The Food Lab’s Ultra-Gooey Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe

Just as fast as the blue box, but way, way better. [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

–Reprinted from The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science with permission from W.W. Norton

Why It Works

  • Starting the pasta in cold water works just as well as adding it to already-boiling water but cooks faster and with less energy.
  • A combination of multiple thickeners and emulsifying agents—cornstarch, evaporated milk, eggs, and American cheese—ensures an extra-gooey texture with real cheese flavor.
  • Yield:Serves 4 to 6
  • Active time:5 minutes
  • Total time:15 minutes
  • Rated: 4
  • Ingredients

    • 1 pound elbow macaroni
    • Kosher salt
    • One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 teaspoon Frank’s RedHot or other hot sauce
    • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
    • 1 pound extra-sharp cheddar, grated (see note)
    • 8 ounces American cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (see note)
    • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
    • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 chunks


    1. 1.

      Place the macaroni in a large saucepan and cover it with salted water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking. Cover the pan, remove from the heat, and let stand until the pasta is barely al dente, about 8 minutes.

    2. 2.

      Meanwhile, whisk together the evaporated milk, eggs, hot sauce, and mustard in a bowl until homogeneous. Toss the cheeses with the cornstarch in a large bowl until thoroughly combined.

    3. 3.

      When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the saucepan. Place over low heat, add the butter, and stir until melted. Add the milk mixture and cheese mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is completely melted and the mixture is hot and creamy. Season to taste with salt and more hot sauce. Serve immediately, topping with toasted bread crumbs if desired.

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