Instant Pot Mac And Cheese: Frequently Asked Questions
Does this work with gluten-free noodles?
Not really. I tried this with gluten-free noodles and did not have great results they just turned to mush.
What kind of cheese do you recommend?
My favorite cheese combo is 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Italian blend shredded cheese. Really, any kind of cheese you like will be good here. I lean towards smooth-melting cheeses such as cheddar, gouda, gruyere, Monterrey jack, etc. Stringy cheeses might be tricky to work with but would obvi still taste awesome.
Any extra seasonings I should add?
I often add a pinch of garlic salt or a swish of hot sauce when serving. I cant not.
Can this be made vegan?
A totally vegan mac and cheese recipe can be found here!
How To Make A Bread Crumb Topping
Combine the following and sprinkle over your casserole before baking.
- 3/4 cup bread crumbs
- 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.
How To Make A Roux
First time making a roux? No problem! Check out this super simple tutorial:
Congrats, youve made your roux! This will give your mac the thick and creamy texture youre looking for.
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Does Mac And Cheese Thicken In The Oven
It will absorb all that creamy goodness and fully cook in the oven. It will never be al dente, but it definitely should not be mushy, either. It will also continue to absorb and thicken as it sits outside of the oven. So serve it hot, while its still creamy, about 10 minutes after it comes out of the oven.
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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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.
What Can I Add To Macaroni And Cheese To Make It Taste Better
1. Spice Up Your Plain Mac. Throwing in spices to your macaroni and cheese might be the easiest and most affordable way to add in additional flavor. Basic spices that you may already have in your pantry that would work well include red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning, chili, onion, and garlic powder.
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How To Make Smoked Mac And Cheese Smoked Mac And Cheese Recipe
A few steps need to be followed to get creamy and smoked Mac and Cheese using your smoker grill. Smoked Mac and Cheese using our Green Egg is our preference, but you can use any smoker. If you dont own a smoker grill, watch for sales and deals during the winter, you can pick up a new smoker cheap!
First, the smoker needs to be set at an appropriate temperature to avoid overcooking the pasta. Smoked mac and cheese is all about slowly adding a smoky flavor to the pasta and cheese.
Second, a good mix of wood pellets or wood chips should be used to prevent overpowering the cheese flavor or over smoking the cheese.
Lastly, the macaroni noodles should not be over-boiled the noodles will spend at the very least an hour in the smoker.
Learning how to smoke pasta and cheeses sounds easy, and it is, but some practice will help find the best balance between cheeses, texture, and smoke flavor. When smoking pasta and cheese is important not to use too much smoke and overpower the cheese taste.
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.
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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.
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!
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Why Is My Mac And Cheese Gritty
Adding cheese to a bubbling mixture will cause the cheese to break down. The emulsifiers and coagulants break down when heated thus causing a gritty texture. Remove the hot béchamel from the heat. Add the cheese slowly if your recipe calls for 2 cups of shredded cheese add in a little bit at a time.
Tips To Make The Best Mac And Cheese:
#1. Do not overcook the pasta
I recommend cooking the pasta for 1-2 minutes less than the direction. Drain well then add about ½ tablespoon of butter or oil into pasta to prevent them from sticking together.
#2. Use freshly grated cheese.
Buy a block of cheese and shred it with a grater. It tastes better and cheaper than pre-shredded cheese.
Do not use pre-shredded cheese because they contain preservatives like potato starch to keep them from clumping together. This anti-caking agent makes the cheese shreds don’t melt together. As a result, the sauce turns grainy and gritty.
#3. Use warm milk and heavy cream
Using warm milk and heavy cream creates a smooth and fully blended sauce. Simply warm the milk and heavy cream for about 1-2 minutes in the microwave right before adding to the roux mixture.
#4. Gradually add the milk and heavy cream and stir constantly!
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How To Make Homemade Cheese Sauce For Smoked Mac And Cheese
To make the best homemade mac and cheese, you first need to learn how to make a roux for mac and cheese, a mixture of flour and butter that’s the base for many gourmet sauces.
For each pound of dry pasta you plan to use, measure
- 5 tablespoons butter, sliced into 3 to 4 pieces
- 5 tablespoons flour
- 2½ cups milk
- 8 ounces grated smoked cheese
Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. You want the butter to foam but not bubble or burn.
Once the butter is melted and starting to foam, sprinkle in the flour, whisking as you go. Continue whisking — don’t stop! — for 2 to 5 minutes until you no longer see any lumps of flour, and the mixture is golden brown.
Then slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you go. Keep whisking at least every few seconds to prevent the milk from sticking to and burning on the pan.
After 3 to 5 more minutes of whisking, you’ll notice the sauce starting to thicken slightly. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the cheese and stir until it is completely melted. Voila! You’re a gourmet French chef. And you’re about to have the best mac and cheese of your life.
