Baked Mac and Cheese is one of our favorite comfort foods of all time! Elbow macaroni noodles are tossed in a homemade cheese sauce, topped with a buttery crumb mixture, and baked until hot and bubbly. Perfection.

Serve this homemade mac and cheese alongside a classic Meatloaf Recipe or baked chicken breasts for the most comforting meal ever.

Baked Mac and Cheese served on a plate

Mac and Cheese Ingredients

Macaroni and cheese is my comfort food HEAVEN. From instant pot to slow cooker and of course this classic baked mac and cheese, I love them all.

  • Cheese: Sharp cheddar gives this baked mac and cheese tons of flavor. The addition of gruyere to the cheese sauce in this recipe is next level but of course whatever you have on and will work just do not use pre-shredded cheese.
  • Macaroni: I use a traditional elbow macaroni but any short pasta will work. Shells (or cavatappi) are great choices! Cook al dente as the pasta cooks more as it bakes.
  • Topping: The most perfect buttery crumb topping is one of my favorite parts of this recipe. Add in bacon, more parm, crushed crackers… pretty much anything with crunch will work!

How To Make Mac and Cheese

To make mac and cheese you’ll follow a few simple steps to achieve perfect, ooey gooey homemade mac and cheese! Some of the cooking is done on the stove top before it is baked (like most casseroles).

  1. Cook Pasta: Cook the macaroni noodles to al dente (a little bit undercooked as they’ll cook more in the oven).
  2. Make Sauce: Make the cheese sauce by starting with a roux (butter and flour) per recipe below. Stir in milk and bring to a boil until thick and creamy.

Baked Mac and Cheese ingredients

    1. Add Cheese: Remove from the heat and stir in cheese until melty.
    2. Combine macaroni and sauce in a 9×13 pan.

prepping Baked Mac and Cheese, pouring sauce, and mix in to the macaroni

  1. Sprinkle Topping: Combine bread crumbs (or cracker crumbs) with butter and sprinkle over mac and cheese.

Baked Mac and Cheese with breadcrumbs overhead, before and after baking

  1. Bake: Bake mac and cheese uncovered until golden and bubbly.

How Long to Bake Mac and Cheese? Mac and cheese should be baked just until hot and bubbly, about 20-25 minutes. Overbaking will cause a dry mac and cheese.

Tips for Creamy Mac and Cheese

  • Cook elbows a perfect al dente to avoid mushy noodles
  • Shred your own cheese! Pre-shredded cheeses have additives that can keep them from clumping which also makes it so they don’t melt smoothly.
  • Remove your sauce from the heat before adding cheese to keep it from separating or getting grainy.
  • Do not overbake (or your baked mac and cheese will be dry). Once the macaroni is bubbling and heated and the topping is browned, you know it is ready. Everything is cooked, the baking is to meld the flavors and brown the topping.

taking a spoon full of Baked Mac and Cheese

Favorite Add-Ins

  • BLT: crisp bacon, sundried tomato and fresh spinach
  • Spicy: Diced jalapeno or banana peppers, buffalo sauce and a sprinkle of blue cheese
  • Pizza: Mini Pepperoni, Diced Green Pepper, Black Olives, Oregano and Parmesan Cheese
  • Meaty: Cooked and sliced Italian Sausage (or hot dogs)

To Make Ahead

Mac and cheese is best made and cooked right away. If left in the fridge, the pasta soaks up the sauce and it can become dry.

If you do need to make it ahead of time I would suggest keeping the pasta and sauce separate. Before baking, heat the sauce over low until creamy and then mix with the pasta and bake as directed. Sadly, mac and cheese doesn’t freeze well.

Got Leftovers? Store in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator.

How to Reheat Mac and Cheese: Reheat mac and cheese in the oven or microwave with a little bit of milk to maintain the quality of the sauce.

