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.
Tips For The Best Homemade Baked Mac And Cheese
- Use block cheese and shred, do not buy the pre-shredded cheese. The pre-shredded cheese is great for so many things but not macaroni and cheese. Its coated and wont melt properly. You need to shred it yourself for the best result.
- Cook your pasta to slightly less than al dente, about one minute shy is perfect. The reason is that this is baked mac and cheese so the pasta will continue to cook in the homemade cheese sauce in the oven. You dont want soggy macaroni.
- I used elbow pasta but really, any tubular past will work.
- This mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux. The roux is super important to getting the creamiest cheese sauce of your life. Here is what you need to look for:
- The roux is whisked together until bubbly and golden.
- Whisk in cold milk not warm to prevent the flour from clumping.
- Cook the roux until you see bubbles on the surface and then continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes before adding the cheese.
How To Keep Mac And Cheese Creamy
I’m sharing a handful of tips to help keep your baked mac and cheese creamy, smooth and saucy.
- First, no eggs. Unlike the Southern-style mac and cheese, this creamy version does not include eggs. The eggs help to “set” the casserole, giving it a firm, dry texture. Since that’s not what we’re going for here, you’ll need to leave out the eggs.
- Next, lots of sauce. We’re not skimping on cheese, milk or cream in this dish. We’ll make plenty of cheese sauce to coat the noodles. It looks like a lot of sauce, but you need that amount in order to keep the dish creamy in the oven.
- Velveeta cheese. That’s right, I said it. Blasphemy?! Maybe! But trust me here: Velveeta melts smoothly into the sauce giving the mac and cheese a rich, creamy texture that you just can’t quite replicate with other types of cheese.
- Baking Time. This casserole goes in the oven at a low temperature for just 15 minutes. This short baking time is important because it’s just long enough to melt the cheese on top and get the noodles hot inside, but it’s not so long that it dries out the pasta and sauce. If you like a crispier crust on top, you can pop it under the broiler for a few minutes at the end.
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Add Liquid To Make A Sauce
After cooking roux, you’ll usually add a liquid ingredient to make a sauce .
To ensure lump-free thickening when making sauces, the liquid ingredient should be cold or room temperature, and slowly whisked into the hot roux. Do this by adding the liquid a little at a time, whisking until smooth between each addition, until the roux forms a thin paste, then whisking in the remaining liquid and bringing the mixture to a simmer. Cold or room temperature roux is simply whisked into a simmering soup or sauce until it dissolves. These methods ensure the roux is incorporated slowly and the mixture will not form lumps.
Roux begins to thicken soon after it is combined with a liquid, but it must be simmered for 10 to 20 minutes in order to reach its full flavor and thickening potential. This additional cooking time allows the flour to soften and absorb the liquid, resulting in a silky smooth soup or sauce. If the simmering time is too short, the flour in the roux will remain grainy.
How Can I Dress Up My Macaroni And Cheese
This baked macaroni and cheese may be the most versatile dish ever. Add in some red pepper for kick, any cheeses you like , add veggies like broccoli and chopped chicken and its a one-dish meal even. Or BACON. Hello. Yeah. Make some garlic bread crumbs for the top if you want some crunch and throw those on. Its really endless.
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Why Is My Mac And Cheese Dry
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 youre baking it. If you want a more creamy sauce, less flour, more regular milk.
Cook The Fat And Flour Together
Begin by heating 2 tablespoons oil or fat in a saucepan over medium heat until a pinch of flour sprinkled into the oil will just begin to bubble.
Then, whisk in 3-1/2 tablespoons of flour to form a thick paste the consistency of cake frosting. Continue whisking as the roux gently bubbles and cooks to the shade desired. Do not allow the roux to bubble too vigorously, or it will burn rather than brown.
What To Serve With Creamy Baked Mac And Cheese
Old-fashioned baked macaroni and cheese is a hearty, delicious and satisfying casserole on its own. Serve it as a dinner entrée and your family will be thrilled! Just add a simple green salad, roasted broccoli, or Southern Collard Greens on the side, or mix in chicken, ham or veggies with the pasta.
The homemade mac and cheese is also an easy side dish that goes well with any of these meals:
Give Cottage Cheese A Try
When you’re considering which cheeses to use for your extra creamy mac and cheese, you might want to consider adding in some cottage cheese. It’ll make the sauce extra creamy and extra cheesy without complicating the overall flavor profile too much. Again, you’ll want some with a tiny bit of fat if possible for the creamiest, richest sauce, but if you can’t swing cottage cheese with fat, the fat-free kind will work as well.
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Special Equipment Used In This Recipe
- Box Grater remember, the best mac starts with freshly shredded cheese!
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Post has been updated in September 2019 with new photos and additional information.
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Making Mac And Cheese Ahead Of Time
- Make as directed , transfer to baking dish and cool completely. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate 1-2 days ahead.
- Before baking, let dish sit on counter for 30 minutes.
- Bake at recipe temperature for 25-35 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
As a caveat, this recipe, as with most mac and cheese recipes, loses some of its creaminess when made ahead. This dish has been tested when made right away, which yields the best results.
I would increase the amount of sauce slightly if you need to make this recipe ahead of time.
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Tips For The Best Mac & Cheese
Freshly grated cheese dont use pre shredded. They have anti caking agents that can make the sauce grainy.