How To Make Dessert Mac And Cheese
Dessert Macaroni and Cheese! Yes, you read that right! A sweet mac & cheese made with cream cheese, blueberries and vanilla, its a sweet take on a classic comfort food.
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Similar to bread pudding or rice pudding, Dessert Macaroni and Cheese has a starchy base held together by a baked custard. The idea came to me one day and I figured someone must have made this already.
I googled and read all about Mac and Cheese, saw all sorts of variations on the savory dish, but didnt find any sweet mac & cheese recipes, so decided to give it a try.
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Well the first go-round was really strange. I made the traditional white sauce and instead of adding cheddar cheese, as I would do for a savory mac-n-cheese, I added cream cheese, vanilla and sugar.
Its not that it tasted bad, it actually tasted pretty good, but the look and texture was so similar to regular mac-n-cheese that there was a sort of cognitive dissonance between what my eyes were seeing and what my mouth was tasting. My husband had exactly the same reaction.
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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 .
How To Make A Mornay Sauce
This is the same base I use for my Homemade alfredo sauce as well. Alfredo is made with parmesan while I use a few different cheeses for my Mac and Cheese.
I always use some type of cheddar traditional cheddar will give you a classic yellow mac and cheese. I typically use white extra sharp cheddar, Gruyere and Monterey Jack cheese.
I buy blocks and shred the cheese myself for a smoother sauce and better flavor. The pre shredded cheese tends to have less flavor had have a coating to keep them separated that I dont love in my cheese sauce.
Take the sauce off the heat and add the cheese in batches while stirring. Next taste the salt and see if it needs any additional salt! Then add it to the pasta.
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Creamy Baked Mac And Cheese
The Chunky Chef09/30/2019
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This baked mac and cheese is a family favorite recipe, loved by both children and adults. It uses a combination of cheeses, layered in the dish as well as melted into a rich and creamy cheese sauce, for the ultimate in cheesy deliciousness! Perfect for a comforting dinner or as a holiday side dish!
BAKED MAC AND CHEESE
Baked mac and cheese. Its nearly the universal comfort food, and there are SO many variations! In fact, I almost didnt post this recipe, as there are SOOOO many mac and cheese recipes available, and most people already have their favorite way of making it.
Of course, theres no right way or wrong way, so Im here sharing the way I like to make my mac and cheese .
Tips To Make The Best Baked Mac And Cheese
To make the best and easy baked mac and cheese without roux or extra flour, make sure to use the best quality macaroni pasta shells .
I recommend using the regular kind of pasta shells for this for the best results.
I am not sure if gluten free pasta or any other kind of pasta like whole wheat pasta or chickpea pasta will work for this recipe since I havent tried them myself.
Sof if you are not on a specific diet, stick with regular macaroni pasta shells for this baked mac and cheese recipe.
The kind of cheese that you use for this baked mac and cheese recipe is very important as it decides the flavor and cheesy texture of the baked mac and cheese.
Make sure to use the recommended amount of cheese for the recipe, or it may not turn out good.
The cheese in the dish helps the pasta to thicken so if you use less cheese, it may end up with a lot of liquid mess. To avoid this, make sure to use the recommended amount of cheese!
Also,it is very important to use good quality cheese.
If you can, it is always best to shred the cheese yourself at home.
If you use packaged shredded cheese, make sure you are familiar with the cheese that you are using and its good for baking.
Because some of the shredded cheese comes with extra ingredients and may make the pasta dry when it cooks.
So use the cheese that you normally use for pasta dishes so you know its of good quality!
Below you can read the no boil easy baked mac and cheese recipe in detail.
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Ask Eric: How To Make A Beautifully Smooth Cheese Sauce
Dear Eric: Please help! I am almost 80 years old and my cheese sauce always curdles when I make macaroni and cheese. It looks terrible and tastes blah. Jewel Townsend
Dear Jewel: I wish you had contacted me sooner, because thats a long time to be having your cheese sauce curdling. But I hope the following advice will ensure smooth sailing, or should I say smooth saucing, the next time you make it.
To review, cheese sauce is simply white sauce, also called béchamel, that has been flavoured with cheese.
To make the white sauce, you start by making roux, a mixture made by cooking in a saucepan a combination of flour and butter or other fat. You cook the roux a short while to get the raw flour taste out of it. For a white sauce, you do not let the roux darken, as you would for a brown sauce or gravy.
Warm milk is slowly incorporated into the roux, creating a smooth mixture. If you add the milk too quickly, use cold milk or simply dont whisk fast enough, you could get lumps in your sauce as bits of roux will cook and turn into small balls before theyve had a chance to be smoothly blended into the milk.
Once youve added the milk and gently simmered and thickened the white sauce, its time to add the cheese.
How and when you add the cheese is critical to making a smooth sauce.
Do not add the cheese to the sauce while is still sitting over the heat, as that can cause the cheese to overcook, start to separate and turn your sauce into an oily-surfaced, curdled-looking mess.