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Appetizers and Sides

How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese

Sharing my, How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese recipe today! This homemade Mac and Cheese recipe that is creamy, cheesy and absolutely needed!
Mac and Cheese

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Can’t wait for you guys to try my homemade mac and cheese!  How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese Recipe…..what makes the perfect mac and cheese in your opinion? Good ol’ Kraft right out of the box? Homemade thick and cheesy on the stovetop? Baked with a crispy topping and lots of ingredients inside? I think it’s a bit different for everyone, but let me tell you about my perfect mac and cheese. See my Bacon Mac and Cheese Recipe too!

I like a thick and creamy perfectly flavorful cheese sauce like my picture above shows. If that sounds good to you, then you will LOVE this recipe too 🙂

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Mac and Cheese

Let’s start by cooking your pasta. Make sure you do NOT overcook your pasta. You want a nice bite to your pasta so there is texture to the dish. I always cook it 1 minute less than the box says so there’s a little bite. The pasta will also cook more in the cheese sauce.

Mac and Cheese

Once your pasta is cooked al dente, drain.

Mac and Cheese

Let the pasta sit aside for a few minutes while you prepare the roux.

Mac and Cheese Roux

Mac and Cheese

To make a simple and flavorful roux, start by melting a stick of butter in a medium saucepan.

Mac and Cheese recipe

Whisk in the flour.

Mac and Cheese recipe

Whisk in the salt and pepper. A very important step is to continue stirring for a good 3-4 minutes until roux turns a bit darker in color. It becomes richer and even more fabulous.

Mac and Cheese

Slowly stir in the milk until mixture is thick and creamy. This step will take a couple minutes over medium heat.

Mac and Cheese recipe

Bring on the cheese!

Mac and Cheese recipe

I prefer a finely shredded mild cheddar. It melts quickly and has a perfect “cheddar” flavor.

Mac and Cheese Sauce

Mac and Cheese recipe


Mac and Cheese recipe

Time to transfer your cooked pasta back to a large dutch oven or pot.

Cheese Sauce For Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese recipe

Pour that fabulous cheese sauce over your noodles.

Mac and Cheese recipe

Almost there!

Mac and Cheese recipe

How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: dinner, easy mac and cheese, homemade mac and cheese, how to make mac and cheese, how to make roux, kid friendly, mac and cheese, mac and cheese recipe, mac and cheese roux, roux recipe
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 451 kcal
Author: Jenny Flake
  • 3/4 pound dry small pasta I used elbow
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups milk I used skim
  • 2 cups finely shredded mild cheddar cheese
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. I recommend cooking the pasta a minute less than the directions.  Drain and set aside for a few minutes.
  2. To prepare roux, melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes until color of roux gets slightly darker. Slowly whisk in milk, stirring continuously until thickened, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in cheese until melted.
  3. Transfer cooked pasta to large dutch oven or pot over low heat. Pour cheese sauce over top, stirring to combine. This is a thick and creamy sauce. To thin the sauce, add a few tablespoons of milk at a time until at desired consistency.
Nutrition Facts
How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 451 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 10g63%
Cholesterol 48mg16%
Sodium 661mg29%
Potassium 282mg8%
Carbohydrates 55g18%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 20g40%
Vitamin A 510IU10%
Calcium 375mg38%
Iron 1.5mg8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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mac and cheese recipe

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114 Responses | Comments RSS

  1. 1

    This really does look like the PERFECT Mac and Cheese. So ridiculously cheesy..I love it!

  2. 2

    This is almost identical to our fave mac and cheese recipe except this recipe uses a lot more butter than mine which makes this one quite superior to mine, haha! Love it!

  3. 3

    Stovetop is my favorite! This looks like it would be right up my alley!

  4. 4

    Yep, you’re right- it’s perfect! I think people would be amazed how easy it is to make a homemade mac and cheese like this with virtually little more effort put forth than making the box version.

  5. 5
  6. 6

    This definitely looks like the perfect mac and cheese! Yum!

  7. 7

    This is comfort-food perfection, Jenny!! 🙂

  8. 8

    You have me craving mac & cheese now!! Love the tutorial.

  9. 9
    Maria says:

    This will be a hit at our house!

    • 9.1
      Julio says:

      I am making the grocery list for this recipe and your creamy goat cheese and spinach pasta.

      We are going to OD on pasta this weekend!

  10. 10

    I love all mac and cheese, box, stove top, oven baked, give me it all! This looks like a winner, yum!

  11. 11

    My kids are mac and cheese addicts. Well, me too of course! Love this!

  12. 12

    Thick and Creamy is my favorite kind. Mmm wow that looks wonderful!

  13. 13
    naomi says:

    My family will love this–o perfect in all that creamy goodness!

  14. 14
    Tieghan says:

    Oh yeah! This is awesome and so the way my family likes it!!

