Creamy Homemade Macaroni And Cheese
You are going to love this Creamy Homemade Macaroni and Cheese recipe, because it is so easy to make and tastes infinitely better than anything you can buy at the store. All you need are a few simple ingredients and just 20 minutes to make the best macaroni and cheese ever.
Mac n cheese is the ultimate comfort food. After trying this super-easy, super-creamy macaroni and cheese recipe, you will never go back to the boxed stuff again!
How To Make Single
In under 20 minutes, youll have rich cheesy mac and cheese for one, portion-controlled and so good you could cry. And if you are feeling extra hungry or want to make it for two or more, the recipe sizes up with just a slightly longer cooking time .
How To Measure Pasta For This Recipe
Sometimes a reader or two has had an issue with how much pasta this recipe needs. This recipe is written by volume and sometimes people think that since a cup is 8 ounces that they can simply use 12-16 ounces of pasta or go by the weight of the dry pasta written on the box.
Youll end up with problems if you do this. Please follow the volume instructions and measure your pasta dry in a measuring cup meant for dry items . Small pastas like ditalini or little wagon wheels can go up to about 2 cups and be fine in the recipe, and large ones like bow tie or cellentani can as well. If you will stick to elbow pasta until you get the hang of things youll be better off.
Ive made this recipe with every pasta shape on the market and if you will measure in cups, your recipe will be just right.
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How To Make Homemade Mac And Cheese Step By Step Photos
Start by shredding an 8oz. block of sharp cheddar. Its very important to shred the cheese yourself instead of using pre-shredded cheese. For more information on that, see the section above the recipe titled Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese.
Next, boil 8oz. of macaroni according to the box directions . Drain the macaroni in a colander.
You can start the cheese sauce either while the macaroni is boiling, or wait until its draining and just make it in the same pot to save on dishes. Add 3 Tbsp butter, 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour, and ½ tsp onion powder to the pot.
Place the pot over medium heat and allow the butter to melt. Whisk the butter, flour, and onion powder together as the mixture begins to get bubbly and frothy. Cook and whisk for about one minute after it becomes bubbly.
Whisk 2 cups of milk into the butter and flour roux. Continue whisking as the milk begins to heat .
Allow the milk to come up to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream or gravy. Turn the burner off at this point.
Season the sauce with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp hot sauce, or the seasonings of your choice .
Begin adding 8oz. shredded cheddar to the pot, one handful at a time, whisking until it is completely melted before adding more. If the sauce cools down too much to continue melting the cheese, you can put it over low heat briefly, but avoid allowing the sauce to simmer again. Overheating cheese sauces will cause them to break and become grainy and oily.
Finishing The Ultimate Make
Once the cheese sauce was ready, I added the cooked macaroni. I stirred the mixture until the macaroni was nicely coated.
Then, I poured the macaroni into a greased casserole dish.
I topped the macaroni and cheese with additional Cheddar cheese and sprinkled on the Panko breadcrumbs. Finally, I dotted the top with some butter.
At this point, I covered the macaroni and cheese and refrigerated it for the next day. I could have gone ahead and baked it at this point as well.
The next day, I baked the macaroni and cheese in a 375° F oven for about 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, it was hot and bubbly, and the top was golden brown.
The Ultimate Make Ahead Macaroni and Cheese was out of this world. It was creamy, cheesy, and full of flavor. Yum!
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Macaroni And Cheese Variations
This recipe is easy to adapt to other variations. Here are some of our favorites:
Baked Mac and Cheese: Once the pasta and cheese sauce are combined, add it to a baking dish and bake with a little more cheese and breadcrumbs sprinkled on top. We shared this Baked Macaroni and Cheese a while back.
Garlic Mac and Cheese: Fresh garlic and roasted garlic are excellent in this recipe. Add either to the butter just before adding the flour. For fresh, Id use 2 to 3 cloves. For roasted garlic, you can increase to 6 cloves or more. See our recipe for making roasted garlic.
Use a Variety of Cheeses: Cheddar isnt the only cheese to use. Try easy melting Gruyere, Fontina or Monterey Jack. For more flavor, a bit of parmesan or pecorino cheese is lovely, and for a more adult dish, try blue cheese!
Spiced Macaroni and Cheese: Mustard , nutmeg, and a pinch of cayenne pepper are classic additions to the cheese sauce. Smoked paprika is also delicious.
Broccoli Mac and Cheese: A kid favorite! Stir roasted broccoli or steamed broccoli into the pot before serving. Heres how we make roasted broccoli.
Lighter Mac and Cheese: Swapping half of the cheese sauce for pureed cauliflower cuts calories and still tastes incredible.
