Simplest Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I hope you had a great weekend.  We spent most of it digging ourselves out of snow-mageddon over in Chicagoland, but we survived.  To help us stay warm, I decided to whip up an old family classic: Simplest Creamy Macaroni and Cheese.

When I am planning any kind of event, I always think food first.  (Isn’t this the reason people get together?  Isn’t the food the most important part?)  Decorations are always the last on my mind and therefore often go undone or leave a lot to be desired.  In fact, my husband put up decorations for my son’s party a few weeks ago and I’m embarrassed to say they are still up.  I keep telling myself it is because my son deserves to feel the love, but really I just haven’t taken them down yet.

Once I tried a decadent and fabulous macaroni and cheese for a kids party.  Certainly they would appreciate a more glamorous approach to their standard fare, right?  They would adoringly look at me and beg me to share the recipe.

Not a chance.

You should know that I grew up on the ever-familiar florescent orange powdered cheese from the box and I loved every minute of it.  But, with this Simplest Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, you can have nearly triple the quantity for about the same price.  And, with just 4 ingredients, it’s hard not to love how quickly this simple meal comes together!

Ooh, that cheesy creamy goodness!

First, cook your pasta of choice per the directions on the box, though I cook mine just under since it will also bake in the oven as well.  I love to use penne or cavatappi because my kids like these shapes, but of course, elbow macaroni works great too.  (It is not lost on me that I am calling this macaroni and cheese and not using macaroni in the dish.  But let’s just say that it’s ok, ok?)

While your pasta cooks, butter a 9 x 13 glass pan and set aside.  Once you have drained the pasta, pour half the pasta into the pan.  Dot the pasta with butter (about 3 tablespoons) and then season pasta with salt and pepper.  Top pasta with shredded colby jack cheese.

Then repeat the steps again: pasta, butter, season with salt and pepper and shredded cheese.

Finally, pour milk over top of whole pan.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  If you want the top a bit crispy, you can uncover and then bake for 10-15 more minutes, but we like it creamy and so I just stir and serve.

This has a simple, classic flavor, but creamy and delicious without the fuss.  The simplicity is great for a quick weeknight meal and would also be fantastic for a side at a barbeque or potluck meal.  This would also be fun to experiment with additional cheeses like sharp cheddar, pepper jack or even smoked gouda!  I hope that you give Simplest Creamy Macaroni and Cheese a try, you will absolutely love it!!!

Simplest Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

10 minPrep Time

45 minCook Time

55 minTotal Time

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  • 1 lb. pasta, any shape
  • 6 T. butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 c. shredded cheese
  • 2 c. whole or 2% milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. When it is at a rolling boil, add a good amount of salt to the water. Add pasta.
  3. Cook pasta to package directions, just shy of cooking time by about one minute so pasta is al dente. Drain.
  4. Butter a glass 9 x 13 pan. Pour half of the pasta into the dish. Season with salt and pepper and dot with about 3 T. of butter. Spread 2 c. shredded cheese on top.
  5. Repeat previous step: noodles, salt and pepper, butter and finish with cheese.
  6. Pour 2 c. whole or 2% milk over the top.
  7. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. If you like a crispy top, cook for an additional 10-15 minutes uncovered. I also recommend stirring pasta well right out of the oven to fully incorporate all the cheese.


In this recipe I used cavatappi pasta, 2% milk and shredded colby jack cheese. It would also be delicious using sharp cheddar, pepper jack or a combination.


If you would like to check out other recipes, click here!

What is the most important part of a party for you, the food or the decorations?  When you do you like to serve macaroni and cheese?  What food reminds you of your childhood?

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