From Roux To Bechamel
Once youve made your roux, its time to add milk to make it into a basic white sauce. And for this step theres just one important thing to remember add your milk gradually.
If you dump all of the milk in at once, it can surround chunks of roux, which can turn into lumps. The best approach is to add a small amount of milk, stirring constantly. Then dont add more until that first splash of milk is fully combined with your roux. It will thicken up dramatically, but thats okay.
Then repeat the same step. Add some more milk, stirring constantly until its combined. And keep repeating this process until all your milk is combined, at which point youll have a nice smooth white sauce.
At this point you need to cook it gently until it thickens up. It takes time for the starch molecules to absorb the milk, so give it time. It may take five to ten minutes or more, but the result will be worth it.
The Best Cheeses To Use For Mac And Cheese
The type of cheese you use can make or break your mac and cheese sauce.
Take a moment to think about the best mac and cheese youve ever had. Perhaps youd describe it as ooey-gooey, creamy or cheesy. At its worst, mac and cheese is grainy, stringy or greasy. The type of cheese you use can make or break your sauce. But perhaps the name itself is a misnomer. The ideal mac and cheese needs more than one kind of cheese.
When youre cruising down the cheese aisle, two factors to consider are meltability and flavor. Generally, young and processed cheeses melt smoothly but taste bland when theyre mixed with a few pounds of pasta. Aged and funky blocks are tricky melters but add a lot of complex cheese flavor to the dish. This dichotomy explains why mac and cheese recipes often call for not one, but several types of cheese.
But there is one go-to that you’ll almost always see. An overview of Food Networks mac and cheese roundup reveals that most recipes have one type of cheese in common: sharp Cheddar. Sharp Cheddar especially the inexpensive, mass-market block you can buy at the supermarket strikes just the right balance between meltability and flavor. Consider it your base cheese. If you dont want to buy three different types of cheese and rack up the grocery bill, its completely fine to use Cheddar on its own. Just stay away from the pre-shredded kind, which often contains additives like cornstarch that interfere with silky melting.
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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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
From Bechamel To Mornay
Once your white sauce is ready to go, its time to add your cheese to make your cheese sauce.
Just like adding milk to your roux, you need to be careful when adding cheese to your bechamel sauce. A few tips will help with this process:
- Grate your own cheese from a block. Packaged grated, sliced or cubed cheese contains anti-caking agents to prevent the pieces from sticking together in the pack. These agents can interfere with how your cheese melts and lead to clumping or grittiness.
- Lower the temperature of your sauce before you add your cheese. Some authors reduce the heat and some take the pot off the heat, but they almost all take some action to ensure a lower temperature when the cheese goes in. This ensures the cheese heats evenly.
- Add your cheese gradually. Rather than dumping it all in at once, add your cheese in smaller amounts, like a half a cup at a time. Ensure the cheese is fully melted and integrated into the sauce before adding the next half cup. Like the tip above, this helps the cheese to heat evenly.
- Stir constantly to keep the cheese from cooling the sauce and clumping.
As youve probably guessed, making a roux-based cheese sauce for mac and cheese is not complicated, but it needs a gentle and patient hand. Take your time, and keep the heat down, and youll be well placed to create a beautifully creamy mornay sauce for your mac and cheese.
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Ingredients In Homemade Mac And Cheese
- Butter and Flour These are the base of the roux, which is used to thicken the sauce.
- Milk and/or Half and Half You can make this mac and cheese with all whole milk, all half and half, or a blend of the two. I usually use a blend of two.
- Seasonings Keep it simple with salt, pepper, garlic powder, mustard powder, and a hint of cayenne.
- Cheese The most important part! I use a blend of cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Pecorino Romano cheese. Pick an aged cheddar for the most flavor. Of course, you can also experiment with your favorite cheeses. Try subbing some of the cheddar for American cheese for a more classic blue box style mac. Or try Gruyere, provolone or fontina!
- PastaUse hearty macaroni noodles , and cook them in salted water for the best flavor.
Quick Mac And Cheese For One
A quick recipe for mac and cheese for one. Easy, cheesy, and oh so good.
Is it lunchtime? Is it dinner time? Are you starving? Do you need a mac and cheese fix? Yes? Well, Ive got just the thing for you: mac and cheese for one.
This homemade macaroni and cheese is just as quick as the kind that comes out of a box, is one thousand times more delicious, and wont leave you with a mass of gross congealed leftovers.
I grew up in a boxed mac and cheese household, and just like when I learned how to make homemade mashed potatoes, when I discovered how easy homemade macaroni and cheese was to make, I had no idea why we hadnt just been making it from scratch all along.
It takes exactly the same amount of time, and if you keep a basic stocked kitchen, cheese and any sort of pasta in your house, YOU HAVE THE INGREDIENTS TO MAKE THIS.
