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Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

This ultra creamy, cheesy Stovetop Southern Mac and Cheese is simple, yet bold and makes for the ultimate comfort food dinner.

Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

Make this delicious Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese that's gooey, velvety, and melty in the center and boasts of it's bold cheese flavor from four kinds: Mild cheddar, Sharp cheddar, Gruyere, + Muenster-----comfort food at its best! Vegan + Gluten-Free options.

Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links via Amazon for products that I wholeheartedly love.

I literally have a variety of mac + cheese recipes on my site because I'm just hooked on this stuff. Growing up as a picky eater, mac + cheese was just one of those things that I enjoyed wholeheartedly. Matter of fact, I re-created my childhood fave, Copycat Broccoli Mac + Cheese to pay homage to the amazingness that was/is mac + cheese. Haha. Anyone else grew up on Velveeta mac + cheese (with or without the broccoli)? Well, look no further, because besides enjoying it baked, a good ole' Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese is exactly what you need!

I had to of course keep it truly Southern with the mix of cheeses and ultra smoothness + gooeyness. It's just a MUST. Besides, you can enjoy this vegan or gluten-free if you need to. It's purely indulge worthy for the entire family----kids + adults like!

But if you're very into baked mac + cheese, I have you covered with this Southern Baked Mac and Cheese with Breadcrumbs also! It's SO good and SO easy.

How to Make Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

If you're used to making mac and cheese on the stovetop, this recipe will be pretty much the same process, unless of course, there aren't particular ingredients that you are accustomed to using. Once you boil + drain the pasta, you'll start things off by sautéing the butter, flour, and seasonings a bit together so that once you pour in the milk, you can whisk everything to a thickened, smooth consistency for a good base.

Then, you'll add in the grated cheeses (they melt better; see further notes on this throughout the post), stir until melted and then add in the cooked pasta. Stir, stir, and wallah!

Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

INGREDIENTS

The ingredients for this Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese is pretty standard (besides the cheeses), and you may have most of them at home right now!

  • Shells, Elbow, or Lumache pasta. You can use a different short noodle if you like also, however, I chose Lumache pasta for a nice texture and switch up from the usual.
  • Milk. I like avoiding too much dairy, so I like to use dairy-free milk (make sure that it's unsweetened) in this southern mac and cheese. However, regular cow's milk will also work well, if preferred.
  • Gruyere cheese. I love the rich, creamy, and salty taste that Gruyere cheese adds. It's a nice addition.
  • Mild + Sharp cheddar. It's important to use several different varieties of cheese for the best flavor and texture in your Mac + Cheese dish. These two are my go-to's for most cheese-based dishes, however, you can use your faves!
  • Muenster cheese. I recently fell in love with this cheese. It's smooth and has a very mild taste.
  • Smoked paprika. This adds just a hint of spice and color to the dish.
  • Ground mustard. This is also mostly for its bright yellow color. You can omit the mustard powder if you don't have it or substitute with regular dijon mustard.
  • Seasonings. I like to add flavor to my mac + cheese by using garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, + a bit of cayenne pepper.

Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

Best Types of Cheese for this Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

Even though this Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese is based on using mild, sharp cheddar, Gruyere, + Muenster cheeses, you can also switch things up and add a new flare in their flavor profile by adding any of the following grated cheeses:

  • Fontina
  • Monterey Jack
  • Gouda
  • Mozzarella
  • American cheese
  • Havarti
  • Parmesan cheese

Why Won't My Cheese Melt in my Mac + Cheese?

It's so important to use freshly-grated cheddar cheese for the creamiest results in your mac + cheese, in general. While you can use shredded cheese, it won't melt as seamlessly because it has a special "coating", which prevents it from melting smoothly. NOTE: If you only have shredded cheese, then I recommend adding it to the mac + cheese right after adding the pasta and let it simmer, stirring until melted.

SHOP MY FAVORITE BAKEWARE ITEMS AND ACCESSORIES FOR THIS MAC + CHEESE!

Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with this Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese. Everything from my fave dutch pot/oven, wooden spoons, immersion hand-blender, mixing bowls, and more. SEE THEM HERE!

Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

My Top Tips to Making the Creamiest Mac + Cheese

If you want to ensure that you make the creamiest Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese every time, I've gathered a few of the tricks + tips that I've learned along the way that can help you to achieve this:

Use cream. While I like to use Almond milk as the base for most of my recipes, if you're not restricted to dairy-free, then feel free to use a creamier base like half + half.

Add a bit of yogurt. You'll need a plain creamy yogurt and adding just a few dollops to your sauce can add extra creaminess.

Use premium, high-quality cheeses. This is my major tip! Using high-quality cheese is super imperative and as I've stated before, using brick cheeses that you grate yourself creates the best results opposed to pre-shredded packaged cheese.

