Easiest Baked Macaroni And Cheese
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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!
How To Make The White Cheese Sauce
My homemade cheese sauce is by far the best option when it comes to a good macaroni and cheese. You use 100% natural ingredients, and the sauce is as good as you can possibly get. I used this sauce for my and it was just perfect.
- melt the butter in a large saucepan
- add the flour and whisk well to get a smooth paste
- gradually add the milk, whisking well to avoid lumps forming, and continue to stir until the sauce beings to thicken
- add the black pepper, salt and dijon mustard, then in go the mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan
- stir well until you get a creamy sauce, then remove it from the heat
THIS IS THE ONLY CHEESE SAUCE RECIPE YOU NEED FOR ANY KIND OF CHEESY PASTA DISHES. Its simple, its quick, and its pure heaven.
Tips To Make The Best Baked Mac And Cheese
- Cook pasta al dente, or two minutes shy of the recommended cooking time. You want the pasta to be slightly under cooked because its going to continue to bake in the sauce in the oven. If you overcook it on the stovetop beforehand, it will likely get too mushy and break apart while baking.
- Cool the pasta before tossing it in the sauce. Normally we want to coat the warm pasta in whatever sauce were making immediately. But doing so for baked macaroni and cheese can cause the elbow macaroni to absorb too much of the sauce and make it soggy after cooking. Its a good idea to rinse the pasta after cooking, drain and allow it to cool while youre making the sauce.
- Grate your own cheese for the cheese sauce. Store-bought shredded cheese is convenient and works well for topping the mac and cheese. However it doesnt work well for the cheese sauce because it has anti-caking agents which can prevent the cheese from melting efficiently and sticking together in the sauce. Also, it can sometimes have a powder residue or grainy texture from those caking agents.
- Use panko breadcrumbs for topping. I used regular breadcrumbs in my photos but panko in my video. I love the extra crunchy topping of the panko and I think it combines really well with the cheesy sauce.
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What Type Of Cheese
This classic mac and cheese recipe is made with cheddar cheese. I particularly love medium or sharp cheddar cheese but any type will do. If you want a more luxurious mac and cheese or youre really trying to impress a crowd, you could use a combination of different cheeses. Just be sure to select a type of cheese that is good for melting, like white cheddar, smoked gouda, gruyere, brie, goat cheese, mozzarella, or fontina.
Best Cheese For Baked Mac And Cheese
Dont be scared when using cheese for this recipe. I used three types of cheeses to grace every noodle of this dish. For the best flavor, I highly recommend adding a sharp cheddar to your baked mac and cheese. Just a warning though, dont use the pre-shredded bagged cheese as it has preservatives that make it drier compared to fresh-grated cheese.
Sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella, jack cheese, are my top fave. Or you can also use pepper jack cheese, gouda, fontina, and Gruyere.
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How To Make Baked Macaroni And Cheese
As we decided to keep this recipes ingredients fairly basic, you may already have these ingredients. You will need the following:
- Elbow macaroni
We like to prepare our ingredients beforehand. As such I would recommend that you get the cheeses prepared before cooking. This way youre not in a panic trying to get that done before the pasta is ready.
Grate both the cheddar and sharp cheddar cheeses and combine together in a bowl.
Divide the cheeses into three groups.
- One group will make up the sauce 3 cups
- Another group will be added in between layers of the macaroni and cheese 1 1/2 cups
- And the last group will top the dish 1 1/2 cups.
Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot.
Add the pasta and cook until al dente, usually about 1 minute less than the package directs to cook pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 3-quart baking dish and set it aside.
Drain the pasta and set it aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add the flour in and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk and cook for about a minute.
Combine the milk and half and half into a large measuring cup.
Slowly pour in 2 cups of the half and half / milk mixture, whisking constantly. Whisk until smooth.
Slowly pour in the remaining half and half and the whole milk, whisking constantly, until smooth.
Whisking very often, continue to cook until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper.
Other Side Dishes You Will Enjoy
- Grate both the cheddar and sharp cheddar cheeses and combine together in a bowl.
Cheese Division Divide into three groups
- One group will make up the sauce 3 cups
- One group will be added in between layers of the macaroni and cheese 1 1/2 cups
- Last group will top the dish 1 1/2 cups
- Set groups of cheese aside.
Pasta Cook And Prep
- Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot.
- Add the pasta and cook until al dente, usually about 1 minute less than the package directs to cook pasta.
- While the pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a 3-quart baking dish and set it aside.
- Drain the pasta and set it aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Slowly add the flour in and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk and cook for about a minute.
- Combine the milk and half and half into a large measuring cup.
- Slowly pour in 2 cups of the half and half, whisking constantly. Whisk until smooth.
- Slowly pour in the remaining half and half and the whole milk, whisking constantly, until smooth.
- Slowly pour in the remaining half and half and the whole milk, whisking constantly, until smooth.
- Whisking very often, continue to cook until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper.
- Add the cheese portion that makes up 3 cups. First, add half of it and mix to combine.
- Once melted, add the additional 1 1/2 cups and continue to stir until melted and smooth.
Putting It Together
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Homemade Baked Mac And Cheese
There is absolutely nothing I love more than cheese. And when you add pasta to it? Fuggetaboutit.
Mac and cheese is one of those recipes that can take on so many different forms. I love it anyway I can get it but baked mac and cheese is my very favorite and Ill tell you why The topping. I use breadcrumbs for my topping occasionally, but, a Panko topped mac and cheese is just that much better.
I mix in Parmesan, butter, and paprika with the Panko so it crisps up beautifully and gets a nice golden brown color when this amazing homemade mac and cheese is baked.
