What I Love About This Recipe:
That crumb topping: the panko bread crumb topping give it the perfect taste and texture youd find at your favorite restaurant.
The homemade sauce:You know what I love most about the sauce for this mac and cheese? It uses every-day pantry ingredients butter, milk, flour, half and half, cornstarch, mustard, and spices once combined, they make the BEST, creamy, cheesy homemade sauce for mac and cheese.
Family favorite: this is a huge crowd pleaser that I serve year round! Anytime Ive served it at a part, everyone raves. You can bring it as a side to serve along steak or chicken, Or serve it as a main dish with a side of green beans or roasted veggies.
Instant Pot Mac And Cheese
The Chunky Chef03/23/2020
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is ultra creamy and rich with a velvety smooth sauce! Ready in about 20 minutes, its always a family favorite. Perfectly cooked, every time, and no need to babysit the pasta, or even drain it! Made with no canned milk and no Velveeta.
This Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is the perfect comfort food! Recipes like my Instant Pot Beef Barbacoa and Instant Pot Sausage Tortellini Soup are great for when you want an ultra-comforting family meal thats ready incredibly fast. This is one of my Pressure Cooker recipes youll definitely want in your recipe box!
INSTANT POT MAC AND CHEESE
Youve been asking for it, and Ive been working on it this is the Instant Pot Mac and Cheese that will make your mouth completely water, and have you reaching for seconds.
The lusciously creamy cheese sauce, enveloping every noodle so full of flavor, yet so simply made.
This mac and cheese is just as easy as making that macaroni in the blue box but is SO much better for you. No preservatives and other hard to pronounce ingredients. Just pure cheesy goodness!
When I was developing this recipe, I used cheeses that I found melted really well, and gave a good classic mac and cheese flavor, however, Ill also be detailing different cheeses you can use if you prefer another mixture.
Tips For Gourmet Mac And Cheese:
- Avoid pre-shredded cheese: Its really best to shred your own cheddar cheese, rather than using store bought pre-shredded cheese. Fresh shredded cheddar and parmesan cheese melt easier and tastes better.
- Use High quality ingredients: the better the ingredients, the better the end result! In particular, high quality bacon and cheese! Great ingredients make all the difference in the end result truly being gourmet.
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How To Make The Best Mac And Cheese Recipe Ever
Want to know the secret? The recipe calls for a half pound of cheese to be layered in between the saucy noodles. See this cheese stretch? HALF A POUND GUYS:
I went to a restaurant a while back and had their macaroni and cheese. Heres how they described it on their menu:
Mac & Cheese $8bacon / hella cheese / bread crumbs
Im a purist, so you wont find any bacon in this recipe, but when Hannah told me that there was a half pound of cheese layered in the center, I definitely thought of this menu description. Its perfectly appropriate. ALL THE CHEESE.
Oh and just in case you thought this wasnt decadent enough, it calls for CREAM in place of some of the regular milk. We may be dying young, my fellow Americans, but we will die happy. Fat and so, so happy.
My Favorite Baked Mac And Cheese Recipe
This is my familys favorite macaroni and cheese! Ive made it several times at holidays and its usually the top thing that gets the most compliments and repeat requests. Its just that good!
You just cant go wrong with an extra saucy, classic side dish like this. Because who doesnt love cheese??
Sure its pricey to buy the imported Gruyere cheese but its worth it. The combination of extra sharp cheddar and Gruyere makes the best macaroni and cheese!
Then we up the decadence by also adding a fair amount of butter and some half and half to the recipe. This sauce is rich!
And dont even get me started on that panko topping. This just wouldnt be the same with out it. That crisp textural contrast perfectly compliments the tender noodles and creamy sauce.
Add this to your holiday menu everyone will love it! And while youre at it you may as well do a test run this weekend. Im always looking for a reason to make this over-the-top delicious macaroni and cheese!
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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.
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.
Tips For The Best Baked Macaroni And Cheese Recipe:
- Pre-toast the panko bread crumbs for a nice golden brown topping. Or in a pinch you can just preheat the broiler after baking and toast underneath it briefly .
- Heat the milk and half and half before adding to the roux for a smooth mixture .
- Dont let the sauce mixture or baked macaroni get too hot or it will separate. This is why I bake at 325 and not too long.
- Add cheeses off heat so they dont curdle up.
- Opt for smooth melting cheeses for a smooth sauce.
- Use a blend of flavorful cheeses for best taste .
