Stovetop Mac & Cheese

This recipe comes from Adam Ragusea on YouTube. We have made it several times with several types of cheeses. Note that if using "real cheese" without emulsifiers (like processed American cheese has) you will need to add sodium citrate to get the smooth texture. The proportion of "cheese" to real cheese isn’t critical. This recipe is listed as being one serving as a main dish, but we generally make one serving for two of us, and that is plenty. We haven’t yet made the breadcrumb topping.


  • ¼ pound (113g) dried elbow pasta

Cheese sauce

  • ⅓ cup (80g) milk add more if necessary
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup (50g) processed cheese plus ½ cup (50g) any semi-firm cheese grated OR
  • 1 cup (100g) any semi-firm cheese(s), grated, plus 1 scant teaspoon (4g) sodium citrate
  • ½ tablespoon (7g) butter
  • ⅛ cup (11g) breadcrumbs Panko is suggested
  • ⅛ teaspoon herbs and/or spices


  1. Grate the cheese, and bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Make the breadcrumb topping by melting the butter in a small pan on medium-high heat and mixing in the breadcrumbs, stirring constantly. When they’re almost brown to your liking, mix in your herbs/spices and cook for another minute before dumping everything out on a paper towel to drain and cool.
  3. Begin cooking the noodles.
  4. In a cold pot, combine the milk, cheese, sodium citrate (if using), and butter. Start by melting on medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Once it is totally melted and simmering, consider adding more milk if the sauce looks too thick — remember it will thicken as it cools to eating temperature.
  5. Drain the noodles and stir them into the sauce. Add in any additional seasonings to taste. Transfer to a plate and top with the breadcrumbs.


13 December 2022: We made this today using 76g (4 slices) of Kraft Deli Deluxe white American and 35g extra-sharp white cheddar.

17 December 2022: Today, we used 120g of pepper jack cheese, plus about ¾ teaspoon sodium citrate. We have found that about 4¼ ounces of elbow pasta works well for us.

25 December 2022: Today, we used 80g (4 slices) of Kraft Deli Deluxe yellow American and 40g extra-sharp white cheddar.