Be Careful With The Roux
Though a roux is important for thickening up your cheese sauce, you want to make sure that you don’t add too much of your flour and butter mixture because otherwise the sauce can get too thick, which negatively impacts the creaminess. Too much butter and flour will make your sauce more like glue than a creamy, rich sauce.
The Best Mac And Cheese Recipe
Theres nothing like homemade mac and cheese, am I right? What makes the perfect mac and cheese in your opinion? Good ol Kraft right out of the box? Homemade thick and cheesy on the stovetop? Baked with a crispy topping and lots of ingredients inside?
I think its a bit different for everyone, but let me tell you about my perfect mac and cheese. I like a thick and creamy perfectly flavorful cheese sauce like my picture above shows. If that sounds good to you, then you will LOVE this recipe too
See my Bacon Mac and Cheese Recipe too! Be sure to follow Picky Palate on Instagram for daily recipe inspiration!
Choose Your Cheeses Thoughtfully
You might think you can just throw whatever cheeses you happen to have in the fridge into your mac and cheese, and, to a certain extent that’s true. But if you’re looking to make the creamiest mac and cheese you possibly can, you’ll want to be a little more discerning. A cheese like Parmesan, for instance, isn’t going to melt super well, meaning it’s better for a topper than for your creamy cheese sauce. Cheddar and similar cheeses that melt well will make your sauce the creamiest it can be.
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Stovetop Mac And Cheese
The most popular approach is to make your mac and cheese entirely on the stovetop.
Most of the stovetop recipes are based on the same basic process:
Thats not to say its simple though. Making a roux is fiddly and time consuming. So why do it?
How To Thicken Mac And Cheese
Usually, mac and cheese come with tomato sauce and bacon, which gives the dish a smoky and salty flavor. However, sometimes you are looking to make your mac and cheese more creamy to get that gravy-like texture.
Its not very difficult to accomplish this and its also not very time-consuming. The question then arises: how do you thicken mac and cheese?
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How To Make Mac And Cheese Without Flour
Everyone loves mac & cheese, but making a roux takes time and can be a pain to get right. No one wants grainy mac and cheese!
Read on to discover how to make mac and cheese without flour, but also how to make a better roux.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Tips To Make The Best Baked Mac And Cheese
To make the best and easy baked mac and cheese without roux or extra flour, make sure to use the best quality macaroni pasta shells .
I recommend using the regular kind of pasta shells for this for the best results.
I am not sure if gluten free pasta or any other kind of pasta like whole wheat pasta or chickpea pasta will work for this recipe since I havent tried them myself.
Sof if you are not on a specific diet, stick with regular macaroni pasta shells for this baked mac and cheese recipe.
The kind of cheese that you use for this baked mac and cheese recipe is very important as it decides the flavor and cheesy texture of the baked mac and cheese.
Make sure to use the recommended amount of cheese for the recipe, or it may not turn out good.
The cheese in the dish helps the pasta to thicken so if you use less cheese, it may end up with a lot of liquid mess. To avoid this, make sure to use the recommended amount of cheese!
Also,it is very important to use good quality cheese.
If you can, it is always best to shred the cheese yourself at home.
If you use packaged shredded cheese, make sure you are familiar with the cheese that you are using and its good for baking.
Because some of the shredded cheese comes with extra ingredients and may make the pasta dry when it cooks.
So use the cheese that you normally use for pasta dishes so you know its of good quality!
Below you can read the no boil easy baked mac and cheese recipe in detail.
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How To Make A Roux
First time making a roux? No problem! Check out this super simple tutorial:
Congrats, youve made your roux! This will give your mac the thick and creamy texture youre looking for.
Common Mistakes When Making Mac And Cheese
Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when attempting to prepare this recipe:
A simple mistake is not cooking macaroni long enough after you boil it in salted water, but once its done drain it and youll have avoided this mistake altogether.
