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.
How To Make Mac And Cheese Sauce
Step 1: Make Roux by this point, you already know the ins and outs of a roux and how to make it , so were going to skip to step 2.
Step 2: Whisk in Milk slowly add milk to the roux, whisking constantly so it doesnt burn. Continue to whisk for around 4-6 minutes, or until things begin to thicken.
Dont rush this process. we PROMISE things will thicken!
Step 3: Remove from Heat once things are thick, turn the heat off.
Step 4: Whisk in Shredded Cheese then, add shredded cheese, garlic, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and whisk until the cheese melts.
Give your cheese sauce a taste and add more hot sauce, as desired.
Step 5: Enjoy! mix mac and cheese sauce with macaroni noodles and serve immediately.
Want To Lighten Up This Mac And Cheese
This mac and cheese is made with real cheese and real cream. Its insanely delicious and worth it. That said, here are a few ideas on how to make it more nutritionally redeeming:
Substitute half and half for the heavy cream.Half and half is equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. Your mac and cheese wont be quite as creamy or rich, but its still very good.
Add veggies! Reduce the amount of pasta to 6 ounces. Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups chopped broccoli florets or 1 cup fresh or frozen peas to the pasta pot when just 2 to 3 minutes of pasta cooking time remain. Drain and stir into the cheese sauce as directed. Or, stir 1 to 2 cups roasted or cooked vegetables in at the end. Roasted Brussels sprouts are great.
Use high-quality ingredients. Grass-fed dairy tends to be higher in healthy Omega-3s. Buy organic cheese and cream to avoid added growth hormones.
Use whole grain pasta. This wont reduce the calories or fat, but it will add whole grains and increase the fiber content. That will make the mac and cheese more filling. My favorite brands of whole wheat pasta are DeLallo and Bionaturae.
Use a more voluminous noodle shape. This wont reduce the calories or fat, either, but it makes it seem like youre eating more pasta because it fills more of your bowl. If you swap other noodle shapes for the macaroni, measure them in ounces instead of cups .
Looking for lighter, veggie-packed pasta dishes? I have lots of pasta recipes for you!
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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.
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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How To Make Baked Mac And Cheese
Its a straightforward recipe, starting with a basic butter-flour roux that is used to thicken milk to make the cheese sauce. For first timers, I think the short video below will help give you the confidence that youve got this!
The simple trick to avoid lumps in the Mac and Cheese Sauce is to pour the milk in slowly while constantly stirring, then just switch to a whisk if needed to remove any stubborn lumps!
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.
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Quick & Easy Chicken Parmesan From Taste Of Home
Chicken nuggets are great with cheese and pasta, and this recipe makes it super simple by using chicken nuggets and layering in a casserole style. This is amazing if youre craving chicken parmesan but dont have the time for a complicated dish.
This recipe was created with frozen meatballs, which work great with boxed macaroni and cheese. They add meaty flavor and protein, and take it up a notch to something special.
How To Make It
Im going to walk you through how I make mac and cheese in my own kitchen. If you want to watch me do it, theres a quick recipe video above that shows each step.
Step 1, Warm milk in a saucepan or in the microwave. Warm milk helps to make the whole sauce making process go a bit quicker and according to Julia Child, warm milk prevents a lumpy cheese sauce.
Step 2, Make a roux with butter and flour. Basically a roux is a cooked paste made with butter and flour. When milk is added later in the recipe, its this butter-flour paste that helps the cheese sauce to thicken.
Step 3, Whisk in the milk and thicken the sauce. When the roux is a golden color and smells nutty , I whisk in the warm milk. As the milk heats up with the roux, it thickens and turns silky smooth.
Step 4, Adds spices and the cheese. When the milk is a silky thickened sauce, I whisk in a few spices and the shredded cheese. When the cheese has melted into the sauce, I always taste and check for seasoning. Its likely that some salt needs to be added.
Step 5, Stir in slightly undercooked pasta, add to a baking dish, and bake. As I mentioned above, I undercook my pasta by 2 minutes, drain, and then rinse it of excess starches. This makes sure that my sauce stays creamy while it bakes in the oven. The macaroni and cheese bakes for about 30 minutes.
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How To Make The Creamiest Mac And Cheese
You only have to do a few things differently than normal when youre trying to make box mac and cheese better! Heres how you do it.
The Super Basic Mac And Cheese Recipe
So, the MOST basic of basic mac and cheese is usually made from a box. There are a zillion variations, but the boxed variety will get you started down the path of mac and cheese success.
