The BEST Creamy Mac and Cheese, Made Simpler and Faster

Back in the olden days of blogging, I shared what became one of my most popular recipes: Creamy Mac and Cheese. What makes this Creamy Mac and Cheese different? It’s made with whole grain pasta and it’s made with a completely different method which gives it the ultimate chance of creaminess. This happens because…

We cook the pasta directly in milk.

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Yes. We dump dry pasta into a pot and we pour in a generous amount of milk (whole milk, because creaminess). We salt it to taste, then we cook and stir until the pasta is tender and the creaminess becomes perfection. We remove it from the heat because we are people who read directions! Then we stir in the cheese and we cry tears of joy as we serve the delicious Creamy Mac and Cheese to our families.

So now, eight years after I first shared this recipe online, I will tell you a fun little tip so you can make this wonderful recipe in an even simpler, faster way. It’s this:

The smaller the noodle, the faster your Creamy Mac and Cheese hits the table.

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It’s kind of a no-brainer. However, I had always used penne or fusilli shaped pasta for this recipe, both of which are similar in size and take about 15 minutes to cook. Fifteen minutes is not a long time to get dinner on the table. But…

One day recently, I used small elbow noodles to make this Creamy Mac and Cheese and boom. The pasta was tender before I’d even cooked the peas or washed the grapes to go with our meal. Sweet! Not only can we make this meal without having to think ahead to thaw meat, we can throw it together even faster if we use a smaller noodle.

I’d say that taking advantage of this tip is really “using our noodle” but then I’d sound like Elmo and I’m not sure that’s how I want you to remember me.

Creamy Mac and Cheese Made Simpler and Faster

5.0 from 1 reviews
The BEST Creamy Mac and Cheese, Made Simpler and Faster
Serves: 4-6
  • 2½ cups whole grain pasta
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  1. Mix pasta, milk, and salt in a large sauce pan.
  2. Cook over medium-high heat stirring almost constantly until the pasta is tender (10-15 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat. (IMPORTANT!)
  4. Add cheese and stir until melted.
  5. Serve immediately.

Keep this recipe in your hip pocket for days you need to get a meal on the table quickly. Use small sized pasta so this will cook more quickly. Serve it with a salad and/or veggies and fresh fruit and you’ve just put a super simple meal on the table in record time.

The BEST Creamy Mac and Cheese

My favorite whole grain pasta to use in this recipe:

I have successfully made this recipe with Tinkyada Rice Pasta, so gluten-free friends, you get to enjoy this recipe too!

NOTE: It is quite important that you remove the cooked pasta from the heat BEFORE you add the cheese. If the pasta is still cooking when the cheese is added, this may cause the cheese to curdle. In addition, I’ve found that using pre-shredded cheese in this recipe doesn’t work as well because of the added ingredients in the packaging. I use cheese we shred at home for best results.

Creamy Mac and Cheese Varieties

Have you tried this method for making Mac and Cheese? What’s your favorite pasta shape?


Seeing as this recipe is definitely a Heavenly Homemaker Favorite, you can bet that it’s included in my Best of Heavenly Homemakers book!! (There are only a few recipes included, but this had to be one of them!)

I just peeked and the book is up already on Amazon! Be the first to grab it!!

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  1. Jane says

    What type of cheese do you you for this?


    Laura Reply:

    I typically use white cheddar or Colby jack, though I have some Pepper jack I’m thinking of using this weekend!


  2. Christine says

    I’ve made this before and have had a hard time keeping the mixture at the right temp so the milk would not burn yet still cook the noodles. Throwing it all in the slow cooker on low for a few hours works better, but sometimes the noodles get a little squishy.

    I’ve had good lucky with a creamy texture by blending 2 cups almond milk; 1 package silken tofu; 2 cups extra sharp cheddar; 2 T butter and a squirt of mustard. Blend until smooth; pour over 1 lb cooked noodles; bake in oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Before you bake it; it will look like a soupy mess but the cooked noodles absorb a fair amount of the sauce. Sometimes this will taste bland, so add favorite seasonings to jazz it up a bit (sour cream or cream cheese may work well.)


  3. Deb says

    I love your mac and cheese, Laura, but I have some confessions to make: I rarely get the texture just right because I get impatient standing at the stove for that long…and mine always seems to take longer than 15 minutes. BUT, here’s my biggest confession of all: I just discovered you can make a pretty creamy mac and cheese in the Instant Pot, hands off, while you finish doing last night’s dinner dishes (ahem). I haven’t tried it cooking in the milk because I feel like it would scald, but you basically cook the pasta with water, salt, and butter for 4 minutes, then quick release, and stir in a cup of milk with 2 cups of cheese. I am using the leftovers from lunch (only me and two small kids ate, so there’s a lot) to make your Cheeseburger Macaroni for dinner.


  4. Birdie says

    We’ll love this recipe! Pasta/rice is delicious boiled in other liquid than water is yummy. I’ve never thought to try milk.

    Congratulations on the publication of your new book…..and to be able to hold it in my hands, to pick it up when I have a moment and more to read…..I’m so happy, 8-) May my purchase bring a blessing to you in the future.


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