This creamy one-pot mac and cheese recipe is easy to make and requires just one pot. Did I mention that this cheesy bowl of comfort food is ready in just 20 minutes, even when you're camping?
You've been busy exploring the great outdoors all day, and once you're back at camp, everyone is suddenly starving. Enter this comforting pot of classic mac and cheese. It's ready in just 20 minutes, it's satisfying, and it's definitely not something the kiddos will complain about.
Why This Recipe is Great for Camping
- This camping macaroni and cheese recipe requires only one pot and is ready in just 20 minutes. No colander required.
- You can make it on your camp stove or over your campfire.
- It's creamy, comforting, satisfying, kid-friendly, and suitable for vegetarian diets.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Macaroni--You can use any type of pasta here, but I recommend a small shape, such as macaroni or penne.
- Cheddar cheese--For best results, use full-fat cheese and grate it by hand. Preshredded cheese doesn't melt well.
- Heavy cream (not pictured, optional)--Although the addition of cream, half and half, or milk is optional, I highly recommend it. It adds extra creaminess to the pasta.
- Combine the pasta, water, and salt in a Dutch oven.
- Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Cook the pasta until tender, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
- Remove from the heat, and add the cheese, hot sauce, mustard powder, and cream, if using.
- Stir vigorously until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Let the Dutch oven macaroni and cheese stand for 5 minutes before serving.
How to Make This Over a Campfire
To make campfire mac and cheese, set the Dutch oven on a grate over a bed of glowing hot coals or even place it directly in the coals. Depending on how hot your coals are, the pasta may take a few extra minutes to cook.
This Dutch oven macaroni and cheese recipe is perfect as an entree or as a side dish. If you're serving it as a main, a simple green salad tossed with lemon thyme vinaigrette on the side is perfect. As part of a larger meal, serve it with smoked ribs and coleslaw, and skillet apple crisp for dessert.
Nope. That's the beauty of one-pot mac and cheese. Only the total amount of water needed is added in the beginning and gets absorbed into the pasta so you don't need to drain it.
Set your Dutch oven over low heat and rewarm gently, adding a splash of milk or cream to loosen the sauce as it heats.
Tips and Troubleshooting
- Stir the pasta occasionally to avoid sticking.
- To avoid grainy cheese sauce, remove the Dutch oven from the heat before stirring in the cheese.
- It's ok if the sauce is a little thin after stirring in the cheese. It will absorb the sauce and thicken up as it stands.
The Most Important Thing to Remember
The most helpful piece of advice I can give you when making this recipe is to remove the Dutch oven from the heat before adding the cheese. Letting the cheese get too hot can cause it to split, resulting in a grainy sauce. Stir in the cheese immediately after removing the pot from the heat and stir vigorously until you have a smooth sauce.
More Camping Recipes You'll Love
Tried This Recipe?
Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese
- Dutch oven
- 2 cups macaroni
- 2 cups water
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- 8 ounces Cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half, or milk optional
- Combine the macaroni, water, and salt in a Dutch oven.
- Prepare a camp stove, stovetop, grill, or hot campfire coals for medium-high heat. Cover the Dutch oven, set it over the heat and bring to a boil.
- Cook the pasta, stirring frequently, until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. There will still be some liquid left in the Dutch oven at this point.
- Remove from the heat and add the mustard powder, cheese, hot sauce, and cream, if using.
- Stir vigorously until the sauce is smooth and the pasta is evenly coated.
- Let the mac and cheese stand for 5 minutes before serving. The pasta will continue to absorb the sauce.
- Stir, stir, stir--Stir the pasta occasionally to avoid sticking.
- Avoid grainy cheese sauce--Remove the Dutch oven from the heat before stirring in the cheese. Avoid using pre-shredded cheese, and use full fat Cheddar, if possible.
- Let it rest--It's ok if the sauce is a little thin after stirring in the cheese. It will absorb the sauce and thicken up as it stands.