Cooking Tips For Baked Mac And Cheese
- Boiling the pasta cook the pasta less than you normally would. I like to boil my elbow pasta for between 4 and 5 minutes. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, and you dont want it to get mushy.
- Use room temp liquids if you can cold liquids generally take longer to thicken than warmer ones. I usually set my milk and half and half out while the water for the pasta is coming up to a boil.
- The cheeses use your favorites! Our personal favorites are the cheddar and gruyere used in this recipe, but you can be very creative with the cheese selection here. Mozzarella, gouda, smoked gouda, swiss, monterey jack, colby jack, colby. There are plenty of reader comments down below the recipe that talk about the cheeses they used!
- Shred your own I know its a pain, and its SO tempting to use the pre-shredded cheese in the bags. But those bags of cheese contain a starchy substance that keeps the cheese from clumping which also prohibits it from melting as well as it should.
Try Using Heavy Cream In Place Of Milk
When it comes to boxed mac and cheese hacks, the general goal is to make standard mac and cheese even cheesier, creamier, and more packed with fat and sodium than the original. Which honestly, makes sense. If youre going to eat comfort food, why not make it as indulgent as possible? One way to maximize the creaminess of your mac and cheese is to switch out regular milk for something even creamier, like heavy cream. The result is a thicker, more decadent mac and cheese, according to Redditor HayleyJ1609, who made the hack by mistake , but said, Holy cow, it was the most intense mac and cheese ever.
Shes not alone in the same Reddit thread, another Redditor suggested using heavy cream and additional grated cheese FTW . In other words, take the creaminess and the cheesiness up a notch. As for what type of cheese to add to the mix well, thats up to you.
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.
Read Also: Babybel Cheese Shelf Life
The Ultimate Mac And Cheese Recipe
For the ultimate mac and cheese, try this recipe from chef Antonio Romano, winner of Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award for Italy and the South-East Europe Region. Full of the flavours of Italy, this dish is made with a blend of Italian cheeses and topped with crunchy hazelnuts and black summer truffle.
Dont Miss: Babybel Refrigeration
Spicy Italian Sausage + Onions + Marinara
One of my go-to pasta recipes is as straightforward as it is satisfying. First, sautée diced onions, then add broken-up spicy Italian sausage to the pan. Once everything is cooked through, incorporate a cup or two of my favorite canned marina sauce . That, plus a little bit of penne pasta, is a weeknight no-brainer, but I think it might be even better mixed into the sharp cheddar of instant macaroni and cheese.
Recommended Reading: What Does Brick Cheese Taste Like
Read Also: Does Babybel Cheese Need To Be Refrigerated
Macaroni And Cheese Recipe: Create Your Own
Ask any mom: Even veggie-averse kids will enthusiastically eat just about any vegetable when its baked inside homemade macaroni and cheese. Who wouldnt, when that vegetable is tossed with pasta, swaddled in a rich cheese sauce, and sprinkled with garlicky breadcrumbs?
Not only is macaroni and cheese delicious and comforting, but its also amazingly flexible. Macaroni somehow earned the title, but any short pasta that cradles the cheesy sauce will work. You can make the sauce with almost any aged cheese, and you can add your favorite herbs, spices,vegetables, and cured meats . Ive always been a fan of classic macaroni and cheese with Gruyère, fontina, Parmigiano, and a good pinch of cayenne, but with so many options to make it interesting, why not experiment?Baked Macaroni and Cheese is creamy, crunchy, undeniably addictive and easy to customize to your taste: just choose your favorite cheeses, add-ins, and pasta shape, then sprinkle on a crunchy breadcrumb topping and bake. With this Create-Your-Own recipe you can create a very classic version with just pasta, cheese sauce and crumbs, or you can dress it up with vegetables, spices, even lobster!
Barbecue Chicken From Kraft
Macaroni and cheese goes so well with barbecue. Its the perfect combination reallysavory, sweet, smoky and cheesy! Use shredded chicken and barbeque sauce to really amp up this combination. Also try this dish with pork as well. You can also turn it into the ultimate dinner platter.
So, if youre faced with an empty fridge and no idea what to fix for dinner, check your pantry. With a box of macaroni and cheese and a can or two of extras youll enjoy a delicious, simple meal tonight that wont derail your grocery budget.
Whats your favorite way to upgrade your basic mac and cheese recipe? Is there an add-in you use to take your boxed meal to the next level? Share your own mac hacks in the comments!
Want more ridiculously easy 15 minute meal ideas?
You can see the 15 minute meals made with easy convenience foods below no cooking skills needed.
P.S. Hate meal planning? And wish you had a giant list of easy suggestions and not complicated recipes? So did I. So I spent several weeks creating a master list of cheap and easy dinner ideas. And you know what? It completely revolutionized meal planning for us.
