Add some amazing southern flair to your dinner by whipping up this Baked Mac and Cheese. This recipe is warm, gooey cheese coupled with soft pasta, then finished off with a bread crumb topping. I guarantee all friends and family will walk away loving this dish.
Mac and cheese is probably one of my favorite ways to get my cheese fix. It’s comfort food at it’s best and it’s a pretty versatile dish. For example, I love this baked mac and cheese recipe, but I also love making Lobster Mac and Cheese and Loaded Mac and Cheese as well. All three have unique flavors while not deviating from that classic mac and cheese taste and consistency. Let me show you how to make this amazing dish!
How To Make
- Prep – Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cook the pasta with salt, drain, and cool.
- Start the cheese sauce – Melt half of the butter with the flour in a skillet. Whisk for two minutes. Add the milk. Stir until no lumps appear.
- Finish the cheese sauce – Once thick, stir in half the cheese. Add salt, pepper, pasta, and dry mustard.
- Make the breadcrumbs – In a skillet, combine the rest of the butter, breadcrumbs, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook until golden brown.
- Layer the dish – Place the macaroni mixture in the pan and top with the rest of the cheese and breadcrumbs.
- Bake and serve – Bake for 20-25 minutes, serve, and enjoy!
Top Tips and Recipe Variations
- Storage – Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. Keep in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for up to 2 months.
- Reheating – It’s best to use the microwave to heat up this baked mac and cheese dish. If reheating from the freezer, let it thaw on its own before heating.
- Make it spicy – If you want some spice, you can include some crushed red pepper flakes in the cheese sauce. You can also add pickled jalapenos or dried chilies and add them to the cheese sauce.
- Make it thicker – If you need a thicker mixture, let it simmer a little longer, uncovered, in order to remove some of the excess moisture. The sauce will thicken when cooling as well, so keep this in mind.
- Make it thinner – It can be tricky working with a sauce that’s too thick. Add a touch of milk to your cheese sauce if it needs to be thinned out.
- Garnish ideas – If you don’t want to top with breadcrumbs, you can use other garnishes instead. For example, freshly chopped herbs and crispy bacon work perfectly.
- Make it gluten-free – Simply use a gluten-free all-purpose flour mix in place of the flour and gluten-free pasta. If you can’t find macaroni, you can use other short pasta such as shells, rigatoni, bowtie, etc.
- Add protein – Want to turn it into dinner instead of just a side? It will need the addition of protein in order to pull that off! Add chicken, beef, tuna, etc. to the cheese mixture or as a part of the layers before baking. You’ll want the meat to already be cooked and seasoned. You may need to adjust the cheese sauce to account for the extra ingredient.
What Cheese Should I Use?
I like to use a mixture of cheddar and gouda when making mac and cheese. However, I’ve not had a mac and cheese recipe that I didn’t like so far. I’ve had plenty, and all of them used various cheese options. The sky is the limit when making mac and cheese because it goes really well with so many cheeses. It really comes down to which cheese is your favorite. If you’re not a huge fan of something like cheddar, toss in another cheese in its place like mozzarella, shredded pepper jack, etc.
If you enjoyed this creamy baked macaroni and cheese recipe then you will also enjoy this instant pot mac and cheese. These cheesy scalloped potatoes are another favorite! You can also find other delicious recipes and cooking tutorial videos on Youtube and Facebook.
Baked Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb macaroni
- 3 cups cheddar cheese
- 2 cups gouda cheese
- 4 tbsp butter salted
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3 tbsp melted butter salted
- 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
- 1/4 tsp paprika optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cook the macaroni in salted boiling water according to packaging instructions.
- In a large skillet, melt 4 tbsp butter and whisk in the all-purpose flour. Whisk for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the milk. Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce thickens, stirring frequently.
- Once the sauce thickens, add the cheddar cheese and gouda cheese, dry mustard, and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked macaroni and check for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed.
- In a small skillet melt 3 tbsp of butter. Stir in the breadcrumbs and paprika. Cook until golden.
- Place the macaroni in a 9x13 greased baking dish. Top the macaroni with the breadcrumb mixture and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.