Homemade Mac and Cheese is a rich, creamy casserole and this recipe is truly my favorite!

Not only is this creamy macaroni and cheese recipe easy to make, it has a special ingredient so it turns out extra delicious!

This dish has so much cheesy sauce, it’s impossible to resist and once you try it, this is going to be the only baked macaroni & cheese recipe you’ll ever need!

taking a spoonful of Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole out of the dish

Why This is Our Favorite Homemade Mac & Cheese Ever

Hello, my name is Holly and I am obsessed with Macaroni and Cheese.  I love all kinds from crock pot mac & cheese to baked mac and cheese, or even out of a little blue box. Of all of the cheesy macaroni recipes, *this* recipe right here is the best mac and cheese recipe ever and always gets rave reviews!

  • The sauce is from scratch and easy to make.
  • This recipe is extra saucy.
  • The pasta doesn’t get dry, it’s still nice and creamy even after it’s baked in the oven.
  • It’s got great flavor, especially when using sharp cheddar cheese. (The sharper the better!)
  • And most importantly, it’s the best homemade mac and cheese you’ve ever had.

ingredients to make Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole

Ingredients & Variations

PASTA This easy mac and cheese casserole starts with elbow macaroni that are slightly undercooked so they don’t get mushy when baked.

Any short pasta like penne, rotini, or shells will work. Feel free to use gluten free pasta or whole grain pasta if desired.

SAUCE A classic flour and butter mixture is used to thicken the cheese sauce. We add sharp cheddar and fresh parmesan for lots of flavor. A secret ingredient I love to add is condensed cheddar cheese soup (this is optional but reccomened).

For extra richness, I add a bit of light cream to the milk. You can use all milk if it’s all you have.

VARIATION This casserole has a simple cheese topping. But feel free to add a breadcrumb topping if desired.

process of making sauce for Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole


How to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese

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

  1. Cook Pasta – Cook pasta al dente (slightly undercooked) drain & rinse.
  2. Make Sauce – A homemade cheese sauce with lots of cheese takes about 10 minutes. (more on the sauce below).
  3. Combine and bake – Toss sauce with pasta and top with remainder of shredded cheese.
  4. Bake (as per the recipe below) until golden and bubbly.

Mac and Cheese Sauce

The sauce for this easy homemade macaroni and cheese is a classic roux based cheese sauce. This just means fat (in this case butter) and flour cooked together and then liquid (milk) added! This sauce is incredibly rich and creamy making sure the macaroni and cheese is velvety smooth and extra creamy every single time.

Be sure to shred your own cheese for the sauce, pre-shredded cheese doesn’t melt as well.

Assembling mac and cheese casserole

The Best Cheese 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 pepper jack for a little kick. If you have bits of cheese leftover, you can combine them all together in this easy homemade cheese sauce.

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 cheese 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!  Give it a try!  (You can find it at your local grocery store with the other condensed soups or online here).

Spoonful of Easy Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Recipe Tips

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

  • Cook pasta al dente (firm) Otherwise the noodles cook extra in the sauce and can get over- cooked in the oven.
  • Salt the pasta water It really makes a difference in the flavor of the pasta.
  • Rinse the pasta after cooking While not everyone agrees, in this particular recipe the sauce is created with a texture that pairs perfectly with rinsed noodles. Rinsing with cold water stops the cooking process, too, ensuring that pasta won’t overcook and get mushy during baking.
  • Shred the cheese by hand Pre-shredded cheeses contain additives to keep it from sticking together which affect the way it melts.
  • Rest before serving Allowing the baked macaroni and cheese to rest for a few minutes after baking will thicken the sauce and allow the casserole to set.
  • Watch the timer 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.

cooked Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole in the dish

How to Make a Bread Crumb Topping (optional)

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 is perfect in my oven, the cheese sauce will thicken slightly while standing.

Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole in bowls with dish full in the back

More Macaroni Recipes You’ll Love

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

taking a spoonful of Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole out of the dish
4.97 from 1162 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole

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


  • 12 ounces dry elbow macaroni
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 cup half and half or light cream
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup optional 10.75 ounces
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar divided
  • ½ cup fresh parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Cook macaroni al dente (firm) 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 milk, cream, mustard powder, onion powder, salt & 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.


YouTube video


  • Cook pasta al dente (firm) so it doesn't overcook in the oven. I usually undercook by about 1-2 minutes
  • Salt the pasta water.
  • Rinse the pasta after cooking This particular recipe is designed for rinsed pasta. This stops it from cooking.
  • Shred the cheese by hand Pre-shredded cheeses contain additives to keep it from sticking together which affect the way it melts.
  • Rest before serving this will thicken the sauce and allow the casserole to set.
  • Watch the timer Most importantly of all... do not over-bake this recipe.
4.97 from 1162 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 539 | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 98mg | Sodium: 529mg | Potassium: 246mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1031IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 560mg | Iron: 1mg

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

Course Casserole, Dinner, Entree, Main Course, Pasta
Cuisine American

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole scooped with a spoon

cooked Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole in the dish with writing
close up of Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole in the dish with writing
plated Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole with a title
close up of Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole with a spoon and a title
cooked Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole in the dish and taking a spoon full out with a title


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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. This is definitely the creamiest Mac and cheese recipe and have definitely tried many over the years. I have substituted half of the macaroni with cauliflower to cut carbs and it turns out amazing every time! The cauliflower which l cook with the macaroni turns out soft and yummy in this recipe! My family and friends love it! Wonderful recipe! Thank you.

