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I’ve been making this Homemade Macaroni and Cheese recipe for over 25 years and it’s always a hit. It’s creamy and full of sausage for extra flavor, plus you can make it on the stove top for a simple dinner or as a casserole for a potluck or meal train. It’s the perfect easy recipe!

Mac and cheese in a black pan.


Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese

This easy homemade macaroni and cheese with sausage is like medicine for the soul. Macaroni and cheese has a healing quality that only comfort food can deliver. This easy homemade sausage mac and cheese will deliver all of that down-home flavor without the hassle. With just a handful of ingredients and the leftover cheese you’ve got hiding in your fridge, you can whip up the cheesy goodness your soul craves. 

ingredients in Mac n cheese with sausage.

Ingredients Needed for Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

  • Pasta – you’ll want to start with dry pasta, any shape. I prefer elbows or shells but really, any small pasta shape will do.
  • Italian sausage – We love adding sausage to this. Use hot or sweet Italian sausage without the casing (or squeeze it out of the casing). You can even use Turkey sausage.
  • Milk – regular, low-fat, or non-fat, although regular milk will make a thicker sauce.
  • Cheese – Cheddar cheese is my gold standard for mac and cheese, but I usually do a mixture of cheeses. I’ll often clean out my cheese drawer for this – I also love using Monterey Jack and even gouda!

Be sure to see the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions!

How to Make Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese with Sausage

  • Cook pasta: Bring a pot of water to boil, salt the water, and cook the pasta as directed on the box.
  • Cook sausage: As the pasta cooks, use a large pot to cook the sausage over medium heat. Break the sausage into small pieces using a wooden spoon or cooking utensil of your choice. Remove the sausages from the pan once cooked and put it to the side. 
  • Make roux: In the same pan that you cooked the sausage, melt the butter over medium heat, Add your diced onion and cook for two to three minutes, until softened. Add the minced garlic and cook it for one minute, then add the flour. Completely stir the flour in and cook for about one minute. Then, add the milk to your mixture and stire to combine. Finally, add the pepper, dry mustard, and Italian seasoning. Over medium heat, continue to stir the mixture until it has thickened up – this should take about ten minutes. This should result in a creamy, soup-like consistency.
  • Stir cheese into roux: Once the the desired consistency has been achieved, stir in the cheese until the it has melted entirely. Take a taste of the cheese sauce and salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Combine ingredients: Pour the sausage and pasta into the cheese sauce and combine all of the ingredients together.
  • Serve: Remove from the heated burner once combined and serve while hot. 
Mac and cheese in a white glass bowl.

Variations

  • Change up the pasta: Although macaroni is a tried and true choice of pasta for this cheesy classic, any type of pasta can be used. The best kinds of pasta to use for mac and cheese are the ones that have the ability to escort the maximum amount of fromage to your tastebuds: Pastas with hollow bits or ample crevices are the ones that will get you the cheesiest bites; think campanelle, fusilli, penne, and cavatappi.
  • Experiment with cheese: Different cheeses can also be used to suit your liking. While my favorite cheeses to use are monterey jack, gouda, swiss, and cheddar (orange or white, medium or sharp), feel free to get creative and experiment with as many cheeses you like! 
  • Go meatless: Sweet Italian sausage is my personal go-to, but you can use any kind of sausage you’d like. If you’re looking to make this recipe vegetarian, meatless ground “beef” or meatless sausages will work great!
  • Make it a meal: Stirring in some greens like broccoli or brussel sprouts elevate this mac and cheese to a full-on meal! Other compatible veggies include spinach, kale, peas, cauliflower, and many more. 
Mac and cheese in a black pan.

Expert Tips

  • I’ve used both nonfat and whole milk for this recipe in the past, and both worked great. However, if you want an even thicker, creamier, richer texture, opt for the whole milk. 
  • If you’re looking ahead at a busy schedule, feel free to make this mac and cheese a day ahead of time. Reheat it in the oven just before serving and you’ll be ready to go!
  • Pre-shredded cheese is a big no-no when it comes to homemade mac and cheese. Packaged shredded cheese will never melt down the way freshly shredded cheese does, and believe me, you can tell the difference. 
  • I avoid adding salt to the recipe because the sausage and cheese typically adds just enough. Once you oversalt, it’s hard to go back. 

FAQs

What are the best cheeses to use for mac and cheese?

The best cheeses to use for mac and cheese are monterey jack, gouda, swiss, and cheddar. Using cheddar as the base cheese is always a great place to start. 

How do I make this bake this mac and cheese instead of making it on the stovetop?