No bloated overcooked pasta Cool macaroni slightly and lightly coat in butter. This stops the macaroni from absorbing more liquid while baking, resulting in bloated overcooked pasta and less sauce.
To avoid lumps in your sauce, stir constantly as you slowly pour the milk in and keep stirring once the milk is all added. If necessary, switch to a switch to get rid of stubborn little lumps!
Plenty of sauce Because I like my Mac and Cheese saucy, not dried up so you can cut it like cake!
Can you make Mac and Cheese ahead of time? Most recipes are not suitable for making ahead, but this recipe is! The best way is to cool pasta then toss with sauce and adding breadcrumb topping. Cool, refrigerate or freeze then bake on the day of .
How long can Mac and Cheese stay in the fridge? Unlike most, this Macaroni Cheese recipe is good for 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Most Mac and Cheese will not keep well because theres not enough sauce so it gets absorbed by the pasta and youre left with dry, sauceless pasta.
Freezing? Yes! Assemble, cool, do not bake, just freeze it. Thaw then on the day of, bake per Note 5 in the recipe.
Add ins? This recipe is great as it is, but theres tons of add-in options. Add shredded chicken, sautéed onion and bell peppers/capsicum, bacon, hot sauce , dried herbs of choice.
Perfect Mac And Cheese In 5 Steps:
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Faqs About Homemade Mac And Cheese
This mac and cheese recipe is one of my most popular, so here are some of the commonly asked questions.
How do you store mac and cheese?
Store the leftovers of this homemade mac and cheese recipe in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Since it thickens as it cools, you may need to add 1-2 TBS of milk when it’s reheated it to restore its original creaminess.
Can homemade mac and cheese be frozen?
Yes, you can freeze this homemade mac and cheese, however I don’t recommend it. Since this mac and cheese recipe is so easy to make, there’s really no need to freeze it. If you’re looking for a freezer-friendly mac and cheese recipe check out my baked mac and cheese!
What main dish goes well with mac and cheese?
If you’re looking to serve this mac and cheese recipe as a side dish instead of the main event, here are some suggestions for other dishes that pair well with it: meatloaf
Easy Macaroni And Cheese
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Best Cheese For Mac And Cheese
A combination of Gruyere and mozzarella cheese. Gruyerefor the most superior flavour with the best melting qualities for creamy sauces such as this theres no contention in my view. And mozzarella for stretch nothing does the cheese pull like a good mozzarella!
But honestly, any cheese that melts well works is excellent with Mac and Cheese, such as cheddar, tasty, Colby, Swiss, Pepper Jack, Emmental.
Do You Put Pepper In Mac And Cheese
This blend of spices would pack a little bit of heat and tang to your creamy mac and cheese. These spices will cut through the hearty flavor of the cheese and butter. Simply add ½ teaspoons of cayenne, black pepper, and dry mustard with a dash of nutmeg to a mixture of 1 egg and 1 cup of heavy cream.
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Tips For The Best Macaroni And Cheese Youll Ever Eat
Feel like you may still need some help? If you have time, jump over to this post for the juicy details: 18 Secrets to the Richest, Creamiest Mac and Cheese Youll Ever Eat or focus on these tips:
Never stop stirring your milk once it hits the pan. If your skillet is too hot or you walk away and for a minute you could scorch the white sauce and it will curdle. It doesnt really hurt the taste, but it will look sort of clumpy. Some readers have called it grainy. It only takes 5 minutes. Just hang out and stir until that sauce is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.
Use good cheese in your baked macaroni and cheese. That means avoiding bagged, pre-shredded cheeses because they contain cellulose that can in some cases cause your cheese not to melt as it should. -And speaking of cheese, you have so many options! My favorite is sharp cheddar and Swiss.
Do taste as you go. Taste your cheese sauce before you add your pasta. Is it bland? That can be because of the cheese you used or even the kind of salt you seasoned with. If it doesnt have enough flavor, add a pinch more salt, stir it in and taste it again until it suits you.
-Feel free to add more pasta if you want to. Some people say that this recipe doesnt have enough noodles in it, but Ive never had that problem. And yes, you should cook your pasta before adding it to the cheese sauce.
Baked Macaroni And Cheese Recipes
There are as many different baked macaroni and cheese recipes as there are home cooks. In the South, baked mac and cheese is typically just a simple combination of pasta, eggs, butter, milk and cheese. The eggs set up to create a firm casserole that you can slice into squares to serve. If you prefer that style dish, try my favorite Southern Baked Mac and Cheese recipe. This recipe, by contrast, uses a roux to make a creamy béchamel that coats the noodles in sauce. If you’re looking for the ultimate creamy baked mac and cheeserecipe, then you’ve come to the right place!
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The Best Cheese For Mac And Cheese
Sharp Cheddar is my first choice for flavor however you can certainly use your favorite cheeses. Mix it up and use a bit of gruyere, or even pepper jack for a little kick. If you have bits of cheese leftover, you can combine them all together in this easy homemade cheese sauce.
This recipe has a special ingredient that is a little bit unconventional but makes it extra yummy AND it is optional. The addition of cheddar cheese soup makes the sauce a little bit extra velvety and just adds a little something. I think its much better than Mac and cheese with Velveeta! Give it a try! .
How To Make Homemade Mac And Cheese
Making homemade macaroni and cheese is surprisingly easy and quick!
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