Quick Mac And Cheese For One
A quick recipe for mac and cheese for one. Easy, cheesy, and oh so good.
Is it lunchtime? Is it dinner time? Are you starving? Do you need a mac and cheese fix? Yes? Well, Ive got just the thing for you: mac and cheese for one.
This homemade macaroni and cheese is just as quick as the kind that comes out of a box, is one thousand times more delicious, and wont leave you with a mass of gross congealed leftovers.
I grew up in a boxed mac and cheese household, and just like when I learned how to make homemade mashed potatoes, when I discovered how easy homemade macaroni and cheese was to make, I had no idea why we hadnt just been making it from scratch all along.
It takes exactly the same amount of time, and if you keep a basic stocked kitchen, cheese and any sort of pasta in your house, YOU HAVE THE INGREDIENTS TO MAKE THIS.
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Homemade Macaroni And Cheese Ingredients:
- Cream Cheese: I use this to help make the cheese sauce a bit creamier and a little more stable, not as likely to break when reheated and the macaroni and cheese reheats nicer, its not as greasy.
- Seasoning: garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard, salt and pepper.
- Elbow Noodles: I typically use small elbow noodles, but you can use large also.
Variations Of Mac And Cheese
- Bacon if you love bacon, feel free to add some crispy, crumbled bacon to the topping, or even inside the mac and cheese as well!
- Stovetop if youd prefer not to bake this mac and cheese, you dont have to! Make sure you boil your pasta until al dente , and youll only need about 3 3 1/2 cups of cheese total. No need to layer the pasta and cheese, just add all the cheese to the sauce, then combine with the pasta.
- Different Toppings Im a huge fan of the cheese layer on top, since it gets nice and crispy, but we also love tossing 1 cup of panko with 2 Tbsp of melted butter and using that as a topping. 1 cup of crushed Ritz crackers with 2 Tbsp of butter work amazingly well too!
- Different Baking Times the recipe calls for a lower baking temperature and time, but most of the time I find myself adjusting that based on my familys tastes. I like to bake this mac and cheese at 350 F degrees for 30 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes to get that glorious cheesy crust.
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Homemade Baked Mac And Cheese
There is absolutely nothing I love more than cheese. And when you add pasta to it? Fuggetaboutit.
Mac and cheese is one of those recipes that can take on so many different forms. I love it anyway I can get it but baked mac and cheese is my very favorite and Ill tell you why The topping. I use breadcrumbs for my topping occasionally, but, a Panko topped mac and cheese is just that much better.
I mix in Parmesan, butter, and paprika with the Panko so it crisps up beautifully and gets a nice golden brown color when this amazing homemade mac and cheese is baked.
Im going to be honest here. When I make mac and cheese, its the mac to cheese ratio that I am most concerned about. I love it when the mac and cheese is oeey gooey and the cheese sauce is just so creamy. GIMME.
With all this cheese going on in this macaroni and cheese recipe, I need a little help from my KitchenAid Deluxe Stand Mixer and its handy dandy Fresh Prep Slice/Shredder attachment. I picked up this beauty at Walmart this past week and I am in LOOOOOVE. I was torn between the options: SILVER | COBALT | PISTACHIO. But, when I pictured them in my kitchen, I knew I had to go with the cobalt its just stunning!
I use my stand mixer about 954 times each week. Being a food blogger and mom means Im in my kitchen a lot baking up goodies and whipping up amazing dinners like this homemade baked mac and cheese. I am always, always looking for help in the kitchen and the Kitchen Aid Deluxe Stand Mixer is the answer.
The Role Of A Roux In Mac And Cheese
At its heart, mac and cheese is just that pasta and cheese. But on its own, cheese doesnt make for a great sauce. When its hot it tends to be sticky and stringy. As it cools a little, it can hold together alright, but then as it cools more it tends to get firm and clumpy.
To overcome this, most mac and cheese recipes use a white sauce to carry the cheese. The role of flour is to thicken the white sauce.
When flour, or more specifically the starch in flour, is exposed to water, it absorbs the water and swells. This is the fundamental process behind how flour thickens a sauce. So why not just throw flour into a sauce to thicken it?
When starch absorbs water, it doesnt just swell. It also clumps or sticks together. And hey presto, youve got a grainy or lumpy sauce! Yuck.
This is where the butter comes in. When you first cook the flour in fat, it coats the starch particles. This prevents them from sticking together, but it doesnt stop them from absorbing liquid. This allows each starch molecule to swell up and move freely around your sauce, which thickens it without becoming grainy. Exactly what we want!
