3 Ingredient Creamy Macaroni and Cheese (2024)

April 4, 2024

by Kirbie

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This macaroni and cheese is so creamy and is also so easy to make. You only need 3 ingredients and everything cooks in one pot. No need to drain the pasta or make a roux. This is a very quick and easy meal that is ready in less than 15 minutes.
3 Ingredient Creamy Macaroni and Cheese (1)

This is a very easy version of classic macaroni and cheese that can be made with only three ingredients. Whether you need a quick weeknight meal or are just feeling too low on energy to make anything fancy, this is a fast and easy dinner that is still made from scratch.
3 Ingredient Creamy Macaroni and Cheese (2)


  • Elbow macaroni
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Whole milk

3 Ingredient Creamy Macaroni and Cheese (3)
Elbow macaroni: Classic macaroni and cheese is usually made with elbow macaroni so that is what is used for this recipe. You can substitute with other pastas but you will want to choose one that cooks about as quickly as elbow macaroni.

Cheddar cheese: I used sharp cheddar cheese to give this macaroni and cheese enough flavor. You want to use freshly shredded cheese rather than packaged pre-shredded cheese in order for the cheese to melt better. You can substitute with other cheeses.

Whole milk: Whole milk makes the cheese sauce richer and thicker. You can substitute with low fat milk but the sauce won’t be as thick or rich.

How to Make Easy Macaroni and Cheese

3 Ingredient Creamy Macaroni and Cheese (4)

  1. The pasta is cooked in simmering milk for about 10 minutes or until the noodles are al dente.
  2. Remove the pot of pasta from the heat and stir in the cheese until melted, thick and creamy. You can find the full instructions and the recipe card at the end of the post.

3 Ingredient Creamy Macaroni and Cheese (5)

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • There is no need to cook the pasta separately in water and drain it. This saves a few extra steps plus there is less clean-up.
  • You don’t need to make a roux. Making a roux can be intimidating, especially if you are a beginner cook. For this recipe, we rely on the starch that is released from the pasta to thicken the cheese sauce the same way a roux would.
  • You can customize this recipe to your liking. You can serve this pasta as is or you can build and add more flavors if you want. If you like a little heat, you can add some hot sauce or mustard powder to the dish. If you prefer another cheese, you can use something other than cheddar (I like using gruyere).

3 Ingredient Creamy Macaroni and Cheese (6)

More Macaroni and Cheese Recipes

  • Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
  • Microwave Macaroni and Cheese
  • Garlic and Parmesan Macaroni and Cheese

3 Ingredient Creamy Macaroni and Cheese (7)

3 Ingredient Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Servings: 4 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes minutes

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

You’d never know this mac and cheese is only 3 ingredients. It’s a great beginner recipe if you’re new to cooking. There’s no roux required and the pasta cooks right in milk, releasing its starches and creating the perfect base for a cheese sauce.


  • 3 cups (24 fl oz) whole milk
  • 8 oz (227 g) elbow macaroni about 1 1/2 cups
  • 6 oz (170 g) freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese slightly less than 3 cups


  • Add milk to a large saucepan or pot and bring to a low boil.

  • As soon as milk reaches a low boil, add in the macaroni.

  • Stir a few times to prevent the macaroni from sticking to the bottom of your pot. Let your milk reach a simmer.

  • Let the macaroni cook over a gentle simmer (just a few bubbles on the surface), stirring occasionally so the macaroni doesn’t stick to the pot, until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes. Keep the pot uncovered during the cooking process. As it cooks, the milk should reduce down. Some of the milk should still be in the pot when the pasta is done.

  • Remove the pot from the stove and add the shredded cheese. Gently stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is thick and creamy. Make sure to remove the pot from the heat before adding in the cheese (just turning off the stove is not enough), otherwise the cheese will curdle.

  • If the sauce is too thick, add a splash of water or milk to thin out to your liking. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.


  • I did thick cheese shreds using the large holes on my box grater.
  • You want to watch the milk carefully. Only bring to a low boil at the beginning and nothing above that because otherwise it will foam and curdle. As soon as it reaches a low boil, add in the pasta.
  • Once the pasta is added in, you want the milk to heat back up again but nothing above a gentle simmer (just a few bubbles on the surface). This is important because if you cook at a rapid simmer or boil then the milk will reduce too fast before the pasta is done cooking.
  • It’s also important to remove the pasta pot completely from the hot stove once it is done cooking and before you add in the cheese. If you keep it on the stove even with the burner off, the cheese will start to curdle from the heat.


Serving: 1serving, Calories: 490kcal, Carbohydrates: 52g, Protein: 23g, Fat: 21g, Saturated Fat: 12g, Sodium: 349mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 10g, NET CARBS: 50

The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.

Did you make this recipe?I'd love to see it! Mention @KirbieCravings and tag #kirbiecravings!

Posted in: 4 Ingredients or Less, Main dishes, Recipes

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