This is still the most fabulous Baked Mac & Cheese I’ve ever tasted with a gorgeous white creamy cheese sauce and a buttery breadcrumb coating. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, this is The Macaroni Cheese dish to make!
What Ingredients Are Used in Baked Macaroni and Cheese?
Here’s what you’ll require. Cheese. Pasta with butter. We’ve covered all of the essential food categories!
What Is The Perfect Pasta For Mac And Cheese?
- Macaroni, often known as elbow pasta, is a kind of pasta.
- However, any short pasta will do — penne, ziti, twirls, and so on.
Which Cheese Is Best For Mac And Cheese?
Gruyere and mozzarella cheeses are combined in this dish.
There is no debate in my mind that Gruyere has the most incredible flavor and melting properties for creamy sauces like this. And mozzarella for stretch — nothing like an excellent mozzarella for pulling the cheese!
However, any cheese that melts well, like cheddar, tasty, Colby, Swiss, Pepper Jack, and Emmental, is good with Mac and Cheese.
NO! You don’t require it. Because of the butter and cheese, this Sauce is already relatively rich. It’s so rich because of the cream that you can’t eat more than a few spoonfuls. What a letdown!!!!
How to make Baked Mac and Cheese
It’s a simple dish that starts with a butter-flour roux, which thickens milk for the cheese sauce.
To avoid lumps in the Mac and Cheese Sauce, pour the milk in gently while continually stirring, then use a whisk to remove any obstinate lumps if necessary!
Tips for the Best Mac & Cheese!
Use freshly grated cheese rather than pre-shredded cheese. They include anti-caking chemicals, which might cause the Sauce to become gritty.
No bloated, overcooked macaroni – let macaroni cool slightly before delicately coating with butter. This prevents the macaroni from absorbing more liquid during baking, resulting in inflated overcooked pasta (hot pasta absorbs liquid faster, butter forms a thin coating of protection) and less Sauce.
To avoid lumps in your Sauce, continually whisk while you gently pour in the milk, and continue to stir once all of the milk has been added. Switch to a switch if necessary to get rid of resistant small lumps!
Plenty of Sauce — I want my Mac & Cheese to be saucy, not dry, so that it can be sliced like cake!
Is it possible to prepare Mac and Cheese ahead of time?
Most recipes aren’t meant to be made ahead of time, but this one is! Cool the pasta before tossing it with the Sauce and sprinkling it with breadcrumbs. Cool, refrigerate, or freeze until ready to bake the next day (see recipe Note 5 for baking time).
How long can you keep macaroni and cheese in the fridge?
This Macaroni Cheese recipe, unlike most, may be kept in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. Because there isn’t enough Sauce, most Mac & Cheese doesn’t store well, and the Sauce is absorbed by the macaroni, leaving you with dry, sauce less pasta.
Yes! Assemble it, let it cool, and then freeze it. Thaw, then bake as directed in Note 5 of the recipe on the day of the event.
Are there any extras?
This dish is delicious on its own, but there are many add-in possibilities. Shredded chicken, sautéed onion and bell peppers/capsicum, bacon, spicy Sauce (for heat! ), and dried herbs of choice are added to the pan.
What to serve alongside Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Mac & cheese is filling enough to be a dinner on its own, especially when paired with a simple green salad or veggie side. Nothing too heavy because Macaroni Cheese is already quite rich!
It goes well with almost any non-Asian main meal as a side dish.
From basic Baked Pork Chops to Steak, Roast Chicken to Crispy Garlic Chicken Thighs, the only item I wouldn’t serve with Mac & Cheese is a light summertime main like Tuna Tartare — there’s too much difference.
And, of course, there are the joyous gatherings! Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter – with a big Roast Turkey or your Herb & Garlic Butter Slathered Turkey Breast, succulent Roast Pork with unbelievably Crispy Crackling, and Prime Rib that’s flawlessly blushing pink all the way through, and you’ll want to weep.
Without this Mac and Cheese, the holidays would be incomplete!