  15. 15

    OH MY. This looks fabulous!! And easy! Mmmm! (:

  16. 16

    oh myyy..that CHEESE!! You can never have enough…I just want to eat the cheese sauce by a spoon! This seriously looks like my perfect mac & cheese!

  17. 17
    marla says:

    OMG….this is sooooo perfect!! Serve us up a whole bunch!

  18. 18
    Larissa says:

    This is almost the same way that I make it. I only use 3 tblsp butter and 3 tblsp flour with 2 cups of milk, though. Sometimes I use an 8 oz brick of cheddar, sometimes I add more…depends on my mood. Also, when I have it, a pinch or two of ground mustard kicks up the flavor without tasting mustardy. I may have to try this with your proportions just to see. I may make this tonight!
    Can’t wait to see what you add next time!

  19. 19
    Pru says:

    This is so awesome. I’ve been on a quest to make the perfect macaroni and cheese. I’m going to try this!! thank you!!

  20. 20

    my tummy is growling for a big bowl of this right now!!!

  21. 21

    GIRL!!! Oh my gosh! Is it wrong to want mac and cheese at 9:41am?!?

  22. 22

    Shut the front door. This is too fabulous!!!

  23. 23

    This looks incredible! I can’t wait to see part 2 🙂

  24. 24

    This is definitely what i call perfection!!

  25. 25
    carrian says:

    I’m pretty much dying over here. WOWZA

  26. 26
    Maggie says:

    I’ll save you a pot to wash! Pour the macaroni right into the pan you used for the sauce. Just make sure it’s large enough to start. We make ours in much the same way but use half Monterey Jack and half Muenster. Love it!

  27. 27

    I want to eat about 6 servings of this right now!! Seriously, mac n cheese is my all shapes and forms 🙂

  28. 28
    Carol says:

    I have been making this exact recipe for many years (married 47 years now). I learned to make it in high school cooking class and it is always a hit. I personally find mac & cheese a comfort food for those times when stressed or during cold winter days.

  29. 29
    Stacie says:

    You have the best recipes! I am sure this is going to be delicious!!! What do you recommend at the fair this year?

  30. 30
  31. 31

    OMG, those layers of cheese cascading over the hot macaroni. Swoon! Mac and cheese is my favorite and yours truly does look perfect!

  32. 32

    So perfect!!! I’ve been waiting for this recipe after I saw your photo of it on Instagram!

  33. 33
    Orla says:

    In Ireland NO ONE eats mac and cheese :O I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe a few months back and ever since it’s what my boyfriend always asks me to make for dinner! 🙂 It’s so delicious and I can’t wait to try out this recipe as you use less cheese and no egg! 🙂 My tummy’s rumbling looking at the great photos! 🙂 x

  34. 34

    I love mac and cheese! This looks relish!

  35. 35

    Oh wow, I think this picture made me fall in love. Looks delicious!

  36. 36

    You have a pretty ridiculous gooeyness factor going on up there, my dear. I like the way you think. Sometimes pure mac and cheese is the absolute best.

  37. 37
    Larissa says:

    OK, so I made mac and cheese last night your way. OMG! It was the best ever, hands down. My son said so, too. I guess the extra butter put it over the top. 🙂 Thanks, Jenny!!

  38. 38
    Dalila G. says:

    Mac & Cheese is always a big hit in our house. One more mac & cheese recipe is always accepted with joy! This is one recipe that does have the hubby very happy, thanks for sharing and really liking your step-by-step……neat!!
    Looking forward to part two.

  39. 39

    I just made this for lunch! I have portion control issues with mac & cheese (and everything else that isn’t veggies) so I only made half of the sauce because I didn’t really want to eat half a stick of butter in one sitting (and I knew I’d eat at least half the pot…) So I did half the sauce and 9 ounces of pasta and it was still perfectly creamy and saucy! And I love how simple it was. Thanks so much for the recipe. 🙂 LOVE it!

  40. 40

    I’m afraid that if I make this, I might eat the whole pot. It looks dangerous.

  41. 41

    Um, delicious!!! I could dive right on in!!!

  42. 42
    Theresa Smahlik says:

    This is awesome! I am so happy you posted this. For the last month I’ve been searching for the perfect easiest Mac and cheese recipe for my daughters 4th birthday party. It’s an under the sea theme and I wanted to use pasta shells. I’m for sure using this recipe! Now I need to figure out how much to make.
    Thanks for all the great recipes!!

  43. 43
  44. 44

    This mac and cheese looks fantastic! I’ve been looking for a good recipe for a while now and I think this is it! Will be trying for sure! 🙂

  45. 45
    Chels R. says:

    I’ll take a huge bowl of this!