- Add half and half or cream to make it richer.
- Serve shortly after baking for best results. The sauce is nice and creamy just after baking, but as it sits and the sauce cools naturally the fats separate a little so the sauce isnt quite as smooth.
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Analysis Of The Best Baked Macaroni And Cheeses
Edna Lewis: a tangy, onion-infused, rich and thick mac and cheese
Although the list of ingredients for Ednas southern-style mac and cheese looks forbiddingly long, this was actually a relatively easy recipe! Cubes of cheddar cheese get mixed in with the cooked pasta which eventually gets doused in a mixture of spices, sour cream, eggs and cream plus the unusual addition of grated onion and Worcestershire. Ultimately, everything gets topped with a shower of grated cheese before going into the oven.
This dish is certainly bursting with flavorin comparison with other recipes, this recipe was TANGY thanks to the sour cream. The onion, dry mustard and Worcestershire contributes to the extreme savoriness and the texture was almost like a souffle in places, with the cream and eggs combining to create a very rich casserole effect. While I enjoyed this recipe, I preferred recipes that were slightly creamier and with less tang, which I felt detracted from the cheesiness. Tasters generally seemed to be deterred by the amount of onion in this, but if you like a lot of flavor , this is a great option!
Alton Brown: a crusty-topped mac and cheese enhanced with onion, mustard powder, and bay leaf
I had to give Altons recipe a try after it won The Kitchns bake off . It starts with a bechamel base infused with onion, bay leaf and paprika to which you add egg and sharp cheddar. Lastly, you top everything off with buttery panko crumbs before baking.
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.
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Storing Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
The leftovers from this mac and cheese recipe need to be refrigerated. Let the leftovers cool completely, cover, then refrigerate for up to 3 days. For optimal texture, add enough milk to thin the sauce before packing up the leftovers, that way you can easily scoop out a portion to reheat, and the milk will meld into the cream sauce as it reheats.
How To Make Baked Mac And Cheese:
- Preheat oven, prepare baking dish: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 13 by 9 or 12 by 8-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Toast panko: Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add panko and spread even, let toast, tossing frequently until golden brown. Set aside in bowl.
- Cook pasta: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook macaroni just to al dente according to package instructions. If its done early before sauce toss with a little olive oil so it doesnt stick together.
- Make roux and sauce: In a large saucepan or medium pot melt remaining 5 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly 1 1/2 minutes. While whisking slowly pour in warmed milk and half and half. Season with 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook until thick: Cook mixture stirring constantly until thickened .
- Stir in cheese off heat: Remove from heat let cool 1 minute then stir in 2 cups cheddar and 1 cup gruyere .
- Toss pasta with sauce: Pour drained pasta into a bowl, pour in sauce and remaining 1 cup gruyere cheese. Toss to evenly coat with sauce.
- Layer in baking dish: Pour into prepared baking dish, spread into an even layer. Sprinkle panko over top and gently spread into an even layer.
- Bake: Bake in preheated oven until edges are just barely bubbling, about 20 minutes .
- Let cool just a few minutes and serve warm.
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About This Easy Baked Macaroni And Cheese:
This baked macaroni and cheese is made like Grandma used to make it, the old fashioned, baked in a casserole dish style. If youre looking for a creamy, non-baked recipe, youll probably love this copycat Panera mac and cheese or Instant Pot macaroni and cheese.
I just love this baked macaroni and cheese, though. Its a little bit chewier, with lots of great cheddar cheese flavor, and I especially love the way the top crisps up in the oven.
Plus its so easy! You just boil pasta, mix with grated cheese, a couple tablespoons of flour, and seasonings, put it in a casserole dish, and pour the milk over it. Thats it! No messing with white sauces or tricky steps. No getting four pots and pans dirty!
You can prep this macaroni and cheese ahead of time and keep it in the fridge overnight. Its ready to bake when you want it!
Baked mac and cheese is a total crowd pleaser. This is a great recipe for busy weeknight meals but also for entertaining. Perfect for potlucks!
Enjoy one of our familys favorite meals! I grew up eating this macaroni and cheese and it was always a special day when my mom prepared it. Now I love serving it to my family and I especially love how easy it is to prepare. Im sure you will too!
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 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!
Dont Forget The Gravy
There are a few secrets to the best Chicken Fried Steak Gravy.
Now, I go into detail in my instructions below but I want to highlight a few steps here that I want you to pay close attention to before making this recipe.
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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.
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!
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 .
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