Tips For The Best Mac & Cheese
Freshly grated cheese dont use pre shredded. They have anti caking agents that can make the sauce grainy.
No bloated overcooked pasta Cool macaroni slightly and lightly coat in butter. This stops the macaroni from absorbing more liquid while baking, resulting in bloated overcooked pasta and less sauce.
To avoid lumps in your sauce, stir constantly as you slowly pour the milk in and keep stirring once the milk is all added. If necessary, switch to a whisk to get rid of stubborn little lumps!
Plenty of sauce Because I like my Mac and Cheese saucy, not dried up so you can cut it like cake!
Can you make Mac and Cheese ahead of time? Most recipes are not suitable for making ahead, but this recipe is! The best way is to cool pasta then toss with sauce and adding breadcrumb topping. Cool, refrigerate or freeze then bake on the day of .
How long can Mac and Cheese stay in the fridge? Unlike most, this Macaroni Cheese recipe is good for 3 to 5 days in the fridge. Most Mac and Cheese will not keep well because theres not enough sauce so it gets absorbed by the pasta and youre left with dry, sauceless pasta.
Freezing? Yes! Assemble, cool, do not bake, just freeze it. Thaw then on the day of, bake per Note 5 in the recipe.
Add ins? This recipe is great as it is, but theres tons of add-in options. Add shredded chicken, sautéed onion and bell peppers/capsicum, bacon, hot sauce , dried herbs of choice.
The Best Cheeses To Use For Mac And Cheese
While this recipe calls for extra-sharp yellow Cheddar cheese and sharp white Cheddar, you can use whatever cheese you have on hand. The key is picking a cheese that melts well. Or, take things up a notch and experiment with aged and flavored cheeses.
Some commonly used types of cheese in baked mac and cheese include:
Learn more: 10 Easy Ways to Make Boxed Mac and Cheese Better
Can I Freeze This Dish For Later
Casseroles like this mac and cheese can easily be frozen without baking them prior. Before you can pour the mac and cheese into the baking dish, line it with aluminum foil that has enough overhang on all sides. Assemble the macaroni and cheese, tightly cover in foil, and freeze overnight.
Lift it out of the pan when frozen solid, label and put it in a ziplock bag, and freeze again until ready to eat. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before you can bake it in the oven.
Learn more:Should You Freeze a Casserole Before or After You Bake It?
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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.
What Type Of Cheese Should You Use
Cheddar is a classic choice for baked mac and cheese, and this recipe adds a bit of zing with an extra sharp version. Some other excellent cheeses include cream cheese, Parmesan, and Swiss, as the mild, buttery flavor and ideal melt make them great for this pasta dish.
Gruyere is a standout favorite for its creamy, nutty, and earthy flavor. Try half Gruyere and half cheddar the next time you’re feeling like switching up your baked mac and cheese recipe.
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How To Make Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
- Add pasta and liquids to the slow cooker. Sprinkle in seasonings and stir.
- Cover and cook 1 hour. Stir. Cover and cook another 10 minutes.
- Stir in cream cheese and grated cheese. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Stir and serve.
How easy is that?! No fancy cream sauce to make just hands-off cook time so you can go relax!
Mac And Cheese Ingredients
Add some Southern flair to your Thanksgiving spread with this baked mac and cheese recipe. There are only 25 minutes of active prep time required, so you can whip this up as the turkey is roasting. Then, while the turkey cools, slide this Thanksgiving mac and cheese into the oven so it’s hot and bubbly when it hits the table.
PastaWhile elbow macaroni is the most traditional form of pasta used in macaroni and cheese, you can easily swap it out for other short pasta varieties like cavatappi, penne, or farfalle. If you’re serving this at Thanksgiving, the upgrade to the pasta will be appreciated.
Butter and FlourThe addition of butter and flour to macaroni and cheese makes a roux, a thickening agent for the cheese sauce that is spread over the pasta before it bakes.
SeasoningsIf you’re looking to take your homemade mac and cheese to the next level, don’t skip on the seasonings. Dry mustard, yellow onion, freshly grated nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne all add a hefty dose of flavor that can be savored in each bite.
Milk and Heavy CreamAdding milk and heavy cream to the roux transforms the gravy into a hearty béchamel sauce.
Worcestershire SauceThis Southern pantry staple adds the right amount of umami to each bite of this baked macaroni and cheese.
CheeseThe secret to a gooey mac and cheese is putting in cubes of cheddar cheesethey melt as the pasta bakes, creating pockets of velvety goodness in every bite.
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Please let me know if you have any questions about this recipe. I read all the comments myself and I try to help as soon as I can. I have readers from all levels of comfort and experience in the kitchen on my site, and Ive tried to answer some of your questions already in the post. But if Ive missed anything, please feel free to leave a comment and ask. The comments can be easily found using the orange circle on the lower left, then Join the discussion!
I mean, noodles swimming in a thick, silky creamy cheese sauce thats spiked with onions, AND its easy to make! Count me in!
Oh, and its super budget-friendly.