  46. 46
    Michelle K says:

    OMG!!!!!!!!!!! *drools lol This looks SO yummy!! going to make this <3

  47. 47
    Brandib says:

    You had me until I saw you buy pre-shredded cheese. You’re supposed to grate your own! Aside from that, it looks lovely. Yum

  48. 48

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  49. 49

    […] you checked out my “How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese” yet?!  Cannot get enough of this recipe.  Creamy and […]

  50. 50
    Kimberly says:

    I’ve already seen this comment by someone else, but you definitely don’t need an entire stick of butter and half a cup of flour to thicken two cups of liquid enough to make a sauce for mac and cheese (or gravy or anything else thickened by a roux” 🙂 So if you want to reduce the fat because of calories or because you just don’t have it, it would be fine. I also would never personally use pre-shredded cheese. They put cellulose on the shreds to stop it from sticking together and I hate that. I think it makes things taste weird, but I don’t want to eat wood even if it tasted fine. I love putting spinach and artichokes in my mac and cheese. Or hamburger mac and cheese with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and lettuce on top. Yum! Oh yeah, saw someone else mention ground mustard too…I do that too. Definitely makes a difference. Love the blog!

  51. 51
    Trysha says:

    I add a pinch of nutmeg. Makes a difference and I really miss it when I forget to add it. and now i’m craving mac n cheese at 11o’clock at night.

  52. 52

    This mac n’ cheese look delicious! I’m typically not one to like pot versions of mac n’ cheese when I make it homemade, but I would be willing to give this one a go. The ooey gooey cheesiness makes my mouth water!

  53. 53

    I LIVED off of mac and cheese as a kid – it was my favorite meal and to this day – still totally is. Your roux and cheese sauce looks like heaven in cheese form Jenny! I can’t get over it!

  54. 54
    kenny says:

    I made this! OMG it is so good!!! I also added 1/2 stick cream cheese to the sauce… hehe… and… I may or may not have substituted 1 cup of milk with heavy cream 🙂

    IT IS IMPORTANT to cook the roux for a few minutes before adding the milk…. I made the mistake of not doing so (out of impatience), and was left with an EXTREMELY thick sauce, which I had to add more considerably more milk to thin-out. (Cooking the roux lessens the thickening power… required & beneficial in this scenario)

  55. 55

    This looks like the best mac & cheese! Now I’m craving this! Pinned! 🙂

  56. 56
    Julio says:

    This one is going into the recipe bookmark! I will be trying it this Thursday for our Pee Wee football tailgate.

    I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

  57. 57

    […] Recipe from Picky Palate […]

  58. 58
    JoAnna says:

    Made this with some chicken and mixed veggies for myself and the fiance tonight, so I halved the recipe. AMAZING! He told me not to lose this recipe, so I have it printed and stuck in our family cookbook. 🙂

  59. 59
    Lindsay says:

    Just made this and it was DELICIOUS!

  60. 60
    Heather says:

    I made this recipe tonight with meatloaf. My fiance, my 2 year old daughter and I finished off most of it in one sitting. So good!

  61. 61
    Stacy says:

    I may never make boxed Mac and cheese again. This is coming from a boxed Mac and cheese confectionist. Well done.

  62. 62
    Shaina says:

    We don’t eat nearly enough macaroni and cheese, and I can’t wait to see what you added to this.

  63. 63
    bellini says:

    I like my mac ‘n’ cheese slowly baked in the oven if only for the crunchy bread croutons on top that are a memory from childhood. However, I do love a creamy, luscious stove top version too. Decisions, decisions.

  64. 64
    Emily Burch says:

    Love the recipe!! I hope you don’t mind but I also shared it on my Pampered Chef business page, I did source your page to my customers/followers and say to come follow you. Thanks, Emily Burch

  65. 65
    Breeze says:

    Can’t wait to make this!
    Question: how much in terms of cups is equivalent to 3/4 lb of dry pasta? Thanks!

  66. 66
    Lauren says:

    It only took me four years to find the best mac and cheese recipe! Thank you so much for posting this! It’s perfect.

  67. 67
    Allie D says:

    Mine never got thick. Any recommendations? Followed the recipe exactly :(.

  68. 68
    BillyBob542 says:

    Crumble a pound of crispy bacon in there and it will be perfect 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  69. 69
    Drucifer Green says:

    A+… By far the best Mac and Cheese I’ve ever eaten… I followed every direction and it was Amazing.



  70. 70
    Braden says:


    Looks good but should you put butter?

    [email protected]

  71. 71
    Lynda Cook says:

    OMG!!! all I can say is yummmm!!! thanks for sharing

  72. 72
    naaz says:

    can I use whole milk? thanks.

  73. 73
    nicky says:

    Made this today and is was sooooo good,definitely the best mac and cheese.

