See how to make the best simple mac and cheese without flour! Whether you’re out of flour or don’t like the floury taste of roux, this easy flourless mac and cheese recipe is for you! The cheese sauce is thick and creamy and coats every bite of pasta in gooey goodness.
Simple mac and cheese recipe without flour
Did you just google “how to make mac and cheese without milk” because you desperately want to make mac and cheese and just realized that you’re out of flour?
Then you’re in the right place! I’ll show you how to whip up a creamy and delicious no flour mac and cheese recipe that will fulfill your comfort food cravings.
My family loves mac and cheese for dinner, and I love making it because it’s so quick, easy, and scrumptious. Even fussy eaters will lick their plate clean, and everyone is happy.
The thing is… I bake a lot, and I mean a lot lot. I guess that happens when you share baking recipes, right? Anyway, doing so, I run out of flour more often than I care to admit.
So, I came up with this flourless mac and cheese recipe. And no worries, you still get plenty of creamy, cheesy sauce, and no one will notice this mac and cheese doesn’t have flour. If that sounds good, then this is the recipe for you!
I’m sharing my best tips and trick below. Still, if you’re busy, CLICK HERE to get the recipe right away or tap the Jump-To-Recipe button at the top of the post.
If you’d like a one-pot version of this, try my 4-ingredient mac and cheese. And for even more variations, check out our Chick Fil A mac and cheese, easy no milk mac and cheese and this Tuscan chicken mac and cheese.
What does flour do in mac and cheese?
Flour is often used to thicken the cheese sauce. Traditional mac and cheese recipes start with a roux (pronounced roo). Classic roux is made with flour and melted butter, which act as the thickener for the sauce.
Can you make mac and cheese without flour?
Yes, you can cook insanely delicious mac and cheese without flour. Instead of making a roux, use more cheese to thicken the sauce to a luscious and creamy consistency.
This reduces the ingredient count, and there is zero chance of a floury aftertaste in your mac and cheese. Just ooey-gooey deliciousness all around!
It only takes a handful of simple ingredients to make this fantastic no roux mac and cheese. The recipe is packed with so much flavor. It’s the kind of comfort meal your whole family will go crazy over! All quantities can be found in the printable recipe card below.
- Pasta: Macaroni (aka elbow pasta) and any short pasta such as Ziti, penne, twirls, or small shells (like you see in the photos) will work great.
- Sharp cheddar cheese gives the sauce plenty of flavor. You can use yellow and white cheddar interchangeably. Just be sure to buy a block of cheese and grate it yourself rather than buy a pre-shredded cheddar pack.
- American cheese is my secret ingredient for an incredibly creamy, smooth sauce. It has a low melting point and gives the sauce a luxurious, thick texture. You need 10 singles for this recipe.
- Milk: Whole milk makes a rich and velvety sauce. You can also use skim or non-fat milk for a light version.
- Spices: Season this flourless mac and cheese with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika for a bit of heat. Sharp cheddar is often quite salty, so you may not need much salt.
How to make mac and cheese without flour
The steps to making mac and cheese without flour are straightforward and easy. The no flour cheese sauce comes together super fast, and your family will be eating in no time!
#1: Cook pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook the pasta per packet instructions until al dente.
- Drain the pasta.
- The noodles should be ready right around the time when the sauce is cooked, so you can put them directly in the sauce. Otherwise, put the pasta back into the pot.
#2: Bring milk to a boil
- While the pasta is cooking, start on the cheese sauce. Pour the milk into a large, heavy-bottom pot or saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
#3: Add cheese
- Once the milk is bubbling and steaming, remove the saucepan from the stovetop and add the shredded cheddar and American cheese. Stir the cheese quickly until fully melted and the sauce is thick and luscious.
- Mix in the ground black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.
- Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Depending on how salty the cheddar is, I usually add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but you may need more or less.
#4: Combine pasta and sauce
- Add the cooked, drained pasta. Gently toss together to coat every noodle in cheese sauce.
- Enjoy your mac and cheese right away!
Thicken the cheese sauce
The cheese sauce will thicken as it cools from hot to warm. However, if you find that the sauce could be thicker, simply add more shredded cheese before tossing it with the pasta. Start with 1/4 cup of cheese and stir in until completely melted before adding more.
Thin out the cheese sauce
If the sauce seems too thick, you can thin it out with more milk or half and half. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time and stir in well before adding more.
Tips for success
Mac and cheese without flour is a quick and easy recipe full of such delicious flavor! You are going to love this one! Here are a few tips to make sure your no flour mac and cheese turns out perfectly every time.
- Cook the pasta until just dente. Al dente means the pasta is soft but still has some bite. Overcooked pasta will result in soft and mushy mac and cheese.
- Use freshly grated cheese. Packed, pre-shredded cheese has anti-caking agents that can make the sauce grainy.
