This homemade macaroni and cheese is so creamy and extra cheesy. Made on the stovetop, this single serving mac and cheese recipe is easy to make and can be ready in minutes. It's the perfect size for one person!
If there's one recipe every home cook should have in their arsenal of recipes, it should be a glorious homemade macaroni and cheese recipe; one that can be pulled out the instant a craving hits for cheesy, creamy pasta.
Why This Recipe Works
- Ready in minutes: This creamy, gooey, cheesy, glorious mac and cheese cooks in about 10 minutes. It's a recipe you can enjoy making over and over again. Truly, it takes about the same amount of time to make this classic macaroni and cheese as it does to make the kind from a box - and this homemade version is so much better!
- Made with pantry staples: The ingredients in mac and cheese are ingredients you likely have on hand already.
- A single serving recipe: This is the best mac and cheese recipe and it yields the perfect amount for one! Although this is a single serving recipe, the ingredients can be doubled to yield two servings.
- Use leftover pasta: If you have leftover macaroni from a previous meal, save and use it to make macaroni and cheese. Use about 1 ⅛ cups of cooked elbow macaroni in this recipe.
- Pasta: I use 2 ounces of uncooked elbow macaroni or you can use another small pasta shape. Two ounces of dried elbow macaroni is about ½ cup.
- Butter and Flour: Use salted butter and all-purpose flour. These ingredients are needed to make the roux which is what will thicken the mac and cheese sauce.
- Milk: Use any percentage of cow's milk, or you can use almond milk instead.
- Cheese: A classic mac and cheese is made using sharp cheddar, which adds a rich, intense flavor.
- Dry Mustard: My "secret ingredient". Dry mustard adds great flavor.
- Salt: For flavor.
See below for ways to use leftover ingredients.
How To Make Macaroni and Cheese
See the recipe box below for ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions.
- Begin By Making A Roux: Don't let the word "roux" scare you. A roux is a fancy French term and shouldn't intimidate you. The purpose of a roux is to thicken a sauce and in this recipe, it's a simple mixture of equal parts melted butter and flour. As the butter melts in a small saucepan, whisk in the flour to form a thick, smooth paste. Cook the roux for a minute or so.
- Whisk In The Milk: Slowly pour the milk into the roux while whisking. As the milk heats, the clumps of flour will smooth out and the sauce will thicken. Continue to cook the sauce for about 2 minutes.
Pro Tip: You are making a béchamel sauce which is a simple mixture of oil(butter), flour, and milk. Be careful not to add the milk too quickly or you can end up with lumps. For a smooth sauce, pour the milk in a little at a time, stirring constantly.
- Add The Cheese: Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the shredded cheese and dry mustard. I happen to love the flavor that the dry mustard imparts. You don't have to use it in your mac and cheese version however, I highly recommend it.
- Stir In The Pasta: Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pasta. This creamy mac and cheese is best if enjoyed immediately.
- Baked Mac and Cheese: If you like a crisp, buttery topping for your macaroni and cheese, just transfer the macaroni and cheese into a small oven-safe dish or ramekin and sprinkle a tablespoon of seasoned bread crumbs over the top. Cut a tablespoon of butter into little pieces and place the pieces of butter over the top of the breadcrumbs and bake the macaroni and cheese in the oven (350 degrees F /177 degrees C) for a few minutes until the butter melts and the topping is golden.
- Just a pinch: Even though the cheese is salty, taste the finished dish and I recommend adding an additional ⅛ teaspoon of salt which helps bring out the depth and flavor of the sauce.
- Experiment: Although this recipe calls for using sharp cheddar cheese, consider experimenting with gouda, gruyère, or even brie.
Frequently Asked Questions
This homemade macaroni and cheese recipe begins with pasta. I like to use elbow macaroni but use your favorite small pasta shape. As long as it's a shape that's good at holding onto the sauce, it'll be a good choice.
Other favorite pasta types include fusilli, rotini, and shells.
You'll want to cook 2 ounces of pasta until it's al dente and has a little bite. After it's cooked and drained, set it aside and make the cheese sauce.
Two ounces of dried elbow macaroni is about ½ cup.
Fresh shredded or grated cheese melts so much better than bagged or packaged versions.
If you'd like to make baked macaroni and cheese be sure to boil your pasta until al dente (tender but firm).
After you've made the sauce and stirred in the cooked pasta, pour the macaroni and cheese into an 8 or 10-inch oven-safe dish, top with a handful of additional shredded cheese, and bake in a 325°F oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and lightly golden.
- Bacon: If you love bacon, add a slice of crispy crumbled bacon to the topping or stir some of the crumbles into the macaroni and cheese.
- Toppings: I'm a fan of a breadcrumb topping but you can also crush Ritz crackers and mix them with about ½ to 1 tablespoon of melted butter and add it to the top.
What To Do With Leftover Ingredients
If you have any ingredients left over from this small macaroni and cheese recipe, you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:
- Flour: Biscuits, Potato Soup, Blueberry Crumble, Banana Pancakes
- Cheddar cheese: Cheesy Baked Eggs, Breakfast Casserole, Vegetarian Enchiladas, Stuffed Peppers
- Pasta: Shrimp and Prosciutto Pasta, Italian Pasta Salad, Goulash, Swedish Meatballs
- Dry Mustard: Sloppy Joes, Baked Beans
Although I could eat homemade macaroni and cheese all by itself and be quite happy doing so, you might like to enjoy any of these dishes with yours:
For more information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.
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If you’ve tried this simple mac and cheese or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.
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Macaroni and Cheese For One
See the post above for expert tips,
FAQs and ways to use leftover ingredients.
- 2 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni (or other pasta shape)
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- ½ cup milk (use any percentage or almond milk)
- ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ⅛ teaspoon dry mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a small 1-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
- Add the flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
- Whisk in the milk and cook, whisking constantly for 1 to 2 minutes until the mixture thickens and there are no lumps.
- Stir in the cheese, the dry mustard, and the salt and continue stirring until the cheese has melted.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the pasta. Best if enjoyed immediately.The macaroni and cheese will be very creamy and will thicken even more as it cools.
- If you like a crisp, buttery topping for your macaroni and cheese, just transfer the mac and cheese into a small oven-safe dish or ramekin and sprinkle a tablespoon of seasoned bread crumbs over the top. Cut a tablespoon of butter into little pieces and place the pieces of butter over the top of the breadcrumbs and bake the macaroni and cheese in the oven (350 degrees F /177 degrees C) for a few minutes until the butter melts and the topping is golden.
- Even though the cheese is salty, taste the finished dish and I recommend adding an additional ⅛ teaspoon of salt which helps bring out the depth and flavor of the sauce.
- Although this recipe calls for using sharp cheddar cheese, consider experimenting with gouda, gruyère, or even brie.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.