These ideas are field-tested by hundreds of thousands of our readers and are guaranteed to help even the most overwhelmed mom stick to a meal plan.
And were giving it to you 100% free right now for a limited time.
You May Like: Philly Cheese Steak Pizza Recipe Dominos
Bake Your Mac And Cheese In Style
The perfect marriage of a creamy dish and a crunchy topping can be achieved by baking your mac and cheese in the oven. Before you throw a casserole dish in the oven and just hope for the best, keep a few things in mind. You will likely want to give the inside of your casserole dish a quick mist of cooking spray so that your food is not stuck to the pan. You will also want to cover with an ovenproof cover , then remove the cover in the last 10 minutes of baking so that the dish reaches the desirable level of crisp texture. Finally, you should use the largest casserole dish you have to bake the dish. If its too small and you have too much pasta and cheese then it may not bake thoroughly. You dont want pockets of undercooked pasta in your dish!
Start By Choosing The Toppings
The possibilities are endless. Every time I start thinking, I come up with a new combination. It is fun, but can definitely get overwhelming!
So take a deep breath, get a pen and paper and jot down some ideas. Remember: less is more! Try to think of toppings that are versatile and could be combined in different creations.
How big or small your bar is going to be depends on the size of your guest list. Here we are creating a bar that can feed around 10 people, but you can easily halve or double/triple everything!
As always, dont feel limited to what you see here. Get creative and add some personality to your party!
Recommended Reading: Can Babybel Cheese Stay Unrefrigerated
It Is That Easy To Make The Best Homemade Macaroni And Cheese
Skip the box macaroni and cheese when you can make your own without any extra time! You dont have to do anything fancy to enjoy good ol fashion macaroni and cheese. My trick is using the American Cheese slices that I get for cheap with my coupons.
You can have this dinner created and on the table in under 10 minutes! Now, that is a side dish my family loves.
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.
Don’t Miss: Does Laughing Cow Cheese Need To Be Refrigerated
Why Make Mac And Cheese From Scratch
If you are waffling on making your own homemade mac and cheese versus a box, let me share why I think homemade is better:
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
Also Check: Unrefrigerated String Cheese
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.
How To Avoid Grainy Cheese Sauce:
- The type of cheddar makes a difference. High quality aged cheddar cheese will give you a stronger taste and smoother texture. More mild and inexpensive cheddar cheeses will have less flavor and almost a grittier taste.
- Use fresh grated cheese. Pre-shredded store-bought cheese will not melt the same as freshly grated cheese, and grating the cheese helps it melt smoothly and evenly in the sauce.
- Bring the cheese to room temperature. I like to grate the cheese very first, before moving forward with the recipe. That allows it to sit at room temperature while I prepare the white sauce.
- Use low heat. In order for the cheese to melt properly and smoothly we want it to have gradual changes in temperature . When its time to add the cheese to the white sauce, remove the sauce from heat and let it cool for a few minutes. It only needs to be warm enough to melt the cheese.
- Dont over-stirthe sauce once the cheese has melted. Add the noodles and quickly assemble in pan and put into the oven.
Don’t Miss: Philly Cheesesteak Pizza Ingredients
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.
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.
Don’t Miss: Where Can I Buy Brick Cheese
What Else Can I Add To Mac And Cheese
Heres where mac and cheese can get really fun. In addition to changing the cheeses, you can switch up the herbs and spices, add in some veggies, or your favorite protein to make your own homemade mac and cheese creation. Here are some other fun ingredients to add to your mac and cheese:
- Cooked chicken
The equipment section above contains affiliate links to products we use and love. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Simple Ways To Take Your Mac To The Next Level
If you want to prepare next level mac and cheese, its easiest to start with the box and doctor it up from there. Create your own cheese sauce or buy a jarred cheese sauce such as Ragu Classic Alfredo sauce.
Macaroni refers to the shape of the noodle, so if youd like to mix it up, you can use shells, elbow macaroni or even penne. The macaroni shape holds the cheese sauce well, which is why its a classic paring, but feel free to mix it up as you see fit!
You can also bake mac and cheese. The simplest method is to prepare a box variety, add pre-seasoned breadcrumbs, extra cheese and simply broil for a few minutes until melted. If you DIY your own cheese sauce, then pre-boil the noodles until theyre nearly done, before adding to a casserole dish and baking. While real baked mac and cheese is awesome and yummy, it does take longer to prepare .
The best way to take your basic mac and cheese recipe to the next level is simply add-in additional ingredients to make it even better. Its simple, fast and will take your meal from basic and boring to delicious.
Dont Miss: Are Lunchables Gluten Free
Also Check: Are Blue Diamond Almonds Keto
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.
Don’t Miss: Can Babybel Cheese Go Bad