Why Youll Love This Mac & Cheese Recipe
I call this company-worthy macaroni and cheese. Its the kind of dressed up macaroni and cheese recipe that satisfies AND impresses everyone at the table. After falling in love the first time, I made this recipe again when our friends came over for dinner. Every single one asked me for the recipe. Every single one. Heres why:
- Homemade 3 cheese sauce
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How To Make Mac And Cheese Sauce
Step 1: Make Roux by this point, you already know the ins and outs of a roux and how to make it , so were going to skip to step 2.
Step 2: Whisk in Milk slowly add milk to the roux, whisking constantly so it doesnt burn. Continue to whisk for around 4-6 minutes, or until things begin to thicken.
Dont rush this process. we PROMISE things will thicken!
Step 3: Remove from Heat once things are thick, turn the heat off.
Step 4: Whisk in Shredded Cheese then, add shredded cheese, garlic, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and whisk until the cheese melts.
Give your cheese sauce a taste and add more hot sauce, as desired.
Step 5: Enjoy! mix mac and cheese sauce with macaroni noodles and serve immediately.
Variations Of This Recipe
- PROTEIN Feel free to add in some shredded chicken, pulled pork, or some crispy bacon for an extra protein punch.
- VEGGIES Trying to get your veggies in? Stir in some steamed broccoli or cauliflower.
- TOPPINGS If you love a topping on your mac and cheese, transfer the cooked cheesy mac to a baking dish and top with either some extra cheese, buttered panko breadcrumbs, or buttered crushed Ritz crackers. Broil a few minutes until crispy.
- COOKING LIQUID If you prefer to use all chicken broth, or all water feel free to do that. Just make sure there are 4 total cups of liquid.
- DIFFERENT CHEESES Gruyere, Gouda, Fontina, Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Colby, or all Cheddar. These are all good melting cheeses and will give you a smooth sauce. However, feel free to play around with different combinations that you like!
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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.
Can You Make Baked Mac And Cheese Ahead Of Time
Yes, you could make this macaroni and cheese recipe a day or two before you plan to serve it, but the pasta may seem dry once it’s reheated. As it sits, the noodles soak up moisture from the cheese mixture, and after sitting for a while, it may not deliver on the creamy satisfaction you’re wanting.
We recommend making it and serving it fresh from the oven. If you have leftovers, you can reheat them on the stovetop with a little cream or butter to add back that lusciousness.
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Best Ever Macaroni Cheese Recipe
This perfect baked macaroni cheese recipe comes with a creamy cheese sauce, a hint of mustard and uses leftover French stick for its crunchy topping
- 50g baguette, cut into small chunks
- 2 tbsp butter, plus 1 tbsp melted
- 350g spiral or other short pasta
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 tsp English mustard powder
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 250g vegetarian mature cheddar, grated
- 50g parmesan , grated
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 .
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S To Follow While Making Perfect Macaroni And Cheese At Home:
There are some simple steps that you should have to follow while making perfect macaroni and cheese. Once you get to know these simple steps you will never wonder How to make homemade macaroni and cheese!
STEP 1: Take the packet of pasta and cook it as instructed on the packet. Try to keep it warm.
STEP 2: Take a large saucepan and put butter in it to melt . Once the butter gets melted pour all-purpose flour into it and whisk it until it gets smooth. For 2 minutes cook and whisk continuously.
After that pour milk into it and again cook & whisk continuously for 5 minutes until the batter gets thickened enough.Once the batter gets thickened, take the saucepan down from the heat. Now put some salt, a cup full of shredded cheese, black and red pepper, and cooked pasta.
STEP 3: Take a spoon of the pasta mixture and stir it in a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish. Pour the remaining 1 cup of cheese into it.
STEP 4: Now, everything is perfectly done. Its time for baking. Start baking at 400° for the next 20 minutes until the batter becomes bubbly. After 20 minutes when your baking is completed, wait for 10 minutes to serve it.
Note: If you are not comfortable with Kraft Sharp Cheddar Cheese, you may use its substitute. Like a lighter version of Kraft Sharp Cheddar Cheese, you may use 2% reduced-fat milk and reduced-fat cheese.
Add some cooked warm pasta to it and serve immediately. Its preparation time is only 10 minutes and cooking time is only 7 minutes.
Should You Give Your Mac And Cheese A Topping
You can certainly top your mac and cheese with some Ritz crackers , or you can leave it ungarnished. But if you’re going to top that mac and cheese, it’s best to leave the dish without a topping in the oven to allow a crispy crust of cheese to form first, and then add the topping a few minutes before it’s done baking.
