Homemade Macaroni and Cheese is the ULTIMATE comfort food! Creamy, ooey-gooey and super delicious, this homemade mac and cheese recipe beats the heck out of that boxed stuff in flavor. And trust me, once you taste this mac and cheese recipe, you will realize that little bit of extra effort to make the real stuff is 100% worth it!
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Lets admit it, we have all had more of that neon orange, powdery mac and cheese that we care to admit, which may have (literally) left a bad taste in your mouth when it comes to having mac and cheese for dinner. But throw what you think you know about mac and cheese out the window. This isn’t your 6 year old’s mac and cheese.
This recipe will have your whole family running to the table at meal time. It is so smooth, so creamy and so indulgent I promise everyone will love it.
If you have never made homemade mac and cheese it might seem a bit daunting, but I promise it is easy. Let me teach you how to make my yummy homemade mac and cheese recipe and that boxed stuff will be a thing of the past.
What Ingredients Will I Need?
- Pasta- Of course the classic pasta is a macaroni noodle, I mean, its called MAC and cheese for a reason, but any short tubular pasta will work great. You could use penne, cavatappi, even spirals. Anything with plenty of nooks and crannys for all the cheesy goodness to hide.
- Flour- Run of the mill AP flour works great!
- Cream- When I do Mac and Cheese I do it ALL THE WAY! Give me ALL the cream and ALL the carbs, but you can substitute half and half here if you want to lighten it up a little.
- Cheese- PRO TIP: I know those pre-shredded cheeses are SUPER convenient, but I REALLY recommend shredding your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheeses are coated to keep the cheese from sticking together, but that will also add a grainy texture to your mac and cheese and keep your sauce from coming together the way you want. Also, I generally use sharp cheddar, parmesan and white cheddar (its what I normally have in my fridge) but you can use what you like. You will change the flavor of the mac and cheese with the types you use, so it is fun to mix and match and discover YOUR perfect flavor combination. I do however recommend using a couple different types. It will create a rounder, more complex flavor.
- Garlic Powder
- Salt and Pepper
How To Make The Best Mac and Cheese
This is a baked mac and cheese recipe, so to start, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Boiling your pasta and making the Cheese Sauce
Boil your pasta in salted water until ALMOST al dente. Don’t cook it all the way because the pasta will continue to soften while it is baking in the oven, and you DO NOT want overcooked pasta…it is the actual worst! When your pasta is cooked drain it and rinse it in cold water to stop the cooking process.
While the pasta is boiling, melt the butter in a large sauce pan. Once its melted, add the flour and whisk into a roux. Cook the roux for about 2 minutes until it becomes golden brown. When the roux is cooked whisk in the milk and cream and stir until it is smooth and begins to thicken.
Once the sauce has thickened up, remove it from the heat and stir in 2 CUPS of the cheese. Save the rest for later. Continue stirring until the cheese is melted, then add your garlic powder and salt and pepper. Make sure to taste and adjust your cheese and seasonings to your liking.
Layering the Mac and Cheese in your Baking Dish
Now layer half the pasta in the bottom of a baking dish with half of the sauce and sprinkle with some of your remaining cheese. Now repeat this step with the remaining pasta, sauce and cheese.
Cover your baking dish with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes until its all yummy and bubbly. Uncover your mac and cheese for the last 10 minutes so that the cheese turns into crispy cheese candy.
Tips for if you don’ want to bake your Mac and Cheese
You can totally choose not to bake your mac and cheese, just adjust the recipe by cooking the pasta to al dente, and adding all your cheese to the sauce.
And that is it! Rich, cheesy, comforting mac and cheese. So simple, but so incredibly good, you’ll ditch the box forever.
How to Reheat your Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
Reheating tip: sometimes when you reheat mac and cheese in the microwave the sauce will separate a little bit. To fix this, just splash in a little milk after you have warmed it up and stir. That should bring your sauce back together.
Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb pasta elbow macaroni, cavatappi, penne
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups milk
- 3 cups cheese (use a combination of your favorites)* divided
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Boil your pasta until it is almost al dente. The pasta will cook again in the oven, so do not cook your pasta completely at this point. When the pasta is done, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
- While the pasta is boiling, melt the butter in a large sauce pan.
- Whisk in the flour to create a roux. Whisk and cook for 2 minutes.
- Whisk in the cream and milk and simmer until it starts to thicken.
- Melt in 2 cups of the cheese, stirring constantly.
- Season with the garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste. Taste and add more seasonings or cheese to your liking.
- Layer half of the pasta into he bottom of your baking dish, pour half of the sauce on top and then sprinkle half of the remaining cheese on top. Repeat with the remaining pasta, sauce and cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake at 350° for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling. You can remove the foil for the last 10 minutes to brown the top, if desired.