  2. I absolutely live this recipe! Hands down the best!! I have made this many times over the last couple years and it gets rave reviews each time!! The recipe in itself is perfect! I have experimented a bit with additional seasonings and loved every variation I tried, mainly because the original recipe is brilliant!! The sauce is always smooth and creamy!!! For anyone that achieved a gritty texture, this is most likely due to using too high of a temp when making the sauce and breaking it , or using pre shredded cheese. Thanks for the great recipe!!5 stars

  3. I made this hoping for a good result. So tired of reading reviews that its “the best Ive ever had”. Not good at all and I KNEW it before it made it. I had 22 people and not one said a word. And when all my grandkids didn’t even eat it, I knew. Just very gritty from that soup. Do not use1 star

    1. That’s super disappointing Shirl, out of the thousands of recipes I’ve created on this site, this is in my top 5 for sure. With hundreds of reviews the “best I’ve ever had” reviews are all from readers who have tried and loved the recipe.

      The soup would likely not make the recipe gritty. If you’re finding the sauce to be ‘gritty’ it is likely from one of the following:

    2. pre-shredded cheeses – they have additives that keep them from melting smoothly.
    3. too high of a temperature or overcooking – the sauce should be removed from the stove before adding the cheese
    4. skimping out of the fats or butter used in the sauce.

      Hopefully those tips help you!

      1. Yes I pre shredded all the cheeses. Yes I used the appropriate fats and I did remove the pan from the stove. I was just disappointed because I am an experienced cook and this didn’t cut it for us. Thanks for responding.

      2. If you are an “experienced” cook why did you make a recipe for 22 people that you haven’t tried before? Just sayin’

  4. This is our go to recipe I have been making for years. Do not sleep on the panko topping. It is amazing. Anyone who tastes this recipe loves it.5 stars

    1. We have not, but that sounds delicious Amy. We would love to hear how it turns out for you!

  5. Hi Holly in the Mac and cheese it states to use 12 oz of dry macaroni does that mean 1 1/2 c? Or 340 grams? Thanks

  6. Can you put the casserole together the night before and refrigerate and cook it the next day?

    1. Definitely! We recommend taking it out of the fridge and letting it warm up while the oven is preheating. Then pop it in and bake as directed in the recipe. It may need an additional few minutes to fully cook but it should be close to the listed cooking time! Just make sure your noodles are al dente if refrigerated overnight to ensure they don’t end up too soggy.

  7. This review is long, long overdue. This has got to be the absolute best Mac n Cheese recipe on-line!! I have tried tons, and this is the one I always come back to and everyone always raves about. I have followed the recipe to a T and it is awesome! I have also tweaked it by using a combination of cheeses, also great! Especially when using the topping with smoked cheddar-delicious! You won’t go wrong with this recipe.

    Thank you Holly for all of your hard work! My family and I appreciates it :)5 stars

  8. I’ve made this 6 times and it is the only recipe I’ll ever make again. Can’t wait to serve it at Thanksgiving! It’s SO GOOD!! I have made it with and without the cheddar soup and prefer it without. I use medium cheddar cheese. And instead of light cream I use a 12 oz can of evaporated milk and the rest is regular milk. I cook in a casserole dish and just leave the leftovers in the dish with a lid, put it in the fridge, and eat it throughout the week. It tastes just as good heated up in the microwave days later!5 stars

    1. Hi Alice, we store them in an air tight container in the fridge and they should last a few days by doing so.

  9. I know shredding the cheese yourself is best but will this still turn out good if I use preshredded cheese?

  10. This recipe is soooo on point, thank you so very much. Your recipe will be my new go to from now on out!!!!5 stars

  11. OMG!! This is the best Mac and cheese recipe I have ever made. It was soooo creamy! I added the soup. I also put corn flake crumbs on top the last 10 minutes. So delicious! I’ll definitely be using this recipe as my go to Mac and cheese recipe.5 stars

  12. Trying to find a crockpot mac and cheese recipe for Easter. I usually do a stove top version, but thinking crockpot will free up my time some and the oven will be occupied. I like the look of this mac vs your crockpot recipe.. have you ever tried this in the crockpot?

    1. This recipe needs 4 cups measured which is about 16oz or 1lb. As you shred the cheese, place it into a measuring cup until you have 4 cups.

      1 cup of cheese weighs about 4oz.

  13. I’ve made this mac & cheese several times now and it is the best! My husband loves it.
    I do add onions to the butter & saute before adding the flour. Its so easy to make & comes out great everytime. Yum!5 stars

  14. Decadent, creamy, amazing taste! This is pure comfort food. I doubled the onion powder and added a teaspoon of garlic powder. I used the cheddar soup and it makes a big difference in the creaminess of the final product compared to what I’ve tried before. Make sure you use real parmesan in this- it adds a nice salty sharpness you won’t get from a canister. I will definitely make this again thank you so much!5 stars