Baked Macaroni And Cheese

a serving of macaroni and cheese on a black plate

Baked macaroni and cheese has been a staple across dining room tables for as long as I can recall.

With that said, for most of my life growing up our macaroni and cheese came out of a box.

In fact, one of the things that remind me of my childhood was my favorite dish: macaroni and cheese with hotdogs in it. Is that weird? My wife thinks (thought) so.

When we got together for the holidays there would always be real baked macaroni and cheese. It was always a treat.

I would respond with the “wow, the real deal”. Invariably, while good, it always seemed drier and less gooey cheesy than the standard ‘Velveeta mac and cheese’.

We decided to set out with creating our own mac and cheese that offered up that gooey goodness. Leigh was adamant that this would have to be accomplished without using processed American cheese. I wasn’t convinced that it could be done.

We also wanted to make this dish using simple ingredients. No fancy cheeses or toppings. Just straight up macaroni and cheese.

There is always room to get fancy but we wanted to start with a super creamy and yummy version that anybody would be wanting to make.

Well, we did it. Honestly, this baked macaroni and cheese is gooey. It is cheesy. And most importantly it is NOT dry.

It is the best homemade baked macaroni and cheese I have ever had.

If you were like us, kind of off-put by attempting a deliciously creamy and cheesy homemade baked macaroni and cheese because of past failures, rest easy.

This recipe is rock solid and will not disappoint.

How To Make Baked Macaroni And Cheese

Ingredients for macaroni and cheese

As we decided to keep this recipe’s ingredients fairly basic, you may already have these ingredients. You will need the following:

  • Elbow macaroni (pasta)
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Whole Milk
  • Half and half
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Sharp cheddar cheese
  • Salt
  • Pepper

We like to prepare our ingredients beforehand. As such I would recommend that you get the cheeses prepared before cooking. This way you’re not in a panic trying to get that done before the pasta is ready.

Grate both the cheddar and sharp cheddar cheeses and combine together in a bowl.

Divide the cheeses into three groups.

  • One group will make up the sauce – 3 cups
  • Another group will be added in between layers of the macaroni and cheese – 1 1/2 cups
  • And the last group will top the dish – 1 1/2 cups.

Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot.

Add the pasta and cook until al dente, usually about 1 minute less than the package directs to cook pasta.

While the pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease a 3-quart baking dish and set it aside.

Drain the pasta and set it aside.

butter melting in a sauce pan

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add the flour in and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk and cook for about a minute.

Slowly pour in 2 cups of the half and half, whisking constantly. Whisk until smooth.

Slowly pour in the remaining half and half and the whole milk, whisking constantly, until smooth.

preparing sauce for baked macaroni and cheese

Whisking very often, continue to cook until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper.

Add the cheese portion that makes up 3 cups. First, add half of it and mix to combine.

cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese

Once melted, add the additional 1 1/2 cups and continue to stir until melted and smooth.

adding cheese sauce to macaroni

Put the cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl and add the cheese sauce. Stir until completely combined.

adding a layer of cheese to pasta mixture for macaroni and cheese

Pour half of the macaroni mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of cheese evenly across the macaroni mixture.

macaroni and cheese about to go into the oven

Add the remaining pasta mixture evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cup of cheese evenly across the pasta mixture.

Bake at 350 degrees F until the top is lightly golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

baked macaroni and cheese in a white baking dish

Remove from the oven and allow it to set up for 10 minutes before serving.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for that super yummy, gooey, cheesy mac and cheese experience, this is it. This is a great basic recipe that will be a go-to anytime.

Getting a portion of baked macaroni and cheese out of the baking dish

Plus, you can play around with it. You can add different cheeses, you can add some breadcrumbs on top for that crunchiness that some people like. There are multiple ways to tweak this recipe to your particular tastes!

A serving of baked macaroni and cheese on a black plate

Whatever you decide, you will not be disappointed in this. Promise! Baked mac and cheese is comfort food at its best.

Other Side Dishes You Will Enjoy

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

a serving of macaroni and cheese on a black plate
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Baked Macaroni And Cheese

A perfectly cheesy and creamy baked macaroni and cheese that doesn't use processed cheese. Amazing flavor, sure to be a favorite of yours!
Course: pasta, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: baked, cheese, macaroni
Servings: 12
Calories: 525kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup Butter unsalted
  • 1/2 cup Flour All purpose
  • 1 1/2 cup Half and half
  • 2 1/2 cup Whole milk
  • 3 cup Cheddar cheese grated, divided
  • 3 cup Sharp cheddar cheese grated, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper freshly ground

Instructions

  • Grate both the cheddar and sharp cheddar cheeses and combine together in a bowl.

Cheese Division – Divide into three groups

  • One group will make up the sauce – 3 cups
  • One group will be added in between layers of the macaroni and cheese – 1 1/2 cups
  • Last group will top the dish – 1 1/2 cups
  • Set groups of cheese aside.

Pasta Cook And Prep

  • Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot.
  • Add the pasta and cook until al dente, usually about 1 minute less than the package directs to cook pasta.
  • While the pasta is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Grease a 3-quart baking dish and set it aside.
  • Drain the pasta and set it aside.

Cheese Sauce

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Slowly add the flour in and whisk to combine. Continue to whisk and cook for about a minute.
  • Slowly pour in 2 cups of the half and half, whisking constantly. Whisk until smooth.
  • Slowly pour in the remaining half and half and the whole milk, whisking constantly, until smooth.
  • Whisking very often, continue to cook until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and add salt and pepper.
  • Add the cheese portion that makes up 3 cups. First, add half of it and mix to combine.
  • Once melted, add the additional 1 1/2 cups and continue to stir until melted and smooth.

Putting It Together

  • Place the cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl and add the cheese sauce. Stir until completely combined.
  • Pour half of the macaroni mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups of cheese evenly across the macaroni mixture.
  • Add the remaining pasta mixture evenly. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cup of cheese evenly across the pasta mixture.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F until the top is lightly golden brown and bubbly, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow it to set up for 10 minutes before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 525kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 96mg | Sodium: 746mg | Potassium: 255mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 992IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 508mg | Iron: 1mg

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