One Pot Mac and Cheese

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Creamy, homemade mac and cheese is easier than you thought with this one-pot recipe. With just a few pantry-staple ingredients, you’ll have a delicious dinner on the table in no time.

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This recipe is so easy, you don’t even need to own a colander to make it! Plus, it cooks so quickly, you can make it on even your busiest days.

Thanks to cooking the pasta in what ultimately becomes the sauce, this mac and cheese turns out unbelievably creamy. It’s so much better than that stuff in the box, and since you don’t need to strain it, I think it’s easier, too.

I think the biggest benefit of making your own mac and cheese is that you know exactly what is in it. No glow in the dark cheese powder over here! Only wholesome, creamy goodness!

A close up of One Pot Mac and Cheese on a fork with green beans and baby carrots in the background

What You’ll Need to Make One Pot Mac and Cheese

  • Large Pot
  • Butter
  • Whole Milk
  • Water
  • 1 Pound of Pasta
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Ground Mustard


  • I prefer to use whole milk in this recipe, and in life, in general. Not only is it less processed than lower-fat milks, it just plain tastes better. If you want to use 2%, 1%, or skim milk, you will need to adjust the amount of water you add. If using skim, you might want to use only milk and not add water at all.
  • Sharp cheddar’s bold flavor is just right for this recipe, but for a more gourmet touch, try mixing it up by substituting a mixture of other cheeses like swiss, asiago, or blue.
  • Since the pasta will continue to absorb liquid after you finish cooking it, it is best to have the sauce a bit on the loose side. If it gets to be too thick, just add a bit of water until it’s back to the right consistency.
  • This One Pot Mac and Cheese stores well if covered in the refrigerator, but it might tighten up more than you like. If it’s too thick, just add a splash of water after reheating to bring it back to the level of sauciness you like.
  • I haven’t had a problem with using pre-shredded cheese ( I always use Trader Joe’s Shredded Sharp Cheddar) but if yours doesn’t melt correctly, it’s most likely because the anti-caking agent used on your cheese is preventing it from melting. Try a different brand or grate your own.
  • To make this gluten-free, simply use your favorite gluten-free pasta instead of wheat pasta. I make this regularly with Trader Joe’s brown rice pastas.

One Pot Mac and Cheese

Creamy, homemade mac and cheese is easier than you thought with this one-pot recipe. With just a few pantry-staple ingredients, you'll have a delicious dinner on the table in no time.
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cheese, Pasta


  • Large Pot


  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Whole Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 Pound Pasta (Wheat, Whole Wheat, or Gluten-Free)
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Mustard


  • Add water, milk, butter, pasta, and salt to a large pot. Place the pot over medium-high heat and stir frequently until bubbles begin to appear. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer while stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
  • Test the pasta for doneness by tasting a noodle. If the pasta is not fully cooked, continue to simmer, testing for doneness every minute or two. Once the pasta is fully cooked, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Add the cheese and ground mustard to the pot and stir to combine. If the sauce becomes too thick, you can add a splash of water to loosen it. Serve immediately.

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