3-Ingredient Stovetop Mac and Cheese Recipe



  • 12gallon salt water, for boiling
  • 1(16 ounce) package medium pasta shells
  • 5tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1cup whole milk
  • 12teaspoon cayenne pepper (this is a MUST in my version!)
  • 8ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
  • 8ounces monterey jack cheese, freshly shredded
  • 8ounces colby-monterey jack cheese, freshly shredded
  • 2tablespoons salt for the water, plus enough to add on your serving per taste
  • pepper
  • 1teaspoon pepper
  • 1lb bacon
  • 12teaspoon cayenne


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
  3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta halfway through according to package directions.
  4. Drain the pasta.
  5. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
  6. Add the breadcrumbs and sauté, stirring frequently, until toasty brown.
  7. Pour the breadcrumbs into a bowl and set it aside.
  8. In the same skillet, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter.
  9. Pour in the milk and cayenne.
  10. Add the cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Colby Jack and melt until a smooth sauce forms.
  11. Fold the pasta into the cheese sauce in the skillet.
  12. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, but I like to let the person spice their serving with salt and pepper to their liking.
  13. Pour the pasta and cheese mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
  14. Top the mac and cheese with the panko breadcrumbs.
  15. Cover and bake for 25 minutes, removing the lid for the last 5-10 minutes.
  16. Let the mac and cheese sit for 10 minutes before serving.