This Baked Mac and Cheese is “comfort food” to the MAX. With creamy cheesy insides and topped with buttery breadcrumbs, it’s the perfect warm meal as temperatures cool.
Is homemade Mac and Cheese hard to make?
A lot of our readers are deterred from making homemade mac and cheese because it seems so tough to make.
The good news is it takes almost the same amount of time to make it from a box as it does to make it from scratch! If you’re still worried, we have a few tips for you.
Related Recipe: Try our NEW Instant Pot Loaded Mac and Cheese!
Tips for making homemade mac and cheese:
- Stick with elbow macaroni or small shells for your pasta.
- Do not overcook your pasta or you’ll end up with a sticky blob.
- Use plenty of real cheese, don’t skimp. Cheese is part of the recipe name, so it must be important. Cheddar cheese is what we like to add to our baked mac and cheese.
How to make homemade mac and cheese:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse the pasta and then set aside while you make the cheesy goodness that will hold it all together.
2. In a large sauce pan, melt butter, then add in the flour and milk, stirring constantly. Then add the cheese and seasonings and continue stirring until cheese is completely melted and everything is combined.
3. Add the pasta to the cheese mixture and stir until all is coated. Pour into a prepared 9 x 13-inch pan. Sprinkle with buttered bread crumbs and stick it in the oven. It’s that easy and SO delicious.
You can stop at the step before baking, and just serve it directly from the sauce pan. However, we think adding the buttery bread crumbs and baking it until crisp adds an extra touch of comfort.
If you’re taking this meal to someone else, it’s much easier to take it in a casserole pan (and the presentation looks better, too!).
There are quite a few things that taste delicious when added in to baked mac and cheese.
We recommend adding these ingredients in before you transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish.
- cooked, diced (or shredded) chicken breast
- cooked, diced ham
- steamed broccoli
- steamed peas
- shredded carrots
- diced onion (we love caramelized onions, too)
- crumbled bacon
- cooked, sliced hot dogs (my kids’ favorite)
- cooked, sliced kielbasa
- different types of cheese (i.e. gouda, gruyere, Monterrey Jack, etc.)
To store and reheat:
Let cool, then cover tightly and store in refrigerator for 3-4 days.
To freeze and reheat, let the casserole cool, and then transfer to a freezer-safe 9×13 inch dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and store for up to 60 days.
To reheat, remove directly from freezer and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 15-20 minutes longer, until it starts to bubble and is warmed all the way through.
What to serve with mac and cheese:
- Slow Cooker Short Ribs
- Oven Roasted Parmesan Broccoli
- Honey Glazed Brussels Sprouts
- Oven Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
- Vegetable Dill Dip
Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- ¾ cup butter divided
- 6 Tablespoons flour
- 4½ cups milk
- 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pepper to taste
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Cook elbow macaroni according to package directions and set aside.
- In a saucepan, heat 1/2 cup butter until melted.
- Slowly whisk in flour until blended, and then slowly add in the milk.
- Bring mixture to a boil and continue stirring until it starts to thicken.
- Add in cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper until smooth.
- Add cooked macaroni to the sauce and stir until completely combined.
- Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
- Melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter and mix it with the bread crumbs, then sprinkle it over the macaroni mixture.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture is heated through.
- You could add cooked meat to this recipe if you want add extra protein
- large pot
- 9×13-inch Baking Pan