This baked mac and cheese is a family favorite recipe, loved by both children and adults. It uses a combination of cheeses, layered in the dish as well as melted into a rich and creamy cheese sauce, for the ultimate in cheesy deliciousness! Perfect for a comforting dinner or as a holiday side dish!
BAKED MAC AND CHEESE
Baked mac and cheese. It’s nearly the universal comfort food, and there are SO many variations! In fact, I almost didn’t post this recipe, as there are SOOOO many mac and cheese recipes available, and most people already have their favorite way of making it.
Of course, there’s no “right” way or “wrong” way, so I’m here sharing the way I like to make my mac and cheese (the way my family loves it too).
HOW TO MAKE MAC AND CHEESE
If you’ve never made homemade mac and cheese before, it can seem a bit daunting. But don’t worry, we’ll break it down and take it step by step!
- Boil the pasta, drain.
- Make the cheese sauce by combining a fat (butter), and starch (flour), then whisking in the milk products.
- Cook the sauce until it’s 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!
Creamy Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
This baked mac and cheese is a family favorite recipe, loved by children and adults.
- ▢1 lb. dried elbow pasta
- ▢1/2 cup unsalted butter
- ▢1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- ▢1 1/2 cups whole milk
- ▢2 1/2 cups half and half
- ▢4 cups shredded medium sharp cheddar cheese divided (measured after shredding)
- ▢2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese divided (measured after shredding)
- ▢1/2 Tbsp. salt
- ▢1/2 tsp. black pepper
- ▢1/4 tsp. paprika
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 3 qt baking dish (9×13″). Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When boiling, add dried pasta and cook 1 minute less than the package directs for al dente. Drain and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil to keep from sticking.
- While water is coming up to a boil, shred cheeses and toss them together to mix, then divide into three piles. Approximately 3 cups for the sauce, 1 1/2 cups for the inner layer, and 1 1/2 cups for the topping.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over MED heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. The mixture will look like very wet sand. Cook for approximately 1 minute, whisking often. Slowly pour in about 2 cups or so of the milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until smooth. Slowly pour in the remaining milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until combined and smooth.
- Continue to heat over MED heat, whisking very often, until thickened to a very thick consistency. It should almost be the consistency of a semi-thinned-out condensed soup.
- Remove from the heat and stir in spices and 1 1/2 cups of the cheeses, stirring to melt and combine. Stir in another 1 1/2 cups of cheese, and stir until completely melted and smooth.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine drained pasta with cheese sauce, stirring to combine fully. Pour half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with 1 1/2 cups of shredded cheeses, then top that with the remaining pasta mixture.
- Sprinkle the top with the last 1 1/2 cups of cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until cheesy is bubbly and lightly golden brown.
- To get the 4 cups of cheddar, use a 16 oz block of cheddar and shred.
- To get the 2 cups of gruyere, use as close to an 8 oz block of gruyere as you can (different brands have different sized blocks), and shred.