What Is The Best Cheese To Make Macaroni And Cheese

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Monterey Jack Creates Creamy Mac And Cheese

How To Make The Best Baked Mac And Cheese

An American cow’s milk cheese with origins in Monterey, California, the aptly named Monterey Jack is easy to love. At once firm and creamy, it melts like a dream, making it the perfect choice for all your gooey cheese needs. Buttery in texture and very mild, like cheddar, Monterey Jack is an easy choice for mac and cheese that both children and adults can get on board with. For deliciously melty, smooth, velvety mac and cheese, we highly recommend you try some Jack.

Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac And Cheese

I have several flavored macaroni and cheese recipes on Budget Bytes already, but I realized I didnt have one single plain, classic homemade mac and cheese recipe. Like, nothing fancy or unique, just straight up creamy, comforting, cheesy goodness! So thats what I have for you today. Its a classic stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe made with a classic roux-based cheese sauce that will satisfy all of your cheesy pasta cravings. Its amazingly delicious on its own, but Ive also included a list of fun add-ins and other ways you can customize your mac and cheese and make it unique.

Can I Make This Five Cheese Baked Macaroni And Cheese Ahead

You can make this mac and cheese ahead. Its also freezer-friendly after baking. In the past, Ive prepped this entirely and wrapped the pan in foil to freeze for 6 months.

Granted, when freezing, I suggest preparing and baking it in a disposable aluminum pan. This is to prevent your ceramic dishes from being held hostage for long periods. It also allows you to toss the pan of macaroni into the oven straight from the fridge without fear the cold dish will shatter.

If you need to make this ahead of time, follow the instructions all the way up to baking. Wrap the pan in foil and store it in the fridge for up to 48 hours or in the freezer for up to 6 months. If youre taking the freezer route, youll need to remember to thaw it for 24 hours in the fridge before baking it.

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Aged Cheddar And Parmesan Team Up To Make Perfect Mac And Cheese

The sharper, more complex flavors of aged cheddar team up well with salty Parmesan cheese. This combo is amazing in grilled cheese sandwiches and the same goes for mac and cheese.

Italian Parmesan’s slightly fruity, subtly nutty notes and grittier texture pair beautifully with the smoother, creamier mouth feel of cheddar. Make this mac and cheese. Your stomach will thank you.

Lindsays Tips For The Best Macaroni And Cheese

Creamy Mac and Cheese

Both of these macaroni and cheese recipes seem simple, but there are definitely a few tips that you catch on to after making as much macaroni and cheese as Lindsay has. These two methods come with their own set of recommendations:

Southern Style


  • Undercook your pasta. Since youll continue baking the entire dish in the oven, the pasta will naturally absorb the cheese sauce. No soggy noods: undercook by half!
  • Grate your own hard cheese. This ensures the cheeses are distributed throughout your dish consistently and lead to a more even flavor. If youe working with softer cheeses, such as mozzarella or Colby Jack, these are ok to buy pre-shredded to save time. The exception is American cheese, a classic in this dish, which grates nicely after its chilled quickly in the freezer .
  • Use half and half. While you can use whatever liquid you prefer, Lindsay reaches for half and half most of the time. She notes you can even make this vegan by using oat milk and vegan cheeses: do what work with your dietary needs and preferences!
  • Use your head. Probably my favorite tip she shared, she again calls out that the consistency should be like a cheesy milk bath, which the pasta will continue to soak up as it bakes. If you add more cheese than whats suggested in your above equation, be sure to add more liquid to counter it. Too much cheese with not enough liquid will result in a seized up macaroni and cheese .
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    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.

    Homemade Baked Mac And Cheese

    There is absolutely nothing I love more than cheese. And when you add pasta to it? Fuggetaboutit.

    Mac and cheese is one of those recipes that can take on so many different forms. I love it anyway I can get it but baked mac and cheese is my very favorite and Ill tell you why The topping. I use breadcrumbs for my topping occasionally, but, a Panko topped mac and cheese is just that much better.

    I mix in Parmesan, butter, and paprika with the Panko so it crisps up beautifully and gets a nice golden brown color when this amazing homemade mac and cheese is baked.

    Im going to be honest here. When I make mac and cheese, its the mac to cheese ratio that I am most concerned about. I love it when the mac and cheese is oeey gooey and the cheese sauce is just so creamy. GIMME.

    With all this cheese going on in this macaroni and cheese recipe, I need a little help from my KitchenAid Deluxe Stand Mixer and its handy dandy Fresh Prep Slice/Shredder attachment. I picked up this beauty at Walmart this past week and I am in LOOOOOVE. I was torn between the options: SILVER | COBALT | PISTACHIO. But, when I pictured them in my kitchen, I knew I had to go with the cobalt its just stunning!

    I use my stand mixer about 954 times each week. Being a food blogger and mom means Im in my kitchen a lot baking up goodies and whipping up amazing dinners like this homemade baked mac and cheese. I am always, always looking for help in the kitchen and the Kitchen Aid Deluxe Stand Mixer is the answer.

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    The Best Cheeses To Use In Your Homemade Mac & Cheese

    Instant macaroni and cheese might pass the college dorm test and we all know there’s a time and a place for that blue box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

    But we all learn eventually that nothing beats the real stuff. When it’s done right, homemade mac and cheese has the potential to be truly transformative the stuff dreams are made of. If you don’t agree, then you haven’t had the good stuff.

    Luckily for all of us cheesy carb lovers, this meal is simple to whip up from scratch. Like most dishes you’ll cook, half the battle is won when you’re choosing your ingredients in the grocery aisles. Whether it’s baked for an irresistibly crunchy top, or cooked on the stovetop for maximum creaminess, this perennial comfort food requires the right cheese in order to fulfill its dinnertime destiny. To help you get started on your mac game, here’s a down-and-dirty guide to the major players at the market.