Recommended Reading: How To Make Easy Cheese Sauce
Read Also: Is Kraft Mozzarella Cheese Vegetarian
How Long To Bake Mac And Cheese
There is only one rule that you need to remember when baking mac and cheese: dont bake it too long otherwise youll bake away the sauce leaving you with a dry mixture.
Baking it at around 20 minutes at 375 degrees F guarantees you that same stretchy cheesy baked mac and cheese with all the heart-melting sauce. Or you can also bake it at 30 minutes at 350 F
Although weve tried a couple of Mac and Cheese recipes, nothing compares to this one which has a smooth silky sauce that permeates every inch of elbow macaroni there is.
Youd fall head over heels with the brimming Southern flavors of what this baked mac and cheese has to offer. Its got a note of heat and smokiness. Youd need a bigger a spoon, for sure!
This would be delightful at any time. Oh, especially during these cold winter months. So dont wait for special occasions to whip up a pan of this.
Heck, you could even make this on the daily. You can also explore different southern comfort food ideas to prepare every day! Go ahead, take a bite, nobodys looking.
Cooking Tips For Baked Mac And Cheese
- Boiling the pasta cook the pasta less than you normally would. I like to boil my elbow pasta for between 4 and 5 minutes. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, and you dont want it to get mushy.
- Use room temp liquids if you can cold liquids generally take longer to thicken than warmer ones. I usually set my milk and half and half out while the water for the pasta is coming up to a boil.
- The cheeses use your favorites! Our personal favorites are the cheddar and gruyere used in this recipe, but you can be very creative with the cheese selection here. Mozzarella, gouda, smoked gouda, swiss, monterey jack, colby jack, colby. There are plenty of reader comments down below the recipe that talk about the cheeses they used!
- Shred your own I know its a pain, and its SO tempting to use the pre-shredded cheese in the bags. But those bags of cheese contain a starchy substance that keeps the cheese from clumping which also prohibits it from melting as well as it should.
Read Also: Wisconsin Brick Cheese Alternative
Creamy Macaroni And Cheese With Bacon And Peas
The Chunky Chef03/19/2015
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Okay guys, let me guess one of your kids favorite meals probably chicken nuggets, and Id guess macaroni and cheese too. Am I right? Thought so lol. My kids LOVE mac and cheese. Of all forms, all flavors, even the Kraft easy mac that you microwave. They go nuts. So over the years Ive made several varieties of homemade mac and cheese, to try to get them to please for the love of all things holy, eat something I cooked for you!!.
This macaroni and cheese dish isnt just for the kids it has some grown up flavors, and its a little bit healthier. Although, as youre eating it, you wont be able to taste that its healthier all youll taste is a deliciously creamy sauce and some amazing flavors. Want to know the secret?
Yep, almond milk! Do you guys drink this stuff? Its actually pretty good and its really good for you
You can choose any pasta shape that you like for this macaroni and cheese classic elbows, some penne, rotini, anything! I love the curly and fun shape of cavatappi Part of the unique flavors of this dish comes from the cheeses used the white cheese you see there is gruyere. It. Is. Amazing! Its rich, nutty, and delicious. I paired it with a sharp cheddar.
I chose to garnish mine simply with just a few extra crumbles of bacon, but it would also be delicious with some fresh chopped chives or just some minced parsley.
I hope you all try this one
Macaroni And Cheese Is Too Dry
Why is my macaroni and cheese so dry? I mix 3 tablespoons of flour and 1 stick of butter in a saucepan and let it melt. Then I add 1.5 cans Carnation milk, 2 cups cheese, and 1-8oz package of cream cheese, stir and add to macaroni. Please tell me what I am doing wrong.
What do you mean by dry? Too much pasta and too little sauce?Or next day sauce “gone”? The too much too little scenario is easy, decrease or increase as needed. Next day sauce “gone” means the pasta absorbed it, reserve some of the cheese sauce for a refresher for left overs, or rejuvenate with regular milk.
I think the simple solution is more plain milk or water in your recipe. Might back off a tablespoon of the flour too, which just thickens it to glop. The starch in the macaroni without any flour should thicken it fine if you’re baking it. If you want a more creamy sauce, less flour, more regular milk. A “classic” southern baked mac n cheese has an egg it, which makes for a very rich, dish, but the texture is almost more like a custard with the egg.
Can I Freeze Macaroni And Cheese
I get asked that a lot and my answer is always no. As the pasta and cheese sauce sit, it will thicken and when you thaw it and bake it, the creamy consistency is just gone. Its thick and gloppy. Plus if you freeze it and its still a bit warm, water crystals will form and then thaw into your dish and could make it separate when you bake it. Besides, its so fast to make, theres not really a reason to freeze your macaroni and cheese.