There’s no comfort food I love more than mac and cheese, but I hate how long it takes to come together. Cook the pasta, grate five different kind of cheese, make the cheese sauce, bake it, bread crumb it—sometimes I just want a simple dish I can make quickly! This mac and cheese is perfect for that. It’s made on the stovetop, and you can throw it together in the time it takes to cook the pasta. (According to the website I found it on, Smells Like Home, it’s a knockoff of Panera’s Mac and Cheese, which I’ve never had.)
White Mac and Cheese
barely adapted from Smells Like Home
8 oz pasta (any small pasta works well, but I usually use cavatappi)
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup half and half or milk
2 slices White American cheese, torn into small pieces
8 oz extra sharp white cheddar, grated
1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp red hot sauce
Cook the pasta according to package directions. When finished, drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a pan big enough to hold the pasta, over medium heat. Once the butter has started to foam, add the flour and whisk constantly for one minute. Then slowly add the milk, whisking until it’s smooth. Turn the heat down to medium low and continue whisking occasionally until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes.
Turn the heat to lowest setting and start adding in the cheese by the handful. This is really where you’re going to eyeball it. Allow the cheese to melt, and then add more until it reaches your desired thickness and cheesiness level. I usually use about 3/4 of the cheddar and all of the American cheese. About halfway through this process, turn the stove off and remove the pan from heat.
Add the mustard, salt, and hot sauce. Then stir in the pasta, coating it with the sauce. If your pasta has been sitting for awhile, you may want to turn the heat back on and allow the cheese sauce to melt for 1-2 minutes. Otherwise, dish out and serve!
Note: This makes an excellent base for chili mac.