As a professional chef, I have had the pleasure of preparing countless dishes that tantalize the taste buds and bring joy to those who indulge. One such recipe that never fails to impress is the classic baked mac and cheese. This beloved comfort food is the epitome of cheesy goodness, with a crispy golden crust that adds the perfect touch of texture. Whether you’re looking for a cozy weeknight dinner or a crowd-pleasing dish for a special gathering, my baked mac and cheese recipe is sure to be a hit. So, grab your apron and get ready to dive into a world of cheesy decadence that will leave you craving more. Let’s get cooking!

A Delicious Twist on a Classic Comfort Food: Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

Mac and cheese is a beloved comfort food that brings back memories of childhood and cozy nights at home. There’s something irresistibly comforting about the combination of creamy cheese sauce and tender pasta. But let’s take it up a notch. This recipe for baked mac and cheese adds a crispy, golden crust that adds a delightful crunch to every bite. It’s the perfect balance of creamy and crunchy, making it a definite crowd-pleaser. So, gather your ingredients and prepare to elevate your mac and cheese game!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

General Information:

  • Making Difficulty: Easy
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 45 minutes
  • Servings: 8

Instructions:

Step 1: Cook the pasta

Start by preheating your oven to 375°F (190°C). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions. Be sure to cook the pasta al dente so it still has a slight bite to it. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set aside.

– Tip: To prevent the pasta from sticking together, drizzle a little olive oil over the drained pasta and gently toss to coat.

Step 2: Make the cheese sauce

In a separate saucepan, melt the unsalted butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for about 1 minute until the mixture turns a light golden color. Gradually pour in the milk while whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, Dijon mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking and whisking until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese until fully melted and smooth.

Step 3: Combine the pasta and cheese sauce

Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni and gently stir until all the noodles are fully coated. The cheesy mixture should be creamy and evenly distributed.

– Tip: For an extra cheesy twist, you can also add some cubed Velveeta or cream cheese to the mix.

Step 4: Transfer to a baking dish

Transfer the mac and cheese mixture to a greased 9×13-inch baking dish, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese over the top.

Step 5: Add the crunchy topping

In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs with a drizzle of melted butter. Mix until the breadcrumbs are evenly coated. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the cheese layer, forming an even layer of crispy goodness.

Step 6: Bake to perfection

Place the baking dish in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the top is golden brown and crispy. Keep an eye on it during the last few minutes to prevent the breadcrumbs from burning.

Step 7: Serve and enjoy!

Remove the baked mac and cheese from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley, if desired. This delightful dish is perfect as a main course or as a delicious side dish for your favorite meat or vegetables.

Now, dig in and savor the creamy, cheesy goodness of this elevated version of mac and cheese. The combination of tender pasta, rich cheese sauce, and crispy breadcrumbs will surely satisfy your cravings and impress your family and friends. Enjoy!

baked mac and cheese recipe

Important Things to Keep in Mind When Making This Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

There’s something undeniably comforting about a plate of warm, cheesy, and indulgent mac and cheese. It’s a classic dish that strikes a chord with both kids and adults alike. But making the perfect baked mac and cheese requires more than just throwing some pasta and cheese together. To achieve that delicious, gooey, and flavorful result, there are a few important things to keep in mind. From selecting the right cheese to timing the baking process, here are some helpful tips to elevate your baked mac and cheese game.

When it comes to the cheese, it’s all about achieving the perfect balance between creaminess and flavor. Opt for a combination of cheeses, such as sharp cheddar for a rich and tangy taste, creamy Monterey Jack for smoothness, and a touch of Parmesan for a nutty depth. Mixing different types of cheese adds complexity and depth to the flavor profile. Be sure to grate the cheese yourself instead of buying pre-shredded versions. Pre-shredded cheese often contains anti-clumping agents that can interfere with the creamy texture of the dish.

Another crucial element in the success of baked mac and cheese is the pasta itself. Choose a pasta shape that can hold onto the luscious cheese sauce, such as elbows or cavatappi. Make sure to cook the pasta al dente, leaving it slightly firm to the bite. This is because the pasta will continue to cook in the oven during the baking process, and you don’t want it to become mushy. Remember to generously salt the cooking water for the pasta to infuse it with flavor from the start.

