The Best Homemade Baked Mac And Cheese
The BEST Homemade Mac and Cheese of your LIFE. Outrageously cheesy, ultra creamy, and topped with a crunchy Panko-Parmesan topping, this mac and cheese recipe is most definitely a keeper. I used three different cheese and a homemade cheese sauce to take this macaroni and cheese recipe over the top. Love cheesy recipes? Make sure to try this Lazy Day Lasagna and Cheesy Kielbasa Rice and Broccoli Skillet next week for dinner!
This post is sponsored by Walmart and SheKnows Media.
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!
Is Baked Mac And Cheese Better Than Stovetop
Although stovetop mac and cheese cooks faster, baked mac and cheese has an unrivaled and addictive cheesy and crispy topping.
Proving that faster isnt always better!
Baked macaroni and cheese is a Southern family favorite because its hearty, easy to make, and kids love it! Its delicious as soon as it comes out of the oven.
This recipe for oven-baked mac and cheese will have you coming back for seconds and thirds!
Its the perfect recipe to try at home when youre feeling bored with your usual pasta dinner routine or youre ready for a soul food take on an old classic!
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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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Baking Mac And Cheese
- Baking macaroni and cheese is optional. I always bake my mac and cheese further as it tastes so good. But if you dont have an oven or the time, then just mix and serve.
- Do top with breadcrumbs when baking as they add a lovely crispy and crunchy layer.
- Feel free to add seasonings, herbs and spices of your choice. I keep it simple with crushed black pepper and a bit of ground nutmeg. A dash of mustard powder also perks up the flavor.
- To add some fiber and extra nutrition to in the dish, simply mix in some steamed veggies.
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Baked Macaroni And Cheese
Baked macaroni and cheese doesnt have to be complicated with layers of ingredients to be the soul-warming food you crave. This homemade baked macaroni and cheese is my most favorite and has pleased crowds, small families, kids and picky eaters alikegive it a try and youll see why.
Sometimes you buy that glowing yellow macaroni in the box. Your kids like it, but it glows like the kryptonite they used in the old Christoper Reeve Superman movies.
Thats not normal people.
And I hate to break it to you, but theres nothing real in that box either.
I hate feeding it to my kids and I dare say that you hate it too. But I can also guess you dont know many other alternatives. Sure, you can get a box of Velveeta and melt that over some noodles. That works too, but that stuff doesnt even need to be refrigerated. Its mystery cheese.
So if youre looking for the real deal, the old school baked macaroni and cheese the way your grandma might have made itthis is it.
And just so you know, aside from the baking, this easy macaroni and cheese took 15 minutes and only two pans to make. One for boiling the pasta and a good enameled cast iron pan for the sauce and the baking cuts down on dishes. So yes, even you can make this on a week night.
Can You Freeze Mac And Cheese
Yes. Regardless of the preparation type, macaroni and cheese can be frozen. Due to its high dairy content, careful precaution needs to be taken to ensure it remains safe to eat and keeps its appetizing texture upon defrosting.
To prevent mac and cheese from flavor or textural changes in the freezer, it is important to protect the dish from freezer burn. Keep the temperature consistent throughout the length of the storage period.
Problems you could have if you do not prepare the dish properly for freezing, include soggy pasta, secretion of watery liquids, or a dry end product. Below, you will find out exactly how to go about freezing your mac and cheese for an on-hand comforting cheesy meal at any time.
What To Serve With Baked Mac And Cheese
Mac and Cheese is worthy of serving as a meal in its own right, served with just a fresh green salad or simple vegetable side. Nothing heavy because Macaroni Cheese is so rich as it is!
As a side dish, it will compliment virtually any non-Asian main dish. From simple Baked Pork Chops to Steak, a Roast Chicken to Crispy Garlic Chicken Thighs, the only things I probably would not serve with Mac and Cheese would be very light summery mains such as a Tuna Tartare just a little too much contrast.
And of course, festive gatherings! Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter alongside a grand Roast Turkey or your Herb & Garlic Butter Slathered Turkey Breast, the juicy Roast Pork with impossibly Crispy Crackling or your Prime Rib thats so perfectly blushing pink all the way through, it makes you want to weep.
Holidays would not be the same without this Mac and Cheese!! Nagi xx
Do I Have To Bake My Macaroni And Cheese
Nope, you dont! Its thick, creamy, and tantalizing even if you dont bake it. If you dont want to bake your mac and cheese, just stop at this step!
Once your noodles and sauce are combined, transfer them to a baking dish
Top with panko additional cheese and panko style bread crumbs.
Bake at 400 degrees for around 15 minutes, or until the top is browned and bubbly.
