My Love Affair With Mac And Cheese
I have a mini love affair with mac and cheese. As a child, I would take it any way I could get it out of a box or made from scratch by Mom. Wait what am I saying, I do that now Mounds of cheese melted into a velvety, creamy sauce and tossed with pasta. Yes, please!
There are lots of recipes for macaroni and cheese in the world and to be completely honest, Id probably love most of them. That said, I do think there are a few key elements for the best mac and cheese.
Lets Make Twice Baked Potatoes
- Start with russet potatoes. Rub with olive oil and salt and bake until tender.
- Let potatoes cool until you can handle them with ease. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the flesh leaving a 1/4 inch shell.
- Combine potato flesh with cream cheese, sour cream, butter and cheese.
- Fold in bacon and green onions. Season with salt and pepper.
- Scoop the filling into the potato shells.
- Top with remaining shredded cheese.
- Bake and serve!
- kosher salt
- cream cheese twice baked potatoes with cream cheese results in an ultra creamy filling
- sour cream if you want to make the twice baked potatoes without sour cream, just add in an extra 4 oz of cream cheese)
- shredded cheddar cheese
- green onions
- salt and pepper to taste
Making Instant Pot Mac And Cheese Ahead Of Time
Some recipes are great, and even better, when made ahead but mac and cheese just isnt one of them.
As the pasta sits, it absorbs more and more of the sauce, making the mac and cheese dry, and the noodles mushy.
In my opinion, this is a recipe that just tastes the best when made right before you eat it.
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Whats The Best Cheese For Mac And Cheese
You can definitely use your favorites! I like using a combination of at least two different cheeses for mac and cheese. Cheddar cheese is always included in my mac and cheese recipe and then I add in another more mild cheese, like muenster. Medium or sharp cheddar is a popular choice because it has a great flavor, melts well and gives the mac and cheese that classic orange color.
I would not recommend extra sharp or aged cheddar cheese for mac and cheese because they will not melt as well as younger cheeses. Get creative and try using different cheese varieties that melt well. Heres a list of cheeses that would work great:
- White cheddar
Feel free to use all sharp cheddar, if youd like. Also, remember some of the cheeses listed are very mild, so youll want to make sure and combine it with a more bold flavored cheese.
Tips For The Best Baked Jalapeo Popper Mac And Cheese
- Using block cheese is the way to go when youre making mac and cheese. The pre-shredded cheese is coated and wont melt properly. Grate it yourself for the best results.
- Cook your pasta to slightly less than al dente, about one minute shy is perfect thats about 7 minutes for macaroni.The reason is that this is baked mac and cheese so the pasta will continue to cook in the oven.
- I used elbow pasta but really, any tubular, short pasta will work.
- The roux is super important to getting the creamiest cheese sauce. Three things to look for:
- The roux is whisked together until bubbly and golden.
- Whisk in cold milk not warm to prevent the flour from clumping.
- Cook the roux, stirring nearly constantly, until you see bubbles on the surface and then continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes before adding the cheese. This will keep the sauce from turning grainy.
Youll notice this recipe calls for two jalapeños. I removed the seeds and membranes before dicing which cuts down on the heat a bit. I mean, this is Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese so a little heat should be expected. If youre like whaaaat? Bring on the spicy! Keep the seeds and membranes intact and dice away OR add another jalapeño.
I further tame those spicy jalapeños by sautéing in butter. This also serves another purpose as it gives the cheese sauce amazing flavor. I add back in a little heat and lots of flavor by adding in some TABASCO® Sauce.
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Speaking Of That Toasted Panko Topping
My baked macaroni and cheese is incredibly cheesy and creamy, but what really sets it over the top is the buttery panko topping. I love the crisp, crunchy texture of panko . Panko gives the smooth and creamy mac and cheese that extra something that makes it irresistible.
Before adding it to the top of your baked mac and cheese, youll add it to a small pan along with some butter and olive oil and then stir it frequently until it becomes lightly golden/toasted.
Its such an easy extra step and it adds everything to this baked mac and cheese!
Jalapeo Popper Mac And Cheese
The BEST Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese youll ever try! Extra creamy, loaded with bacon, cream cheese, jalapeños, and kicked up a notch with TABASCO® Sauce, this delicious and easy mac and cheese is sure to be a new favorite! Bacon lover? Make sure to try this Baked Bacon Cheese Dip and Slow Cooker Green Beans with Bacon!
Sponsored by TABASCO® Brand.
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Mac And Cheese Ingredients
- Butter: I prefer unsalted butter but use what you have at home.
- Milk and half and half: Whole milk produces a richer and creamier sauce.
- Seasonings: Salt, ground black pepper, nutmeg, garlic powder and dried mustard.
- Cheeses: Shredded sharp cheddar, Gruyere and white cheddar cheese.
- Panko Topping: Panko bread crumbs, melted butter, seasoned salt.
Special Equipment Used In This Recipe
- Box Grater remember, the best mac starts with freshly shredded cheese!
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Post has been updated in September 2019 with new photos and additional information.
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
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Can You Bake Leftover Mac And Cheese
Yes, you can reheat leftovers in the oven or in the microwave. Cover the dish loosely with foil and reheat in a 325 degree F oven just until warmed through. You can remove the foil cover during the final few minutes to allow the top to brown or the edges to get crispy.
