How To Make The Creamiest Macaroni And Cheese
Youre only looking at six ingredients . Itcan even be made in under 30 minutes .
I love that you can keep this as a quick stovetop mac and cheese or slide it into the oven to get bubbly and browned. I love it both ways.
Were going to call this our basic mac and cheese not because it isnt incredibly delicious, but because its the perfect base for other variations. Take a look below for some suggestions.
To make our go-to macaroni and cheese, you will need the following:
Pasta: The shape and size are entirely up to you. Look for pasta that will hold onto the creamy sauce. Elbow macaroni and shells are great options.
Butter and Flour: Its the combination of butter and flour that thicken the sauce. We like to use unsalted butter for this and then adjust salt to taste when making the sauce. That said, salted butter will work if that is all that you have.
Cheddar cheese: Whenever we make macaroni and cheese, we reach for sharp white cheddar cheese. Its flavorful and melts beautifully. For more cheese suggestions see our notes below. Whatever cheese you use, its best to grate it yourself. I know its extra prep time, but hand-grated cheese melts so much easier into the sauce.
Cream cheese: The mac and cheese would be excellent with just cheddar cheese added, but to make it ultra creamy, well stir in some cream cheese. It adds a lovely silky texture, and since it has a little zinginess, it brightens up the flavor a bit.
Tips For Perfect Cheese Sauce
Have you ever made a mac and cheese that wasnt creamy or smooth? Instead if was grainy or gritty? The worst! Heres a few steps you should take for perfectly creamy cheese sauce.
How To Make Instant Pot Mac And Cheese
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Can You Freeze Mac And Cheese
Yes, I have frozen it with success! I make it up to the point of baking, cover well, and freeze right in the pan. Then I bring it out and let it thaw at room temp for an hour or so, and then into the oven. Just like making it ahead and refrigerating it, the result isnt quite as saucy. But still delish.
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
If you need a fancied-up, yet totally approachable dinner make this macaroni and cheese.
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Tricks To Making The Creamiest Mac And Cheese Ever
There’s nothing like a warm, gooey bowl of delicious mac and cheese, am I right? Mac and cheese is a comfort food if there ever was one, but if you don’t make it right, you’ll end up with a less-than-comforting bowl of dried out, not-cheesy-at-all noodles. Worse yet, you might end up with a gritty, mealy mess. That doesn’t mean you should turn to that familiar blue box whenever a craving arrives homemade mac and cheese is the best, by far . To make the creamiest mac and cheese ever, you just have to do a couple of things differently than you might do them now. In fact, it’s probably a lot less complicated than you might think. Armed with these tricks and ideas and a little know-how, you’ll be well on your way to the creamiest mac and cheese ever. But be careful who you tell once word gets out that you’ve mastered this dish, you’ll have more dinner guests than you can handle!
How To Avoid Grainy Cheese Sauce:
- The type of cheddar makes a difference. High quality aged cheddar cheese will give you a stronger taste and smoother texture. More mild and inexpensive cheddar cheeses will have less flavor and almost a grittier taste.
- Use fresh grated cheese. Pre-shredded store-bought cheese will not melt the same as freshly grated cheese, and grating the cheese helps it melt smoothly and evenly in the sauce.
- Bring the cheese to room temperature. I like to grate the cheese very first, before moving forward with the recipe. That allows it to sit at room temperature while I prepare the white sauce.
- Use low heat. In order for the cheese to melt properly and smoothly we want it to have gradual changes in temperature . When its time to add the cheese to the white sauce, remove the sauce from heat and let it cool for a few minutes. It only needs to be warm enough to melt the cheese.
- Dont over-stirthe sauce once the cheese has melted. Add the noodles and quickly assemble in pan and put into the oven.
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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!
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.
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So How Do You Make Homemade Macaroni And Cheese
- 1 1/2cupPanko Bread Crumbs
Choose Your Noodles Carefully
When making mac and cheese, you need to consider your desired ultimate outcome when choosing a noodle. You don’t have to stick with macaroni every time just because that’s the technical name of the dish. If you’re going for the utmost creaminess, opt for a noodle that will hold a lot of sauce. Noodles with ridges are always a good choice: cavatappi, cavatell, rotini, and even penne are all good mac and cheese noodles.
