Quick and Easy Stove Top Mac & Cheese | Kitchen Explorers | PBS Food

Quick and Easy Stove Top Mac & Cheese in 15 Minutes

Ask me about my food philosophy and I will likely tell you I believe everything is permissible but not everything we eat is beneficial. For the most part, at my house we eat a very balanced diet and rarely do we eat frozen meals or anything from a box. There are multiple reasons why I cook and bake the way I do, but one of the main reasons is my love of food. I love cooking and baking. I love the joy of feeding people; much like my dad would enjoy sharing his garden vegetables he labored over with neighbors. Cooking is a powerful way to take control over what we eat on a regular basis. This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy other peoples cooking or eating out. Quite the opposite, I LOVE other peoples cooking. And on those nights our family eats out, nothing beats tabletop grilling Korean BBQ beef over a charcoal fire at our favorite Korean restaurant or eating a piping hot pie at our favorite pizza place. Ask my family, I relish in every bite because eating out for me is a high-note experience not to be taken for granted for.

I also understand how busy families can be with multiple activities to juggle after school. There is always the temptation to jump into the car and dash to the nearest drive-thru. Been there, done that. To be honest I still do once in a while, but very rarely – local seasonal sweet potato fries are one of my greatest weaknesses.
When I can, I do put in an earnest effort to cook nearly every night, I put into practice what I call “cooking smarter, not harder.” It means having an arsenal of delicious go-to meals that my kids like to eat and that I can generally whip out in 30 minutes or less.

Today I would like to share with you one of my ‘under 15 minute’ recipes for mac & cheese – a definite favorite among kids. What makes this mac & cheese so special, other than its quick preparation time, is how simple it is to make on the stove top. Better than the blue box variety, this homemade mac & cheese is cheesy and filling. Using a blender or whisking by hand, this stove top method is similar to preparing a hollandaise sauce, except this cheese sauce is mixed in with warm pasta and shredded cheese to make a cheesy sauce your kids will absolutely love and appreciate. No long baking time is required – just a few minutes longer than the actual cooking time it takes to boil pasta.

What I also typically do is steam some fresh green vegetables, like broccoli or green beans, and grill some chicken breasts (using a grill pan on the stove) seasoned with a little salt and pepper. Cooking the vegetables and grilling the chicken can be done while the pasta cooks and, before you know it, you have a complete dinner. It might even be quicker than having to drive to and through a fast-food restaurant.

If you are one of those parents where the lack of time prevents you from cooking, give this meal a go. Start building your arsenal of quick go-to recipes today. Enjoy!

When the pasta is finished cooking, quickly drain the pot and return the pasta to the pan.  Pour the sauce over the noodles and add the cheese.

After a minute of stirring, the cheese melts into the sauce and you have a creamy cheesy pasta dish the whole family will love!

How Abbi likes to eat her pasta.  She does not like when different foods mix.

Eli’s dish is about half the amount I feed my older daughters (which they can never finish).  I calculated that a 4-piece chicken nuggets meal served with mini-fries, apple wedges, and a diet coke is approximately 405 calories.  Eli’s dinner as shown above is 370 calories and includes just under a half cup of mac & cheese, half an apple, 2 oz. of grilled chicken breast, 1/2 a serving or broccoli, and a cup of skim milk.  He is absolutely stuffed after eating a dinner like this and will not ask for a snack or dessert after.  Ok, maybe he’ll occasionally ask for dessert.  But if he’s stuffed, then usually he won’t.

Mimi likes to mix her dinner elements up so it looks different than her sister. Yep, they are definitely sisters.

Quick and Easy Stove Top Mac & Cheese

A quick and easy mac and cheese recipe that is made on the stove top that only takes 15 minutes from start to finish.



  • 8-ounces dry pasta (elbow, shells, bow-tie, etc)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 8-ounces cheddar, shredded


  1. Prepare the pasta al-dente (soft but slightly firm) according to the package instructions in a large pot of boiling salted water.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, blend the egg yolks, half and half, salt, pepper, and yellow mustard on a medium-high speed for 5 seconds.  With the lid removed, turn the blender on the lowest speed.  In a steady thin stream, slowly pour the butter into the blender.  Once all the butter has been added, turn the blender off.  If you don't have a blender, you can whisk the ingredients by hand.
  3. After the pasta is done cooking, quickly drain the pasta and return it to the pan reducing the heat to the lowest setting.
  4. Stir in the sauce followed by the cheese.  Continue to the stir the pasta until the cheese has melted and the pasta is creamy and cheesy.
  5. Serve immediately.

Prep Time: 5 Minutes

Cook Time: 9 Minutes

Total Time: 14 Minutes

Yield: 8-10 as a side dish

Alice-Currah-169x215Alice Currah is the publisher of popular food blog, Savory Sweet Life. Her approachable everyday recipes are accompanied by beautiful step by step photos and have been featured online at Martha Stewart, Real Simple, The Pioneer Woman, Epicurious, Bon Appetit, Saveur, iVillage and many more. In March 2010, Forbes.com featured Alice as one of “Eight of the Very Best Food Bloggers.” You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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