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!
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 .
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese With Mix
- Check pasta for doneness about 30 seconds before the recommended time. Always use a large saucepan or pot to ensure that the pasta moves freely while boiling resulting in evenly cooked pasta.
- Use KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner or VELVEETA Shells & Cheese Dinner to create a great-tasting but convenient dinner idea, such as Confetti Mac & Cheese.
- Jazz up a box of KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese Dinner or VELVEETA Shells & Cheese Dinner with one of these mix-in suggestions:
- Canned or frozen corn or peas
- Drained canned diced tomatoes
- Chopped fresh parsley, basil or cilantro
- Cut-up OSCAR MAYER Hot Dogs
- Drained and flaked canned tuna
- A pinch of cayenne , ground cumin, Italian seasoning or curry powder
- Drained canned black beans
- Pizza sauce and sliced pepperoni
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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.
Variations Of Mac And Cheese
- Bacon if you love bacon, feel free to add some crispy, crumbled bacon to the topping, or even inside the mac and cheese as well!
- Stovetop if youd prefer not to bake this mac and cheese, you dont have to! Make sure you boil your pasta until al dente , and youll only need about 3 3 1/2 cups of cheese total. No need to layer the pasta and cheese, just add all the cheese to the sauce, then combine with the pasta.
- Different Toppings Im a huge fan of the cheese layer on top, since it gets nice and crispy, but we also love tossing 1 cup of panko with 2 Tbsp of melted butter and using that as a topping. 1 cup of crushed Ritz crackers with 2 Tbsp of butter work amazingly well too!
- Different Baking Times the recipe calls for a lower baking temperature and time, but most of the time I find myself adjusting that based on my familys tastes. I like to bake this mac and cheese at 350 F degrees for 30 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes to get that glorious cheesy crust.
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Best Mac And Cheese Recipe
When I label something the best I do it with a lot of consideration and testing ahead of time. I want to offer you only the absolute best recipe Ive ever made or tasted.
Theres a lot of pressure here After all, we all have different tastebuds and preferences.
However, Im really psyched about todays Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe. It is truly special.
Today we are going for a classic macaroni and cheese recipe, not a fancy spin-off. We have several other brilliant macaroni recipes here on the blog. Yet I thought it was time to add our favorite traditional version.
Why is it so amazing?
We think its perfect, and hope you think so as well!
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How Can I Dress Up My Macaroni And Cheese
This baked macaroni and cheese may be the most versatile dish ever. Add in some red pepper for kick, any cheeses you like , add veggies like broccoli and chopped chicken and its a one-dish meal even. Or BACON. Hello. Yeah. Make some garlic bread crumbs for the top if you want some crunch and throw those on. Its really endless.
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How To Make Mac And Cheese
If youve never made homemade mac and cheese before, it can seem a bit daunting. But dont worry, well break it down and take it step by step!
- Boil the pasta, drain.
- Make the cheese sauce by combining a fat , and starch , then whisking in the milk products.
- Cook the sauce until its nice and thick.
- Add in shredded cheeses, stir well.
- Combine cheese sauce with cooked pasta.
- Transfer half of the mac and cheese to a baking dish, sprinkle with more shredded cheese.
- Top with the rest of the mac and cheese, top with more shredded cheese.
- Bake and prepare to thoroughly enjoy!
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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Homemade Mac And Cheese With Just 4
Yes! We swear, the best mac and cheese recipe is just four, super simple ingredients away. Cooked pastayou can use any kind you love, were partial to cavatappiheavy cream, shredded cheddar cheese and grated parmesan. That’s it. You can add seasoning to taste, but the parmesan is pretty salty and its a good idea to heavily salt the pasta water, so save the seasoning until last to see if it is truly necessary.
Add Liquid To Make A Sauce
After cooking roux, you’ll usually add a liquid ingredient to make a sauce .
To ensure lump-free thickening when making sauces, the liquid ingredient should be cold or room temperature, and slowly whisked into the hot roux. Do this by adding the liquid a little at a time, whisking until smooth between each addition, until the roux forms a thin paste, then whisking in the remaining liquid and bringing the mixture to a simmer. Cold or room temperature roux is simply whisked into a simmering soup or sauce until it dissolves. These methods ensure the roux is incorporated slowly and the mixture will not form lumps.
Roux begins to thicken soon after it is combined with a liquid, but it must be simmered for 10 to 20 minutes in order to reach its full flavor and thickening potential. This additional cooking time allows the flour to soften and absorb the liquid, resulting in a silky smooth soup or sauce. If the simmering time is too short, the flour in the roux will remain grainy.
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Special Equipment Used In This Recipe
- Box Grater remember, the best mac starts with freshly shredded cheese!
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Post has been updated in September 2019 with new photos and additional information.
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
The Best Cheese For Mac And Cheese
Sharp Cheddar is my first choice for flavor however you can certainly use your favorite cheeses. Mix it up and use a bit of gruyere, or even pepper jack for a little kick. If you have bits of cheese leftover, you can combine them all together in this easy homemade cheese sauce.
This recipe has a special ingredient that is a little bit unconventional but makes it extra yummy AND it is optional. The addition of cheddar cheese soup makes the sauce a little bit extra velvety and just adds a little something. I think its much better than Mac and cheese with Velveeta! Give it a try! .
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How To Make Mac & Cheese
No matter which you choose when youre putting dinner on the table, homemade macaroni and cheese or KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese, its going to be a hit. Often deemed the ultimate comfort food, mac and cheese is more than just another pasta recipe. Our tips and tricks give you loads of ideas for mac and cheese with mix-ins, baked in a casserole and more. At dinner pair it with a side salad and maybe a fruit dessert.
The Magic Of Instant Pot Mac And Cheese
We need to identify the brand of mac that is Instant Pot mac and cheese.
