This Mac & Cheese Is the Easy Comfort Food Everyone Needs Right Now

This is the recipe my family turns to when we need comfort food fast—and yours will, too. Here's how to make it.

I don’t know about you, but at my house, we’ve been eating a lot of comfort food lately. Like most Americans, we’re sheltering in place as our communities deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. And while we’ve been trying out recipes that take a little extra time, like homemade bread and other family-friendly kitchen projects, sometimes quick, comforting meals are all we have the energy to muster.

Check out our entire guide to cooking, cleaning and making the most of your time indoors.

The Easiest Lunch Ever

While I work from home full time, my spouse (who temporarily closed his business) is All-Day Super Dad, using cooking and baking projects as teaching tools for our 5-year-old son. That’s where this easy mac and cheese recipe comes in. It’s become a regular lunch around here.

From my home office, I can tell it’s a mac and cheese day when I hear the fridge door crack open and pans being plunked on the stovetop. Ian does the grown-up tasks, like starting the stove, grating cheese and measuring liquids, while Rowan helps out with the kid jobs—gathering ingredients and stirring in the cheese until it’s good and melty. When I hear them plating up the mac about a half-hour later, I know it’s my cue to break for lunch.

So here’s my quarantine gift to you. It’s a quick, comforting recipe that’s made from kitchen staples. And to nix all the guesswork, chef Dana Elliott even shows you how to make it in the video above.

Stovetop macaroni and cheese recipeTaste of Home

How to Make Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

This simple mac and cheese recipe comes to us from reader Imogene Hutton of Brownwood, Texas. It serves six. If you don’t have that many people to feed right now, don’t worry: It’s easy to reheat. See our instructions below.

Ingredients

  • 1 package (7 ounces) elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash pepper
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Paprika, optional

Instructions

Cook macaroni according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until smooth; gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly; cook and stir 1-2 minutes longer or until thickened. Stir in cheese until melted. Drain macaroni; add to cheese sauce and stir to coat. If desired, sprinkle with paprika.

Store the leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

How to Reheat Leftover Macaroni and Cheese

To reheat, just pop the leftovers in a pan over low heat, then stir in a splash of milk. This will return the creaminess from the first go ’round. To boost the cheesy factor, Ian also likes to sprinkle on cheddar cheese powder, but the leftovers are plenty comforting without it. Cook and stir the macaroni and cheese until the sauce is creamy and heated through, about 5 minutes.

Now that lunch is made (and gobbled up), take the time you just saved to do something fun, like finding the next concert you’ll livestream or using these secret Netflix codes to pick a new show to watch. You deserve it.

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Ellie Martin Cliffe
Now a deputy editor at Taste of Home, Ellie has been writing about food and parenting for the last decade. When she isn't at TOH HQ, she's likely trying gluten- and dairy-free recipes, canning whatever's in season, listening to anything with a fiddle, or playing Uno with her family.