Can I Bake This Recipe
At this point of stovetop mac and cheese, you can choose to transfer to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, top with more cheese and other toppings of choice, bake at 350 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes for a baked mac and cheese. This is another fantastic option. Adding buttered bread crumbs and bacon is another winning option before baking to add a nice crunch. Try adding cooked beef or chicken for more dinner options too.
How Much Do I Love Kraft Mac And Cheese
I loveKraft Mac and Cheese . I will eat it hot, cold, leftover, for breakfast, and even massively expired, apparently:
And although it will taste fine if you just follow the instructions on the blue box, I always use four simple tricks to make it so much creamier and even more delicious! Trust me, once I show you how to make box Mac and Cheese better, you wont want to go back to the box instructions.
How To Make Mac And Cheese:
This might take a little longer than boxed mac n cheese, but let me tell ya, the extra time and effort is SO worth it. Plus, most of the ingredients you need are ones you already have on hand, and the steps are simple.
PASTA. Begin by cooking pasta according to package directions, and set aside.
SAUCE. In a large saucepan, melt ½ c. butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add garlic salt and pepper to taste. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking until smooth. Heat the mixture to a low boil until thickened. Remove from heat.
ASSEMBLE. Add the hot pasta to a greased 9×13 baking dish. Then, sprinkle 6 cups shredded cheese over the pasta . Pour the thickened cream sauce over the pasta and cheese. Let it sit until the cheese has melted and then stir together.
TOP & BAKE. Melt 2 TB butter over medium heat. Add in bread crumbs, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Pour over the mac and cheese. Bake at 325° for 14-15 minutes. Serve warm, and ENJOY!
CROCK POT VERSION
To make Mac n Cheese an even easier dish you can make it in a crock pot. Pour your pasta in first cover them with your sauces and cheese. Cook on Low for 2-3 hours. For our favorite crock pot mac and cheese .
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Secret #: Classic Cheddar Is Better
Many recipes call for cheesy additions of gruyère, fontina, brie, gouda, and even blue cheese. But we wanted our ultimate recipe to deliver classic mac and cheese flavormeaning we wanted it to taste like cheddar. We tried a few of these other cheeses in a blend with cheddar but the only one that still tasted iconic was this macaroni and cheese, which called for a combination of cheddar and parmesan. The parm brought a nuttiness that rounded out the cheddar flavor rather than distracting from it. We chose extra-sharp cheddar to stand out in our béchamel sauce . Add we recommend you shred your own cheese. That bagged stuff at the grocery store usually has stabilizers, a drier texture, and less flavor than a hunk of cheddar does.
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 Picky Palate on Instagram for daily recipe inspiration!
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More Macaroni Recipes Youll Love
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water.
- Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour and let cook 2 minutes while stirring. Slowly whisk in milk, cream, mustard powder, onion powder, salt & pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat while stirring until thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese & 3 cups cheddar cheese until melted. Add soup if using.
- Toss cheese sauce & macaroni noodles together. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Top with remaining cheese.
- Bake 18-24 minutes or until bubbly. Do not over cook. Cool 10-15 minutes before serving.
The Worst Types Of Cheese
1. Anything pre-shredded
The best way to ruin your mac is to dump a bunch of pre-shredded cheese in. Packeged shredded cheese have add preservatives to keep them from sticking together and to keep them fresher. This keeps them from melting and will be how you end up with gritty, lumpy mac and cheese.
Dry, crumbly cheeses like feta or cotija are not ideal. Because of their moisture levels they don’t melt properly and will leave you with clumps of cheese instead of a smooth sauce.
3. Monterey Jack
Please don’t get me started on Monterey jack. It might melt well but it does. not. taste. good. I’m a huge cheese fan and this is one I’ll never touch. It tastes like nothing and leaves a terrible aftertaste. Strong opinion, but someone has to say it.
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The Best Types Of Cheese
1. Sharp Cheddar
The king of all cheeses when it comes to coating your noodles. With a fairly low melting point cheddar keeps things smooth. It’s also got the classic taste we’re looking for and expecting with mac and cheese. Sharp is ideal because it’s flavor is strongest, but the most important to thing to remember is to always buy block and grate your own! Pre-shredded simply doesn’t work.
Gouda is a seriously underrated cheese when it comes to cooking! It melts beautifully and will give your mac a sophisticated taste without being too pretentious.
Despite it being a hard cheese, Gruyère still melts beautifully. It saltiness helps cut through all the heavy fats, and its nutty flavor is one of our faves.
4. Cream Cheese
We’re no strangers to cream cheese here in the Delish test kitchen, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when we confirmed that it’s perfect in mac & cheese. It melts down perfectly and helps keep everything smooth. It works exceptionally well is a slow-cooker mac & cheese!
We use brie in our mac when we are feeling extra fancy. It’s creamy smoothness makes an excellent sauce to coat your noodles and creates the most decadent mac & cheese. Just be sure to remove the rind first!
You can even go crazy and make brie mac and cheese right inside your wheel of brie!
6. Goat Cheese
Extra tangy and extra creamy we love goat cheese. The flavor sticks around the best even after all the milk and cream get added. It’s a nice change of pace.