This is: youve graduated from mac and cheese in a box, but you are not interested in the commitment required for a big fancy baked deal. You want something that falls somewhere in the middle of the tastes-like-Velveeta to truffle-baked-mac spectrum. Friends, you are in luck. This is the perfect in between. This is your mac and cheese for when you want REAL FOOD mac and cheese that has a velvety, creamy, sauce with 5 ingredients in 15 minutes.
It is hangry mac and cheese.
It is I-have-no-other-groceries mac and cheese.
It is even-if-I-did-I-would-still-make-this mac and cheese.
It is FEED ME NOW AND LOVE ME FOREVER mac and cheese.
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Mac And Cheese Sauce Versatility
Love this sauce and want to mix things up? Here are some ideas on how to repurpose this sauce for something other than mac!
Use on any noodle all out of macaroni noodles? You can literally use 1 lb. of any noodle under the sun!
Nachos we love using this sauce on top of nachos. Think loaded nachos with all the fixings + this cheese sauce.
Burgers/Sandwiches how good would this easy mac and cheese sauce be on top of a burger or sandwich?! Im drooling.
Chili Mac and Cheese mix this cheese sauce with 1 lb. of noodles and a batch of homemade beef chili for some chili mac! Check out our sister sites Chili Mac and Cheese recipe!
Dip when I dip you dip we dip. Grab your favorite tortilla chip and dip away!
More of our Favorite
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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Cook The Fat And Flour Together
Begin by heating 2 tablespoons oil or fat in a saucepan over medium heat until a pinch of flour sprinkled into the oil will just begin to bubble.
Then, whisk in 3-1/2 tablespoons of flour to form a thick paste the consistency of cake frosting. Continue whisking as the roux gently bubbles and cooks to the shade desired. Do not allow the roux to bubble too vigorously, or it will burn rather than brown.
How Do You Make Baked Mac And Cheese From Scratch
Directions Prepare pasta according to package directions. Melt butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat whisk in flour until smooth. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2-qt. Bake at 400Â° for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Note: For testing purposes only, we used Kraft Sharp Cheddar Cheese.
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Why This Mac And Cheese Sauce
Out of all the recipes on the internet, why choose this cheese sauce for mac and cheese?
- 7 simple ingredients
Technically the hot sauce is optional, but I promise it makes this cheese sauce SO GOOD. A little vinegar really does bring out the flavor of the cheese sauce.
What Is A Roux
This classic stovetop mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux, which is a cooked mixture of flour and fat . The roux thickens the sauce and helps the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce instead of clumping up as it melts. While there are ways to make a cheese sauce without a roux, taking this extra step definitely creates the creamiest, dreamiest cheese sauce for your mac and cheese.
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Creamy One Pot Macaroni And Cheese
I have all kind of macaroni and cheese recipes on the blog, and today I have a Creamy One Pot Macaroni and Cheese to add to the collection. This is a great recipe to make for lunch when your kids are in the mood for something simple, hot, and filling, and you need something that comes together in without any fuss. This recipe is so easy and we loved the extra creamy results.
This recipe is extra easy because you cook the macaroni right in the milk that helps to make the sauce. Theres no water to boil or noodles to rinse. You just cook it all in one pan and its done in about 15 minutes. This is literally just as easy as that blue box stuff, but it tastes like real food and doesnt have a fluorescent orange glow to it. Trust me, that fake mac n cheese is just gross once you start making your own.
My other stove-top macaroni and cheese recipe is still a favorite, but I dont always have canned milk on hand. The difference between the two is that this recipes makes a really thick and sticky macaroni and cheese , and the other recipe has almost a runny sauce to it. They are both excellent but different enough that I wanted to share both recipes.
Make A Bechamel Sauce
Return the empty pot to medium heat add 3 tablespoons butter. When butter melts and foams, add 1/4 cup flour and whisk until darkened slightly, one to two minutes. Add two teaspoons mustard powder whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in three cups warm whole milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, three to four minutes.
Pro tip: To prevent clumps, warm the milk in a saucepan or microwave before adding it to the roux.
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How To Make Roux
Roux takes just a few minutes to make. Whether you are making just enough for a single dish, or a batch to divide and freeze for later, the proportions of ingredients are the same: 1 part oil or fat and 1 part all-purpose flour, by weight. If you have a kitchen scale, this is easy to measure. If you do not have a kitchen scale, use measuring cups or spoons to measure 1 part oil or fat and 1-3/4 parts all-purpose flour.
We’ll explain how to make a small batch.
How To Make Homemade Mac And Cheese Step By Step Photos
Start by shredding an 8oz. block of sharp cheddar. Its very important to shred the cheese yourself instead of using pre-shredded cheese. For more information on that, see the section above the recipe titled Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese.
Next, boil 8oz. of macaroni according to the box directions . Drain the macaroni in a colander.
You can start the cheese sauce either while the macaroni is boiling, or wait until its draining and just make it in the same pot to save on dishes. Add 3 Tbsp butter, 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour, and ½ tsp onion powder to the pot.
Place the pot over medium heat and allow the butter to melt. Whisk the butter, flour, and onion powder together as the mixture begins to get bubbly and frothy. Cook and whisk for about one minute after it becomes bubbly.
Whisk 2 cups of milk into the butter and flour roux. Continue whisking as the milk begins to heat .
Allow the milk to come up to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream or gravy. Turn the burner off at this point.
Season the sauce with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp hot sauce, or the seasonings of your choice .
Begin adding 8oz. shredded cheddar to the pot, one handful at a time, whisking until it is completely melted before adding more. If the sauce cools down too much to continue melting the cheese, you can put it over low heat briefly, but avoid allowing the sauce to simmer again. Overheating cheese sauces will cause them to break and become grainy and oily.
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