To reheat individual servings, just cover loosely and microwave for about 30 seconds .
How To Make Instant Pot Mac And Cheese
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Homemade Macaroni And Cheese: What Kind Of Cheese Should I Use
I honestly use different cheese combinations almost every time I make this mac and cheese recipe but the one I always come back to is sharp cheddar and Gruyere. If you cant find Gruyere, Jarlsberg Swiss cheese is the best substitute. Other cheese that work: mozzarella, jack cheese or pepper jack for a little zip, American and Velveeta as well for a creamier cheese sauce. This baked mac and cheese uses 6 cups of cheese so just
To add even more flavor to my homemade mac and cheese, I add Parmesan to the Panko topping so good!
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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How To Make The Baked Macaroni & Cheese Sauce
The full printable recipe is below, but lets walk through how to make the best macaroni & cheese sauce.
Start the baked macaroni and cheese recipe by making a béchamel sauce. Melt some butter, add flour and milk, then stir in cheddar cheese, salt, and spices. And a dash of hot sauce for a kick. Let it all simmer and melt for a few minutes. Soon youll have the creamiest, most flavorful cheese sauce.
- Best cheese to use: Use extra sharp cheddar for the best flavor. Or instead, try mixing it up by using half cheddar and another cheese such as gouda, fontina, or gruyere.
- For optimal flavor: Shred the cheese yourself. Dont buy the pre-shredded cheddar, which typically has stabilizers and a drier texture. For the best cheese sauce, you want the cheese right off the block.
After you combine the buttered noodles and cheese sauce, stir in 3 ounces of cream cheese. This adds creaminess and creates an extra indulgent macaroni and cheese especially needed since well bake it.
What Can I Do With Sloppy Joe Meat
Number one, slap some on a toasted bun!! After that, here are some of my favorite things to do:
- Spoon some over some crispy waffle fries. Bonus points if you also melt some cheese over the fries before adding the sloppy joe meat!
- Add some to a grilled cheese.
- Roll up in crescent roll dough and bake at 375 F degrees for about 12-15 minutes. Cheese makes a great addition to these as well!
- Add some on top of a burger.
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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 With Velveeta
This homemade mac and cheese is an ideal side dish that you can prep ahead for special holidays like Thanksgiving or for large family suppers. Assemble it in advance and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days! You can also serve the mac and cheese as a main course for dinner. Throw in some shredded chicken or diced ham, add veggies like steamed broccoli or frozen peas, and you’ve got a delicious and satisfying meal in one pan. The simple, old-fashioned combination of pasta and cheese is always crowd-pleasing!
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Homemade Mac And Cheese For Kids Tips:
This recipe is very easy and its hard to mess up. Ive received emails from hundreds of moms who have successfully made this simple macaroni and cheese recipe for their families. Just follow the directions and make sure you cook and stir until the mixture is boiling and thickened.
Cheese types I often use shredded cheddar cheese with a couple of slices of American cheese tossed in. But we have also tried and enjoyed Cheddar Jack, Mozzarella, and other types of cheese.
Sometimes if I have a specialty cheese on hand, I will cube a little and throw that in for more flavor variety. The kids like it plain though so I try not to overdo it.
Its really up to you and your kids.
I wont make any promises that your kids will love this baked mac and cheese with breadcrumbs they are kids after all. But I will tell you that this is one of the most popular posts here on Living Well Mom and Ive received hundreds of emails from moms telling me just how popular this easy meal is with their children.
Try this kid-friendly mac and cheese out and let me known what you and your kids think! I hope you love it just like my family does!
Easiest Baked Macaroni And Cheese
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Easiest ever baked macaroni and cheese this is a go-to recipe of many of my readers and it will become the same for your family!
This is the easiest ever macaroni and cheese! And so delicious!
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Add The Pasta And Sauce To A Dish
After the cheese has melted, add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir until all the noodles are well-coated.
Then, add the mixture to a greased 3-quart baking dish. Top with more cheese…
Then, bake! I like to broil for a few minutes at the end of the cooking time to give it a little color and extra crisp around the edges.
How To Measure Pasta For This Recipe
Sometimes a reader or two has had an issue with how much pasta this recipe needs. This recipe is written by volume and sometimes people think that since a cup is 8 ounces that they can simply use 12-16 ounces of pasta or go by the weight of the dry pasta written on the box.
Youll end up with problems if you do this. Please follow the volume instructions and measure your pasta dry in a measuring cup meant for dry items . Small pastas like ditalini or little wagon wheels can go up to about 2 cups and be fine in the recipe, and large ones like bow tie or cellentani can as well. If you will stick to elbow pasta until you get the hang of things youll be better off.
Ive made this recipe with every pasta shape on the market and if you will measure in cups, your recipe will be just right.
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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.
How To Make Mac And Cheese
If youve never made homemade mac and cheese before, it can seem a bit daunting. But dont worry, well break it down and take it step by step!
- Boil the pasta, drain.
- Make the cheese sauce by combining a fat , and starch , then whisking in the milk products.
- Cook the sauce until its nice and thick.
- Add in shredded cheeses, stir well.
- Combine cheese sauce with cooked pasta.
- Transfer half of the mac and cheese to a baking dish, sprinkle with more shredded cheese.
- Top with the rest of the mac and cheese, top with more shredded cheese.
- Bake and prepare to thoroughly enjoy!
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