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How To Make Creamy Mac And Cheese
Its incredibly easy to make creamy stovetop mac and cheese, provided you use the right ingredients and ratios. Here are the basic steps for cooking the noodles and making the homemade mac and cheese sauce:
Tips To Make Homemade Mac And Cheese
- Cook your pasta al dente as the noodles cook extra in the sauce and you dont want them mushy.
- Dont forget to salt your pasta water.
- While not everyone agrees with rinsing the pasta after cooking, in this particular recipe it stops the noodles from cooking and the sauce is created with a texture that pairs perfectly with the rinsed noodles.
- A sharper cheddar cheese will add a stronger cheese flavor.
- Pre-shredded cheeses contain additives to keep it from sticking together which affects the way it melts. The sauce is best if you shred your own cheeses.
- Allowing the baked macaroni and cheese to rest for a few minutes after baking will thicken the sauce.
- Most importantly of allDo not over bake this recipe.
When cooking your macaroni noodles, cook them according to the package directions but you want them to be still firm. If your package says 6-8 minutes, just cook them 6 you get the idea. I choose not to top this baked macaroni casserole with a bread crumb mixture but if you really like bread crumbs on your macaroni and cheese, by all means, add some!
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How To Measure Pasta For This Recipe
Sometimes a reader or two has had an issue with how much pasta this recipe needs. This recipe is written by volume and sometimes people think that since a cup is 8 ounces that they can simply use 12-16 ounces of pasta or go by the weight of the dry pasta written on the box.
Youll end up with problems if you do this. Please follow the volume instructions and measure your pasta dry in a measuring cup meant for dry items . Small pastas like ditalini or little wagon wheels can go up to about 2 cups and be fine in the recipe, and large ones like bow tie or cellentani can as well. If you will stick to elbow pasta until you get the hang of things youll be better off.
Ive made this recipe with every pasta shape on the market and if you will measure in cups, your recipe will be just right.
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.
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About This Homemade Mac And Cheese Sauce
The sauce for this easy homemade mac and cheese is a classic roux based cheese sauce. Roux sounds very fancy but truthfully once you make a roux, youll realize how easy it is! Its just butter and flour cooked and then milk added so dont let it scare you away!
The results of creating a roux based sauce means your macaroni and cheese is going luscious and velvety smooth every single time. This allows the cheeses to melt in evenly and perfectly for this casserole.
To add to the creaminess of this dish, I combine a little bit of milk and a little bit of light cream .
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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Homemade Mac And Cheese Casserole
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Homemade Mac and Cheese is a rich, creamy casserole that is truly a show stopper! Not only is this creamy macaroni and cheese recipe easy to make it, has a special ingredient making it extra delicious!
This dish has so much velvety cheese in a quick homemade sauce that, once you try it, this is going to be the only baked macaroni & cheese dish youll ever need!
Hello, my name is Holly and I am addicted to Macaroni and Cheese. It doesnt even have to be fancy, I love crock pot mac & cheese, stove top mac and cheese, baked mac and cheese or even out of a little blue box.
Of all of the mac and cheese recipes, *this* little gem right here is the best mac and cheese recipe ever and always gets rave reviews!
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.
To Bake Or Not To Bake:
You dont have to bake the mac and cheese in this recipe. Everything gets fully cooked and is essentially ready to eat after the cheese and noodles are added. However, I love the extra gooeyness that comes when the cheese is baked and I think baking it adds a level of sophistication you just dont get without.
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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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.
What Is A Mac And Cheese Roux And Why Do I Need It
A roux is essentially a way to thicken a sauce or liquid. You need a fat and a flour in order to make this thickening agent and then you need to heat it to activate it.
The reason why you dont want to skip the roux for this mac and cheese sauce recipe is that the roux is what helps make it thick and luscious.
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How To Make Homemade Mac And Cheese
Making homemade macaroni and cheese is surprisingly easy and quick!
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Stovetop Mac And Cheese Without Flour
If all of that hasnt convinced you to give a roux-based mac and cheese another go, or if you need to avoid flour completely for dietary reasons, there are a couple of options amongst the stovetop recipes:
- Sabrinas mac and cheese recipe on Dinner then Dessert uses blended cottage cheese with full fat milk and half-and-half. Its worth noting that a few readers commented theyd had issues getting this recipe to thicken up. Just as many though comment on how good theirs turned out.
- If youre looking for a really quick and easy approach, This is Not Diet Food make their mac and cheese with a can of condensed cheddar cheese soup. This significantly shortcuts the sauce-making process. If you cant eat flour though you should check the label of the can, as its quite commonly used to thicken soups as well.
But if youre not tied to the stovetop, theres a whole other method of making mac and cheese without flour.
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