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.
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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.
-Try to choose a melting cheese and a flavor cheesefor the best flavor and texture in your baked macaroni and cheese.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
My Secret Ingredients For The Best Mac And Cheese
Most of this recipe uses classic, not surprising ingredients. However, a couple of ingredients may surprise you! Here are some ingredients I use to give my homemade mac and cheese extra flavor and creaminess.
- Raw Garlic: I know the raw garlic is a little unusual, however I promise it doesnt taste like raw garlic. It does add a lot to the overall flavor!
- Ground Mustard: An optional addition, but most of the mac and cheese you have eaten has a little ground mustard. Just like the garlic, the final recipe doesnt taste mustard-y, this just helps to round out the flavor of the cheese.
- Cream Cheese and Sour Cream: Because we are using real cheese, I like to use a little cream cheese and sour cream help to smooth out the melted cheese. You know, smooth like Velveeta, but actual real cheese.
Read Also: Is Swiss Cheese Good For You
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.
Make Creamy Mac And Cheese Like A Pro
Your loved ones shouldnt have to settle for less either. At least from you. Because this BBQ/Potluck season, youre NOT going to be that guy who brings a crock-pot full of easy mac to the gathering.
Ive done the homework for you on this one learning about different types of cheese, the construction of the perfect bechamel, and what type of noodle to use. After much debate, I finally decided to try a recipe from the ladies behind Homeroom restaurant, an Oakland, CA eatery devoted entirely to macaroni and cheese.
This is quite simply the best macaroni and cheese recipe Ive ever made. It is so full of supremely creamy, rich, cheddary noodles that it is sure to be your go-to mac and cheese recipe. This is the recipe I take to family reunions, the one I make on cold nights when Im craving comfort food, and the one I serve alongside Air Fryer Hot Dogs and Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches.
Ive included all the tips from the Homeroom Restaurant below, so you can make amazing creamy mac and cheese at home!
Also Check: How To Cut Cheese For A Cheese Board
Tips For Best Results
- Have all the ingredients prepped: Since this one-pot mac and cheese can come together in just 15 minutes, its a good idea to have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before starting so you dont slow the process down!
- To adjust the cheese sauce consistency: If you notice that the noodles are almost cooked but theres still a lot of liquid, I recommend increasing the heat. Likewise, it the liquid seems to be running out add an extra ¼ cup of broth.
- Use whole wheat pasta when possible: Unlike processed/refined white pasta , whole wheat pasta is packed with nutrients including complex carbs, added protein, fiber, and several vitamins and minerals.
- Adjust the time for glutenfree: Gluten-free pasta usually only takes a few minutes to cook, so adjust the time accordingly.
The Best Stovetop Mac And Cheese
Four reasons to love this mac and cheese recipe:
I owe Melissa Clark credit for this technique. I stumbled across her stovetop mac and cheese recipe in her new book, Dinner: Changing the Game. Its also available online at Food52.
My changes? Her recipe calls for freshly grated nutmeg, but I found that mac and cheese needs a few other spices to be utterly irresistible: mustard powder, garlic powder and onion powder, and the tiniest pinch of cayenne pepper. That combination is subtle but makes a world of difference. Trust me.
I also adjusted the method, since it was a little unreliable for me. This mac and cheese turns out perfectly every time as written below.
NOTES ON OTHER METHODS
Before I stumbled on this technique, I tried mac and cheese recipes with béchamel sauce, both stovetop versions and baked. No matter the recipe, the béchamel versions turned out somewhat grainy and floury-tasting.
I also tried mac and cheese with evaporated milk, which seemed more like Velveeta than real cheese and left me with a stomachache. I tried mac and cheese with Monterey Jack, too, which offers less flavor than cheddar and produces an excessively gooey texture .
Also Check: Where Is Tillamook Cheese Made
Ingredients For Stovetop Mac And Cheese
This healthy mac and cheese recipe requires just 8 simple ingredients most of which are likely already in your kitchen, including:
- Pasta: Macaroni is our favorite- and traditional- shaped pasta for mac and cheese . However, you can use any short pasta that can hold sauce penne, fusilli, bow ties, etc. Feel free to use whole wheat, white, or gluten-free pasta .
- Broth: Use low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth for extra flavor but barely any calories .
- Milk: I recommend using whole milk for the creamiest results . Dairy-free will also work .
