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.
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.
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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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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.
Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
The Chunky Chef09/05/2019
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Highly requested from my readers, this mac and cheese is made entirely in the slow cooker! No boiling pasta, no making a cream sauce, and no standing over a hot stove. Perfectly creamy and packed with flavor, this dish is great to take to a potluck, have as a holiday side dish, or even a fun family dinner!
Looking for other non-traditional crockpot recipes? Check out my No Boil Crockpot Mashed Potatoes, Crockpot Meatloaf, Crockpot Chicken Lo Mein, and Crockpot Spaghetti Casserole!
CROCKPOT MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE
Here it is the recipe youve been asking for! Youve LOVED, and continue to love, my Baked Mac and Cheese recipe some of you have even won awards in cooking competitions using that recipe. But we all love a great slow cooker recipe, and Ive been busy developing the PERFECT crock pot mac and cheese recipe. One that yields an ultra creamy sauce, doesnt get too thick, and one that tastes every bit as delicious as the OG baked mac and cheese.
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Faq: Baked Mac And Cheese
What can I add to macaroni and cheese?
This recipe is great as is, but you could always add fried onions on top, mix in pulled chicken or pork, lobster, crawfish, shrimp, crab meatanything that sounds good to you!
What is the most popular cheese used in mac and cheese recipe?
Sharp cheddar cheese is best and the most popular for mac and cheese.
What can you put in macaroni and cheese instead of milk?
You can use evaporated milk, heavy cream, or half and half.
What is the best pasta for mac and cheese?
Use elbow macaroni noodles for the best results. Any noodle with grooves and ridges will also work.
How to avoid lumps in mac and cheese?
Pour the milk in slowly while whisking constantly.
Can I Make This Macaroni And Cheese Ahead And Bake It When Im Ready
Yes you sure can. Just let it cool down, put some plastic wrap right against the surface of the mac and cheese and stick it in the fridge. If you have a few minutes to bring it out and let it warm slightly before you bake it, do that. But if you cant, just bake it till the center is hot and the edges are bubbling.
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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°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 .
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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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.
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!
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Baked Mac And Cheese: The Easy Recipe For A Favorite Comfort Food
Decadently cheesy, deliciously creamy, and oh-so comforting, this is the hands-down best homemade baked mac and cheese recipe around. The beauty of this simple recipe is that it’s easy to prepare and boasts amazing flavor thanks to the mouthwatering blend of sharp cheddar and Gruyere cheese something your friends and family are sure to love! There are endless variations to make, so you’ll never get bored. Baked mac and cheese is a classic comfort food that every home cook should learn to master, and this best-ever recipe is just what you need to get started.
How Can I Dress Up My Macaroni And Cheese
This baked macaroni and cheese may be the most versatile dish ever. Add in some red pepper for kick, any cheeses you like , add veggies like broccoli and chopped chicken and its a one-dish meal even. Or BACON. Hello. Yeah. Make some garlic bread crumbs for the top if you want some crunch and throw those on. Its really endless.
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How Long To Bake Mac And Cheese
This casserole goes in the oven at a 350Â°F for just 15-20 minutes. This short baking time is important because it’s just long enough to melt the cheese and get the noodles hot inside, but it’s not so long that it dries out the pasta and sauce. If you like a crispier crust on top, you can pop it under the broiler for a few minutes at the end.
Why Bake Macaroni And Cheese
Doesnt that just add another step? Yes, it does, but a baked macaroni and cheese offers so much more texture than the stovetop versions. Who can resist that cheesy creamy underneath a crisp, toasted topping made with Panko breadcrumbs and melted butter? I used pre-seasoned Panko for extra flavor, but you can add parmesan and garlic powder to plain breadcrumbs or Panko.
If youre looking for an amped-up favorite, try this company-worthy macaroni and cheese recipe which features bacon, sautéed spinach, and white cheddar.
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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.
How To Make It
See recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour and use a silicone spatula to stir continuously for 2 minutes. Add the milk/heavy cream in small splashes, stirring continuously.
Let it heat through and thicken while you continue to stir for 5 minutes. Add the seasonings and hot sauce and remove from heat.
Gradually sprinkle in 4 cups of shredded cheese, stirring continuously until smooth. Meanwhile, boil the macaroni for 1 minute less than al dente.
Combine the drained macaroni and the cheese sauce and transfer to a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch casserole dish.
Top with 2 cups of shredded cheese and bake at 325° for 25 minutes. Broil at the end for a few minutes if desired, then serve!