But what truly sets a baked mac and cheese apart from the stovetop version is the crunchy and golden topping. Panko breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter and a sprinkle of Parmesan create a mouthwatering crust that adds texture and visual appeal. When sprinkling the breadcrumbs on top of the mac and cheese, do so evenly to ensure every bite has that delightful crunch. Monitor the baking process closely to prevent the breadcrumbs from burning – you want them to be golden brown, not charred.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to experiment and add your own twist to the classic baked mac and cheese recipe. While the original version is a beloved favorite, there are countless ways to elevate it. Consider adding cooked bacon for a smoky kick or diced jalapeños for a spicy twist. You can even mix in some caramelized onions or roasted garlic for extra depth of flavor. Just remember to balance the added ingredients to maintain the overall harmony of the dish.

In conclusion, making the perfect baked mac and cheese requires attention to detail and a few essential tips. From selecting the right combination of cheeses to achieving the ideal texture of the pasta, each step contributes to the overall success of the dish. Don’t forget the crunchy topping and unleash your creativity by adding flavor-packed ingredients. With these important things in mind, you can confidently whip up a baked mac and cheese that will leave your taste buds singing with delight.

Frequently Asked Questions

Baked mac and cheese is a classic comfort food loved by many. If you’re looking to make this delicious dish at home, here are some frequently asked questions and their answers to help you along the way:

1. How can I make my baked mac and cheese extra creamy?

Making a creamy baked mac and cheese starts with a good base sauce. To achieve that extra creaminess, you can add a combination of different types of cheese like cheddar, mozzarella, and cream cheese. Additionally, incorporating some heavy cream or milk into your sauce can make it even richer. Don’t forget to melt the cheese slowly over low heat to prevent it from becoming grainy, and avoid overcooking your pasta to maintain a smooth texture.

Another tip is to mix your cooked pasta with the cheese sauce while both are still warm before transferring it to the baking dish. This ensures that every bite is coated in the creamy goodness.

2. Can I use any type of cheese for baked mac and cheese?

Yes, you can experiment with different types of cheese to give your baked mac and cheese a unique flavor. Cheddar cheese is a classic choice, but you can also try variations like Gruyere, Swiss, or even a mix of different cheeses. It’s best to choose cheese that melts well and has a good flavor profile that complements the dish. Feel free to get creative and combine different cheeses to achieve the taste you desire.

However, keep in mind that some types of cheese may have a stronger flavor or a higher fat content, which can affect the overall taste and texture. It’s always a good idea to research the melting properties and flavor profiles of different cheeses before using them in your mac and cheese recipe.

3. Can I make baked mac and cheese without using eggs?

Absolutely! While some recipes do call for eggs, they are not essential to make a delicious baked mac and cheese. The eggs are typically used to help bind the ingredients together and give the dish a slightly custard-like texture. However, there are many egg-free recipes available that still yield creamy and flavorful mac and cheese.

If you prefer not to use eggs, you can achieve a creamy texture by using a combination of cheese, milk or cream, and a roux made from butter and flour. The roux helps thicken the sauce, giving it a smooth and velvety consistency. With the right recipe and technique, you can enjoy a delicious baked mac and cheese without eggs.

4. How can I make my baked mac and cheese crispy on top?

If you’re a fan of a crispy golden crust on top of your mac and cheese, there are a few techniques you can try. One method is to sprinkle a layer of breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter over the top before baking. This creates a crunchy texture and adds extra flavor. Panko breadcrumbs, known for their light and crispy texture, work particularly well for this purpose.

Another option is to use shredded or grated cheese to top your mac and cheese. As it bakes, the cheese will melt and form a delicious crispy layer. You can also broil the dish for a couple of minutes at the end of the baking time to further enhance the crispiness. Just be sure to keep an eye on it to prevent burning.

5. Can I prepare the mac and cheese ahead of time and bake it later?

Absolutely! One of the great things about baked mac and cheese is that it can be prepared in advance. You can assemble the dish, cover it tightly, and refrigerate it for up to a day before baking. This is particularly convenient if you’re hosting a gathering or want to save time on the day of serving.

When you’re ready to bake it, simply take the dish out of the fridge, remove the cover, and let it come to room temperature while the oven preheats. You may need to bake it a little longer than the original recipe suggests to ensure it’s heated through. Keep an eye on the dish as it bakes to prevent it from drying out or becoming overcooked.

How to make the EASIEST Creamiest and Cheesiest Oven-Baked MAC & CHEESE


In conclusion, the baked mac and cheese recipe is the epitome of comfort food that brings joy to the table. With its creamy, cheesy goodness and crispy golden crust, it is a dish that never fails to satisfy. Whether you are a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, this recipe is sure to impress your family and friends. The versatility of mac and cheese allows you to experiment with different cheeses, add-ins, and toppings, making it a dish that can be personalized to your liking. So, don your apron, preheat your oven, and get ready to indulge in a bowl of pure cheesy bliss. Happy cooking!