Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese

I’m not going to lie.  I didn’t think it could get better than my previous version of Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese.  In that recipe, the pasta is cooked directly in milk to create a rich, creamy macaroni, but it does thicken up quite quickly after cooking.

I started to wonder if I could start my mac & cheese off with a cheese sauce (starting with a roux) to make an even creamier version and yes, yes I could.

This mac and cheese comes together just as quickly as others – the cheese sauce comes together while the pasta cooks!

What I love the most is that, while the cheese sauce does thicken as it cools off the stove (as all do), it still remains saucy.  Even better, the mac and cheese reheats beautifully as leftovers – delicious!

Extra Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese
Adapted from The Chunky Chef

1 pound dry elbow macaroni
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
1 (8 oz) block sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
4 oz Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
Pinch garlic powder
Pinch onion powder

Cook the macaroni to al dente in a large pot of salted water according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.

Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly, allowing the mixture to thicken after each addition.  Then slowly add the half and half, continuing to add slowly while whisking and allowing the mixture to thicken.

Whisk in the salt, pepper, paprika, garlic, and onion powder.

Finally, whisk in the cheeses and stir until smooth and melted.  If the mixture is too thick, whisk in up to another half cup of milk.

Stir the cheese sauce into the drained, al dente macaroni and stir to mix.  Adjust seasonings as desired and serve.