Baked Mac and Cheese is one of our favorite comfort foods ever! Macaroni noodles are tossed in a homemade cheese sauce, topped with a buttery crumb mixture, and baked until hot and bubbly.
Macaroni and cheese is my comfort food HEAVEN. From instant pot mac and cheese to slow cooker mac and cheese, no matter how it is prepared you know I’m happy. This baked mac and cheese rivals some of my favorite methods of making macaroni and cheese because it is SO easy but tastes gourmet.
- 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. This simple addition will become your new secret weapon for all things mac and 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 in the sauce.
- 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 Baked Mac and Cheese
When you bake mac and cheese, some of the cooking is done on the stove top before it is baked (like most casseroles). To achieve the perfect, ooey gooey creamy homemade mac and cheese, there are a few very simple tips to ensure perfection!
- Cook the macaroni noodles to a perfect al dente to avoid mushy noodles.
- Make the cheese sauce by starting with a roux.
- 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.
- Bake uncovered until golden. Do not overbake (or your baked mac and cheese will be dry).
Toss everything together, top the baked mac and cheese with the crumb topping (that I could put on everything) then bake it until golden, bubbling, and heavenly.
More Creamy Pasta Dishes
- Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole – Personal favorite!
- Chicken Lasagna – Creamy and delicious!
- Lemon Shrimp Linguine – So flavorful!
- Crock Pot Chicken and Noodles – Classic comfort food.
- Sun Dried Tomato Pasta with Chicken – Quick and easy.
- Skinny Chicken Alfredo – So creamy you won’t miss the fat and calories!
How Long To Bake Mac and Cheese
This step is important. The key to a creamy mac and cheese is to make certain you do not overbake it!
I make this baked mac and cheese recipe in a 9×13 pan or a dutch oven and bake just until hot and bubbly, about 20 minutes or so. 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.
Do not overcook or your mac and cheese will be dry.
Baked Mac and Cheese
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter melted
- 16 oz dry macaroni
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/3 cup flour
- 2 3/4 cups milk
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt or to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 3 cups sharp cheddar
- 1/2 cup gruyere cheese or swiss cheese
- 3/4 cup fresh parmesan cheese divided
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine Panko bread crumbs, melted butter and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese. Set aside.
Cook macaroni al dente according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water.
- 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 1/2 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.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)