- To prevent lumps, stir the sauce constantly as you add the cheese to the hot milk. Keep stirring until the cheese has completely melted. If the sauce thickens too fast, put it back on the stove and warm over low heat for a minute or two.
- Take the sauce off the heat before it reaches the desired consistency. The cheese sauce continues to thicken really fast as you stir in the cheese and serve it.
- Enjoy your mac and cheese right away. Creamy pastas continue to absorb sauce even after 30 minutes of cooking, and you lose the delicious sauciness.
Variations & substitutions
Macaroni and cheese without flour are perfect with whole milk, cheddar, and American cheese, as my recipe suggests. Still, it’s a versatile dish and tastes great with all kinds of substitutions and add-ins. Here are a few options you can try:
- Cheese: Other options for the cheddar include Gruyere, Monterey Jack, Colby, Provolone, and Pepper Jack.
- Different dairy: Whole milk gave me the best results with this mac and cheese recipe without flour, but feel free to try other dairy products such as evaporated milk, half-and-half, or a mix of water and heavy cream. Just keep the total amount of liquid the same.
- Other seasonings: I’ve chosen the seasoning my family likes for our no roux cheese sauce. Of course, feel free to omit some or swap in your favorites and make this mac and cheese your own. Hot sauce and dried herbs are a great way to change things up.
- Adding meat: Diced ham, shredded pork, and pulled pork are great additions to mac and cheese.
- Topping: I like to garnish our mac and cheese with a sprinkle of pepper, chopped parsley or other fresh herbs, pan-fried breadcrumbs, crushed cracker, or crispy bacon from time to time.
As a side dish, stovetop mac and cheese without flour will complement almost any main dish. From baked chicken drum sticks to steak and turkey breast or roast pork. It’s perfect for festive gatherings such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
- 1 lb / 450 g / 16 oz short pasta or elbow pasta
- 2 cups / 475 ml / 16 oz whole milk (or half-and-half)
- 2 cups / 150 g / 5.3 oz shredded cheddar cheese
- 10 slices American Cheese
- 2 tsp salt (more or less to taste), divided
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Cook pasta. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook the pasta per packet instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta. The noodles should be ready right around the time when the sauce is cooked, so you can put them directly in the sauce. Otherwise, put the pasta back into the pot.
- Bring milk to a boil. While the pasta is cooking, start on the cheese sauce. Pour the milk into a large, heavy-bottom pot or saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Add cheese. Once the milk is bubbling and steaming, remove the saucepan from the stovetop and add the shredded cheddar and American cheese. Stir the cheese quickly until fully melted and the sauce is thick and luscious.
- Season. Mix in the ground black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Taste and adjust the salt as needed. Depending on how salty the cheddar is, I usually add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt.
- Combine pasta and sauce. Add the cooked, drained pasta. Gently toss together to coat every noodle in cheese sauce.
- Serve. Enjoy your mac and cheese right away!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 440Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 59mgSodium: 1411mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 21g
How to store no flour mac and cheese
Mach and cheese without flour are great for leftovers! You are going to love having it for a quick lunch. Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheat no flour stovetop mac and cheese
Reheat in the microwave in 1-minute increments until heated through. Stir between each heating. Optionally, sprinkle a little shredded cheese on top before the last heating.
Cook the pasta, prepare the no flour cheese sauce, and store them in separate containers in the refrigerator. To avoid the noodles sticking, toss them with 1 tablespoon butter until melted or 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Before serving, reheat the pasta in the microwave. Gently reheat the sauce on the stovetop or in the microwave and toss with the noodles.
Can you freeze mac and cheese without flour?
Yes, you can freeze this no flour mac and cheese recipe because it’s a saucy version! Cool to room temperature, then freeze in a freezer-friendly container for up to 3 months.
Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in the microwave until warm; stir well. I like to sprinkle extra cheese on top and then pop it back in the microwave for melty goodness.
Baked mac and cheese without flour
Although this is a stovetop recipe, you can also make it baked mac and cheese. Here is how to make baked mac and cheese without flour:
- Mix 2/3 cup breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons melted butter and 1/4 tsp salt.
- Mix the sauce and cooked pasta and transfer the mixture into a casserole dish or skillet.
- Sprinkle with the bread crumb topping.
- Bake at 350°F / 180°C / gas mark 4 for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
- Serve right away!
Other amazing pasta recipes
You can’t go wrong with a good noodle dish. These are a few of my family’s favorite pasta dinners, ready to wow yours! They’re all easy to make and packed with so much mouthwatering flavor. Enjoy!
- Easy Salmon Pasta
- One-Pot Ham and Pea Pasta
- Tuscan Tortellini Salad
- Gnocchi Bake
- Crispy Sheet Pan Gnocchi
- Ravioli Soup
- Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup
This recipe was first published in April 2022 and has been updated with new content in May 2023.