Can You Freeze Baked Mac And Cheese
If you want to get ahead for a busy weeknight, you can make a dish of this mac and cheese in advance. But don’t bake it. Instead, follow all the steps, assemble it, and cook it completely. Then cover it with aluminum foil, and put it in the freezer.
When you’re ready to bake it, thaw it in the fridge for 24 hours, then bake it. You may need to add 5 to 10 minutes of cook time for the casserole to be completely done. But just monitor it for a bubbly, browning top. That’ll be your cue it’s ready to come out of the oven.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
- Step 2
Microwave milk at HIGH for 1 ½ minutes. Melt butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened.
- Step 3
Whisk in salt, black pepper, 1 cup shredded cheese, and, if desired, red pepper until smooth stir in hot cooked pasta. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish prepped with cooking spray top with remaining cheese. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
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Why Youll Love This Recipe
- Delicious! Its cheesy, creamy, and so tasty. The ultimate comfort foodand quite possibly the best homemade mac & cheese!
- Versatile. This side pairs perfectly with so many main entrees! Serve alongside anything from chicken and steak to pork chops. And, of course, be sure this has a place on the table during the holidays. It goes great alongside this slow cooker ham!
- Family-friendly. This easy and tasty cheesy pasta recipe will be loved by everyone. Kids and adults cant get enough!
- Easy to make. This is a simple and easy recipe that will be on the dinner table in 40 minutes. Other than grating the cheese, its pretty effortless.
Special Equipment Used To Make This Recipe
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Why Does My Baked Mac And Cheese Come Out Dry
Baked Mac and cheese can get dried if baked for too long. Follow the recipe and if your topping is not golden brown by the time the baking time is done, simply place it under the broiler to toast the breadcrumbs.
Another reason for dried macaroni and cheese is if you are using more noodles than the recipe calls for. You need to have enough cheese sauce to generously coat the cooked pasta.
Variations Of Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
- Pasta Shapes to mimic the classic recipe, I normally use elbow pasta. But any short-cut pasta works just as well! Medium shells, penne, rotini, etc. Just note that different pastas will have slightly different cook times, so use the recipe times as an approximate.
- Cooking Liquids like I mentioned above, I prefer the taste and consistency of chicken broth, evaporated milk and heavy cream. However, feel free to test out different proportions of those liquids, or try out different liquids. Just note that I can only vouch for this recipe as written.
- Cheeses As with most mac and cheese recipes, the types of cheese called for are not the only ones you can use. Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, Colby, Gruyere, sharp cheddar any and all!
- Seasonings feel free to add in additional seasonings that you love in your mac and cheese.
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How To Make This Recipe
This is one of the easiest baked macaroni and cheese recipes Ive seen! Heres a rundown of the steps, but youll find the full recipe at the bottom of the post.
Can I Freeze Macaroni And Cheese
I get asked that a lot and my answer is always no. As the pasta and cheese sauce sit, it will thicken and when you thaw it and bake it, the creamy consistency is just gone. Its thick and gloppy. Plus if you freeze it and its still a bit warm, water crystals will form and then thaw into your dish and could make it separate when you bake it. Besides, its so fast to make, theres not really a reason to freeze your macaroni and cheese.
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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!
Looking for other comfort food dishes? Check out my Homemade Sloppy Joes, Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Crockpot Meatloaf, and Homestyle No-Boil Mashed Potatoes!
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 .
What Makes This The Best Mac And Cheese
Im a sucker for mac and cheese, but lets be honest, sometimes you take a bite of mac and cheese and it just does not hit the spot. The cheese is eh, the creamy, gooey texture is lacking, and its chock full of mysterious ingredients that are likely to cause a stomachache in an hour or two. THIS mac and cheese, though, is the total opposite of all of that: its super easy thanks to our fail-proof dump-and-bake method, requires minimal ingredients , and it is ultra-cheesy and creamy .
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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.
Bechamel Mac And Cheese
This recipe for oven baked mac and cheese defines cheesy and creamy in a new way! Elbow Macaroni is tossed with the creamiest cheese sauce made with some of the best cheese for mac and cheese. Sharp cheddar cheese, Gruyere cheese and white cheddar. The result is the best homemade mac and cheese ever!
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Whats The Best Type Of Cheese To Use For Mac And Cheese
When it comes to homemade macaroni and cheese, we recommend using two types of cheese if you can one for creaminess and one for flavor. We used gouda for creaminess and sharp cheddar for flavor in this recipe, but feel free to use a different kind of cheese if you wish. Any combination of cheeses listed below will work beautifully:
- ANY Cheddar Cheese
The Best Baked Mac And Cheese
Homemade baked Mac and Cheese is one of my favorite dishes in the world, if not my all-time favorite. To me this is what comfort food is all about, but I dont like just any mac and cheese, it cannot come from a box. In my opinion, macaroni and cheese is all about the cheese sauce. The more cheese the better.
Everyone needs a mac and cheese recipe in their cooking repertoire, so heres my recipe thats quite simple to make and it really doesnt take more effort than opening a box of the pre-made stuff.
- So simple, anyone can make it
- Comfort food at its best
- Uses kitchen staple ingredients
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