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In 15 Minutes, Genius One-Pot Mac & Cheese Can Be All Yours

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Let’s say that—in, oh, about 15 minutes—you could be staring at a big pot full of mac & cheese, with all the ease of cracking open a box and shaking out the foil packet. But instead of noodles in a slurry of cheese-ish dressing, these would be hugged by a truly gooey, molten cheddar sauce that tastes like real, sharp, salty cheese. Cheese cheese.

Melissa Clark’s Stovetop Mac & Cheese
Melissa Clark’s Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Let’s just say you could do that. Would you ever buy a box of shelf-stable mac again? (Some of you would, probably for the same reason that I sometimes need a glass of Ovaltine before bed—I get it.)

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Melissa Clark’s stovetop recipe, from her latest book Dinner: Changing the Game, tastes lovingly homemade and fresh—even though it doesn’t take any longer than the box, and still uses only one pot and three-ish core ingredients.

Here's how: Once you’ve boiled and drained your pasta, in the still-hot pot, you reduce a tiny amount of cream down to an even tinier amount, then whisk in a comparatively massive pile of shredded cheese. Then dump your pasta back in. See?

Look how fast!
Look how fast!

When our Food52 Cookbook Club on Facebook got ahold of this recipe in August, the month they were cooking through Dinner, they lost their minds a little. “Wanted something quick and easy that involved a bare minimum of actual thinking,” member Elizabeth Ann said‎. “This totally delivered.”

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A little tip: Make it in a hefty pot so that, when you haul it to the table, it will keep itself warm—you'll want seconds close at hand.

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Melissa Clark’s Stovetop Mac & Cheese

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Serves 2 or 3
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • 8 ounces regular or whole-wheat elbow macaroni
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese (5 ounces)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Go to Recipe

Photos by Rocky Luten

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to Food52 early employee and earlier adopter Michael Hoffman and the Food52 Cookbook Club for this one.


Snack Attack! Survive any snack attack.
Snack Attack! Survive any snack attack.