This skillet mac and cheese is fast, easy, uses only one dish, and requires very little stovetop fussing. The pasta cooks in a creamy milk sauce in the oven, and then two (or more!) types of cheese are stirred in at the end.
This recipe calls for a high-sided skillet to accommodate the cooking liquid. Alternatively, you could use a Dutch oven, although you may need to extend the time in the oven just a little. Bonus points if your pot of choice has an oven-safe lid, although a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil works quite nicely, too.
Skillet Mac and Cheese
- Quick Glance
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 35 M
- Serves 4 to 6
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180°C).
In a very large, high-sided, oven-safe skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter until foaming. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk. Add the water, salt, and pepper, and bring just to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
As soon as the mixture comes to a simmer, immediately add the pasta and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and bake until the pasta is just cooked, 12 to 14 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the oven, add the cheeses, and gently stir just until the cheeses melt and the sauce is smooth. Let rest, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes before scooping it onto plates.
Skillet Mac and Cheese With Bread Crumbs
Feel free to sprinkle the top of the finished dish with panko or breadcrumbs and slide it under the broiler for a minute or two.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This recipe was one that I really enjoyed making. Mac and cheese is one of the most-requested sides at our house, and I make it often. This recipe is easier than any other version I have tried and the results are pretty impressive.
The only change I would suggest (and the opinion was shared by our resident mace and cheese expert) is that a third cheese should be added to add creaminess and soften the chalkiness of the Cheddar. We suggest American cheese, because it melts well and is creamy when melted. Maybe 2/3 to 1/3 ratio.
The pasta was cooked just right and the sauce was plentiful and tasty. The recipe was super easy to make and time saving. Definitely a highly recommended keeper.
If you were to just look at this recipe's ingredient list, it looks like a basic macaroni and cheese recipe. You have roux ingredients plus milk, cheese, and pasta. But what is fascinating about this specific recipe is its cooking method. You begin making a traditional roux (equal parts fat and flour), or a thickening agent for the sauce, then as usual you slowly add in your liquid (milk and a touch of water). But instead of cooking the mixture on the stove-top until the sauce is thick and ready for the addition of grated cheese and cooked pasta, you immediately add the dried pasta to the warm milk mixture and pop everything into a preheated oven to finish cooking. The sauce continues to thicken in the oven as the pasta becomes tender. A mere 12 to 14 minutes later, you take the skillet out of the oven and stir in the grated cheese until it’s completely melted.
What I really like about this process is its simplicity, creativity, and the fact that it’s largely hands-off.
I used cavatappi pasta as my noodle choice. The only thing about the recipe I would suggest as a change is the type of pot you cook everything in; I think a Dutch oven with a lid works perfectly here. At first, it seems like a lot of liquid for just 1/2 pound of dried pasta, but once you add in the cheese at the end, stir everything until smooth, and let the dish cool for about 8 minutes, the sauce is just thick enough without being too soupy.
Overall, if you like a mac and cheese variation that is creamy through-and-through, this is for you. (It’s a great base recipe that I would like to experiment with in terms of other cheeses. What about a mixture of blue cheese perhaps? Fontina or goat cheese in addition to a Cheddar?) Not only did we adults like this creamy mac and cheese recipe, but I can see it being a huge hit with children as well!