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.
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.
The Best Baked Mac And Cheese Recipe
There are very few people I know who can resist the temptation of a rich and creamy baked macaroni and cheese topped with crunchy panko! I know I cant!
The one thing I promise you is that once you try our baked mac and cheese from scratch you will never go back to the boxed version with the powdered cheese or the cheese sauces in the packets!
The tender perfectly cooked pasta, the smooth and creamy texture, the over the top deliciousness of the gooey cheese and the crisp and crunchy panko topping, you will forever be converted!
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The Best Homemade Baked Mac And Cheese
The BEST Homemade Mac and Cheese of your LIFE. Outrageously cheesy, ultra creamy, and topped with a crunchy Panko-Parmesan topping, this mac and cheese recipe is most definitely a keeper. I used three different cheese and a homemade cheese sauce to take this macaroni and cheese recipe over the top. Love cheesy recipes? Make sure to try this Lazy Day Lasagna and Cheesy Kielbasa Rice and Broccoli Skillet next week for dinner!
This post is sponsored by Walmart and SheKnows Media.
Easy Baked Mac And Cheese Recipe
Despite the countless versions of macaroni and cheese on the internet and around the world, I always find myself making the same baked mac and cheese recipe whenever the craving hits. Almost as easy to make as boxed macaroni and cheese, this baked version tastes a million times better and is made with real, simple ingredients like elbow macaroni, four different types of cheeses, butter, milk, half-and-half, and flour.
Of course, even this simple recipe can be jazzed up a bit with a crunchy, buttery, breadcrumb topping or a little bit of bacon! So dont hesitate to use this delicious baked mac and cheese recipe as a base for your own version of cheesy macaroni and cheese perfection.
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Best Baked Macaroni Cheese Recipe
This really is the best baked macaroni cheese recipe.
One of the reasons I love it is that its one of the easiest recipes to put together just layer the ingredients and pop it in the oven.
I have used cheddar cheese in this recipe, but feel free to vary the cheese you use to give it a different flavor. I have used several mixes of my favorite cheeses and many work very well. Look in the tips for some great suggestions.
Make it healthier by substituting whole wheat pasta for the white pasta. It makes a real difference to the nutritional value of the recipe.
Tips For Perfect Cheese Sauce
Have you ever made a mac and cheese that wasnt creamy or smooth? Instead if was grainy or gritty? The worst! Heres a few steps you should take for perfectly creamy cheese sauce.
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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.
Variations Of Mac And Cheese
- Bacon if you love bacon, feel free to add some crispy, crumbled bacon to the topping, or even inside the mac and cheese as well!
- Stovetop if youd prefer not to bake this mac and cheese, you dont have to! Make sure you boil your pasta until al dente , and youll only need about 3 3 1/2 cups of cheese total. No need to layer the pasta and cheese, just add all the cheese to the sauce, then combine with the pasta.
- Different Toppings Im a huge fan of the cheese layer on top, since it gets nice and crispy, but we also love tossing 1 cup of panko with 2 Tbsp of melted butter and using that as a topping. 1 cup of crushed Ritz crackers with 2 Tbsp of butter work amazingly well too!
- Different Baking Times the recipe calls for a lower baking temperature and time, but most of the time I find myself adjusting that based on my familys tastes. I like to bake this mac and cheese at 350 F degrees for 30 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes to get that glorious cheesy crust.
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Tips For The Best Homemade Baked Mac And Cheese
- Use block cheese and shred, do not buy the pre-shredded cheese. The pre-shredded cheese is great for so many things but not macaroni and cheese. Its coated and wont melt properly. You need to shred it yourself for the best result.
- Cook your pasta to slightly less than al dente, about one minute shy is perfect. The reason is that this is baked mac and cheese so the pasta will continue to cook in the homemade cheese sauce in the oven. You dont want soggy macaroni.
- I used elbow pasta but really, any tubular past will work.
- This mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux. The roux is super important to getting the creamiest cheese sauce of your life. Here is what you need 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 until you see bubbles on the surface and then continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes before adding the 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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Pro Tips For Making Homemade Mac And Cheese
- Block cheese! Dont buy the packaged shredded cheese. Take a few extra minutes and take a block of cheese and shred it. I promise it will be worth the time investment!
- Can you skip baking the mac and cheese? Well, then it isnt really baked mac and cheese, but yes, you can. If you dont have time to throw it in the oven, I would skip the toppings. It is still super yummy and wont affect the overall taste, but take the extra few minutes and put the panko toppings on and throw it in the oven you will thank me!
- Add ins Try these amazing add ins and throw them into your mac and cheese to up the make and cheese game: Crab, lobster, parmesan cheese, bacon, chicken, broccoli.
- Try different combinations of shredded cheeses some others that we really love are Monterey jack cheese, pepper jack cheese, mozzarella cheese, and gouda cheese.
I updated this recipe in November 2020. If you are looking for the old version of the recipe, please see below:Ingredients
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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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.
Cooking Tips For Baked Mac And Cheese
- Boiling the pasta cook the pasta less than you normally would. I like to boil my elbow pasta for between 4 and 5 minutes. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, and you dont want it to get mushy.
- Use room temp liquids if you can cold liquids generally take longer to thicken than warmer ones. I usually set my milk and half and half out while the water for the pasta is coming up to a boil.
- The cheeses use your favorites! Our personal favorites are the cheddar and gruyere used in this recipe, but you can be very creative with the cheese selection here. Mozzarella, gouda, smoked gouda, swiss, monterey jack, colby jack, colby. There are plenty of reader comments down below the recipe that talk about the cheeses they used!
- Shred your own I know its a pain, and its SO tempting to use the pre-shredded cheese in the bags. But those bags of cheese contain a starchy substance that keeps the cheese from clumping which also prohibits it from melting as well as it should.
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How To Make The Best Baked Macaroni And Cheese:
This recipe is the best because its SO easy to make. No fussing with making a roux or a cheese sauce.
Here are the simple steps:
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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How To Make Mac And Cheese:
Homemade macaroni and cheese is seriously simple to make! With the help of pre-shredded cheese, it truly is a straightforward process that ends with a gloriously creamy pan of mac and cheese that you will love! Heres how its done:
- Preheat your oven and place the rack in the centerthis rack placement ensures an even, golden brown crust on top of your creamy mac and cheese!
- Cook your pasta just one minute shy of al dente. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so this keeps it from becoming mushy.
- Make a two-ingredient roux! Butter and flour is all youll need for this step to make a simple rouxaka, the base of your homemade cheesy cream sauce.
- Slowly, slowly add some whole milk to your roux, whisking as you go. The more slowly you add the milk the thicker the sauce will be.
- Add Tillamook Triple Cheddar Shredded Cheese, salt, pepper, garlic powder, mustard powder and stir to complete that luscious, silky sauce!
- Add the macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to combine.
- Top with buttery panko and extra cheese and pop that baby in the oven!
And there you have it, easy mac and cheese! I personally enjoy my serving slathered in sriracha, but it also pairs well with green peas, a big salad or with a few green apple slices on the side! Sometimes I go crazy and sprinkle the finished mac and cheese with a little parmesan as well.
Dont Forget The Gravy
There are a few secrets to the best Chicken Fried Steak Gravy.
Now, I go into detail in my instructions below but I want to highlight a few steps here that I want you to pay close attention to before making this recipe.
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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!