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!
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!
- 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.
- Sauce A classic cheese sauce with lots of cheese. Sharp cheddar adds great flavor (more on the sauce below)
- Topping For this casserole, I’ve kept it simple with more cheese on top. You can add a breadcrumb topping if you’d like.
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).
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!
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
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese – Super easy!
- Pickled Tuna Macaroni Salad
- American Goulash Recipe (Tomato, Beef and Macaroni) Crowd pleaser.
- Cheesy Beef & Macaroni Casserole
- Homemade One Pot Cheeseburger Macaroni – Easy & quick!
- Crock Pot Mac and Cheese – The BEST!
Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole
- 12 oz dry macaroni
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 cup light cream about 10-12% MF
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 can condensed cream of cheddar soup optional 10.75oz
- 4 cups sharp cheddar divided
- 1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
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 provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)
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