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Easy Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

An easy and wholesome macaroni and cheese recipe that you can make on weeknights.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheese, easy side, kid friendly food, macaroni, wholesome macaroni and cheese
Servings: 10
Calories: 435kcal


  • Cheese grater
  • Medium-sized pot (3 quart size or larger)


  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 12 oz shredded good sharp cheddar cheese, about 3/4ths of a 16-ounce block
  • 6 oz cream cheese, cubed (about 3/4ths of a 8-ounce block/square)
  • 1 lb small pasta, rotini, shells, elbow, penne, etc.
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more (to taste)


  • Pour milk, water, salt and chicken broth into medium sauce pan and cook over medium low heat until it starts steaming.
  • Pour pasta in, lower heat to low and let cook at a simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes or until pasta is cooked ("al dente" or still having a little bit of a firmness is recommended).
  • Once the pasta is cooked to desired tenderness, add the shredded cheddar and cream cheese. 
  • Stir until completely melted and remove from heat and let sit for at least 15-20 minutes so sauce can thicken.



  1. Whole milk (you can also use 2%) can change consistency if it gets too hot. It can also burn easily. Be careful not to get the milk too hot. You want it to be steaming with maybe a few bubbles.
  2. Use good sharp cheddar cheese (block, NOT pre-shredded).
  3. Whatever pasta you use, make it small (small elbows, penne rigate, small shells, etc.) 
  4. Be sure not to skip the last step (letting it sit for 15-20 minutes). When this dish comes together at the end and the cheese all melts in, the sauce can be a little thin. Letting it sit for 10-20 minutes gives the cheesy goodness time to cool and thicken slightly. 
  5. This makes a big batch. It keeps in the fridge for up to about 3 days in a sealed container and reheats nicely. I normally make it and serve the leftovers several nights in a row!