EASY 5-INGREDIENT MAC & CHEESE
Here’s an album I thought you might enjoy while cooking this recipe ?
Truly EASY 5-Ingredient Mac & Cheese
OK, ok – I counted salt & pepper as one ingredient – but this is still the easiest and most fuss-free mac & cheese recipe I’ve come across!
- Milk – I use whole milk, but you could use 2% or even 1% – it may take a bit longer to thicken up. I would not use skim milk for mac & cheese. I mean come on. ?
- Pasta – We had small shells on hand. You could use regular elbow macaroni or any smaller pasta such as ditalini (small tubes), farfalle (bow ties), or even fusilli (spirals).
- Grated Cheese – I love sharp cheddar, but you can use any melting cheese like mozzarella, swiss, Monterey jack, or any combination!
- Smoked Paprika – This is optional – but the hint of smokiness really deepens the flavor!
- Salt & Pepper – Because flavor.
Heat the milk
Start by heating the milk in a large, heavy pot over medium heat on the stovetop. Stir often to be sure you don’t have any sticking. You don’t want a big full boil – just cook until a gentle boil begins.
Add the pasta & spices
Once the milk reaches a gentle boil, add the spices and the dry pasta. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently – until the pasta softens and the milk thickens. Since we are going to bake our easy 5-ingredient mac & cheese, we want to aim for a slightly thinner sauce than we want for the final dish.
I look for a texture like thick maple syrup or thin pancake batter. This should take 10-15 minutes, but this will depend on your cooking vessel, the type of pasta you choose, and the exact temperature of your burner. Be sure to leave the pot uncovered, since you want some evaporation to happen.
Put the cheese in the mac & cheese
Once the pasta is ‘al dente’ and the sauce has thickened nicely, remove the pot from the burner and add 2 cups of cheese. (Reserve the rest for the top!) Give it a stir to combine, but don’t worry about all of the cheese melting – that will happen in the oven!
Transfer the mac & cheese to a greased casserole dish and spread it evenly in all the corners. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
OPTIONAL: I like to sprinkle a tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs on the top of my 5-ingredient mac & cheese. You can also use crushed crackers or potato chips, or skip this altogether! I love the extra texture.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes – just until the top is melted and toasted!
Let the mac & cheese cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.
OTHER POSSIBLE ADD-INS:
Any of these could be added in when you first add the cheese to the pasta!
- ½ cup of crispy bacon pieces
- 1 cup of sliced andouille sausage
- 1 ½ cups shredded chicken
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
Check out these delicious recipes from Food By Joe:
Easy 5-Ingredient Mac & Cheese
No bechamel! No roux! This super easy 5-ingredient mac & cheese takes the fuss out! Add your own twist with bacon, andouille, or your favorite cheese!
- Prep Time: 5
- Cook Time: 30
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 8 Servings 1x
- 4 cups milk
- 12 oz elbow macaroni (Or small shell pasta, fusili, ditalini)
- 3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt & black pepper, to taste
Optional: Breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs for the top!
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees & grease a large casserole dish
- Place a large pot over medium heat. Add the milk and bring just to a boil, stirring occasionally
- Turn the heat to medium-low, add the uncooked pasta, paprika, salt & pepper. Stir frequently until milk thickens to the consistency of thick maple syrup.
- Remove the pot from heat and add 2 cups of cheese. Stir to fully combine
- Transfer to the greased casserole dish and top with remaining cheese
- Cook, uncovered, until cheese is bubbly and beginning to toast, around 8-10 minutes.
- Cool 5-10 minutes before serving