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Havarti Creates Heavenly Mac And Cheese
Havarti and cream havarti are cheeses that, like fontina, are also prized for their versatility as a slicing cheese and a cooking cheese. The semi-soft cow’s milk cheese, cream havarti, was developed in the 19th century in Denmark and can often be found blended with herbs and spices like dill, caraway, or even jalapeno peppers.
Aged for three months, havarti’s flavor can range from mild to strong and is often seen on dessert cheese plates. Its buttery meltiness makes havarti a welcome addition to a delicious homemade macaroni and cheese.
Reviving Mac & Cheese
Follow the instructions below to get a creamy, revived dish, and add some flair at the end to make it extra special.
1. Place the macaroni & cheese into a microwave safe bowl. Make sure to only take out what you’re going to use.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of milk per cup of mac and cheese. *If you’d like to add more creaminess and flavor, substitute half-and-half or cream.
3. Cover with an inverted plate, making sure to use oven mitts when removing from the microwave to avoid burning yourself.
4. Place the dish in the microwave and heat it up slowly: start with one minute, stir the mac and cheese, then continue to heat at 30 second intervals until you reach a desired temperature.
Tip: For extra flavor, mix in some grated cheese, broccoli, or other tasty tidbits before placing in the microwave.
1. Place the macaroni & cheese into an oven-safe dish. Make sure to only take out what you’re going to use.
2. Add 1 tablespoon of milk per cup of mac and cheese and mix to incorprate as much as possible. *If you’d like to add more creaminess and flavor, substitute half-and-half or cream.
3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven at 350°F for 20-30 minutes, or until heated through.
Tip: For extra flavor or chrunch, add some grated cheese, jalapenos, bread crumbs, or bacon pieces on top and return to the oven uncovered until cheese is melted or bread crumbs are browned.
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Monterey Jack Creates Creamy 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.
Hack #1: Muffin Tin Mac And Cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a mini or standard-sized muffin pan with nonstick spray. Fill each prepared muffin cup to the rim with the macaroni mixture. Sprinkle each muffin with panko breadcrumbs. Bake until the tops are golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Let them cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes before serving, or else the muffins won’t hold their shape.
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Hack #: Sausage + Baby Spinach
As your pasta is cooking, heat up precooked sausages, such as chicken-basil, until warmed, according to package directions. Drain pasta, but dont rinse it. Add pasta back to the pot, and stir in a few handfuls of baby spinach. The residual heat from the pasta will wilt the spinach. Then add in the cheese sauce, according to package directions. Serve sausages on the side, or slice them and mix into the pasta.
Macaroni And Cheese Ingredients
If youve ever wondered how to make homemade mac and cheese, here you go!
- Pasta: First, you pick your pasta. Elbow macaroni is a the classic choice, of course, but shells, penne, or rotini are delicious too.
- Cheese sauce: You make your cheese sauce by first making a roux cooking flour, seasonings, and butter together. Then, drizzle in the milk. The flour thickens the milk into a glorious béchamel sauce a classic French sauce made from butter, flour, and milk. And theeennnnn remove from heat and add the cheese. Some people like to top their baked mac and cheese with breadcrumbs, but for this recipe, I love how it forms a brown and bubbling top in the oven without bread crumbs. Feel free to add if you prefer! Make it your own!
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The Best Cheeses To Use For Mac And Cheese
The type of cheese you use can make or break your mac and cheese sauce.
Take a moment to think about the best mac and cheese youve ever had. Perhaps youd describe it as ooey-gooey, creamy or cheesy. At its worst, mac and cheese is grainy, stringy or greasy. The type of cheese you use can make or break your sauce. But perhaps the name itself is a misnomer. The ideal mac and cheese needs more than one kind of cheese.
When youre cruising down the cheese aisle, two factors to consider are meltability and flavor. Generally, young and processed cheeses melt smoothly but taste bland when theyre mixed with a few pounds of pasta. Aged and funky blocks are tricky melters but add a lot of complex cheese flavor to the dish. This dichotomy explains why mac and cheese recipes often call for not one, but several types of cheese.
But there is one go-to that you’ll almost always see. An overview of Food Networks mac and cheese roundup reveals that most recipes have one type of cheese in common: sharp Cheddar. Sharp Cheddar especially the inexpensive, mass-market block you can buy at the supermarket strikes just the right balance between meltability and flavor. Consider it your base cheese. If you dont want to buy three different types of cheese and rack up the grocery bill, its completely fine to use Cheddar on its own. Just stay away from the pre-shredded kind, which often contains additives like cornstarch that interfere with silky melting.