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Can I Use Pre
Pre-shredded cheeses are mixed with either potato starch, powdered cellulose, and natamycin, or a combination of the three to prevent clumping. These agents have an impact on how the cheese melts. The best mac and cheese uses freshly shredded cheese as they melt better, but pre-shredded cheese can also be used in a pinch. The results may not be as velvety smooth, but itll still taste delicious.
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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Make The Cheese Sharp White Cheddar
If you’re looking for the smoothest, creamiest cheese sauce for the best macaroni and cheese ever, you’ll want to use sharp white cheddar. This cheese, according to , makes for the most luxurious sauce. Other kinds of cheeses can get gritty, stringy, or otherwise unappetizing, but not sharp white cheddar that one stuns every time. Plus, the flavor is the perfect compliment to your otherwise rich, fatty dish. The sharpness of the cheese will cut through the butter and cream flavors to round things out.
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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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!
How To Make A Roux For Mac And Cheese
A roux is simply a mixture of fat and flour, usually in equal measures, which is cooked together in order to remove the raw, floury flavor. For macaroni and cheese, you make a fairly light roux by cooking it for about three minutes. Then, milk is added to the roux to make the béchamel sauce.
First, start by melting the butter.
Then add the flour and seasonings and
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon in a figure-8 motion, for three minutes. This one looks a bit darker than a classic roux might because of the smoked paprika.
Then, to make your white sauce , add the milk slowly, whisking the entire time, and cook until bubbly and thick.
Aaaand then add your cheese for your glorious macaroni and cheese situation.
Theres your base for the best baked mac and cheese recipe ever!
There are loads of mac and cheese recipes out there, with fancy embellishments and uber creative spins. But his isnt one of those its a classic baked mac and cheese thats simple enough to appeal to everyone. Readers report entire families devouring this stuff on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter! BUT its also a great jumping-off point if you want to make it your own
Macaroni And Cheese Ingredients
If youve ever wondered how to make homemade mac and cheese, here you go!
- Pasta: First, you pick your pasta. Elbow macaroni is a the classic choice, of course, but shells, penne, or rotini are delicious too.
- Cheese sauce: You make your cheese sauce by first making a roux cooking flour, seasonings, and butter together. Then, drizzle in the milk. The flour thickens the milk into a glorious béchamel sauce a classic French sauce made from butter, flour, and milk. And theeennnnn remove from heat and add the cheese. Some people like to top their baked mac and cheese with breadcrumbs, but for this recipe, I love how it forms a brown and bubbling top in the oven without bread crumbs. Feel free to add if you prefer! Make it your own!
How To Make Baked Mac And Cheese
Its a straightforward recipe, starting with a basic butter-flour roux that is used to thicken milk to make the cheese sauce. For first timers, I think the short video below will help give you the confidence that youve got this!
The simple trick to avoid lumps in the Mac and Cheese Sauce is to pour the milk in slowly while constantly stirring, then just switch to a whisk if needed to remove any stubborn lumps!
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Cook Your Noodles In Milk Instead Of Water
Cooking your noodles in milk instead of water makes your resulting mac and cheese creamier. According to The Kitchn, cooking your noodles in milk instead of water makes the sauce creamy before you even add the cheese sauce. The starches in the noodles get released as you cook them, helping to thicken the mixture from the start. That will ultimately help with the resulting creaminess.
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.
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Special Equipment For This Recipe
- Instant Pot I recently upgraded to this model and I love it!
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How To Make Homemade Roux For A Creamy Sauce
To make a simple and flavorful roux, start by melting a stick of butter in a medium saucepan.
Whisk in the salt and pepper. A very important step is to continue stirring for a good 2-3 minutes until roux turns a bit darker in color. It becomes richer and even more fabulous.
Slowly whisk in the milk until mixture is thick and creamy. This step will take a couple minutes over medium heat.
Stir in cheese until creamy and cheese is melted through. I prefer a finely shredded mild cheddar. It melts quickly and has a perfect cheddar flavor.
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