Recipe for Baked Macaroni and Cheese What You’ll Need
- macaroni (250g / 8 oz) (elbow pasta)
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) unsalted butter (or 2 tsp oil)
- 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (panko) (Note 1)
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter (60g)
- 1/3 cup plain/all-purpose flour
- 3 cups warmed milk (low or total fat)
- 2 cups freshly shredded cheese, Gruyere is preferable (although cheddar and Colby are also good) (Note 2)
- 1 cup freshly shredded mozzarella cheese (or more of your favorite cheese) (Note 2)
- 3/4 tsp salt
Seasonings (At Your Own Risk):
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
- Bring a big pot of water to a boil for the pasta—Cook macaroni according to package guidelines, minus 1 minute.
- Toss in the butter: Drain the pasta, return it to the saucepan, and toss in the butter until it melts. Allow cooling while you prepare the Sauce (Optional – Note 3).
- The topping should be mixed. Remove from the equation.
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit (all oven types).
- Melt butter in a large saucepan or an ovenproof skillet (I use my 26cm/9″ Lodge cast iron skillet) over medium heat to make the roux. Cook, frequently stirring, for 1 minute after adding the flour.
- Pour in roughly 1 cup of milk and stir to dissolve the paste in the liquid. Then add the remaining milk and stir until there are no lumps (use a whisk if required).
- Seasonings: If using, combine salt and seasonings in a mixing bowl.
- Cook, stirring/whisking often, for 5–8 minutes, or until sauce has thickened to a cream consistency
- You should be able to make a path with your finger once the Sauce has coated the back of a wooden spoon.
- Remove from the heat, add the cheese, and mix to combine – the cheese does not need to melt.
- Salt should be checked:
- Season with salt to taste (you won’t need much more if you use the suggested cheeses).
Assemble by pouring the sauce into the saucepan with the macaroni. Stir rapidly, then return to the skillet (like I did) or a baking dish to cool (Note 4). Top with a breadcrumb topping.
Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. If you bake it for too long, the Sauce will be cooked out!
Serve: Serve right away! I added a sprig of fresh parsley to mine. For the optimal make-ahead procedure, see the notes.
1 Panko breadcrumbs are more prominent than regular breadcrumbs, resulting in a deliciously crispy topping. In Australia, it may be found in the Asian area of supermarkets. Breadcrumbs can be substituted.
- Main Cheese (2 cups) — I choose Gruyere for flavor and melting quality (as seen in the movie). You may use any flavored melted cheese for this. Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, and provolone are some of the other cheeses I enjoy for this. (Good cheese works & incredibly tasty, but Sauce isn’t nearly as smooth; Australia/New Zealand)
- I like to use mozzarella (1 cup) for the second cheese. It melts into the Sauce well, has a good stretch, and isn’t as greasy as some cheeses may be. It’s also less salty. You may, however, use extra of the Main Cheese.
- For cheese sauces, always grate your cheese. Anti-caking chemicals in store-bought shredded cheese don’t melt, leaving the Sauce with a powdered texture.
- Saltness of cheese varies, therefore if you choose a less salty cheese than Gruyere for the Main Cheese (e.g., Jarlsberg), you may need to add a sprinkle or two more salts to the Sauce. Check and taste! However, most cheeses have equal salt content.
3 Tossing the pasta with butter coats it lightly and prevents it from bloating while baking in the Sauce. I also wait for the pasta to cool before adding it to the Sauce. This is an optional step that you can omit.
4 Baking dish – 2.5L/2.5qt (10 cups) baking dish A 9 x 13? / 23 x 33 dish is ideal for a double batch but maybe a tad large for a single batch (spreads too thinly, you want more depth).
5 Get ready ahead of time: The ideal way to prepare mac and cheese is fresh, but if you need to make it ahead of time, follow these steps: Cook pasta and stir with butter, then set aside to cool (this is important as hot pasta will absorb Sauce and bloat).
6 Make the cheese sauce according to the instructions, stir in the noodles, and top with the breadcrumb topping. Freeze or refrigerate (thaw thoroughly in the fridge before baking). Cover with foil and bake at 180°C/350°F for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking for another 25 minutes, or until the top is brown. (It takes longer to bake cold Mac & Cheese from the fridge.)
7 Reheating Leftover: Microwave until warm, then brush with oil (or butter) and crisp under the grill or broiler.
8 Per-serving nutrition 6 serves as a significant side — you’ll be astonished how far 250g/8oz of cheese sauce can stretch! As the main course, this will feed 4 people generously.