Microwave Mac and Cheese
Make your own Easy Mac! Learn how to make microwave mac and cheese using real cheddar cheese instead of cheese powder.
Why you’ll love it: Although it’s not quite as easy, making your own microwave mac and cheese is healthier and tastes so much better than commercial products.
How long it takes: 10 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: large measuring cup or bowl
It’s a little embarrassing how much Easy Mac I ate when I was in college. And when I say a little embarrassing, I mean a LOT embarrassing.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Easy Mac, it’s the familiar Kraft mac and cheese, packaged in individual portions that can be prepared in a mug in the microwave, ready in just a few minutes. The only ingredient you have to add is water.
I had (still have!) this gigantic blue mug that was my Easy Mac mug. Mac and cheese was a frequent late-night study snack in the dorm and we all know late night snacks (especially ones made out of pasta and cheese powder) aren’t exactly the healthiest choice.
And now that I have kids, I find that microwavable Easy Mac is a convenient way to satisfy their mac and cheese needs. But I know that I can do better than that and so I came up with this Easy Mac copycat recipe.
About This Recipe
All you need is a few simple ingredients, like macaroni, milk, flour, and cheese. After all, mac and cheese is a relatively simple dish, nothing exotic here. It’s comfort food: fast, filling, and tasty.
We tinkered with the recipe to get it just right. A few of our tries were, shall we say, unsuccessful. Who would have guessed how many ways mac and cheese could bomb?
The good news is that we did the hard work and you get to reap the benefits. We think you’re gonna love this Easy Mac copycat. Yes, it doesn’t look exactly like the blue box version. This is a good thing, my friends.
We also concede that our microwavable mac and cheese isn’t quite as easy as merely adding water to a package. You’ll need to shred a little cheese and measure out a few ingredients. However, this is REAL mac and cheese made with real cheese, not a cheese powder that contains 31 ingredients, most of which have nothing to do with cheese.
Okay, ’nuff said.
What You’ll Need
- Macaroni: Just regular elbow macaroni is all you need. If you swap in a different pasta shape, make sure it has the same cooking time as macaroni.
- Cheddar Cheese: We love extra sharp cheddar cheese for the most flavor. Buy a block of cheese and grate your own (see the timesaving tip below). It’s tempting to use the pre-shredded cheese but alas, it won’t melt properly. Pre-shredded cheese is packaged with a non-clumping agent which affects how it melts.
- American Cheese Singles: Although it wasn’t my first choice, we tried to make the mac and cheese without using processed cheese and unfortunately, the end result wasn’t nearly as smooth and creamy. American cheese has a low melting point, making it the best choice for this microwave recipe. One pre-wrapped slice is all you need. The cheese keeps well in the fridge for at least 6 months.
- Whole Milk: The higher fat content of whole milk ensures the creamiest results. There is no butter in this recipe.
- All-Purpose Flour: You only need a pinch of flour (½ teaspoon). Flour helps thicken the cheese sauce.
- Water: Because the macaroni is uncooked, it absorbs all of the liquid as it hydrates in the cup. This is a no drain recipe.
Grate the whole block of cheddar cheese and freeze the grated cheese in ¼ cup increments for future bowls of mac and cheese.
How To Make Microwave Mac and Cheese
We’ll start off with a very helpful tip. Use a measuring cup, mug, or bowl that is way bigger you think you need. We found that a 4 cup liquid measuring cup worked perfectly. If you use a smaller container, the mixture will overflow and make a mess in your microwave. Trust us, we know.
Begin by cooking the macaroni. Measure out a half cup of water in the measuring cup. Add ⅓ cup macaroni (use a dry measuring cup to measure it). Give it a stir.
Microwave for 2 minutes, stir, 2 more minutes, stir, 2 more minutes. That’s 6 minutes total. The water should be mostly absorbed and the pasta should be tender.
While the macaroni is cooking, prep the cheese. Toss the shredded cheddar cheese with the flour and tear the American cheese into a few smaller pieces.
When the pasta is cooked, stir in the milk. Cook for 1 minute.
Immediately stir in the cheese, both kinds. Cover the cup, bowl, or mug with a plate or paper towel. Let it set for a minute.
Stir well. The cheese should be completely melted.
So there you go! I bet you can’t wait to dig in! Enjoy your creamy delicious mac and cheese.
More Mac And Cheese Recipes
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Broccoli
- Crockpot Mac and Cheese
- Copycat Panera Mac and Cheese
- Easiest Ever Baked Mac and Cheese
- Green Chile Baked Mac and Cheese
- Macaroni and Cheese Pizza with Bacon and Green Onion
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @rachelcooksblog on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!
- ⅓ cup uncooked elbow macaroni
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup whole milk
- ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (do NOT use pre-shredded)
- 1 slice American cheese (wrapped “singles”)
- ½ teaspoon all-purpose flour
- In a 4 cup microwave safe measuring cup, or comparably sized bowl, combine macaroni and water.
- Microwave on high for 2 minutes; stir.
- Microwave for 2 more minutes, stir again.
- Microwave for 2 more minutes or until the water is absorbed and the pasta is cooked.
- Meanwhile, toss shredded cheese with flour. Tear sliced cheese into a few pieces.
- Stir milk into cooked macaroni and microwave for 1 minute.
- Stir in cheese; cover bowl and let set 1 minute. Stir again and serve immediately.
- Don’t be tempted to use a smaller measuring cup or bowl. The mixture will boil over and make a mess in your microwave.
- If you choose a different type or shape of pasta, be sure it has the same cooking time as macaroni, 7 to 8 minutes.
- Recipe card updated 11/30/2022.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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