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This is the BEST Mac & Cheese Recipe you will ever make! In 15 minutes you can have a bowl of this this creamy, rich, and cheesy coated plate of noodles, and hearts will be full!
One for Your Holiday Recipes Notebooks!
Mac and cheese will be your favorite recipe for a quick meal. I make this for thanksgiving dinner every year and this year I made a few tweaks… Let’s just say, the pot was gone!
Creamy Dreamy Mac & Cheese
Whatever the occasion, whatever the reason, this mac and cheese recipe will always bring comfort and warmth. Both kids and adults will be giddy with excitement over this silky, creamy, and cheesy goodness!
Once you try this homemade Mac and Cheese, you won’t go back to the boxed version ever again. For a complete meal, serve your mac and cheese as a main dish with boiled and seasoned broccoli or glazed carrots.
Why is this the Best Homemade Mac & Cheese?
It’s extra saucy, creamy, and totally dreamy with different kinds of cheese.
It’s easy to make the sauce from scratch
The pasta does not get dry and remains nice and creamy
It tastes wonderful, especially when it is paired with sharp cheddar cheese.
It is great for add-ins. The sky is basically your limit here. You can add proteins, herbs, or your favorite veggies.
It’s a kid friendly recipe that the entire family will enjoy, even your pickiest eaters!
Irresistibly Smooth & Cheesy!
What Ingredients Are Needed for Classic Mac and Cheese?
Macaroni noodles: The classic elbow noodles are my favorite, but feel free to use your favorite short pasta. Elbow macaroni, penne, rotini, and shells are excellent choices. Gluten-free pasta also works well!
Butter: There really isn’t a substitute for butter in this recipe in terms of flavor. Use unsalted butter for this and then adjust salt to taste when making the sauce. However, if salted butter is all you have, it will suffice. If butter is unavailable, you can use margarine or ghee.
Flour: I use all purpose flour. However, corn starch, tapioca starch/flour, and all-purpose gluten-free flour can be used as well.
Cheese: Traditional mac and cheese is made with sharp cheddar cheese. For a richer cheesy taste, I use a combination of sharp cheddar cheese, Monterey, and Swiss and Gruyere. I also add some cream cheese to make the sauce extra creamy.
Heavy cream: Adding heavy cream will make the sauce rich and creamy.
Milk: This recipe works well with any type of milk. Just keep in mind that the more fat you use, the creamier your homemade mac and cheese will be.
Salt and Pepper: Add some salt and a dash of black pepper for extra flavor.
What is the Best Cheese to Use for Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese?
Macaroni and cheese is often made with sharp cheddar cheese. It’s practically a part of every American kid’s childhood.
Cheddar is my nostalgic favorite when it comes to mac and cheese. It melts easily, making it ideal for that delectable cheese pull. It also gives the mac and cheese the classic orange color.
You can add different cheeses. I usually add in some Colby and Monterey Jack because of their mild flavor and good melting properties. You may add some Pepper Jack, another version of Monterey Jack. Also, for a lot of complex cheese flavor and depth to the dish, I add some Swiss and Gruyere cheese.
It’s better to grate your own cheese to get the best flavor, no matter what kind you use. I know it takes a little more time to prepare, but hand-grated cheese melts so much easier into the sauce. But you can skip this part and use pre-shredded cheese as I have before and it will be perfect!
Look at this Silky Glossy Cheesy Sauce!
How to Avoid Grainy Cheese Sauce
The type of cheddar you use makes a difference. High quality aged cheddar cheese will taste better and have a smoother texture. Milder and cheaper cheddar cheese will taste less flavorful.
Fresh grated cheese is best. Freshly grated cheese melts better than pre-shredded store-bought cheese, and grating cheese ensures it melts smoothly and evenly in sauce.
Does Cheese Have To Be At Room Temperature?
Make sure the cheese is at room temperature. It’s always good to grate the cheese first, before starting the recipe. By doing so, it can sit at room temperature while you prepare the white sauce.
Use low heat. The cheese will melt properly and smoothly if the temperature changes gradually. Remove the sauce from heat and let it cool for a few minutes before adding the cheese. The sauce should only be warm enough to melt the cheese.
