You’re only 15 minutes away from cheesy greatness.
Life is too short to be stuck cleaning a bunch of dishes...so life needs more one-pot meals. This mac & cheese gets super creamy from cooking the pasta in milk, which turns into a sauce once you add lots of sharp cheddar—freshly shredded ONLY, because the anti-caking agents in pre-shredded cheese will make the texture gummy—and a little American cheese. There are haters out there, but American cheese is what helps make it so luscious and rich, and it helps stabilize the sauce so it doesn’t break. This is easy, fast, and makes a lot, so invite over some friends or treat it as a really decadent “meal prep” for the week.
Bring 6 cups milk and 1 ½ teaspoons salt to a simmer over medium heat in a large pot, such as the Cravings braiser. Add the shells, return to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente, 9–10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to the lowest possible and add the cheese, butter, mustard, cayenne, and remaining 1 ½ teaspoons salt and stir until the cheese is fully melted and the sauce thickens slightly, 2–4 minutes. Use up to ½ cup milk to thin the sauce, if needed.