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Make A Roux For Mac And Cheese
Making a roux is as easy as combining flour, butter, and then adding cream or milk to make the sauce.
Check out this article on how to get started making a roux. Then, follow the instructions below and in the recipe card and youll be all set!
- Melt the butter.
- The mixture should begin to thicken, and should stick to the spoon when poured off.
What You Need To Make Baked Mac And Cheese:
Really simple ingredients in this one, and lots of room to adapt the recipe to make it your own. For this macaroni and cheese recipe, youll need:
- Elbow Macaroni other shapes will work, as will whole wheat pasta. We havent tested this with a grain-free pasta, but it would probably work. Of course, the texture would be slightly different.
- 1 pound of shredded cheese we like extra sharp cheddar, but you can use many types of cheese. We always recommend shredding your own cheese fo the best texture , but pre-grated will work in a pinch.
- Flour this helps the mac and cheese thicken up.
- Ground mustard this is totally optional but it adds depth to the flavor. You can also use dijon mustard if you dont have ground mustard.
- Milk whole, 2%, skimtheyll all work
- Butter helps you get that golden brown top on the macaroni and cheese!
- Salt and Pepper always! You wont need a lot of salt since cheese is salty.
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Tips For Creamy Mac And Cheese
While we feel like we cracked the code on creamy oven-baked mac and cheese, there are definitely a few tips that will ensure that your finished product is as creamy as ours was!
- Use Freshly Shredded Cheese we are all about convenience over here, and typically, we are game for buying a bag of pre-shredded cheese, but when it comes to homemade mac and cheese, buying a block and shredding it yourself is the way to go. Pre shredded cheese contains anti-caking agents, making it less creamy and rich than the freshly shredded stuff.
- Add More Whole Milk if your mac and cheese isnt as creamy as youd like, feel free to add another splash of milk! Also, whole milk makes for a much creamier mac and cheese than skim or 2% milk, so when it comes to mac and cheese, we say that splurging on the good stuff is totally worth it!
- Dont Skip the Cream Cheese the cream cheese in this recipe is essential for making a super creamy sauce!
Just for You
Tips For The Best Mac And Cheese Recipe
- Boil the noodles in very well-salted water. The salt in the water seasons the noodles, adding flavor to the dish.
- Cook the pasta just until itâs al dente â almost tender, but still firm to the bite. You donât want to completely cook the noodles until theyâre tender, because they will continue baking in the oven.
- Allow the sour cream and mayo to come to room temperature before adding them to the recipe. They will blend together smoothly if theyâre not cold.
- Start with blocks of cheese that you grate yourself at home, rather than using bags of pre-shredded cheese from the store. The pre-shredded cheese includes stabilizers and other ingredients to prevent the cheese from clumping, which inhibits its ability to melt smoothly into the dish.
- If you prefer a crispier, darker brown top on your mac and cheese, place the dish under the broiler during the final few minutes of baking. Just be sure to keep a close eye on it so that the top doesnât burn.
- Cooking for a larger family? Double all of the ingredients and bake the casserole in an 13 x 9-inch casserole dish.
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How Do I Store Baked Mac And Cheese
Once your baked mac and cheese has cooled to room temperature, refrigerate it in a shallow airtight container or cover fully with plastic wrap. Properly stored, baked macaroni and cheese will last for three to five days in the refrigerator.
This is one of those classic recipes youll want to have on hand and it will quickly become a favorite recipe.
Cooking Tips For Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
Ive tested this recipe more times than Id like to admit, and through all those trials and errors, Ive come up with a few helpful tips.
- Spray the crockpot. I know it might sound weird, but it really helps keep the pasta from sticking too much to the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Use the right liquids. For most of my attempts, I was using regular, whole milk, and every time it would thicken way too much and sort of seize up on me. Ive found that a mixture of chicken broth, evaporated milk, with a little heavy cream for richness, yields the best creamy sauce.
- Grate your own cheeses. I know I know. Its SO tempting to open a bag of pre-shredded cheese from the store and Ive done it on occasion. But most commercial pre-shredded cheeses are coated in cellulose, which essentially keeps the cheese from all clumping together in the bag. Ever noticed how bags of pre-shredded cheese that are coming up on their expiration date usually have clumps of cheese stuck together inside? Its because the cellulose is just about gone from the cheese. That coating prevents the cheese from truly melting down into a gloriously gooey cheese sauce, and can leave your sauce a bit on the gritty side.
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