This way, youll be able to tell if your pasta is cooked.
In this particular case, the mistake is to avoid clumping, however, what you shouldnt do is to mix your pasta too much before adding it to the pot. If you do this, the pasta will become cakey instead of creamy.
The amount of cheese used in some recipes is not enough For four cups of macaroni, many recipes will state 1/2 pound of cheddar cheese.
Yet, if you dont have a very hot stove , a pound of butter is usually adequate.
Not waiting long enough for the cheese to melt If you use your crockpot, then your dish will take about 4 to 6 hours to boil. However, if you use the stovetop method , then it shouldnt take more than 30 minutes.
When preparing a dish, it is imperative to avoid overworking the batter with too much flour, especially when you will not be making a roux.
Alternatively, cornstarch can be substituted for flour.
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How To Make A Mornay Sauce
This is the same base I use for my Homemade alfredo sauce as well. Alfredo is made with parmesan while I use a few different cheeses for my Mac and Cheese.
I always use some type of cheddar traditional cheddar will give you a classic yellow mac and cheese. I typically use white extra sharp cheddar, Gruyere and Monterey Jack cheese.
I buy blocks and shred the cheese myself for a smoother sauce and better flavor. The pre shredded cheese tends to have less flavor had have a coating to keep them separated that I dont love in my cheese sauce.
Take the sauce off the heat and add the cheese in batches while stirring. Next taste the salt and see if it needs any additional salt! Then add it to the pasta.
Easy Homemade Mac And Cheese
This Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe is made with 8 ingredients in 15 minutes on the stovetop ! Time to ditch the boxed mac and cheese for this irresistibly creamy, smooth & cheesy homemade recipe!
I have six kids and a husband with a taste palate of a 12-year-old-boy, which means we eat a lot of mac and cheese in our house. A lot of mac and cheese.
So naturally I created this easy homemade mac and cheese recipe so that we could consume less of the boxed varieties. Because I really care about feeding my family healthy meals that they actually enjoy! And did I mention that they love mac and cheese?!
Once you taste this homemade mac and cheese you and your family will say “goodbye” to powdered cheese forever, and say “hello” to this creamy dreamy real-cheese version again and again!
This homemade mac and cheese recipe is made with only 8 ingredients in 15 minutes! That’s the same amount of time it takes to make the boxed varieties, but with no preservatives or artificial ingredients!
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Avoiding A Grainy Mac And Cheese
The most common issue people face is a sauce thats grainy, gritty or lumpy. As weve seen, there are a few key things to remember to avoid this:
- Use clarified butter for your roux, or gently simmer off the water in normal butter first.
- Add the milk in small amounts, mixing each addition through before adding more.
- Use freshly grated cheese.
- Lower the heat before adding your cheese.
- Add cheese in small amounts, melting and mixing through each addition thoroughly before adding more.
- Stir constantly while making your roux, making your white sauce and adding your cheese.
Attention to these details will go a long way to ensuring your mac and cheese is smooth and creamy.
Making Mac And Cheese With And Without Flour
You have a few choices for how to approach your homemade macaroni and cheese:
- Stovetop. Make your mac and cheese completely on the stovetop.
- Oven-baked. Embracing the southern style, make your mac and cheese in the oven.
- Combination approach. Best of both worlds, maybe? Make your cheese sauce on the stove, then bake the whole lot in the oven for a golden top.
But if youre looking to make your mac and cheese without flour, your best option is one of the Southern oven-baked recipes. They take a totally different approach to thickening the sauce, but still produce delicious results.
These and the other recipes without flour are listed separately below.
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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
Experimenting With Homemade Mac And Cheese
For me, boxed mac was the gateway drug that led to years of experimentation. Steps on my journey included:
- Adding different real cheeses to boxed mac .
- Toying with the ratio of milk, butter, cream, and salt in my own early recipes.
- And while my fellow teens were having a goth phase, I was having a Velveeta phase.
