Recipe: Skillet Mac and Cheese

updated Jan 29, 2020
Skillet Mac and Cheese
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(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

It’s hard to beat homemade macaroni and cheese, but while the process is straightforward, it can feel fussy when you’re dirtying a handful of dishes just to make it. This recipe streamlines the process to lessen your load. Consider this your weeknight-approved mac and cheese — the kind you can make after a long, hectic day without resorting to the boxed stuff.

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Cut Down on Dishes

By making the creamy cheese sauce in a cast iron skillet, then stirring the cooked pasta right in before transferring it to the oven, you skip having to use the extra saucepans and baking dishes. That means less to wash at the end of the night, which is always a win. Plus, baking the mac and cheese in cast iron means you’ll get those deliciously crispy bits on the edges without even trying.

Skillet Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

Nutritional Info


  • 8 ounces

    dried jumbo elbow macaroni, conchiglie, or pipette pasta

  • 4 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 1 cup

    panko or other breadcrumbs

  • 1 teaspoon

    coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves

  • 3 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 cups

    whole milk

  • 1 1/2 cups

    grated sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1 teaspoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon



  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook per package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.

  2. Melt the butter in a 9- or 10-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. Remove 1 tablespoon of the butter and combine with the breadcrumbs and thyme in a small bowl; set aside.

  3. Sprinkle the flour evenly into the skillet and whisk until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk while whisking to ensure it doesn't clump. Switch to a wooden spoon and continue cooking the sauce, stirring constantly, until it has noticeably thickened and coats the back of the spoon, 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir the cheese into the sauce, one handful at a time, until melted and smooth. Stir in mustard, salt, and paprika. Add the cooked pasta and stir gently until the pasta and sauce are evenly combined. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly over top.

  5. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the sauce is bubbling and the top is golden-brown, 10 to 15 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.