- Butter: All you need is two tablespoons of salted butter for this low-calorie mac and cheese recipe!
- Cheese: I use a combination of marble or cheddar cheese and parmesan. For vegetarian mac and cheese feel free to sub the parmesan for another sharp cheese. Make sure to use cheese blocks, not pre-shredded for the best melting.
- Seasonings: I used a combination of garlic powder, mustard , and salt and pepper.
Keep reading below for more instructions on healthy macaroni and cheese add-ins and seasoning variations!
How To Make Stove Top Mac And Cheese
This stovetop mac and cheese is the creamiest version! The secret to this recipe is that the pasta is boiled in milk . Its as easy as 1,2,3!
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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
Find Tons Of Other Dreamy Cheesy Meals In Ree’s Bestselling Cookbooks
And stir together until its all melted. Go ahead and turn off the heat.
Now its time for seasoning! Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt If youre sensitive to salt, start really low and work your way upand remember that the cheese imparts quite a bit of salt to the mix.
BUTand this is importantbe careful not to UNDERSALT the mac & cheese. It really needs ample salt to put the flavor over the top.
*I also use paprika, cayenne pepper, even ground thyme every now and then. Play with different ground spices and see what you like best.
And finally, add plenty of black pepper, of the Black Dust variety. Honestly, I love freshly ground pepperbut not in homemade Mac & Cheese. For me, it has to be the powdery stuff.
Now THATs what Im talkin about.
And guess what? You can just steam some fresh broccoli and spoon some of this over the top. Kids from all over the land will show up at your doorstep.
Did you know a single serving of broccoli is positively loaded with Vitamin C?
Now just dump in the drained, not-fully-cooked macaroni!
And stir the mixture together.
I use a little less than the full amount of cooked macaroni, because I love it extra creamy and coated. Just add it according to how you like it.
Now, you can either dish it up as it is right now, which makes for an ultra-creamy love fest
OR you can pour the macaroni into a buttered baking dish. This is a 2-quart dish, but a 9 x 13 pan would work just fine.
Kinda like this.
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How To Make Healthy Mac And Cheese
- Grate the cheese: Avoid pre-shredded cheese with their anti-caking agents. Instead, use big blocks to shred yourself if you want the ooey-gooey melty low-calorie mac and cheese of your dreams!
- Prepare the creamy sauce: In a large pot, combine the broth, milk, butter, and all the seasonings. Then, bring to a boil keeping an eye on it .
- Cook the pasta: As soon as it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a medium heat simmer and add the macaroni to the saucepan. Cook for 8-10 minute, or until al dente. Stir occasionally, to stop the pasta sticking to the pan.
Keep in mind that gluten-free pasta usually only requires 3-5 minutes, so adjust the time accordingly.
- Add the cheese: Once the pasta is ready, remove the saucepan from the heat. Then gradually add in the cheese, stirring between each addition. Then serve as-is or with your favorite toppings .
If you want to add a little crisp texture, you could keep a sprinkling of cheese to one side, sprinkle it over the top of the dish , and broil until crisped up.
What To Do With Leftover Mac And Cheese
Despite being mac and cheeses #1 fan, Ive never really loved the leftovers. Heating it in the microwave always left it clumpy and drynot my scene.
If youre still hankering for a creamy mac, reheat the leftovers on the stove top, adding a few extra splashes of half and half as it warms up. This should keep the sauce from being dry.
You can also pan fry leftovers! Melt some butter in a skillet and add a big scoop of leftover mac and cheese. Flatten it a bit with your spatula and let it brown and crisp on the bottom a bit before flipping and browning the other side. I love this method for those crispy browned bits!
Finally, you can use leftovers to make Fried Mac and Cheese Balls, which are delightful as an appetizer or entree!
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The Best Mac And Cheese Recipe
Theres nothing like homemade mac and cheese, am I right? What makes the perfect mac and cheese in your opinion? Good ol Kraft right out of the box? Homemade thick and cheesy on the stovetop? Baked with a crispy topping and lots of ingredients inside?
I think its a bit different for everyone, but let me tell you about my perfect mac and cheese. I like a thick and creamy perfectly flavorful cheese sauce like my picture above shows. If that sounds good to you, then you will LOVE this recipe too
See my Bacon Mac and Cheese Recipe too! Be sure to follow for daily recipe inspiration!
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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