4 ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Story by Holly
4 ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
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When I first met my husband Scott he was working part-time as a high school art teacher, and to make ends meet he also worked part-time at The 5 Spot restaurant in Seattle (which remains one of our go-to places when visiting our old stomping grounds in the Queen Anne neighborhood). I remember Scott’s last shift there like it was yesterday. We were newly married and his art career was picking up enough that he was able to scale back on all the extra part-time gigs. It was Valentine’s day, and with the little girl I was nannying for at the time in tow, I went to dine and be served by Scott one last time, and really just to watch him work (we were newlyweds, after all).

...with just four ingredients, it is the absolute easiest meal to replicate at home.

I don't recall what I ordered that afternoon, but I do know that my three year old date ordered the Mac and Cheese, her favorite. If you’ve ever taken a child to a restaurant, you know to hope that whatever they order tastes delicious, because chances are they won't finish it and you'll be the one eating their leftovers. Now with my own kids, this can drive me crazy (I've had more than my fill of chicken strips), but that afternoon, I wasn't complaining. The 5 Spot’s Mac and Cheese was and remains, simple and divine. And, fortunately for me (and for you!) with just four ingredients, it is the absolute easiest meal to replicate at home.

4 ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

You heard me right, the perfect Mac and Cheese is just four, super simple ingredients away. Cooked pasta, heavy cream, cheddar and parmesan. That's it. You can add seasoning to taste, but I find that the parm is pretty salty and I like to heavily salt my pasta water, so I always save the seasoning until last to see if it is truly necessary.

4 ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

If you are wanting to add some fruit or veggies to this simple meal, we suggest some slices of green apples, or throwing some peas in with the noodles for a few minutes before draining them and adding the cheese sauce. On Scott and I’s last date night at The 5 Spot, we discovered our favorite variation is to add plenty of Sriracha. After that heavenly combo I doubt I can ever eat Mac and Cheese sans Sriracha again. Time will tell. Whatever your tastes, the variations you can create using this lovely base recipe are endless, and bonus, it's absolutely impossible to screw up. Make it for your kids, make it for your company, make it for a date night in, or just make it for yourself and enjoy!

4 ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
4 ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

4 ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4


1 lb dried elbow macaroni or cavatappi (corkscrew) noodles
1 cup heavy cream
6 oz cheddar cheese, shredded (roughly 2 cups)
3/4 cup good quality parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 tsp salt, optional
1/2 tsp pepper, optional
sriracha sauce, optional


  1. In a large pot bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Season water with 2 tsp salt. Cook pasta in boiling water according to directions normally 8-10 minutes, until tender.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat cream in a heavy saucepan or cast iron skillet over medium heat along with the cheeses and ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp pepper. Stir cheese sauce until bubbly and the cheese has melted, 5-7 minutes. 
  3. Drain pasta into a colander placed in the kitchen sink. Return cooked pasta to its original pot.
  4. Pour the cheese sauce onto the cooked noodles. Stir to combine. 
  5. If desired, top with a heavy dose of sriracha sauce. Enjoy.