One-pan Extra Creamy Mac and Cheese

One-Pan Extra Creamy Mac and Cheese

My signature, extra creamy Mac and Cheese, made easier in one-pan and with no boil, no drain pasta!

No boi, no drain pasta eliminates the need for boiling a large pot of water (and waiting and waiting and waiting for it to boil!). It also eliminates the need to shlep a large pot of boiling water from the stove to the sink to drain it. To cook, you simply add the pasta to a pan (a large skillet works best), add the specified amount of cold water, heat on high and let it boil away (stirring just a couple of times) until almost all of the water has disappeared. At that point, the pasta is cooked and you can add sauce, vegetables or whatever you like to complete your pasta dish.

Of course, I’m sure you all want to know … how is this pasta? Let me say, without a bit of hesitation, that it was really, really good! This pasta and this method of cooking virtually eliminates the possibility of over-cooking the pasta. By the time the water has disappeared from the pan, the pasta is perfectly al dente. And you don’t need to set a timer to get there :) Add that to the aforementioned benefits of not having to boil a pot of water and drain it, and I’m sold.

Cook’s Notes for One-Pan Extra Creamy Mac and Cheese

Cold pack cheese is also known as also known as Club Cheese or Crock Cheese. Cold Pack cheese is produced by blending two or more varieties of fresh and aged natural cheese without the aid of heat. It is then turned into a paste and usually mixed with cream to make a spreadable cheese. Here in Canada, McLaren’s Imperial Cheese is the most popular version, though many smaller cheese producers also make a similar version.

In the USA, I believe there are similar products available. Look for a sharp cheddar version, without additional flavourings. I love the intense cheese flavour that cold-pack cheese brings to macaroni and cheese, without the greasiness often associated with regular cheddar. That said, if you can’t find of don’t want to use cold pack cheese, simply substitute an old, orange cheddar – about 1 1/2 cups worth probably.

If you can’t find this particular pasta, you can still make this recipe by cooking regular pasta the regular way, draining and picking up the recipe at Step 3.

Left-overs keep well in the fridge, but the macaroni will continue to absorb the sauce as it sits, so will be less (but still pleasantly) creamy when re-heated.

Be sure to start with an oven-proof skillet. Most stainless steel skillets are oven-proof up to 400 F. or so. A cast-iron skillet would also work well.

One-pan Extra Creamy Mac and Cheese

One-pan Extra Creamy Mac and Cheese

One-pan Extra Creamy Mac and Cheese

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: one pan mac and cheese recipe
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Energy: 570 kcal
Author: Jennifer
My favourite Mac and Cheese recipe, made easy with no boil, no drain Barilla Pronto pasta.


  • 12 oz no-boil, no-drain macaroni
  • 3 cups cold water

For sauce:

  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • 7 Tbsp. flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 8.5 oz. block extra-old, crumbly white cheddar cheese, broken into small crumbles
  • 4 oz. cold-pack sharp cheddar cheese, such as Imperial (*see Cook's Notes below), broken into small crumbles
  • 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder

For topping:

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Chipotle chili powder or regular chili powder


  1. On the stove top, add pasta to a large (12-inch-ish) oven-proof skillet (you'll need a skillet that can hold about 5 cups of liquid, so you may want to test yours before starting, if you're not sure). Add 3 cups cold water. Turn burner on to high and cook pasta, stirring occasionally, until almost all of the water has disappeared.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add butter to skillet and stir until butter has melted and pasta is well coated. Sprinkle flour over-top and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add about 1/3 of the milk and cook, stirring, until a smooth, thick sauce develops (about 1-2 minutes). Add the remaining milk and the salt, chili powder and garlic powder. Cook, stirring regularly, until sauce is hot, somewhat thickened and smooth, about 6-7 minutes (note that it will not be super thick at this point). Remove skillet from heat and add cheese. Stir into sauce then let stand for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, stir the mixture well. If all of the cheese isn't melted, let stand another minute, then stir again. Sprinkle 1 cup cheddar cheese over-top and sprinkle with chipotle chili powder (or regular chili powder).
  3. Place skillet in oven and bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of your skillet) or until top is set and mixture is bubbling well around the edges and towards the centre. Let stand a couple of minutes, then serve and enjoy!

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  • I’m going to make this for the kids, but I think I’ll use a regular cheddar instead of the aged kind because that way my pickier eaters will approve :) I’ll report back as soon as I find cold pack cheese!

    • Enjoy Sara and yes, probably kids would find the aged a bit strong. I understand there are some brands of cold pack in the US (Wisconsin cheese, I think).

    • Thanks Tricia. Somewhat thankfully, it is not hot here right now, so perfect for a big pan of mac and cheese :)

  • I’m so happy to have discovered this pasta. I can think of a thousand ways to use it. I love the simplicity and the time it saves! You mac cheese looks delicious, I have a feeling it would be hard to stop at one helping!

    • Thanks Chris and you know, it’s surprising how much simpler this pasta/method makes all dishes seem. I’ve made 3 already with it and I’m loving it! I’m going to try it with a pasta salad next.

  • Jen I don’t think we have this wonderful pasta here. You said we can get the same results with regular Barilla pasta? Thank you for a recipe that will make my daughter Korinna happy when she comes home!

    • Hi Despo, You wouldn’t be able to use this method (starting with cold water, no draining etc) with regular pasta, but you could certainly cook regular pasta the regular way and then start with Step 3 in the recipe above. And yes, it would definitely be a treat for your daughter. It’s my daughter’s favourite :)

  • Do you mean “aged” cheddar when you say extra old? I’ve had bad experience with aged, as it doesn’t melt as well. Would extra sharp grated cheddar cheese work?

    • Hi Nicole, I guess I do mean aged, but any that I’ve used have always melted well. I’m talking about the smaller blocks of white aged cheddar – ones that are quite dry and crumble when you bend them and tend to have a nutty flavour. I just don’t find that any cheddar (even the ones called “Old”) sold in big blocks delivers nearly enough cheddar flavour in mac and cheese. Don’t know if that helps you, but I guess I’m saying avoid anything big block cheese.

    • Oh and P.S. not sure if you meant pre-grated, but you’d definitely want to avoid any pre-grated cheese, as it has a coating on it so it doesn’t clump that tends to be grainy when melted in a sauce.

I love hearing from you, so if you have a question or something isn't quite clear, I'm happy to help. If you made this recipe, I'd love to know how you liked it ~ Jennifer

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