5 Ingredients or Fewer

Stovetop Mac & Cheese With Garlic Powder & White Pepper

September 30, 2019
7 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 12 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Author Notes

If you can boil water and grate cheese, you can make this recipe. And in just as little time as it would take to make the boxed variety this was inspired by Annie’s (my childhood favorite). If you’ve delved into homemade mac and cheese before, you’re probably familiar with the usual spices: black pepper, freshly grated nutmeg, ground cayenne, and even ground mustard. But reading the ingredient list on Annie’s Peace Pasta & Parmesan led me to two totally different, game-changing spices: garlic powder and white pepper. While the beige colors are happy to blend right in, the punchy flavors amplify the cheese’s cheesiness, making it taste more robust. This is especially handy since I prefer to use a younger cheddar in stovetop mac and cheese; it’s more gooey and melty than its older relatives. This recipe is adapted from Melissa Clark’s Genius Stovetop Mac & Cheese. In addition to switching up the spices, I increased the quantity of cheese sauce because, if you ask me, you can never have too much. I like this best with classic itty-bitty elbows, but you could use any small, short pasta shape, like shells or farfalle. You can also swap in whole-wheat if that’s your jam. —Emma Laperruque

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Stovetop Mac & Cheese With Garlic Powder & White Pepper
  • 8 ounces elbow pasta
  • Kosher salt, for the pasta water, plus more to taste
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces cheddar, grated (preferably a younger, not super-aged variety)
  • 3/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it generously (I estimate 1 tablespoon kosher salt per 1 quart water). Add the pasta and cook until al dente, starting to check the noodles after 4 minutes. Remember, they’ll continue to cook in the warm sauce. As soon as the pasta is ready, drain it in a colander.
  2. Set the empty pot back on the stove over medium heat and add the cream. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until it starts to look slightly thick. Drop the heat to low and add the cheese and spices. Whisk until a smooth cheese sauce forms.
  3. Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce and give it a taste. More garlic powder, white pepper, or salt? Adjust accordingly, then serve right away.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
  • MK
  • Jessica Goldstern
    Jessica Goldstern
  • Anna
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

8 Reviews

MK October 26, 2023
Very easy yet delicious and scrumptious due to the heavy cream
Jessica G. June 13, 2023
Excellent ~ not exactly easy on the calories but fast and yummy made leftover cream and pantry ingredients.
Anna April 11, 2020
Hi! Would it be possible to use milk instead of the heavy cream? Thanks!
Emma L. April 11, 2020
Hi! I think the sauce would turn out too thin in this case. But you can definitely make other mac and cheese recipes with milk, like this one: https://food52.com/recipes/14671-martha-stewart-s-macaroni-cheese. (For milk, the usual strategy is to make a bechamel, or a milk gravy, and then stir the cheese into that.)
jane October 17, 2019
seriously so good!!!! the best!!
Emma L. October 17, 2019
Thanks, Jane!!
calliebelle November 8, 2019
Is it at all possible to substitute evaporated milk for the cream in this recipe? Just curious.
Emma L. November 8, 2019
Maybe! I know evaporated milk plus cheese is a popular template for stovetop mac and cheese, but I haven't tried that substitute in this particular recipe. If you give it a go, let me know what you think!