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Homemade Macaroni And Cheese: What Kind Of Cheese Should I Use
I honestly use different cheese combinations almost every time I make this mac and cheese recipe but the one I always come back to is sharp cheddar and Gruyere. If you cant find Gruyere, Jarlsberg Swiss cheese is the best substitute. Other cheese that work: mozzarella, jack cheese or pepper jack for a little zip, American and Velveeta as well for a creamier cheese sauce. This baked mac and cheese uses 6 cups of cheese so just
To add even more flavor to my homemade mac and cheese, I add Parmesan to the Panko topping so good!
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.
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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.
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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Can I Make This Macaroni And Cheese Ahead And Bake It When Im Ready
Yes you sure can. Just let it cool down, put some plastic wrap right against the surface of the mac and cheese and stick it in the fridge. If you have a few minutes to bring it out and let it warm slightly before you bake it, do that. But if you cant, just bake it till the center is hot and the edges are bubbling.
How To Defrost Cooked Mac And Cheese
Step 1: Thaw
Take the mac and cheese out of the freezer and place it in the fridge to thaw overnight.
Step 2: Remove Wrapping
Once thawed, remove the cling film and foil wrapping. Keep the foil wrapping aside as you may use it again later.
Step 3: Heat
Now that the mac and cheese is thawed, you can choose to heat it in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in the oven. If the mac and cheese is dry after defrosting, you can add one tablespoon of milk when reheating to add moisture.
Heating in the microwave: Put your thawed and unwrapped mac and cheese in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 1 to 2 minutes at a time, stopping to stir it between increments. Continue until it is heated through.
Heating on the stovetop: Place your thawed and unwrapped mac and cheese in a pot adding a few tablespoons of milk to the serving. Heat on medium-low while stirring to ensure that it is evenly heated through.
Heating in the oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F . Transfer your thawed and unwrapped mac and cheese to an oven-safe dish. Covering the dish with foil will keep it moist. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the portion size.
If you wish to have a crispy topping, remove the foil after it is heated through and top with breadcrumbs and cheese. Place the dish under the grill for 2 to 5 minutes just until it turns golden brown.
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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.
What Type Of Cheese
This classic mac and cheese recipe is made with cheddar cheese. I particularly love medium or sharp cheddar cheese but any type will do. If you want a more luxurious mac and cheese or youre really trying to impress a crowd, you could use a combination of different cheeses. Just be sure to select a type of cheese that is good for melting, like white cheddar, smoked gouda, gruyere, brie, goat cheese, mozzarella, or fontina.
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My Love Affair With Mac And Cheese
I have a mini love affair with mac and cheese. As a child, I would take it any way I could get it out of a box or made from scratch by Mom. Wait what am I saying, I do that now Mounds of cheese melted into a velvety, creamy sauce and tossed with pasta. Yes, please!
There are lots of recipes for macaroni and cheese in the world and to be completely honest, Id probably love most of them. That said, I do think there are a few key elements for the best mac and cheese.
Is Mac And Cheese Unhealthy
Mac and cheese isnt necessarily unhealthy, but it depends on the recipe some recipes are worse than others. Macaroni and cheese does have a good amount of protein from all the milk and cheese. However, the calories can add up quickly, so its important to keep your portion size in check.
I also added spinach, which is another good source of fiber. Not to mention, spinach is packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. The reduced fat cheese and skim milk help keep the calorie count down. A one-cup serving of this healthy mac and cheese comes in at just under 300 calories.
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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 A Bread Crumb Topping
Combine the following and sprinkle over your casserole before baking.
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 tablespoon parsley
This recipe makes an extra saucy creamy macaroni. Do not over-bake this recipe. You want it creamy and rich, over-baking will cause it to dry out. I find that 20 minutes is perfect in my oven, the cheese sauce will thicken slightly while standing.
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How To Make Baked Mac And Cheese With Velveeta
This homemade mac and cheese is an ideal side dish that you can prep ahead for special holidays like Thanksgiving or for large family suppers. Assemble it in advance and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days! You can also serve the mac and cheese as a main course for dinner. Throw in some shredded chicken or diced ham, add veggies like steamed broccoli or frozen peas, and you’ve got a delicious and satisfying meal in one pan. The simple, old-fashioned combination of pasta and cheese is always crowd-pleasing!
How Do You Make Southern Baked Mac And Cheese The Black Way
When I think of a traditional Southern soul food meal, baked mac and cheese is one of the first things that come to mind. A delicious combo of two perfect comfort foods- macaroni and cheese can be found all over the Southern states.
Southern baked mac and cheese the Black way is still boiled in milk and then baked. But nowadays, this iconic recipe includes additional ingredients with the traditional elbow noodles, butter, and milk.
Southern mac and cheese, which originated in my home state of Virginia, is a popular recipe passed along from chefs like Hemings in the 1700s.
Its legacy continues as its passed from African-American generation to generation and handed down from chef to chef through today.
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