One-Pot Ranch Mac and Cheese

Forget about boiling up a big pot of salted water. In this ultra-creamy recipe, the pasta cooks directly in the milk, creating a rich thick base for the sauce. Three kinds of cheese, plus fresh chives and dill give it the familiar fresh tang of our favorite ranch dressing.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 20 min
  • Active: 20 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

4 cups whole milk

12 ounces elbow macaroni (about 3 cups)

8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 3 cups; see Cook's Note)

3 ounces part-skim mozzarella, shredded (about 1 cup; see Cook's Note)

2 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Large pinch cayenne pepper

Kosher salt

1/4 cup chopped fresh dill 

1/4 cup chopped fresh chives

Directions

  1. Put the milk and macaroni in a medium saucepan. Bring the milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to keep the macaroni from clumping. Continue to boil, stirring frequently, until the macaroni is tender and the milk has thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the Monterey Jack cheese, mozzarella, cream cheese, sour cream, butter, cayenne and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and stir until smooth, thick and creamy. Fold in the dill and chives. Serve hot. (The dish will thicken as it cools; thin it out with a little hot water if desired.)

Cook’s Note

For the smoothest and creamiest results, it's worth the extra minute it takes to grate the cheese yourself. The pre-shredded variety often contains cellulous, which can give this mac and cheese a clumpy texture.

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