3-Ingredient Creamy One Pot Macaroni and Cheese


Ditch the box and make super easy flavorful and creamy 3-ingredient macaroni and cheese in minutes! 

3-Ingredient Macaroni and Cheese

When I was a kid, the sight of my mom making Kraft macaroni and cheese meant that it was going to be a good night. Now that I’m older, I just don’t get that same frisson of joy from that childhood comfort food. Now, I prefer to make my own from scratch — and the kicker is that it takes the exact same amount of time as that little blue box every needed. 

And what do you get for your time? You get a creamy weeknight dinner or side with no ultra processed ingredients, and a ton of flavor. Nothing beats the fresh taste of actual cheese in the homemade cheese sauce. It’s rich, it’s gourmet, and it’s ridiculously easy.

What’s in 3-ingredient mac ‘n cheese?

This super simple recipe is made from a few humble ingredients that you can find in just about any grocery store!

  • Elbow Macaroni: While you can make this with any short pasta, macaroni noodles are the classic choice. One of the benefits of this recipe is that you can sub in whatever noodle you need to make this fit your dietary preferences, so feel free to use gluten-free, dairy-free, or keto pasta.
  • Evaporated Milk: Since evaporated milk has a lower water content than regular milk, it creates a gorgeously creamy product in your macaroni and cheese. You can sub this for regular milk, but you will end up with a more watery pasta. 
  • Cheddar Cheese: Grated cheddar cheese gives this dish its signature flavor. I love sharp cheddar in this recipe, but feel free to play around with your cheese. Consider white cheddar, colby jack, or even gouda for a different flavor. If it’s a good melting cheese, you can use it!

Making homemade macaroni and cheese

Step 1 | Boil the Noodles

Start by boiling your elbow noodles in a large pot. Use just enough water to cover the noodles. Using a small amount of water not only allows your noodles to cook faster, it also means that you have the perfect amount of starchy pasta water left to create creamy macaroni and cheese. 

Once your water has boiled, check your noodles a few times and remove them from the heat when they reach al dente. You should have very little to almost no pasta water left. 

Boiling the noodles

Step 2 | Mix It up

While the pasta cooks, grate your cheddar cheese. Once the macaroni is cooked, you can add the evaporated milk and the cheese, then mix until you get a cheesy pot of finished macaroni and cheese!

Easy Macaroni and Cheese

Step 3 | Enjoy!

Let your macaroni and cheese cool a bit, then you can serve it as a side dish, take it to a potluck, or just enjoy a big comforting bowl of cheesy goodness!


This recipe provides the perfect base for a variety of pasta dishes. Here a few favorites!

  • Cacio e Pepe: Exchange your elbow noodles for spaghetti and add a little cracked black pepper to create your own version of the Italian classic. 
  • Chili Mac: Add a can of chili to your macaroni and simmer until it’s heated through. This classic is a favorite with kids!
  • Gruyere Mac ‘n Cheese: Sub a combination of gruyere and parmesan cheese to create an elevated and delicious dish.
  • Veggie Mac: Add sautéed veggies to our mac and cheese to create a cheesy option that’s full of nutritents!


What can I do if my sauce is too thick or too thin?

If your sauce is too thick, you can add a little more evaporated milk to thin it out. If it’s too thin, you can cook it a bit longer to evaporate some of the liquid, or add a little more cheese to thicken it.

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

Yes, you can prepare the macaroni and cheese ahead of time and refrigerate it. Just be sure to cover it tightly to prevent it from drying out. 

How long does the macaroni and cheese keep?

Leftover macaroni and cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Reheat it in the microwave or oven until heated through.

Can I freeze this macaroni and cheese?

Yes, you can freeze macaroni and cheese for up to 2-3 months. Make sure to store it in a freezer-safe container and thaw it overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

3-Ingredient Macaroni and Cheese

Make creamy, cheesy mac 'n cheese in minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Cost: $5.00
Servings: 8


  • In a large pot, pour your elbow noodles. Add just enough water to cover the noodles, then cook to al dente.
  • Add evaporated milk and cheese to the noodles. Mix to coat the noodles with a cheese sauce.
  • Serve warm.


Nutrition Facts
3-Ingredient Macaroni and Cheese
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I love how easy and quick this recipe is! Saving this for the next time I’m craving a low-effort, high-flavor meal!

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