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Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese

This Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese will quickly become a favorite in your household. Tender elbow macaroni noodles are tossed in a creamy cheese sauce. The secret ingredient in the sauce is the hint of paprika and nutmeg, which adds color and brings out the delicious flavors in the cheese sauce. Make this mac and cheese as a side for dinner or serve for the holidays.

Homemade mac and cheese is one of those dishes that is timeless, because it’s so good. It’s a staple in our house, especially with 2 toddlers and a baby in the house. I think they’d eat mac and cheese every day if I let them!

With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, I wanted to share a good, easy mac and cheese recipe, and let me tell you, this one delivers. It’s easy to make, is absolutely delicious and the best part is it can be made a day or two in advance. It tastes just as good the next day or the day after that.

The details

Cook the pasta

To begin making this baked mac and cheese, I recommend starting with cooking the pasta. The pasta water can take up to 10 minutes to come to a boil, so this can be the most time consuming step. Make sure you salt your water, before adding the pasta. Salt helps flavor the noodles and helps reduce the stickiness of the noodles.

Boil the pasta 1 minute shy of al dente. This is because the pasta will bake in the oven later. Once the pasta is done cooking, drain and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to combine, then set aside.

stir the cheese together

I know this seems silly to include this as a step for this mac and cheese, but this helps in the cooking process if you can mix the cheese before hand. Add all three cheeses to a bowl with a lid, or a large zip-top bag. Place lid on bowl, or close bag and shake to combine the cheese.

make the cheese sauce

The best part about this mac and cheese recipe is the creamy cheese sauce. The cheddar, gruyere and gouda cheese are the perfect combination of cheese. Gruyere is creamy and melts beautifully. It has a delicious nutty flavor. Gouda has a sweet nutty flavor. You’ll want to get the soft gouda cheese. Cheddar cheese has the strongest flavor of the three. It’s buttery, and also melts beautifully in mac and cheese.

Begin making the mac and cheese sauce by melting butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, whisk in flour until combined, then cook 1 minute. Pour in the milk and heavy cream. Add the nutmeg, paprika and a dash of salt and pepper. The nutmeg may sound strange in mac and cheese, but I promise you, it adds incredible flavor. The nutmeg brings out the nuttiness in the cheese and helps make the mac and cheese more flavorful. The paprika adds color, and also helps balance the flavors in the mac and cheese.Whisk constantly until sauce thickens, slightly.

Stir in 1 1/2 cups mixed cheese. Whisk until the cheese is melted. Add in another 1 1/2 cups mixed cheese. Whisk until cheese is melted.

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce, then bake

Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce, stir to coat the pasta. Pour half of the pasta in your prepared pan, then sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups mixed cheese. Pour remaining pasta over top and sprinkle remaining cheese on top of pasta.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 13 minutes, then switch the oven to broil in the last 2 minutes to get a nice golden brown color on top of the mac and cheese. Watch the mac and cheese carefully so it doesn’t get too dark.

serve and enjoy

Allow the mac and cheese to cool, then serve and enjoy!

making this a day or two in advance

If you make this mac and cheese a day or two in advance, I have to warn you that the cheese sauce does thicken. It will not be the creamy, cheesy sauce that you get right after it is baked. HOWEVER, if you desire it to be creamy, I have a tip for you to make it creamy. Add the mac and cheese to a large skillet. Add heavy cream, half and half or milk. The heavy cream will give a thicker, more luscious sauce, the half and half is in between and the milk will not be as rich. Honestly, in my humble opinion they all taste good. The good cheese sauce is already there. This extra liquid you’re adding is just to thin the sauce.

Anyways, after adding the mac and cheese to the skillet, add your chosen liquid (heavy cream, half and half or milk). Stir occasionally until your desired temperature is reached. The liquid should help make the sauce thinner.

did you make this?

If you make this mac and cheese recipe, let me know what you think in the ratings and comments below. I always love hearing your feedback, as it helps me improve my recipes to make them more enjoyable for you. Make sure you find me on instagram and youtube for more fun behind the scenes and to see the full cooking video for this mac and cheese recipe.

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Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese


  • Author: Jolene
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Description

This Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese will quickly become a favorite in your household. Tender elbow macaroni noodles are tossed in a creamy cheese sauce. The secret ingredient in the sauce is the hint of paprika and nutmeg, which adds color and brings out the delicious flavors in the cheese sauce. Make this mac and cheese as a side for dinner or serve for the holidays.


Ingredients

Scale

1 pound elbow pasta

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/3 cup all purpose flour

2 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

1 cup shredded gouda cheese

4 cups sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper, to taste

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9×13 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl with a lid, add gruyere, gouda and cheddar cheese. Place lid on bowl and shake to mix cheese. Set aside.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta one minute shy of al dente. Drain pasta and stir with a drizzle of olive oil. Set aside.

4. In a large skillet, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Pour in milk and heavy cream. Whisk in the salt, pepper, paprika and nutmeg. Whisk constantly until sauce thickens slightly.

5. Add 1 ½ cups shredded cheese to sauce. Whisk until smooth. Stir in another 1 ½ cups shredded cheese and whisk until creamy and smooth.

6. Pour in the cooled pasta. Stir to fully coat pasta in cheese sauce. Pour half of pasta in prepared pan. Sprinkle 1 ½ cups cheese over pasta. Pour remaining pasta in pan. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

7. Bake in preheated oven for 13 minutes, then switch to broil in the last 2 minutes to lightly brown the top of the mac and cheese. Keep an eye on the pasta so it doesn’t get too dark. Allow to cool before serving as the cheese sauce can be hot. Enjoy!

8. See notes for if you make this mac and cheese in advance.

Notes

If you make this mac and cheese a day or two in advance, add the mac and cheese to a large skillet. Stir in a splash or so of heavy cream, half and half or milk. Stir occasionally, until your desired temperature is reached. The liquid should help thin the sauce. 

  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: mac and cheese, mac and cheese recipe, homemade mac and cheese, baked mac and cheese

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