What Can You Add to Mac and Cheese?
You can dress up your macaroni and cheese in a variety of ways. Here are some ideas:
- Fresh Herbs
- Crumbled Bacon
- Grilled chicken
- Hot Sauce
Macaroni and Cheese Variations
Baked Mac and Cheese: Simply combine the pasta and cheese sauce in a baking dish and bake with a little more cheese and breadcrumbs on top.
Taco Mac & Cheese: Taco Mac & Cheese is the perfect duo! So rich and cheesy, it melts in your mouth mixed with taco seasoned ground beef!
Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese: A good option for a lower carb version that you can enjoy guilt-free!
Turkey and Mac Sandwich: Thanksgiving leftovers is the best way to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner all over again, but, in a sandwich!
Comfort Food that’s Ready in No Time
Frequently Asked Questions
Sure! Simply make the roux with gluten-free macaroni and gluten-free flour.
This Mac & Cheese reheats well in the microwave. It only takes 2 minutes. Add a few extra spoons of milk to make it extra creamy. You can also reheat it in a pot on the stove on low heat.
YES you can!! Freshly shredded cheese melts better in mac and cheese. Pre-shredded cheese contains additives that prevent it from sticking together, which affects how it melts but it still has worked for me!
Store any leftovers in a bowl and wrap it with a plastic wrap or put them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Cook your noodles in milk instead of water. So for this recipe you will cook your noodles with 2 cups heavy cream and 3 cups whole milk. This helps to create a very creamy consistency since the starches of the noodles are released into the milk when cooked.
Top Tips to Get the Best Recipe
Cook pasta until it’s al dente (firm). Otherwise, the noodles will cook more in the sauce and will become mushy.
Salt the pasta water. This really makes a difference in the flavor of the pasta.
A pro tip is to shred the cheese by hand because pre-shredded cheese contains additives to keep it from clumping together which affects the way it melts.
For more flavor to this mac‘n cheese, you can add 2 teaspoons of garlic powder and/or onion powder. You can also add a dash of paprika, a dash of dry mustard, some mustard powder, or ground nutmeg.
A great way to keep the macaroni extra creamy is to place the finished macaroons and cheese in a baking dish, top with more cheese of choice. Bake for 8 minutes at 350F then broil for 2 minutes until the top is golden.
Mac and cheese is a crowd pleaser. So, you can double or triple the ingredients. Make sure to use a large pot to boil your macaroni.
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Best Mac & Cheese Ingredients
Next time you crave something cheesy goodness, you have to try this homemade macaroni and cheese recipe. Here’s what you need.
- Elbow macaroni pasta
- stick of butter
- heavy cream
- warm milk
- cream cheese
- sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- Colby and Monterey cheese, shredded
- Swiss and Gruyere cheese, shredded
- black pepper
What an Easy Recipe! Check the recipe card for more detailed steps.
Melt the butter on low to medium heat, then whisk in the flour.
It should look like this.
Then, pour in the heavy cream.
Add the cheese and whisk.
Until smooth & creamy
Gently mix in drained elbow noodles.
Steps to Prep the Best Mac & Cheese Recipe
First, boil a pot of water. Add a little salt and pasta and cook for 8 minutes then strain.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan on low / medium heat melt butter, then add the flour and whisk together until smooth. Then slowly add the milk, whisking to combine.
After that, add in the cream cheese, shredded Colby and Monterey cheese and the gruyere cheese. Whisk until creamy.
Finally, gently fold in the cooked elbow pasta. Serve immediately and enjoy!
More Macaroni Recipes to Try:
The Best Macaroni & Cheese Recipe
- Boil a pot of water, add a little salt, pasta and cook for 8 minutes then strain.
- Meanwhile in a large saucepan on low / medium heat melt butter, then add the flour and whisk together until smooth. After that, slowly add the milk, whisking to combine.
- Add in the cream cheese, shredded Colby and Monterey cheese and the Gruyere cheese. Whisk until creamy.
- Gently fold in the cooked elbow pasta. Serve immediately and Enjoy!