Sure! Boil the pasta until al dente and then combine the cheese, sausage, and noodles, leaving about a quarter of the cheese sauce to spare. Pour the assembled mac and cheese into a baking dish and top it with the remaining cheese sauce, adding bread crumbs if you wish. Topping the pasta with extra cheese keeps the moisture from escaping the noodles, preventing the dish from drying out. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 400°F. 

How to store leftover macaroni and cheese?

Allow your mac and cheese to cool before placing the leftovers in an airtight container such as tupperware or ziploc bag, then refrigerate for up to five days.

Mac and cheese in a black pan.

Sausage Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

3.72 from 28 votes
Sausage Mac & Cheese – this EASY macaroni and cheese recipe is full of Italian sausage! It’s the perfect comfort food. I’ve been making this FOR YEARS and everyone always loves it.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Yield 16 servings
Serving Size 1 serving

Ingredients
 

  • 14-16 ounces dry pasta (any shape; I like using elbows)
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage (mild, sweet, or hot, or even turkey sausage)
  • 1 medium (134g) onion , diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves (9g) garlic , minced
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) butter
  • 4 tablespoons (31g) all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk regular, lowfat, or nonfat
  • ½ teaspoon dry Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon  ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dry mustard (optional)
  • 5 cups shredded cheese (see note)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Cook pasta according to package directions – be sure to salt the boiling water. Drain well.
  • While the pasta is cooking, cook the sausage over medium heat in a large pot (at least 5 Qt). Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage into small bits. This takes about 5-10 minutes. Once the sausage is cooked through, remove it to a plate or bowl and set aside.
  • Melt the butter in the sausage pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute. Stir in the flour completely and cook for 1 minute, then add the milk. Stir to combine the mixture, then add the italian seasoning, pepper, and dry mustard.
  • Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes or so. It should be the consistency of a creamy soup. Stir in the cheese until melted. Add salt to taste (and more pepper, if desired).
  • Add sausage and pasta into the cheese sauce and stir until combined. Remove from heat and serve hot.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. This can be made one day ahead and reheated in the oven as well.

Recipe Notes

  • I prefer using whole milk but nonfat or 2% will work too. I have not tested this with nondairy milk.
  • I love the kick of hot italian sausage but use your favorite. It’s easiest if you use bulk sausage but you can also use links and squeeze the sausage out of the casing.
  • Cheese: I always use cheddar cheese in this, at least 3 cups. I love mixing other cheeses too for extra flavor (my favorites are sharp cheddar, grueyere, and mozzarella) but use anything you have. I recommend shredding your own cheese for ultimate meltiness.
  • Because of all the salt in the sausage and cheese I do not salt the cheese sauce until after it’s done. Taste and adjust seasoning before adding the pasta.
  • If you want, use one large pot and make the pasta first, drain, then continue. Takes longer but less cleanup.

Recipe Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 64mg | Sodium: 474mg | Potassium: 261mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 424IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 267mg | Iron: 1mg
Nutritional information not guaranteed to be accurate
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

What Goes With Macaroni and Cheese

Last Updated on March 3, 2023



Dorothy Kern

Welcome to Crazy for Crust, where I share recipes that are sometimes crazy, often with a crust, and always served with a slice of life.

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13 Comments

  1. One of my favorite cheeses for Mac & Cheese is Gruyere, especially when I’m mixing cheeses. I always add it to someone else’s recipe, reducing some of the other cheeses. You always need a good cheddar, a good melting cheese such as Monterey Jack, but mozzarella to me is tasteless. Maybe why I’m not a pizza fan.

  2. I noticed your variety of macaroni right away. It made me smile…..& think, “she’s using up partial boxes”. In my case ziplock bags of macaroni in the cupboard. Recipe sounds delish ….& comforting.❤

  3. Nothing is better than comfort food !!! I love this !!! What a great idea to put sausage in it. I used to do the usual good old, plain Jane Mac and Cheese, then I thought I was very clever and added loads of bacon to it, and since the bacon kick, have never changed it, but….I am now going to venture out and do your Sausage trick 🙂 Thanks a million.

  4. I make something similar to this but I add canned pumpkin puree to the sauce. 2-3 big spoonfuls and I always add a little nutmeg with the seasonings. So good! And I just use whatever cheese I have on hand, usually cheddar, colby jack and mozzarella. Sometimes I put sausage in it or I do chicken also or in a pinch I will thaw some frozen turkey meatballs and crumble them up and put in there.

  5. This looks so good! We love sausage, so I’m always looking for new ways to use it!

  6. This is sooo good. I’ve enjoyed it a couple of times that you made it when we were there. I think I’ll agree with Mel that you should put it 2 packs of sausage…yum!

  7. I’m not really big on cheese, but this looks delicious! It did surprise me when I found out what a great cook you are, because, from my experience, great bakers are not often great cooks, and vice versa.