Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole

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Homemade Mac and Cheese is a rich, creamy casserole that is truly a show stopper! Not only is this creamy macaroni and cheese recipe easy to make it, has a special ingredient making it extra delicious!

This dish has so much velvety cheese in a quick homemade sauce that, once you try it, this is going to be the only baked macaroni & cheese dish you’ll ever need!

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole scooped with a spoon
Hello, my name is Holly and I am addicted to Macaroni and Cheese.  It doesn’t even have to be fancy, I love crock pot mac & cheese, stove top mac and cheese, baked mac and cheese or even out of a little blue box.

Of all of the mac and cheese recipes, *this* little gem right here is the best mac and cheese recipe ever and always gets rave reviews!

How to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese

Making homemade macaroni and cheese (including this 5-star recipe) is surprisingly easy and quick!

  1. Pasta This mac and cheese casserole starts with elbow macaroni that are slightly undercooked so they don’t get mushy when it’s baked. Any short pasta will work.
  2. Sauce A classic cheese sauce with lots of cheese. Sharp cheddar adds great flavor (more on the sauce below)
  3. Topping For this casserole, I’ve kept it simple with more cheese on top. You can add a breadcrumb topping if you’d like.

Easy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole on a plate with a fork

About This Homemade Mac and Cheese Sauce

The sauce for this easy homemade mac and cheese is a classic roux based cheese sauce.  Roux sounds very fancy but truthfully once you make a roux, you’ll realize how easy it is! It’s just butter and flour cooked and then milk added so don’t let it scare you away!

The results of creating a roux based sauce means your macaroni and cheese is going luscious and velvety smooth every single time. This allows the cheeses to melt in evenly and perfectly for this casserole.

To add to the creaminess of this dish, I combine a little bit of milk and a little bit of light cream (I use a cream that is about 10-12%MF or half and half).

Homemade Mac and Cheese in a white casserole dish

What Cheese Is Best For Mac and Cheese?

Sharp Cheddar is my first choice for flavor however you can certainly use your favorite cheeses. Mix it up and use a bit of gruyere, or even pepperjack for a little kick. If you have bits of cheese leftover, you can combine them all together in this easy homemade mac and cheese sauce.

Now, this recipe has a special ingredient that is a little bit unconventional but makes it extra yummy…  AND it is optional. The addition of cheddar soup makes the sauce a little bit extra velvety and just adds a little something.

I think it’s much better than Mac and cheese with Velveeta!  The addition of the cheddar cheese soup to this recipe is something you definitely should try!  (You can find it at your local grocery store with the other condensed soups or online here).

Cheese Tip: Buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheeses don’t melt the same way as they have additives to keep them from clumping/sticking.

Making Homemade Macaroni and Cheese is not difficult but below are a few simple tips to make sure it turns out absolutely perfectly every single time!

Spoonful of Easy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Tips to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese

  • Cook your pasta al dente (firm) as the noodles cook extra in the sauce and you don’t want them mushy.
  • Don’t forget to salt your pasta water.
  • While not everyone agrees with rinsing the pasta after cooking, in this particular recipe it stops the noodles from cooking and the sauce is created with a texture that pairs perfectly with the rinsed noodles.
  • A sharper cheddar cheese will add a stronger cheese flavor.
  • Pre-shredded cheeses contain additives to keep it from sticking together which affects the way it melts.  The sauce is best if you shred your own cheeses.
  • Allowing the baked macaroni and cheese to rest for a few minutes after baking will thicken the sauce.
  • Most importantly of all… Do not over bake this recipe.

When cooking your macaroni noodles, cook them according to the package directions but you want them to be still firm.  If your package says 6-8 minutes, just cook them 6…  you get the idea. I choose not to top this baked macaroni casserole with a bread crumb mixture but if you really like bread crumbs on your macaroni and cheese, by all means, add some!

How to Make a Bread Crumb Topping

Combine the following and sprinkle over your casserole before baking.

  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs (Panko Bread Crumbs are best)
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon parsley (optional)

This recipe makes an extra saucy creamy macaroni.  Do not over-bake this recipe.  You want it creamy and rich, over-baking will cause it to dry out.

I find that 20 minutes was perfect in my oven…  note that the recipe will thicken slightly while standing.

More Macaroni Recipes You’ll Love

Did you love this Mac and Cheese Casserole? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Homemade Mac and Cheese in a white casserole dish
4.94 from 380 votes
Review Recipe

Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Holly Nilsson
This homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole is the best you've ever had. Tender noodles in a velvety sauce for the perfectly irresistible dish!!


  • 12 ounces dry macaroni
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup light cream about 10-12% MF
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 can condensed cream of cheddar soup optional 10.75 ounces
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar divided
  • ½ cup fresh parmesan cheese

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  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and run under cold water.
  • Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Whisk in flour and let cook 2 minutes while stirring. Slowly whisk in cream, milk, mustard powder onion powder, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat while stirring until thickened.
  • Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese & 3 cups cheddar cheese until melted. Add soup if using.
  • Toss cheese sauce & macaroni noodles together. Pour into a greased 9×13 pan. Top with remaining cheese.
  • Bake 18-24 minutes or until bubbly. Do not over cook. Cool 10-15 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 547, Carbohydrates: 38g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 20g, Cholesterol: 100mg, Sodium: 529mg, Potassium: 230mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 1020IU, Calcium: 554mg, Iron: 1.2mg

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

Keyword baked, casserole, homemade mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

taking a cheesy spoonful of macaroni and cheese casserole

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole with a title

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About the author


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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!

More Posts by Holly

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Recipe Rating


  1. Very delicious! Super rich and cheesy! I made it just as written and it was a big hit with the family! Very easy to make too! Thank you!5 stars

  2. Wow, extra rich and creamy. I used Vermont extra sharp white cheddar and for the cream I used half and half. I’ve been trying different mac and cheese recipes for years, trying to find the one that will be my go to. This is it. Delicious, Thank you!

  3. I’m wanting to make this for my birthday. What can I use in place of light cream. None of our stores have it or else I don’t know what I’m looking for. Thanks!

    1. Light cream is also referred to as half & half. If you still can’t find any you could try combining 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 cup of milk as a substitute.

      1. Hi Lacey, We have not tried freezing this recipe. Often recipes with milk don’t freeze well so I can’t say for sure how it would work. Some readers have had success based on comments left.

  4. looks delicious

    I made a similar version years back for a block party. Didn’t have sharp cheddar, just some gruyere and mild cheddar. I added a little cayenne to the sauce. Even the little kids enjoyed it. With the inclusion of the mustard and the sharp cheddar this recipe looks like it will be luscious!

  5. I’ve made this recipe a few times now and I will never make it any other way again. I use 3 cups sharp cheddar and 1 cup Monterey Jack just to mix it up a bit. I’ve never been a fan of Velvetta but you really needed it to get the creamy texture. I’m much happier using the soup option! So glad I found this recipe!!!5 stars

  6. This was delicious, and pretty easy to make. I used French-fried onions on top, a little less cheese, and added diced ham. Will definitely make it again!5 stars