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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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 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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Tips For The Best Homemade Baked Mac And Cheese
- Use block cheese and shred, do not buy the pre-shredded cheese. The pre-shredded cheese is great for so many things but not macaroni and cheese. Its coated and wont melt properly. You need to shred it yourself for the best result.
- Cook your pasta to slightly less than al dente, about one minute shy is perfect. The reason is that this is baked mac and cheese so the pasta will continue to cook in the homemade cheese sauce in the oven. You dont want soggy macaroni.
- I used elbow pasta but really, any tubular past will work.
- This mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux. The roux is super important to getting the creamiest cheese sauce of your life. Here is what you need to look for:
- The roux is whisked together until bubbly and golden.
- Whisk in cold milk not warm to prevent the flour from clumping.
- Cook the roux until you see bubbles on the surface and then continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes before adding the cheese.
What Can I Add To Mac And Cheese For Flavor
I love adding seasonings to the roux to amp up my mac and cheese. This one has smoked paprika for yep a smoky note. And I love how dry mustard powder helps emphasize the cheesy flavor. Some readers like to add a hefty pinch of onion powder, others love a bit of nutmeg. If you like heat, adding jalapeños is delicious .
You can also tweak the flavor by varying the cheeses. Readers report using smoked cheese for tons of sultry goodness Other readers have added mozzarella or jack for some stretchy goodness, creamy havarti, parmesan , or prefer to go with extra-sharp cheddar.
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Tips For The Best Baked Jalapeo Popper Mac And Cheese
- Using block cheese is the way to go when youre making mac and cheese. The pre-shredded cheese is coated and wont melt properly. Grate it yourself for the best results.
- Cook your pasta to slightly less than al dente, about one minute shy is perfect thats about 7 minutes for macaroni.The reason is that this is baked mac and cheese so the pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
- I used elbow pasta but really, any tubular, short pasta will work.
- The roux is super important to getting the creamiest cheese sauce. Three things to look for:
- The roux is whisked together until bubbly and golden.
- Whisk in cold milk not warm to prevent the flour from clumping.
- Cook the roux, stirring nearly constantly, until you see bubbles on the surface and then continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes before adding the cheese. This will keep the sauce from turning grainy.
Youll notice this recipe calls for two jalapeños. I removed the seeds and membranes before dicing which cuts down on the heat a bit. I mean, this is Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese so a little heat should be expected. If youre like whaaaat? Bring on the spicy! Keep the seeds and membranes intact and dice away OR add another jalapeño.
I further tame those spicy jalapeños by sautéing in butter. This also serves another purpose as it gives the cheese sauce amazing flavor. I add back in a little heat and lots of flavor by adding in some TABASCO® Sauce.
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!
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Gather & Measure The Ingredients
This easy mac and cheese recipe is super fast-paced once you start cooking, so it’s important to have all the ingredients measured and ready to go! As you can see there are only eight, common ingredients in this recipe that most of us have on hand at all times! We will discuss the ingredients and possible substitutions later in this post .
Faqs About Homemade Mac And Cheese
This mac and cheese recipe is one of my most popular, so here are some of the commonly asked questions.
How do you store mac and cheese?
Store the leftovers of this homemade mac and cheese recipe in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Since it thickens as it cools, you may need to add 1-2 TBS of milk when it’s reheated it to restore its original creaminess.
Can homemade mac and cheese be frozen?
Yes, you can freeze this homemade mac and cheese, however I don’t recommend it. Since this mac and cheese recipe is so easy to make, there’s really no need to freeze it. If you’re looking for a freezer-friendly mac and cheese recipe check out my baked mac and cheese!
What main dish goes well with mac and cheese?
If you’re looking to serve this mac and cheese recipe as a side dish instead of the main event, here are some suggestions for other dishes that pair well with it: meatloaf
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Secrets To Making The Perfect Mac And Cheese
When done right, this comforting classic beats the box any day.
Though undeniably delicious, homemade mac and cheese can be quite divisive. Sharp cheeses and toasted breadcrumbs may sound like necessities to adults, but kids often turn up their noses at anything other than a box. In this weeks episode of Things Cooks Know, hosts and Real Simple editors Sarah Humphreys and Sarah Karnasiewicz discuss their tips for creating the ultimate homemade mac and cheeseand how to ensure the whole family will devour it.
1. Pick the perfect pastaThe noodle is the base of the entire dish, so its crucial that you choose the right kind of pasta. Noodles with lots of nooks and cranniessuch as shells, mini penne, elbows, and corkscrewsensure you achieve maximum cheesiness with every bite. If the dish is eventually being baked in the oven, parboil the noodles and drain when theyre still slightly chewy.
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!
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Secret #: Upgrade Your Breadcrumb Topping With Garlic And Parm
Next, we tackled the great debate over traditional breadcrumbs vs. panko . With its light and airy texture and supreme crunch, panko won over our hearts. But we didn’t stop there. We were inspired by Macaroni and Cheese with Garlic Bread Crumbs to cook the panko in butter with garlic until lightly toasted. This recipe for macaroni and cheese taught us to fold some Parmesan cheese into the breadcrumbs, which adds another layer of flavor to the crunchy topping.