Boil your pasta in milk. This one is such a simple tweak but it does wonders to create fluffier and softer pasta shells. Plus, the starch in the pasta helps to thicken the milk, which you can later use for the base of your sauce.

Always carefully add your flour and butter. I like to start with the lower end of the amount of flour to be used and then add a pinch more to the maximum amount. In doing so, you ensure that your roux isn't too thick which will make your sauce not the creamiest.

Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

What to Serve with Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

You can serve this Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese as an entree all on its own (with a tall glass of Traditional Southern Iced Sweet Tea or Southern Peach Iced Tea) or treat it like a side dish. It’s great with Southern Hot Honey Fried Chicken, Sticky Peach Chicken Wings, or Braised Apple BBQ Braised Ribs and a Quick + Easy Fall Harvest Apple Kale Salad.

Of course, if you're looking to keep things entirely meatless----these Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings/Bites or these Everything Bagel Cauliflower Bites work as the perfect mains for this Mac + Cheese also.

Making Homemade Breadcrumbs

If you're feeling super fancy and you decide that sprinkling homemade breadcrumbs atop your Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese is what you prefer, then be my guess! I'm with ya! Store-bought breadcrumbs will work just fine, but it's also very easy to make your own!

Here's how I make breadcrumbs at home:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Grind 1-2 cups of cubed bread into a food processor until finely chopped. For best results, season with things like salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, dried parsley, dried oregano, garlic powder, etc.
  • Place crumbs onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once brown + crisp, remove from oven and let cool.

Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

Can I Make this Southern Mac + Cheese Vegan + Gluten-Free?

Absolutely! To make this Mac + Cheese vegan, simply substitute cheeses with dairy-free shreds and use vegan butter. Also, check out my Vegan Mac + Cheese recipe.

GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To ensure that this recipe is GF, be sure to use GF-friendly pasta and flour.

How To Store Leftover Mac + Cheese

Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheated when ready to serve. To re-heat, add each serving to the oven, microwave, or stovetop until warmed through.

More Classic Southern Recipes to Try!

And be sure to check out this round-up of my favorite Southern Comfort Foods.

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you make this Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese or any other recipe from us, be sure to tag us on Instagram at #Orchidsandsweettea so that we can share the love, rate, comment below, + share!

Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese

4 from 4 votes
This ultra creamy, cheesy Stovetop Southern Mac and Cheese is simple, yet bold and makes for the ultimate comfort food dinner.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 30 mins
Serves: 6 servings

Ingredients

MAC + CHEESE:

  • 1 (16 oz.) package Your favorite pasta shape (I like to use medium shells, elbow pasta, or Lumache pasta)
  • 4 Tbsps unsalted butter
  • 3-4 Tbsps organic all-purpose flour (See Notes!)
  • 2 ½ cups Almond milk, unsweetened (You can use whole milk if preferred)
  • 1 cup Mild cheddar cheese, freshly-grated
  • 1 cup Muenster cheese, freshly-grated
  • 1 cup Sharp cheddar, freshly-grated
  • 1 cup Gruyere, freshly-grated
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon yellow mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (Reduce this to a "pinch" if you aren't a fan of a little heat)

Instructions

BOIL THE PASTA:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil with a pinch of salt and add shells, elbow pasta, or Lumache pasta and cook according to packaging, about 8-10 minutes in most cases. Once cooked, drain, and lightly toss in olive oil (to prevent sticking together), cool and set aside.

MAKE THE MAC + CHEESE:

  • In a large dutch pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat, add butter and let it melt. Once melted, add flour, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, mustard powder, and cayenne pepper, whisking until combined and "paste-like".
  • Slowly pour in the milk, whisking frequently until lump-free, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add in the freshly-grated mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, Muenster, and Gruyere cheeses, stirring (using a wood spoon or spatula) until fully melted and smooth, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add in the cooled pasta and stir together until well coated, combined, and creamy!
  • Serve immediately with your favorite side and main dishes.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheated when ready to serve. To re-heat, add each serving to the oven, microwave, or stovetop until warmed through. 
  • FLOUR: If you don’t want to use all-purpose flour, feel free to substitute with regular starch or arrowroot starch, tapioca flour, which all act as a thickening agent.
  • VEGAN OPTION: To make this Mac + Cheese vegan, simply substitute cheeses with dairy-free shreds and use vegan butter. Also, check out my Vegan Mac + Cheese recipe.
  • GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To ensure that this recipe is GF, be sure to use GF-friendly pasta and flour.
  • EQUIPMENT: Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with this Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese. Everything from my fave dutch pot/oven, wooden spoons, immersion hand-blender, mixing bowls, and more. SEE THEM HERE!

Nutrition

Calories: 99kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 525mg | Potassium: 20mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 0.2g | Vitamin A: 351IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 131mg | Iron: 0.3mg

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Creamy Stovetop Southern Mac + Cheese.

Shanika

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