But to be honest, for this baked mac and cheese, we like it without a topping. The creamy interior is oh-so-satisfying with some crunchy corners and crisp bits.
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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!
Storage And Reheating Instructions:
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium-low heat until warmed through. You may need to add a scant amount of water to the saucepan to thin out the sauce.
If you like this recipe, you may also be interested in these other macaroni and cheese recipes:
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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
Stir constantly once you add the milk to ensure your sauce is silky smooth
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? This Macaroni Cheese recipe is good for 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Most 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 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
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Can You Freeze Baked Mac And Cheese
If you want to get ahead for a busy weeknight, you can make a dish of this mac and cheese in advance. But don’t bake it. Instead, follow all the steps, assemble it, and cook it completely. Then cover it with aluminum foil, and put it in the freezer.
When you’re ready to bake it, thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours, then bake it. You may need to add 5 to 10 minutes of cook time for the casserole to be completely done. But just monitor it for a bubbly, browning top. That’ll be your cue it’s ready to come out of the oven.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
- Step 2
Microwave milk at HIGH for 1 ½ minutes. Melt butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened.
- Step 3
Whisk in salt, black pepper, 1 cup shredded cheese, and, if desired, red pepper until smooth stir in hot cooked pasta. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish prepped with cooking spray top with remaining cheese. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Variations On This Skillet Mac And Cheese:
- Add different seasonings: hot sauce, ground mustard, cayenne, paprika, and Italian seasoning are all popular additions, but feel free to get a little crazy and see whats in your spice cupboard that would give it that extra little something.
- Salt and pepper to taste: I generally err on the side of less salty if possible, because its easy to add salt later. Taste once its cooked and adjust as necessary.
- Add in vegetables: if you want them cooked, or slightly cooked, add during the cooking process with the pasta. Vegetables like spinach that will soften quickly can be stirred in with the cheese.
- Add in cooked meats, like this Shredded Chicken or Instant Pot Chicken Taco meat or saute meat in the same pan before adding the liquid and pasta. This is a great way to add additional protein!
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Make The Cheese Sauce
While the macaroni is cooking, make the cheese sauce. It’s really easy but there are a few notes that we’ll go over to ensure your success!
Make a Roux
This homemade mac and cheese sauce starts with a roux. What is a roux? It’s a mixture of fat and flour that is used to create thick sauces. Start by melting the butter and then adding the dry ingredients .
Use a whisk to combine the ingredients until the mixture is homogenous . Let it cook for about 60 seconds before moving on!
Add wet ingredients.
After the roux has cooked for 60 seconds, add the milk and whisk the mixture really well. Add the sour cream or Greek yogurt and whisk again. At this point the mixture will be fairly runny. Cook over medium heat whisking every 10-15 seconds until the sauce starts to thicken.
Do NOT let this mixture boil! If you do you may end up with a mac and cheese sauce that is too thick. Once the sauce has thickened enough to stick to a spatula, turn the heat to low. Then it’s time for the next step…
Add the cheese & whisk until smooth
Add the cheese and whisk until the sauce is smooth and all the cheese is melted. This will take 1-2 minutes over low heat. At this point it is important to taste the cheese sauce and adjust the salt/garlic according to your tastes!
Why Bake Mac And Cheese At All
If you’ve ever opened a box of the instant stuff or made stovetop mac and cheese from scratch, you know there’s no real requirement to put it in the oven. You save time and get more or less the same thing without that extra step.
In my opinion, there are two arguments for baking it. First is the crispy topping. In some recipes, you put the mac and cheese in a baking dish and toss it in the oven until the top is bubbling and browned. In others, you take it a step further and add a crunchy topping of some sort. I prefer the latter approach: As long as we’re going for some crunch, we might as well go for maximum crunch. In my recipes, that means a buttery panko bread crumb topping, baked until golden brown.
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik
The second reason for baking mac and cheese is that it transforms it into a make-ahead dish. You can assemble it in advance, refrigerate it, and then finish it in the oven when you’re ready to serve. Of course, the longer you try to hold it, the more moisture the pasta will gradually absorb from the sauce, which makes for a softer texture. But I don’t really mind that. In many ways, overcooked pasta is actually preferable to al dente in a cheesy baked dish like thisit’ll make for more of a cohesive, scoopable mass, not unlike a savory, Americanized kugel.
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik
Serious Eats / Vicky Wasik
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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.