How to Make Mac and Cheese without a recipe!

Macaroni and cheese in a white bowl

How to Make Mac and Cheese without a recipe ~ it’s easy when you’ve got my super simple formula. Imagine making quick and creamy macaroni and cheese without rifling through cookbooks, searching Pinterest, or calling mom ~ you’ll have it all in your head!

Easy no-recipe macaroni and cheese in a white bowl

My no-recipe recipe for macaroni and cheese will change your life

Mac and cheese is one of those foods that’s so essential to happiness and wellbeing that nobody should be dependent on a cookbook, recipe card, or blog post, for that matter, in order to enjoy it any time they please. So many of us wouldn’t dream of starting to cook without the crutch of a printed recipe. But it doesn’t have to be that way ~ just use this simple memorizable formula, it’ll make you feel so cheffy!

no-recipe mac and cheese!

This mac and cheese recipe is not only memorizable, it’s foolproof.

That also means that it’s a good one to teach to kids who are just starting to learn to cook. There’s no greater gift you can give than to teach them to feed themselves before they leave home, and this is one of those recipes they’ll use over and over again.

The ‘formula’ for this easy mac and cheese is easy, just remember the number ‘2’

  • 2 cups dried pasta ~ cook til al dente
  • 2 tablespoons butter ~ melt in a saucepan
  • 2 tablespoons flour ~ add to the butter and mix well
  • 2 cups milk ~ add to the pan and heat until just barely coming to a simmer, and thickened, stirring and/or whisking constantly.
  • 2 cups shredded cheese ~ remove the pot from the heat and add the cheese until melted, fold in the pasta, and eat!

ingredients for macaroni and cheese

I’m partial to Tillamook cheese (this isn’t sponsored) and I particularly love their line of ‘Farmhouse Shreds’ packaged cheese. The important thing with the cheese is to use one with good sharp flavor so it will come through in the creamy sauce. It can be white or yellow, it doesn’t matter, as long as it’s sharp. When you’re shopping, look for aged cheese; the longer it has been aged, the sharper the flavor.

Variations on the basic macaroni and cheese recipe

  • Cheddar isn’t the only sharp cheese around…try other hard aged cheeses like Gruyere, Manchego, Asiago, etc. Also try smoked cheese for a great layer of flavor.
  • Add some tomato sauce or paste to the sauce 
  • Add cooked bacon, sausage, pancetta, chicken, leftover ham, or even crumbled hamburger.
  • I love to add lightly steamed chopped veggies like broccoli or cauliflower, or frozen peas.
  • Hot sauce is always good!
  • Add truffle oil or use truffle salt.
  • Top with toasted seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • In a pinch you can use evaporated milk in place of fresh milk. The sauce will not need the flour to thicken it. You can also dilute the evaporated milk with water to get the consistency of fresh milk.
  • If you don’t have flour, leave it out. The sauce will be thinner but still good. You can also use cornstarch in place of the flour, I’d use only 1 tablespoon.

adding cheese to a cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese

How to reheat macaroni and cheese

  • Mac and cheese is notoriously difficult to reheat, but I find this recipe does fine in the microwave.
  • Just break apart the cold macaroni a little bit in your bowl so it can heat evenly through in the shortest time. Don’t over heat it, and check often. A medium sized serving should take under 2 minutes depending on your microwave.

Macaroni and cheese with fresh cracked black pepper

More mac and cheese mania ~

Macaroni and cheese in a white bowl
4.92 from 12 votes

No-Recipe Macaroni and Cheese

Course Dinner Recipes
Cuisine American
Yield 4 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk (I use whole)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheese (I use cheddar)
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper


  • Cook the pasta to just al dente in plenty of boiling salted water, drain.
  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a pot large enough to hold the batch of mac and cheese. Add the flour and stir for just a minute or so. Don't let it brown.
  • Slowly pour in the milk, while whisking or stirring constantly. I like to alternate between my whisk and a silicone 'spoonula' to make sure I'm getting the mixture smooth and lump free. Cook the mixture over medium heat until it is thickened. This will be just about the point when it begins to come to a simmer. Don't let it come to a boil. Take off the heat.
  • Stir in the cheese until it melts completely. Season with salt and plenty of fresh pepper to your taste. Stir in the macaroni and serve.
  • As an alternative you can spoon the mac and cheese into a buttered baking dish and bake at 325F for 15 minutes.
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

How to make mac and cheese without a recipe pin

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    May 23, 2021 at 9:11 am

    5 stars
    Genius, Sue! Easy and simple and so delicious. Thanks for all of your great recipes!

  • Reply
    Alexandra Jensen
    April 30, 2020 at 4:59 pm

    5 stars
    Thanks for the easy ratios! I made this two nights ago. I used a hodge-podge of whatever cheese I had in my fridge: Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Mexican Blend, and Brie. It came out so creamy and delicious! I also added mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and a little nutmeg! I used a smaller pasta so I ended up with a lot of “sauce” (fine by me!). Oh yeah. I also added bacon.

  • Reply
    April 7, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    With these ratios you can easily halve or double this recipe as well. I’ve made mac & cheese this way forever. It is good also with a little Colman’s mustard powder added in with the flour, then you can put in a casserole dish with buttered crumbs on top and put under the broiler until nicely browned.

    • Reply
      April 7, 2020 at 1:16 pm

      I love baking it with toasty bread crumbs!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 5:24 pm

    Thank you so much for this! Sometimes you need a no brainer.

  • Reply
    Cheryl McAskill
    April 6, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    This has been a got to recipe for me for years! Thanks for bringing this forward from the back burner!!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 4:08 pm

    Here I go with Pipe Rigate pasta and your 2 to the 5th power Mac and cheese. Chopped dried tomatoes and left over Flank steak is going into ours. Thanks! I’m definitely going to add Lisa’s breadcrumb suggestion, sounds crunchy and yummy.

    • Reply
      April 8, 2020 at 7:50 am

      2 to the 5th power ~ love that~~

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 10:33 am

    5 stars
    This is the way I make it too — and sometimes we put it into a casserole dish with fresh breadcrumbs and bake it for 20 minutes for a toasty, crunchy topping. Doesn’t suck!

  • Reply
    April 6, 2020 at 8:50 am

    Just exactly what we need in this complicated world right now. Thanks Sue!

    • Reply
      April 6, 2020 at 8:51 am

      Stay well Janelle 🙂

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