Easy Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Are there foods that you love and crave, even when you know there are more legit versions out there? Of course a sandwich from an authentic Italian deli is wonderful, but sometimes I really just want one from Subway (or, better yet, Publix yesssss). And I love a “real” burger most, but there are times that I just want and need a plain cheeseburger (yup, no condiments) from McDonalds. Mac and cheese is another one of those foods for me. My preference, always, is a baked version, made by my Mom, if possible. There’s also something great about a creamier gastropub version that’s then stuck under the broiler for a nice crust. But every once in a while I want Easy Mac style. Like the boxed Kraft stuff. This usually happens late night and drunk, but also on a Sunday evening when I really don’t feel like cooking but want something comforting like that. That was the situation I recently found myself in. And here’s the thing: you can make this yourself. It’s super easy, takes under 15 minutes, and tastes better. It’s impossible to faster/easier than microwavable Easy Mac, but if you have the time for the boxed stuff (which also requires extra ingredients like milk and butter), you can do this. And it will be way better.

I made a lil TikTok for this (above) because it’s that easy and I thought the world should know. Here’s the written instructions: Start by boiling water for pasta. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. When it’s done, reserve some pasta water and drain. Add pasta back to the pot and, on low heat, add cream cheese, whatever shredded cheese you have available, some parmesan (if you have it), a little half and half or milk, and some cayenne. Stir til nice and creamy. Add a bit of pasta water to get to the right consistency, if necessary. Shake on some salt and pepper and enjoy.

HOT TIP: No measurements. Just do what looks right. You can always add more of any sauce ingredients but can’t take away. Personally, I recommend you always have all these ingredients in your fridge anyway. You’ll need the half and half/milk for coffee, shredded cheese for salads or tacos, parm for pastas, and cayenne for life. Cream cheese is also good to have on hand for all sorts of breakfasts and pretty much any crowd-pleasing appetizer you want to make.