I share this easy to make macaroni and cheese recipe. This is the best baked macaroni and cheese recipe but if you’re not a fan of baked macaroni, you can leave out the baking option! This is one of our favorite go to recipes. This post contains affiliate links, please see our Site Policies for further information.
If you saw my last post, you might have noticed this cheesy goodness in the background. Okay, I know you did, because a lot of you reached out on social media asking if I’d be airing the recipe. This folks, is the best macaroni and cheese recipe, ever. Maybe I’m a little biased because I’ve tweaked it relentlessly over the years and I’ve eaten a lot of carbs to perfect it. However, I’ve been messing with this recipe for 9 years. The final call has got 3 different types of cheese and is baked with a “hot breadcrumb” coating. Though if baked mac and cheese recipes are not your thing, it’s just as good without baking it. Which, I should know because there are days where I don’t have time to.
Now listen, if you’re groaning because it’s spring and someone decided that, that meant salad season. Here is how I justify this with the following:
- Carb loading before a race (one of our go tos, actually)
- When I need comfort food after an episode of This Is Us
- When I need to feed a small army for cheap
- As a side for a meal, then I freeze the rest
- When I need an easy meal because it’s already 7:00PM and where did the day go?
Basically, it’s not something I have all the time. However, I don’t limit myself from ever having it and you shouldn’t either. Make it your “cheat day” or whatever you want to call it. I’ll save the diet speech for another episode, but just treat yo’ self, k? You deserve it! So how do I make this gluttonous, cheesy, deliciousness?
HOW TO MAKE THE BEST MACARONI & CHEESE
This recipe is pretty simple to make. All you need to do is cook your pasta, make a cheesy bechamel sauce, and combine. You can bake it or you can serve from there. Now did I scare you off at bechamel sauce? Bechamel is just a fancy name for white sauce, which is incredibly easy to make. If you don’t know how to make one, please, come learn! It’s the base to so many wonderful sauces and has great versatility.
To make the cheesy bechamel sauce melt butter, add flour to it and stir it until it starts to dry out and turn golden. Just not burnt golden. After that you’ll add in milk and whisk until your sauce thickens and starts to produce bubbles around the edge of the pan. From there you season it and that is your bechamel. You’ll remove it from heat and add in the grated cheese slowly letting it all melt. I use three cheese; Sharp Cheddar, Colby Jack, and Smoked Gouda. I love the smokiness of the gouda against the bite of sharp cheddar. No matter what cheese you use, make sure to use a sharp cheddar. It’s the one that’s going to give it the salt flavor this dish needs. Once fully combined you have cheese sauce! You’ll add this to cooked macaroni and serve.
If you’re anything like me though or if you’re not in a rush, I suggest baking the macaroni and cheese. I add the cheese to a baking dish and then top it with hot breadcrumbs. These are just flavored bread crumbs with a slight kick of heat. With the smokey gouda, I think it’s just a really fabulous combo. Regular bread crumbs would work as well, just use what you have. You can also combine regular breadcrumbs with chili powder and red pepper flakes, to get a similar style. I top the breadcrumbs with more cheese and bake until golden. Then you’re left with this decadent meal. If I had a philosophy to my macaroni and cheese it would be baked mac and cheese is served as a main course while unbaked is a side to something greater.
I share this easy to make macaroni and cheese recipe. This is the best baked macaroni and cheese recipe and it uses sharp cheddar cheese, colby jack cheese, and smoked gouda cheese to make a cheesy bechamel sauce. It's then topped with hot bread crumbs and baked. Baking is optional.
- 2 cups Dry Macaroni Pasta
- 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 2 tablespoons All Purpose Flour
- 1.5 cups Milk
- 6 ounces Sharp Cheddar, Grated (1 ounce set aside)
- 6 ounces Smoked Gouda, Grated (1 ounce set aside)
- 6 ounces Colby Jack, Grated (1 ounce set aside)
- 1 teaspoon Dried Mustard
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper (have more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt (have more to taste)
- 1/2 cup Hot Bread Crumbs
If baking, pre-heat oven to 375 F.
Cook macaroni until al dente/firm. Drain and set aside.
In a pan with high walls, melt the butter over medium low heat. Do not let it brown. Once melted add in the flour. Stir until well combined and it starts to turn golden but not burnt. Roughly 4 minutes.
Slowly pour in the milk and whisk while doing so. Whisk until the mixture begins to bubble around the edge of the pan and start to thicken. Once thickened whisk in the garlic powder and dried mustard. Remove from heat.
Into your white sauce (bechamel), slowly add the grated cheese a bit at a time. Once all of your cheese has melted stir in your salt and pepper. Taste your sauce and add more salt/pepper if needed. (If it's bland, add salt. Depending on your cheeses, sometimes it needs more salt than expected.)
Add your cooked macaroni to your sauce. Stir to combine and coat all the macaroni. You can server from here or bake it!
Add the macaroni and cheese to a greased baking dish. Top with the hot bread crumbs and grated cheeses you set aside. Baking for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Don't have hot bread crumbs? Combie 1/2 cup of regular breadcrumbs with 1/2 tablespoon of chili powder and 1/2 tablespoon of red pepper flakes. Mix and then spread on top of your macaroni and cheese!
Yeah, I know. YUM! This is just one of those classic recipes everyone should know how to cook. I love this meal, it maybe my favorite food. It’s a hard toss up between that and nachos. Cheese..maybe just cheese is my favorite food. So who wants to sign up for a race and carb load on this meal with me?
Alright, so after this I promise to do something slightly healthier. I know I’ve been buckling down on heavy food but I’m Southern. I don’t know how to not gravitate towards it. What’s a healthy food you’d like to see on the blog? Are you carb crazed like I am? Tell me all about your favorite and not so favorite foods below.