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The Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

This best baked macaroni and cheese recipe is the ultimate comfort food – perfectly creamy and cheesy, and reheats well!
homemade macaroni and cheese recipe in bowl with salad in background

 

Fall is definitely upon us. And with the incoming cold wind, swirling leaves and the beginning of cuddling on the couch with blankets, its time to once again bring out the warm comfort food. For most people, if you ask them to make a list of their top ten favorite comfort foods, macaroni and cheese will definitely make an appearance. But you really need to have the perfect homemade baked macaroni and cheese recipe!

 

cheese being grated for homemade macaroni and cheese

 

How to Make the Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

I went into recipe research mode trying to find the perfect homemade baked macaroni and cheese recipe. I found a ton of really gourmet ones – adding bacon, blue cheese, and all kinds of other things. And while I agree that bacon is delicious with just about everything, I wanted a basic, normal, childhood reminiscing recipe.

Of this sort, there are two types of recipes available – the first is super simple – cheese and noodles. While this leads to a super creamy and cheesy dish, it does nothing for any leftovers. Microwaving copious amounts of cheese just ends up with goopey cheese boogers. Not appetizing.

In order to have edible leftovers, a bechamel sauce is needed. This is a basic white sauce that is the standard used in french cooking. It is basically whisking scalded milk into a flour-butter mixture (called a roux).

Ok, enough french for today. I combined recipes from my two favorite sources – Martha Stewart and America’s Test Kitchen to come up with this creamy, cheesy heaven.

And yes, it does reheat perfectly.

 

homemade macaroni and cheese in pan with breadcrumb topping

 

Break each slice of bread into 4 pieces.
Process the butter and the chunks of butter in a food processor until the bread is finely chopped and hte butter is spread evenly.
Set aside.

making breadcrumb topping for macaroni and cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot.
Cook the macaroni, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
Drain, leave in colander, and set aside.

Wipe the pot dry.
Add the butter and return to medium heat until melted.

pats of melting butter in pan

Add the garlic, mustard and cayenne. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.

making a roux in pan with wooden spoon

Slowly whisk in the chicken broth (about 1/4 cup at a time).
Slowly whisk in the milk.
Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until large bubbles form on the surface and htemixture is slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.

bechamel sauce in pan with whisk

Remove from heat.
Whisk in half the cheese gradually, until completely melted.
Season with the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir, breaking up any clumps, untol well combined.
Pour into a greased 9×13 pan.

grated cheese on top of macaroni and cheese

 

Top with remaining half of cheese and then sprinkle with the bread crumb topping.

unbaked macaroni and cheese closeup with breadcrumb topping

 

Bake until golden brown and bubbling around the edges – about 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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baked macaroni and cheese in 9x13 pan

The Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

  • Author: Jenni
  • Prep Time: 30 Minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 Minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 8 Servings
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This best baked macaroni and cheese recipe is the ultimate comfort food – perfectly creamy and cheesy, and reheats well!


Ingredients

Topping:

  • 5 slices white bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Macaroni:

  • 1 pound multi grain elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3.5 cups milk
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 16 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 8 ounces gruyere or 5 ounces pecorino romano, shredded
  • 2 tsp salt

Instructions

Break each slice of bread into 4 pieces.
Process the butter and the chunks of butter in a food processor until the bread is finely chopped and hte butter is spread evenly.
Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot.
Cook the macaroni, stirring occasionally, until al dente.
Drain, leave in colander, and set aside.

Wipe the pot dry.
Add the butter and return to medium heat until melted.

Add the garlic, mustard and cayenne. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute.

Slowly whisk in the chicken broth (about 1/4 cup at a time).
Slowly whisk in the milk until fully incorporated.
Bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until large bubbles form on the surface and the mixture is slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.

Remove from heat.
Whisk in half the cheese gradually, until completely melted.
Season with the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste.
Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir, breaking up any clumps, untol well combined.
Pour into a greased 9×13 pan.

Top with remaining half of cheese and then sprinkle with the bread crumb topping.

Bake until golden brown and bubbling around the edges – about 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Keywords: Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

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