More Cheesy Pastas

a serving of Baked Mac and Cheese
4.97 from 31 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Baked Mac and Cheese

Macaroni noodles are tossed in a creamy, cheesy sauce, topped with a buttery crumb mixture, and baked until hot and bubbly.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 servings


  • 16 ounces dry macaroni
  • cup butter
  • cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 ¾ cups milk
  • ½ cup light cream
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned salt or to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar
  • ½ cup gruyere cheese swiss cheese or mozzarella
  • ¾ cup fresh parmesan cheese divided


  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon parsley


  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Combine Panko bread crumbs, melted butter, and ¼ cup parmesan cheese.  Set aside.
  • Cook macaroni al dente according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water and set aside.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and onion powder and cook 2 minutes.
  • Whisk in milk, cream and seasonings over medium heat. Continue to stir until mixture thickens. Let boil 1 minute while stirring.
  • Remove from heat and add cheddar cheese, gruyere cheese, and remaining ½ cup parmesan cheese. Whisk until melted.
  • Stir in macaroni and pour into a 9x13 pan.
  • Top with crumb mixture and bake 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and topping is browned. Do not overcook.


Do not over cook. Cool 10-15 minutes before serving.
4.97 from 31 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 650 | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Cholesterol: 100mg | Sodium: 630mg | Potassium: 332mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1135IU | Calcium: 634mg | Iron: 1.7mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. I make this recipe almost montly during mealprep week!
    Its sooo good to separate into dishes and be able to throw into the air fryer or oven and reheat,
    I buy one of the quartered precooked hams at the grocery or occasionally they’ll have them at the food bank, and I’m always watching cheese block sales. I do add peas, and a slightly bit more cheese! I make the roux in my cast iron, throw all the cheese, pasta and everything else in and then bake it right in the cast iron! love it!
    5 stars

  2. Holly, I finally made this yesterday. It is amazingly delicious! My husband is still complimenting on it and I’m still patting myself on the back! In my opinion it turned out like restaurant quality. I did use Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar, Swiss and grated parm cheeses. We could’ve eaten the whole dish it was that delicious. Can’t wait to make it again. Thank for all your super recipes!5 stars

  3. I’m making this for the 4th BBQ . Question I don’t have dry mustard BUT have Dijon. Can’t I sub the wet mustard. Thank you

    1. You can definitely Marion. Try with the same amount and taste to see if you’d like to add a tiny bit more. Enjoy!

  4. This is the best mac and cheese ever! I used cheese i already had. I had a bag of 4 cheese mexican blend and then i used the rest of the swiss and muenster cheeses i had. Oh and parmesan! So cheesy and delicious! Thank you for sharing your recipe! My husband and grandson loved it!5 stars

  5. It was really good! Not overly cheesy tasting and I added bacon and onions and it was perfect! Enough to feed a family too!4 stars

  6. Hi Holly!
    Your Mac and cheese recipe looks great and iwould like to make it for a family dinner. But I will be feeding 10!adults and 2 kids and serving with a baked ham and roasted asparagus. How much should Iincrease the recipe?

    1. This recipe makes enough for 8 servings more as a side dish so you might like to double it and make 2 pans.

  7. I’ve made this recipe several times now. It’s truly delicious made exactly as per your instructions. Thanks much!5 stars

  8. If you will use evaporated milk, instead of milk, like in Queso, It won’t separate.

    Thanks for the recipe

    Hugs from Texas

  9. This is making me hungry. I saute fresh chopped onions in the butter before I add flour for the roux. The addition of all or any of the following are delicious. chopped tomato, chopped, chopped parsley, chopped sliced ham (I don’t like bacon), cut up hard-boiled eggs. Reserve a little grated cheese and add to the breadcrumbs on the top.

  10. Is the macaroni in recipe measure by weight or volume. If by weight, about how many cups would that be?

    Thank you,

    1. This is by weight Paulette. It is approximately 4 cups dry elbow macaroni. Hope that helps!

  11. I have not made this yet but one question. The recipe calls for light cream but the instructions call for heavy cream. Which one is correct? Thank you. Looking forward to making this, just want to make sure.

  12. Best mac and cheese ever.My family devoured it.The addition of the gruyere made it. And easy to put together.My go to recipe now.