Better-Than-The-Box Mac ‘n Cheese

better than the boxed stuff mac n cheese 1_small

I started making this years ago when I discovered how much my first born loved mac ‘n cheese. In fact, she loved it over ALL OTHER FOODS. And having it on her plate made ALL OTHER FOODS tolerable. Broccoli on the plate with mac ‘n cheese? Good to go. Broccoli on the plate by itself? No way. In fact, I’m convinced she learned to love most fruits and veggies because they sat on the plate with the almighty mac ‘n cheese.

I’d started her on the Annie’s organic shells boxed mac, but since she loved it so much, I started doing a homemade version. Even though the Annie’s stuff isn’t terrible for you, I figured that as much as she consumed, homemade might be better sometimes. So Jeff and I learned to whip this up in less than 15 minutes — with all the work being done while the noodles are boiling.

Now, I feed this to all three of my kids. I will be totally honest with you and tell you they prefer the boxed mac ‘n cheese — all three of them. Something about the fact it comes in a box makes it magic. But they will inhale this too, and I feel better about relying on the box a little less. After all, this takes about the same amount of time!

This mac has a thicker consistency; it’s not as runny as Kraft or Annie’s. If your kiddos don’t like that, you can add a little more milk and reduce the roux (flour and butter) to 2 tbsp. each.

p.s. You can also make this ahead of time, place in a greased casserole and refrigerate. Then heat at 300 degrees until warm. You can also sprinkle breadcrumbs on top before baking.

Easy Stovetop Mac ‘n Cheese

Easy Stovetop Mac ‘n Cheese


1 (8 ounce) box elbow macaroni (We use Barilla in the yellow box because it has added protein, but still tastes normal)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

ground black pepper to taste

2 cups milk

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (or whatever your kids prefer)


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked to al dente (see package instructions). Drain.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; stir in flour, salt, and pepper until smooth, about 5 minutes. Slowly pour milk into butter-flour mixture while continuously stirring until mixture is smooth and bubbling, about 5 minutes. Add Cheddar cheese to milk mixture and stir until cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes.

Fold macaroni into cheese sauce until coated.

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