcestershire sauce
- hot pepper sauce
See the recipe card for quantities.
- Boil the macaroni according to the package directions. Be sure to salt the water. Drain the macaroni when it is al dente and set aside.
- While the noodles boil, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. When melted, add the flour and stir until smooth with a wooden spoon. Slowly add the half and half, whisking it with the flour mixture until smooth. Heat on medium until sauce comes to a low boil and thickens slightly, stirring continuously.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and add the shredded cheeses one handful at a time. Stir until all of the cheese is melted.
- Add Worcestershire sauce and hot pepper sauce.
- Combine the sauce and the cooked macaroni. Stir and serve.
Tip for creamier macaroni and cheese: Cheese that is freshly shredded makes a smoother sauce (rather than using pre-shredded bagged cheese). Bagged shreds have a coating to prevent the cheese from sticking.
- Worcestershire sauce: To make this recipe vegetarian, use a vegan Worcestershire sauce. Traditionally, Worcestershire sauce contains anchovy. Try Annie's, Wizard's, or Kroger's store brand. Worcestershire can also be omitted.
- Pasta: Use any short pasta cuts such as cellentani, penne, campanelle, rotini, or farfalle.
- Milk: Half and half can be substituted with half milk and half heavy cream, or it can be replaced with just milk. Whole milk will result in a creamier mac and cheese than fat-free milk.
- Hot sauce: Use any hot sauce you like such as Sriracha or Crystal. A very small amount of hot sauce is used in this recipe, so it will not be spicy, however, the hot sauce can be omitted if desired.
Refrigerate in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. Reheat for 1 to 2 minutes in the microwave. Add a splash of milk or half and half to make it creamier.
To freeze, fully cool the mac and cheese before adding it to a zip food storage bag. Remove as much excess air from the bag as possible before sealing. Lay flat in the freezer. To reheat from, frozen thaw in the refrigerator overnight before microwaving in 1 to 2-minute intervals.
Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
- 8 oz macaroni elbows
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1-½ cups half and half
- 6 oz shredded cheddar sharp
- 4 oz shredded mozzarella whole milk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- Boil macaroni according to package directions until al denta. Be sure to salt the water. Drain.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Then, add the flour and stir until smooth using a wooden spoon. Slowly add the half and half, stirring to combine until there are no lumps. Heat the sauce until it comes to a low boil and thickens slightly, stirring continuously (about 4 minutes).
- Remove saucepan from heat and add shredded cheese, stirring until melted in. Add salt, worcestershire sauce, and hot pepper sauce.
- Combine the cooked noodles with the cheese sauce. Stir and serve.