  74. 74
    Melanie says:

    This was the most amazing Mac and Cheese I’ve ever made this recipe beats all the ones I’ve tried 🙂

  75. 75
    Lavon says:

    This looks wonderful. The next step I would do is to bake it for 20 minutes with crumbled bacon on top @ 350. YUMMMY

  76. 76
    Jennifer M. says:

    I tried this recipe last night and I found it has too much flour. It looked so yummy – but the taste of flour was just too much – it probably needs at least 1/2 the amount.

  77. 77
    Shawna says:

    I have to say, it was the picture of your mac and cheese and all its ooey gooey creamyness that made me click on it in Pintrest. I will definately be trying this later this week.

  78. 78
    Mary Anne says:

    This is similar to the recipe I use (from the back of the Prince elbows box!), but then I put it in a casserole, top with half a sleeve of crushed Ritz Crackers and bake for about 30 minutes. SO yummy! Oh, and sometimes I add BACON, too, because, well, it’s bacon!

  79. 79
    MacCheesePractice says:

    Thank you!!!!!!!!! Went one step further and put mac cheese in casserole dish topped with 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar and baked until melted. Perfection. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  82. 82
    Tiffany says:

    this sounds delicious! But how much is a stick of butter?

  83. 83
    Robin says:

    I’ve made this type of mac and cheese for years!! I have changed it up some. I use seasoned flour instead of regular. Really makes it a lot better tasting!! Plus I bake it at 350 degrees for about 20 – 30 minutes or until the top is bubbly and a little brown.

  84. 84
    Heather says:

    How many cups of pasta is needed? I don’t have a kitchen scale 🙂

  85. 85
    Sam says:

    Tried it, did not come out right, too thick and gross. Followed your instructions to the T.

  86. 86
  87. 87
    Sandra says:

    This is similar to a recipe I have used for many years and is the grandkids favorite. I just use a little variation on the amount of ingredients. It works well as long as you do not let the sauce boil. I, too, use brick cheese and not pre-shredded cheese. So much better than the boxed stuff. We often mix frozen peas (rinsed) into the finished mac and cheese. I also like it because it uses “regular” ingredients and makes up in a hurry. No trips to the store for special/expensive ingredients.

  88. 88
    Lin says:

    This was too thick!!! I would probably recommend 1/4 cup of flour instead since my whole family said it was too thick as well. Otherwise it was a good and easy recipe! 🙂

  89. 89
    Lin says:

    This was too thick!!! I would probably recommend 1/4 cup of flour instead since my whole family said it was too thick as well. Otherwise it was a good and easy recipe to follow! 🙂

  90. 90
    Erica says:

    I made this today.. It was good… however next time I think I will use less butter and also no so much flour..

  91. 91
    Mal says:

    If you like this, try this recipe!! Very similar but a bit healthier and just as amazing. Possibly even better!!

  92. 92
    Mimi says:

    Hello ! It’s look so good ! But do you think I can use cream to replace the butter?

  93. 93
    April says:

    Super delish!!! Made this tonight with crab meat and Ritz crackers for the top. Tossed in the oven till golden brown!!! Can’t wait to dig in!!! Thank you!!!

  94. 94

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  95. 95
    Lien Nguyen says:

    Just tried this recipe and omg its my absolute favorite!! Super creamy!! I will definitely make this again 🙂

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  97. 97
    Sue says:

    This recipie would be much nicer and easier to read with out being printed on the red squares. Makes it much harder to read.

  98. 98
    Alida says:

    I make mine almost the same as you; I use Imperial cold pack cheddar for the roux and and add shredded cheese if needed. Yum yum.

  99. 99
    Laura Andrews says:

    Can you make this the day before and reheat it the next day?

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    Andi says:

    This recipe was simple and delicious! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  102. 102
    Smd says:

    I tried to make this Mac and cheese recipe tonight and it flopped big time. My cheese sauce separated even though I followed the directions. I couldn’t get it to come back together and had to throw the entire thing away. Waste of ingredients and time. I wouldn’t recommend making this ever.

  103. 103
    Batrice says:

    This receipe is very easy to make and right on point. I have now used it twice cutting the measurements in half and prefer my macaroni and cheese this way and so does my husband. Thank you

  104. 104
    Makayla says:

    Looks delicious!! Everytime I make a cheese sauce it doesnt turn out,the cheese doesnt properly melt so it separates from the sauce. What am I doing wrong? I use butter, flour, milk, medium cheddar cheese(from the block). Sometimes I add 1/2 c chicken broth. But every single time I have a yucky sauce!! Someone help me!!!

  105. 105
    eatfrysmith says:

    This is SUCH a quick and easy mac & cheese recipe, I love it! I sometimes like to add spinach and call it “Green Mac” 🙂

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Jenny Flake

Welcome to Picky Palate, my online kitchen! You'll usually find me with a cookie in one hand and a salad in the other. It's all about the balance :) The recipes you'll see are my creations. The Picky Palate Cookbook is now available. Enjoy!