Elbow macaroni, a creamy cheese sauce, and some buttered bread crumbs make this Homemade Macaroni and Cheese an all-time family-favorite comfort food recipe. Nothing’s better than homemade Mac & Cheese!
On a cold night after a long day, I can’t think of anything better than a bowl of macaroni noodles smothered in this cheesy, creamy sauce. Sure, I could order out from my favorite restaurant, but when you make it fresh, you can customize it so it’s just the way you like it. Don’t worry if this is your first time making your own mac ‘n’ cheese- it’s really easy and tastes great!
SAVE THIS HOMEMADE MACARONI AND CHEESE RECIPE TO YOUR FAVORITE PINTEREST BOARD!
What’s the best type of cheese for this easy Baked Macaroni recipe?
This recipe calls for Sharp Cheddar Cheese and Gruyere cheese. This combination is so creamy with a slightly nutty taste. Of course, you can use your different cheeses in addition to or instead of these cheeses. I love a good sharp cheddar cheese, and I also enjoy pepper jack cheese for a little kick. Whatever you use, make sure it melts well.
How to get a creamy cheese sauce
To avoid a grainy cheese sauce, use freshly grated cheese. The stuff that comes pre-shredded has some added anti-caking agents that can interfere with its ability to melt. Buy a block and shred it yourself if you can. Trust me, it will taste much better.
Also, stir to melt your cheese on low heat! Melt slowly for the smoothest sauce. Otherwise, it will clump together and even possibly burn!
You only need a handful of basic ingredients to make this delicious Macaroni and Cheese dinner:
- Elbow macaroni
- Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- Gruyere cheese
- All-purpose flour
- Dry mustard
- Whole milk
- Worcestershire sauce
- Black pepper
- Panko-style bread crumbs
- Parmesan Cheese
How to make Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Pasta: In a large pot of salted water, cook the elbow macaroni according to the package directions for “al dente”. While pasta cooks, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and prepare an 8×8 square baking dish by spraying it with nonstick cooking spray or greasing it with butter.
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour, and dry mustard, and cook, stirring constantly to form a roux. Let the paste cook and bubble a bit (but don’t let it brown) for about two minutes.
Slowly add the milk to the flour mixture, and the Worcestershire sauce, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil, then add the salt and pepper to taste. Lower the heat and stir in the sharp cheddar cheese and cook until melted, stirring constantly, before removing it from the heat.
Bread Crumbs: Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add your bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Mix well. Remove from heat.
Assembly: Put the cooked macaroni into a large bowl and pour the cheese sauce over the top. Add the Gruyere cheese and stir well until completely coated, then pour the macaroni and cheese into the buttered baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese on top, then spread the buttered bread crumbs over the cheese. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the sauce is bubbling. Let it cool slightly before serving, but it is definitely best served hot!
Want just a little more “something” in your mac and cheese? Try stirring in a teaspoon of garlic powder!
Try a pinch of cayenne pepper or some red pepper flakes for a little kick. I think it’s a great recipe as-is, but we all have different tastes.
Can I make this ahead of time?
You can make this classic homemade mac ahead of time up to the point where you would be adding the breadcrumbs. Then you can either store it covered in the refrigerator or freeze it for later!
To freeze: Let the macaroni and cheese cool completely, then pour it into a freezer-friendly dish, cover well, and freeze for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to bake, sprinkle cheese and breadcrumbs over the top, and bake from frozen for 70-80 minutes or until heated throughout.
You could also thaw the mac and cheese first, then cover it with aluminum foil and bake for about 20 minutes.
How do I store leftover Macaroni and Cheese?
This recipe will keep well in the refrigerator. Once it has cooled completely to room temperature, place it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to four days for the best quality.
How do I reheat Mac and Cheese without drying it out?
You can reheat this in the microwave or in the oven. The key is to add some extra moisture as it reheats.
Microwave: Add one tablespoon of milk for each cup of macaroni and cheese. Reheat at 50 percent power for one minute and stir. Continue microwaving a minute at a time, stirring in between, until it has reached the desired temperature.
In the Oven (Best for large amounts): Add one tablespoon of milk for each cup of macaroni and break up any clumps of the leftovers. Add a little bit of extra cheese, then transfer the leftovers to a casserole dish. Bake at 350 until heated throughout and the sauce is bubbly, about 20 minutes.
More Macaroni and Cheese Recipes
If you love Macaroni and Cheese, you have to try this Easy BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese next time. It’s so filling and tasty! I also have a recipe for Kid-Friendly Macaroni and Cheese for those picky eaters who just want the good old basics!
You’ll love these Pasta Dishes too!
- Basic Macaroni Salad
- Lasagna Rolls with Meat Sauce
- Chicken Mozzarella Pasta
- Barbecue Chicken Rigatoni and Cheese
- Sausage Alfredo Rigatoni
- Spinach Lasagna Roll-ups
This recipe is adapted from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook.
Macaroni and Cheese
- ½ lb. elbow macaroni cooked
- ½ cup grated Gruyere cheese to be mixed in. Colby Jack will work as well.
- ½ cup grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese for topping
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 5 tablespoons flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Buttered Bread Crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup Panko style bread crumbs
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and prepare an 8 X 8 baking dish by spraying it with cooking spray.
- Cook the pasta al dente according to manufacturer's directions and melt the butter in a medium saucepan.
- Stir in the flour, and dry mustard and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, about 2 minutes. Don’t let it brown.
- Add the milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat and stir in the 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese. Cook for 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Buttered Bread Crumbs
- Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese. Mix well. Remove from heat.
- Put the cooked macaroni into a large bowl and pour the cheese sauce over it.
- Add the Gruyere cheese and mix well together to completely coat.
- Pour into the baking dish.
- Sprinkle the 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese over the top and spread the breadcrumbs over the cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the top is golden and the sauce is bubbling.
Did you make this recipe?
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This post was originally published 5/2/11. It has been updated in format and with pictures on 3/22/23.
Comments & Reviews
Can you come over and organize my closet, too?? LOL
The macaroni looks delicious… there’s nothing more comforting than a big bowl of mac and cheese!
You’re funny, Dana! I only organized HIS shirts, didn’t even bother to do my own. After you eat your mac & cheese, tackle it in baby steps. 😉