Easy Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese | The cheesiest, creamiest homemade mac and cheese. This is one of the easiest comfort foods you can make at home. No need to bake it and dirty extra dishes - this is about quick and easy cheesy pasta, although you certainly can bake it if you have time. We'll take the flavor up a notch and add in some corn, caramelized onions, and pickled jalapenos.
For a basic, cheesy homemade macaroni dinner you'll need just five ingredients. But we don't do basic here, right? We want more! More cheesy! More delicious! More pasta! More, MORE! Did I go too far?
Yes, I can go overboard, especially when it comes to food. Remember my 10 Ingredient Avocado Toast? So.... ya...
But you'll be really happy about my tendency to do more when it comes to this dish.
You'll get a pasta dish that's cheesy from the... cheese, savory from the caramelized onion, kicky from the pickled jalapeno, sweet from the corn and all-around delicious when combined. You'll need a few simple ingredients like:
- butter + flour for a roux
- pickled jalapenos from a jar
- some frozen corn, warmed in the microwave
- an onion, to caramelize or saute
My tips for the best homemade macaroni and cheese
- Use mustard! I prefer Colman's English Mustard (it has a bit of a kick), but I used yellow mustard for this recipe to make it accessible. You can use powdered mustard.
- Use good cheese! I think it's better bought in a brick and grated yourself - no coatings on it. Do whatever makes you happy.
- Cook the flour!
Let's Make Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
To start this recipe off - boil your choice of noodles. I like shells usually. You can use Elbow noodles, Cavatappi, Orecchiette, Penne, whatever noodle strikes your fancy that day. Prepare them, according to the package instructions, in salted water, until al dente. (Undercook by a minute or two if you want to also bake this!)
Make a cheese sauce
While the pasta is going we'll make the cheese sauce. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once it's melted, sprinkle the flour in and then immediately whisk that together with the butter.
It will look like a thick, dry paste. Stir and cook for a minute or so, making sure you don't see any raw flour in the pan anywhere. (Left Photo Below) Once that is done, slowly add the liquid. When you add the first splash the whole mixture will thicken up more. Just continue. (Middle Photo Below) It will thicken before it finally thins out. Keep whisking so you don't get lumps. (Right Photo Below)
Now add the mustard and slowly add the cheese while whisking, until you have a smooth cheese sauce.
prep the other ingredients
Microwave the corn to warm it. Chop the jalapenos. Once the pasta is done, rinse it with cold water and then set it in a large mixing bowl.
Next, to make the onions, heat a pan over medium heat. Add oil and the diced onions and then cook for 5 minutes without stirring. Add a splash of water and stir, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom. Repeat this process - the sauteing and splash of water - for about 15 minutes, or until the onions are soft and browned. Set aside.
Gather all of your ingredients. (Left Photo Below). To the shells (Middle Photo Below) add the onions and jalapenos... (Right Photo Below)
and then the corn (Left Photo Below) and the cheese sauce (Middle Photo Below). Mix! And that's it, it's done! Serve hot! (Right Photo Below)
How to make baked homemade macaroni and cheese
Can I bake this cheesy pasta?
Yes! Once it's mixed together, scoop it into a casserole dish. You can cover it was some more cheese and some bread crumbs. Bake at 350°F for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubble and browning.
Can I make this ahead?
Sure, make it the night before and scoop into casserole dish. Warm at 350°F until hot and bubbling, about 30 minutes or so.
I hate onions, do I have to include them?
Of course not. I love them. Leave them out if you want or add something else. Peas are good too. You could add in some bacon or ham too.
Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound shells (plus water and salt for boiling)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- 3 cups cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
- 1 cup frozen corn (warmed)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 small onion (diced)
- ½ cup pickled jalapenos (chopped)
- Boil pasta according to package instructions. Undercook the pasta by a minute or two if you want to bake this recipe after. Rinse pasta with cold water and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
- To make the onions, set a small frying pan over medium heat. Add oil and the diced onion. Cook, without stirring for about 5 minutes. Add a small splash of water and stir the onion, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking and then adding water for 15 minutes or so, or until the onion is soft and browned. Set aside.
- Microwave the corn and chop the jalapenos and set aside.
- Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter and then add the flour. Whisk and cook for about a minute, until the mixture is a golden brown paste and you see no raw flour remaining. Slowly add the milk, while whisking, until fully incorporated.
- Add the mustard and slowly add the cheese while whisking, until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper. (I usually boil the pasta, fry the onions and make the cheese sauce at the same time.)
- To the mixing bowl of pasta, add the corn, jalapenos, onions, and cheese sauce. Mix and serve.
- Alternatively, you can pour everything into a casserole dish and scatter some more cheese on top (even breadcrumbs) and bake at 350°F until hot and bubbly and the toppings have browned about 20 to 30 minutes.
- You can use yellow mustard, English mustard or powdered mustard here.