A quick recipe for mac and cheese for one. Easy, cheesy, and oh so good.
Is it lunchtime? Is it dinner time? Are you starving? Do you need a mac and cheese fix? Yes? Well, I’ve got just the thing for you: mac and cheese for one.
This homemade macaroni and cheese is just as quick as the kind that comes out of a box, is one thousand times more delicious, and won’t leave you with a mass of gross congealed leftovers. (Seriously, have you ever tried to reheat leftover boxed mac and cheese? It’s not pretty and neither is food waste!)
I grew up in a boxed mac and cheese household, and just like when I learned how to make homemade mashed potatoes, when I discovered how easy homemade macaroni and cheese was to make, I had no idea why we hadn’t just been making it from scratch all along.
It takes exactly the same amount of time, and if you keep a basic stocked kitchen, cheese and any sort of pasta in your house, YOU HAVE THE INGREDIENTS TO MAKE THIS.
- Macaroni or pasta of choice: You can use traditional macaroni pasta if you have it or whatever pasta shapes you have on hand. Conchiglie, farfalle, and even larger tube pastas like penne or rigatoni will all work fine. Just pay attention to how you measure your pasta. This recipe calls for 2.5 ounces of pasta, which is 1/2 cup of macaroni, but different pasta shapes have different volume measurements, so if you don’t have a scale to measure your pasta, use a pasta weight to volume table like this one to make sure you’re using the correct amount.
- Salted butter: I call for salted butter here, but if using unsalted, simply add a generous pinch of salt and then adjust salt to taste when making the sauce.
- Shredded sharp cheddar cheese: Any cheddar cheese will work fine, but I prefer sharp cheddar because of the stronger flavor it gives the sauce. You can also try mixing in other melty cheeses like Pecorino Romano (my favorite!!), gouda, or gruyere.
- Milk: You can use any percentage milk you have on hand. The higher fat the milk, the richer and creamier your sauce will be.
How to Make Single-serve Macaroni and Cheese
- In a small pot, boil some pasta, and while that cooks, in a separate pot, stir together a little butter and flour. Whisk in milk until the sauce thickens and then add cheese.
- Add salt and pepper to taste along with a bit of cayenne and nutmeg if you’d like and then pour the sauce over the drained pasta and done!
In under 20 minutes, you’ll have rich cheesy mac and cheese for one, portion-controlled and so good you could cry. And if you are feeling extra hungry or want to make it for two or more, the recipe sizes up with just a slightly longer cooking time (see doubling notes).
Want to up your mac and cheese game? Try these upgrades:
- Hot dog & ketchup: 1/2 cooked hot dog + ketchup. You know what to do with them. (I do not approve of or endorse this upgrade, but everyone I know insists it’s delicious. 😉 )
- Sausage mac & cheese: 1/2 cup sliced smoked sausage browned in a skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer sausage slices to a paper towel-lined plate, and blot gently before stirring into your prepared macaroni and cheese.
- Short rib mac & cheese: Use the meat from 1 or 2 leftover braised short ribs and stir them into your mac and cheese.
- Deluxe mac & cheese: Generously butter both sides of a slice of white bread and use a serrated knife to slice it into 1-inch cubes. Pour your cooked mac and cheese into an oven-safe dish and sprinkle an additional 1/4 cup of shredded cheese over the top, followed by the bread pieces. Bake at 375°F for 5 to 10 minutes until bread is toasty.
Can I double this recipe?
Absolutely. The recipe doubles with no preparation changes except the sauce will take slightly longer to thicken when you add the milk. To change the recipe yield, hover over the serving size in the recipe card below or click if you’re on mobile, and slide the slider.
Can I make mac and cheese ahead of time?
Like any macaroni and cheese, this recipe is best when eaten right after it’s cooked. You *can* refrigerate and reheat it, but the sauce won’t be as smooth and creamy.
More Single-serve Recipes
More Creamy Pasta Recipes
Quick Mac and Cheese for One
- 2.5 ounces (½ cup) uncooked macaroni or pasta of choice*
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ cup milk any percentage
- ½ cup (2oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese *
- Salt and pepper
- Pinch of cayenne optional
- Pinch of nutmeg optional
- Bring a small pot of lightly salted water to boil over high heat.
- While your water heats, shred cheese, measure out the rest of your ingredients.
- Cook macaroni according to the instructions on the box.
- While your pasta cooks, in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook until a thick paste forms and turns golden, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk, whisking out any lumps as they form. Cook, whisking constantly until mixture thickens and begins to bubble around the edges, 2 to 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in cheese until completely melted. Add salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the pasta will cut the level of spice once added. If you like nutmeg and cayenne (I do!), start with a sprinkle, taste, and work your way up. A little of both goes a long way!
- Once pasta is cooked, drain and stir in cheese sauce. Serve immediately and enjoy!
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