3 Ingredient Macaroni and Cheese

Mac and cheese doesn’t get any easier than this 3 ingredient macaroni and cheese. The 3 ingredients? Elbow macaroni, heavy cream, and Cheddar cheese. And it takes just 20 minutes.

The kids are clamoring for dinner and the only thing anyone wants is a big bowl of comfortingly cheesy pasta. Yet you swore you were never making the stuff out of a box again. Or maybe you simply don’t or can’t run out to the store for ingredients for a glam baked macaroni and cheese casserole with oodles of creamy cheese sauce. Let us help. With just 3 ingredients and 20 minutes, everyone can be happily noshing on an incredibly respectable mac and cheese.–Angie Zoobkoff

CAN I MAKE THIS MAC AND CHEESE AHEAD OF TIME?

Actually, no. This is designed as a last-minute fix and, as such, doesn’t rely on a cheese sauce that’s made with stabilizers of any sort to keep the sauce from thickening. Leftovers won’t reheat particularly well, so save this for a desperation dinner rather than something you intend to turn to for leftovers you can heat throughout the week.

3 Ingredient Macaroni and Cheese

A yellow pot with 3-ingredient macaroni and cheese--elbow macaroni, cream, Cheddar cheese
Mac and cheese doesn’t get any easier than this 3 ingredient macaroni and cheese. The 3 ingredients? Elbow macaroni, heavy cream, and Cheddar cheese. And it takes just 20 minutes.
Claire Tansey

Prep 5 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 20 mins
Entrees
American
3 to 4 servings
858 kcal
No ratings yet
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Ingredients 

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni fusilli or other short pasta
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese (use whatever kind you like and have on hand)
  • Chives, thinly sliced (optional)

Directions
 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Stir in the macaroni and cook, stirring frequently at the beginning, until al dente, about 1 minute shy of what the package directions suggest.
  • Dump the macaroni into a colander placed in the sink to drain.
  • While the macaroni drains, place the pot back on the stovetop over low heat. Add the cream and then the cheese. Stir, increasing the heat slightly as you need to in order to speed things along, until the cheese melts into a sauce, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the pasta to the sauce and stir enthusiastically until the sauce thickens and clings to each noodle, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 858kcal (43%)Carbohydrates: 60g (20%)Protein: 30g (60%)Fat: 55g (85%)Saturated Fat: 34g (213%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 188mg (63%)Sodium: 503mg (22%)Potassium: 302mg (9%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 2g (2%)Vitamin A: 1921IU (38%)Vitamin C: 1mg (1%)Calcium: 611mg (61%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Oh goodness—this 3 ingredient mac and cheese is a dangerously simple recipe!

And my mother would approve of this recipe! The author cites Kraft dinner as a childhood favorite, but my mother prided herself on never cooking out of a box so Kraft dinner was an exotic treat for me only to be had at the home of friends. This recipe recreates that creamy, rich, cheesy flavor with only three ingredients—and no boxed shortcuts needed!

It melted beautifully—no breaking or stringiness—and created a smooth and delicious sauce. Just the right sauce-to-cheese ratio.

Don't think about the calories, don't question how easy this is, just use good Cheddar and don't overcook your pasta. Comfort food in one pan. This is rich enough to be a full meal, but you could also fold in some jalapeños for a little bite or some steamed veggies to make a primavera pasta. So good, so simple.

I have to admit that both my daughter and I can't stand KD, but my husband and son love the stuff. We all love homemade macaroni and cheese so I was hoping this would be a happy medium. It was so much more. It’s rich and creamy, with just a hint of bite from the cheese, and we were all fighting over the last few spoonfuls. Plus it was so quick and easy to make! The sauce came together beautifully and was thin enough to coat each piece of pasta.


Originally published October 15, 2018

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