    These are the best cheeses to use in your homemade mac and cheese.

    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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    Grate Your Own Cheese For The Best Results

    Before we get into the best cheese to use there is one rule of thumb to follow for all of them grate your own cheese. I know it is tempting to get the pre-packaged cheese that is already shredded.

    It definitely makes things quicker. However, it wont be the best cheese. When cheese is pre-shredded or grated the manufacturers add some type of starch to the cheese to keep it from clumping.

    This is usually a gluten-free and tasteless flour like potato, tapioca, or rice. It is added in very small quantities and while it doesnt impact taste, it can impact how the cheese melts.

    For the most success when melting cheese, buy your cheese in blocks and grate it at home. It will take some extra time, but if you are truly looking for the best cheese for mac and cheese this is the place to start.

    Now, let us get into looking at the best types of cheese.

    Buffalo Chicken Mac And Cheese

    The Spruce Eats / Diana Rattray

    Give your mac and cheese a taste of Buffalo chicken wings with this fun recipe. Shredded chicken is cooked with a spicy sauce, while the cheese sauce includes a little hot sauce of its own, along with pepper jack. It’s a memorable dish and an entertaining way to spice up family dinnertime.

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    The Spruce

    If you’re looking to spice things up, try this jalapeño macaroni and cheese, try adding jalapeño peppers. They provide a little bite and will transform your baked macaroni and cheese. We are sure it will quickly become a family favorite.

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    How To Make The Creamiest Dreamiest Cheesiest Mac And Cheese Ever

    Mac and cheese always sounds good, right? It’s a barbecue-joint staple and favorite for home cooks of all ages. And it’s one of the most searched recipes on Epicurious as soon as chilly weather sets in. Sadly, we’ve been disappointed too many times by a gloppy, bland cheese sauce orwhat’s worsea dry, gritty mess.

    What we want in our mac and cheese is perfectly cooked pasta. Enrobed in a rich, velvety cheese sauce. With a light, crunchy topping. We want the kind of casserole that’s dangerous to have in the house because you just can’t stop eating it. So how do we do that? What’s the best cheese combination to use? What kind of breadcrumbs? What other flavors enhance rather than detract from all this cheesy goodness? Our Test Kitchen decided to study the popular recipes on our site in order to create our own ultimate macaroni and cheese recipe. Here’s what we learned:

    How To Make The Creamiest Cheese Sauce

    Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese

    Aside from ensuring you have a nice creamy bechamel to start, the best way I have found to make my cheese sauce super creamy is toadd cream cheese and sour cream to the mix.

    Cream cheese doesnt bring a ton of flavor, but it does bring a lovely, smooth decadence to your sauce.

    And sour cream also adds a touch of tang that can balance out the rich sauce.

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    Bacon And Sausage Mac And Cheese

    Different varieties of cheddar combine in this flavorful bacon and sausage mac and cheese recipe. Cook up a few slices of bacon and half a package of Premio Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage to combine with shredded sharp and white cheddar. You can cut the sausage into bite-sized rounds or crumble it up, depending on your preference. Thicken the cheesy sauce mixture with a blend of butter, flour and chicken broth for added richness and flavor.

    No matter how you prep the ingredients, youll get a mouthwatering comfort meal thats full of protein and flavor. And the addition of Premio Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage reduces fat without compromising on taste.

    Fontina Makes Fabulous Mac And Cheese

    Hailed for its unique versatility as both a table cheese and a cooking cheese, fontina is a crowd-pleasing, melty cheese that will work beautifully in many macaroni and cheese recipes.

    Fontina is a cow’s milk cheese that has been crafted in Italy since 1477 but is also widely available in both Swedish and Danish styles which are recognizable by their red wax wrapping. Skip the pricier varieties that are more suitable for serving on a cheese board, and instead opt for a mid-priced fontina that is ideal for cooking. With a flavor that balances earthiness with a buttery mouthfeel, fontina is a cheese you’ll definitely be reaching for again.

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    How Do I Make The Cheese Sauce For Five Cheese Baked Macaroni And Cheese

    While I dont knock anyones method, I find that many folks over complicate macaroni and cheese. Sure, a béchamel sauce is nice, but you dont need a béchamel to make a creamy mac and cheese. I mean, if Im a culinary stickler, its not a béchamel sauce most folks are using. Its a mornay sauce.

    Lets keep things simple here. Add the evaporated milk, the seasoned salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion powder, ground mustard, paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to the pot. Next, add the crumbled chevre. Stir in the chevre, still with the stove set to medium, to heat the chevre until its nearly melted.

    Finally, add in the beaten egg. I add an egg to my mac and cheese because it, along with the starch from the pasta, gives the casserole body and helps bind it together.

    How Do I Store And Reheat Leftover Macaroni And Cheese

    Macaroni and Cheese Recipe | How to Make Mac and Cheese

    Store leftover five cheese baked macaroni and cheese in a covered container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

    To reheat leftover macaroni and cheese, I add a tablespoon or two of whole milk to a microwave-safe container and heat on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Stir the macaroni and cheese together, and boom! Macaroni and cheese goodness.

    This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for larger parties, as well. Make sure you pin the recipe for your future meals, and be sure to share it with any guests you may invite, too.

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    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.

    What Kind Of Cheese Is Best For Mac And Cheese

    Cheddar is probably the most popular cheese for macaroni and cheese and sharp cheddar provides the most pronounced flavor. But if you want to experiment outside of the confines of cheddar, there are a ton of other cheeses that are great in macaroni and cheese! You can use one or a combination of cheeses to make your mac and cheese your own.

    Here are some other cheeses that work great with macaroni and cheese:

    • Parmesan
    • Monterey jack or pepper jack

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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.

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