Quick Stovetop Mac and Cheese


My son often asks me to  make mac n’ cheese. I don’t make it nearly often enough for his liking. When I say I don’t have time (to make the bechamel/cream sauce and bake it) he says, “just make the quick version!” So here’s the quick, stove top version that he loves almost as much.



  • Add vegetables such as peas, broccoli, cauliflower or finely chopped kale or chard about 3 minutes before the pasta is tender.
  • See this cauliflower pasta and this Brussels sprout pasta for similar dishes with vegetables.

Serves 2-3


1 1/2 cups tubetti (or ditalini, small elbow macaroni or other small pasta) or 2 1/2 cups slightly larger shapes as in chard version above

3 1/4 – 3 3/4 cups vegetable stock or water depending on how saucy you want it. I also use the larger amount of liquid if using the larger shaped pasta.

Salt to taste, 1/2 teaspoon if you’re using water or an unsalted stock

1/2 cup heavy cream

Plenty of freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar or other grating cheese or a combination of cheddar and Parmesan

Fresh parsley, basil or chives, for serving (optional)


Put the pasta and broth or water and salt in a medium saucepan and stir well and bring to a boil, then simmer for about 8 minutes uncovered until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pasta is tender. At this point add the cream and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Cook uncovered for about 3 minutes, stirring often, until it thickens slightly and is nice and saucy.  Stir in the cheese and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot. This quick version thickens a lot as it cools and is best enjoyed right away.

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