Im going to be honest here. When I make mac and cheese, its the mac to cheese ratio that I am most concerned about. I love it when the mac and cheese is oeey gooey and the cheese sauce is just so creamy. GIMME.
With all this cheese going on in this macaroni and cheese recipe, I need a little help from my KitchenAid Deluxe Stand Mixer and its handy dandy Fresh Prep Slice/Shredder attachment. I picked up this beauty at Walmart this past week and I am in LOOOOOVE. I was torn between the options: SILVER | COBALT | PISTACHIO. But, when I pictured them in my kitchen, I knew I had to go with the cobalt its just stunning!
I use my stand mixer about 954 times each week. Being a food blogger and mom means Im in my kitchen a lot baking up goodies and whipping up amazing dinners like this homemade baked mac and cheese. I am always, always looking for help in the kitchen and the Kitchen Aid Deluxe Stand Mixer is the answer.
Making Mac And Cheese Ahead Of Time
- Make as directed , transfer to baking dish and cool completely. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate 1-2 days ahead.
- Before baking, let dish sit on counter for 30 minutes.
- Bake at recipe temperature for 25-35 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
As a caveat, this recipe, as with most mac and cheese recipes, loses some of its creaminess when made ahead. This dish has been tested when made right away, which yields the best results.
I would increase the amount of sauce slightly if you need to make this recipe ahead of time.
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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!
This Easy Baked Mac & Cheese Is The Perfect Comfort Food And Even Better For Making One And Putting One In The Freezer For Busy Times
Ok team, things are about to get real simple up in here. I’m talking the most simple of them all, Easy Baked Mac & Cheese.
Not that they’ve ever been complicated…hi, I’m the girl who lives on 5 minute blender enchilada sauce, spaghetti bolognese and even cuts corners with homemade granola. But as good as 39 weeks pregnant is, it also comes with the reality that at some stage in the next 3 weeks, there will be a crying, sleeping, eating tiny human being in this house that is going to be occupying about 150% of our time. And considering the fact that Josh & I are probably going to be functioning on a very similar schedule, only without the food on tap, I’m thinking that having meals that can be pulled out of the freezer and thrown in the oven without any thought are probably going to save some of the aforementioned tears from at least 1 party…um, me.
I’m thinking soups, lasagnes, meatballs and obviously, the epitome of comfort/simple food. Easy baked mac & cheese! Especially because after a week of beautiful sunny days, the weather has finally packed it in and it is wet, so cosy comfort food is definitely the order of the day.
That way, not only do I not have to cook, there are no dishes either! Usually I would rather not use disposable things buuuut needs must and if I’m tossing up between soaking baked on cheese dishes or snuggling with that baby, it’s kind of a no brainer!
Let me know if you have any other recommendations for perfect meals to put in the freezer!
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To Bake Or Not To Bake:
You dont have to bake the mac and cheese in this recipe. Everything gets fully cooked and is essentially ready to eat after the cheese and noodles are added. However, I love the extra gooeyness that comes when the cheese is baked and I think baking it adds a level of sophistication you just dont get without.
How Long To Bake Mac And Cheese
There is only one rule that you need to remember when baking mac and cheese: dont bake it too long otherwise youll bake away the sauce leaving you with a dry mixture.
Baking it at around 20 minutes at 375 degrees F guarantees you that same stretchy cheesy baked mac and cheese with all the heart-melting sauce. Or you can also bake it at 30 minutes at 350 F
Although weve tried a couple of Mac and Cheese recipes, nothing compares to this one which has a smooth silky sauce that permeates every inch of elbow macaroni there is.
Youd fall head over heels with the brimming Southern flavors of what this baked mac and cheese has to offer. Its got a note of heat and smokiness. Youd need a bigger a spoon, for sure!
This would be delightful at any time. Oh, especially during these cold winter months. So dont wait for special occasions to whip up a pan of this.
Heck, you could even make this on the daily. You can also explore different southern comfort food ideas to prepare every day! Go ahead, take a bite, nobodys looking.
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How To Make Baked Mac And Cheese
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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Macaroni And Cheese Ingredients
If youve ever wondered how to make homemade mac and cheese, here you go!
- Pasta: First, you pick your pasta. Elbow macaroni is a the classic choice, of course, but shells, penne, or rotini are delicious too.
- Cheese sauce: You make your cheese sauce by first making a roux cooking flour, seasonings, and butter together. Then, drizzle in the milk. The flour thickens the milk into a glorious béchamel sauce a classic French sauce made from butter, flour, and milk. And theeennnnn remove from heat and add the cheese. Some people like to top their baked mac and cheese with breadcrumbs, but for this recipe, I love how it forms a brown and bubbling top in the oven without bread crumbs. Feel free to add if you prefer! Make it your own!
The Best Way To Get A Rich Creamy Delicious Cheese Sauce
Simple, use real cheese! And thats exactly what youll do with this recipe.
Another thing that makes a good macaroni and cheese is how the pasta takes on the cheese sauce.
If its simply cooked noodles swimming in some cheesy sauce, thats not really what im looking for.
I want to pasta to completely be ensconced in cheese and to absorb all the cheese goodness, texture and flavor. By baking it in the oven, that is exactly what youll do.
And the 3rd thing that I think makes a delicious macaroni and cheese is having a wonderful layer of golden brown melted cheese on top.
Its heavenly and adds a dimension that simply cannot be found in a box.
Many recipes call for several steps and ingredients but this one uses just the basics and is really the easiest and best recipe for baked macaroni and cheese Ive ever made.
Take a few minutes and give this one a try.
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