Baked Mac and Cheese is, by far, one of the most delicious comfort foods out there. And this recipe is going to become your next favorite with a cheesy, creamy sauce that's out of your dreams!
No matter what kind of cheese you use, homemade baked mac and cheese is always the ultimate comfort food. With a special ingredient that makes all the difference, this dish is going to be a winner.
Ready in just 35 minutes from start to finish! Have it on the dinner table tonight by reading the recipe down below.
What is Baked Mac and Cheese?
Macaroni and cheese, also known as mac and cheese, is a delicious pasta meal that's served in a casserole dish and baked to perfection.
It's a delicious dish that consists of macaroni (elbow pasta) coated in a homemade cheese-based creamy sauce and then topped with a mix of different types of cheese.
Traditionally, mac and cheese is baked in the oven in a casserole dish, and that's why it's also called baked mac and cheese. The cheese sauce is usually prepared in a pan on the stove and then mixed with boiled, cooked pasta.
There are countless baked mac and cheese recipes out there, and people tend to be creative each time they make this comfort food.
You can find a recipe with two types of cheese and six types of cheese, but I believe that adding different types of cheeses might take away the cheesy flavor of this homemade baked mac and cheese.
If you want to experiment with different types of cheese in your mac and cheese, then go for mild flavor cheese and build your recipe from there.
I am sticking to three types of cheese today: mozzarella, sharp cheddar cheese, and Colby.
What Makes This Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe Special?
Macaroni and cheese have always been a favorite comfort food for me. I love its creamy texture and cheesy flavor. Mac and cheese recipe is my go-to dish whenever I want something comforting.
I've tried several recipes over the years, but none of them came close to tasting as good as the ones from restaurants. The secret lies in a special ingredient and how it's cooked, and how we handle cheese in this dish.
You always get a creamy textured sauce when you order mac and cheese, a silky smooth sauce with a balanced flavor and perfectly seasoned.
The key to the silky smooth sauce is not to cook the cheese after adding it to the white sauce. After your basic white sauce is cooked, turn off the heat and then add the seasoning and cheese.
For today's recipe, I have also added a secret ingredient that makes all the difference: an egg. It gives the cheese sauce a creamy texture.
The cheese will melt gradually, which will result in silky smooth cheese sauce. I add the egg after tempering it with a small amount taken from the cheese sauce; this way, I am sure that the egg is evenly distributed and mixed with the sauce and no scrambled parts are formed.
What Kind of Pasta Should I Use?
Elbow macaroni is used for most mac and cheese recipes, but I don't care much about that; besides the elbow macaroni, I like using small shell pasta, I like it when some sauce hides in those shells giving you an extra cheese sauce in each bite.
What You Need to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese
Pasta: I've used elbow macaroni pasta in this recipe. As the name suggests, this recipe is usually made with macaroni pasta but feel free to use whichever one you like the most. Smaller pasta does better in this recipe than longer kind like rigatoni.
Cheese: You can use just about any kind of cheese that you like. You can find a recipe with two types of cheese and six types of cheese, but I believe that adding different types of cheeses might take away the cheesy flavor of baked mac and cheese. If you want to experiment with different types of cheese in your mac and cheese, then go for mild flavor cheese and build your recipe from there. I am sticking to three types of cheese today: mozzarella, sharp cheddar cheese, and Colby. You can shred your cheese or go for pre-shredded cheese packs.
Mustard: Mustard adds a level of depth to the mac and cheese sauce that's subtle enough that you won't realize it but significant enough that it makes a massive difference in the recipe!
Butter: We'll need to make a roux, which is a mixture of melted butter and flour. So we'll start by taking some butter. You can use regular salted butter for this recipe, and that's why we're skipping the salt. But if you're going for unsalted butter, you'll need to salt your dish.
Flour: You'll need some all-purpose flour to make our roux, which will be the base of the cheesy sauce we make for our baked mac and cheese.
Milk: We'll also need some cold milk to whisk into our roux to form our sauce. We need cold milk rather than room temperature milk as it'll help prevent lumps from forming.
Egg: Adding an egg to the sauce is my secret tip for the silkiest, creamiest sauce ever. Trust me; you want to try out this tip!