Im glad those days are history, because now that were grown-ups, we dont ever have to settle for anything less than the Creamiest Mac and Cheese ever again.
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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.
How To Make Macaroni And Cheese
Learn how to make delicious homemade macaroni and cheese using our fool-proof ingredient ratio and easy step-by-step instructions.
Macaroni and cheese is quintessential comfort food, but if youve only ever had the blue box variety, youre really missing out! Whether stovetop or baked, weve got the formula for getting creamy, delicious results every time.
Read on for tips on choosing the right pasta and cheeses, and get our step-by-step instructions for making the perfect mac and cheese sauce.
In This Post:
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Best Cheese For Mac And Cheese
Very simply, the best cheese for making homemade Mac and Cheese is using a combination with one cheese that melts very well along with a cheese that has an intense flavor. In the years of making Mac and Cheese from scratch my familys favorite combination is soft mozzarella and Kerrygold Cheese. Here are a few more options within each category that you can mix and match.
Melting Cheeses Ideal for Mac and Cheese
- Soft Mozzarella
My Family Loves This Creamy Homemade Mac And Cheese
This incredible Mac and Cheese recipe seriously only takes 15 minutes to make and uses just one pot. Its just a little more work than a boxed mix, but the flavor is 100x better. Its made with all regular, real ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.
I use a mixture of sharp cheddar cheese and white cheddar cheese, however this recipe is easily adapted to use whatever meltable cheese is in your fridge. You can also add in your favorite fancy mix-ins, for an elevated dinner!
Its a dream come true for any of you fellow Mac and Cheese lovers out there just wait till you try this recipe! I bet you wont have any leftovers.
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When Should You Use A Roux
There are several categories of roux: light roux , brown roux and dark roux. Different types of roux result depending on how long you cook the flour and fat the type of roux youll make depends on whether you need it to act more as a thickening agent or to impart flavor.
White and blond roux are cooked for just enough time to eliminate the raw taste of the flour, but not so long that the roux starts to brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. White roux is used to thicken sauces such as béchamel, cheese sauces and white gravy, as well as creamy soups and chowders.
Brown and dark roux are cooked for longer and have more flavor. The longer the roux is cooked, the darker in color it gets and the more its toasty, nutty aromas and flavors will come out. A roux starts to brown after about 6 or 7 minutes. Brown roux is classically used in perfect gravies. Dark roux is cooked longer, about 8 to 15 minutes, and is commonly used in Creole and Cajun cuisine to flavor dishes such as gumbo or jambalaya. Brown and dark roux are typically runnier in consistency and have less thickening properties than white or blond roux.
How To Make It
Im going to walk you through how I make mac and cheese in my own kitchen. If you want to watch me do it, theres a quick recipe video above that shows each step.
Step 1, Warm milk in a saucepan or in the microwave. Warm milk helps to make the whole sauce making process go a bit quicker and according to Julia Child, warm milk prevents a lumpy cheese sauce.
Step 2, Make a roux with butter and flour. Basically a roux is a cooked paste made with butter and flour. When milk is added later in the recipe, its this butter-flour paste that helps the cheese sauce to thicken.
Step 3, Whisk in the milk and thicken the sauce. When the roux is a golden color and smells nutty , I whisk in the warm milk. As the milk heats up with the roux, it thickens and turns silky smooth.
Step 4, Adds spices and the cheese. When the milk is a silky thickened sauce, I whisk in a few spices and the shredded cheese. When the cheese has melted into the sauce, I always taste and check for seasoning. Its likely that some salt needs to be added.
Step 5, Stir in slightly undercooked pasta, add to a baking dish, and bake. As I mentioned above, I undercook my pasta by 2 minutes, drain, and then rinse it of excess starches. This makes sure that my sauce stays creamy while it bakes in the oven. The macaroni and cheese bakes for about 30 minutes.
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How To Make Baked Mac And Cheese