Black pepper: Of course, we'll need to add some heat to our sauce and we'll use some pepper.
Onion powder: For some extra depth and a better flavor profile, add some onion powder to your sauce to take it to the next level.
How to Make Baked Mac and Cheese Step by Step
Making this delicious comfort food is easier than you think. Here's everything you'll need to do step by step:
- Boil the pasta: Boil enough water to cook the macaroni in a large pot. Cook macaroni according to package instructions until just al dente. Make sure not to overcook the pasta because it will cook further in the oven.
- Drain and set aside: Drain the pasta under cool water to stop the noodles from cooking any further. Set it aside for now.
- Make the roux: In a hot pan, melt butter and add flour. Keep stirring until the raw flour smell disappears but be careful not to burn the mixture, so maintain a medium-low heat.
- Whisk in milk: Add the milk to the flour-butter mixture while stirring with a whisk to void forming lumps. Remove the sauce from the heat when it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and leave a clean line drawn by your finger.
- Season and sprinkle cheese: Add the seasoning and the cheese to the white sauce and stir.
- Prep egg: In a small bowl, crack the large egg. Add ¼ cup of the sauce to the egg while beating to temper the egg.
- Temper egg: Add the egg mixture to the cheese sauce and mix well.
- Prep dish: Add the previously prepared macaroni to a 10” baking pan or iron skillet. Now pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and mix to combine.
- Bake in the oven: In a preheated oven of 350F/180C, bake the mac and cheese for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Ready: Serve hot.
Recipe Variation Ideas for Baked Mac and Cheese
This delicious recipe has the perfect taste that you're going to fall in love with. But if you're looking for some other ideas to add to this recipe, here are some you can try:
Other cheeses: You can use just about any cheese you like the most. Apart from the three we've used in this recipe, you can also use gruyere, gouda, Monterey jack, white cheddar cheese, and Colby jack.
Toppings: You can sprinkle some cheese on top of the mac and cheese before baking it, or top it off with some panko bread crumbs mixed with parmesan cheese for a crunchy, crisp top!
Protein: Add any kind of meat you like to it or serve it on the side of it since mac and cheese seriously makes for the perfect side dish too!
Veggies: Love veggies? Feel free to add any vegetables you like the most, and then bake the dish in the oven.
How to Store Leftover Baked Mac and Cheese
You can store any leftovers you might have in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat your dish, add a splash of milk and microwave it partially covered with plastic wrap. Stir in the middle so that it heats up evenly.
I don't recommend freezing baked mac and cheese as the sauce's texture will alter and spoil in the process.
Baked Mac and Cheese
- 1 ¼ cup elbow macaroni not cooked
- ½ cup Mozzarella
- ⅓ cup Colby
- ⅓ cup Sharp cheddar
- ½ tablespoon mustard
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 3 tablespoon flour
- 3 cups cold milk
- 1 large egg
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- In a pot, boil enough water to cook the macaroni. Follow the instructions on the box and don’t overcook the pasta because it will cook further in the oven.
- Drain the pasta and keep aside.
- In a hot pan, add the butter and flour, stir until the raw flour smell disappears but careful not to burn the mixture so keep the heat medium-low.
- Add the milk to the flour-butter mixture while stirring to void forming lumps, and when the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and leave a clean line drawn by your finger, remove it from heat.
- Add the seasoning and the cheese to the white sauce and stir.
- In a small bowl, crack the large egg. Add ¼ cup from the sauce to the egg while beating to temper the egg.
- Add the egg mixture to the cheese sauce and mix well.
- In a 10” baking pan or iron skillet, add the previously prepared macaroni. Now pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and mix to combine.
- In a preheated oven of 350F/180C bake the mac and cheese for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Serve hot.
- Do not add the cheese while the sauce is boiling or on the stove while the heat is on.
- Twenty-five minutes is enough to cook the eggs.
- Use cold milk when preparing the cheese sauce to avoid forming lumps.
- You don't have to use elbow macaroni for this recipe. Use the pasta you have at home.
- This post was originally published in 2018 and is now updated with more information.