This baked mac and cheese is smothered in a lusciously creamy sauce and topped with a golden brown cheese crust. Your mouth will be watering before the first bite!

Baked Mac and Cheese with a spoon.

Can’t get enough cheesy goodness? Start off basic with our quick mac and cheese, then try our smoky bacon mac and cheese for even more indulgence.

Baked Mac and Cheese Video

How To Make Baked Mac and Cheese

Get ready to feast — this baked mac and cheese comes together so quickly. Cook the pasta, make the cheese sauce, and let the oven work its magic!

  • Cook the pasta: Boil a pot of water and cook the pasta three minutes short of the instructed time. Drain the pasta and return it back to the pot. Cover and set aside.
  • Make the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. Slowly pour in the heavy cream and milk and cook the mixture until it thickens, whisking continuously. Turn off the heat and add the salt, then whisk in four cups of cheese.
  • Assemble the dish: Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and stir to evenly coat. Transfer the pasta to a 9×13 inch baking dish and top with the remaining two cups of cheese.
  • Bake the mac and cheese: Bake the mac and cheese uncovered at 350°F for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown. Enjoy!

Hot tip: If the cheese is browning too quickly, loosely cover the dish with foil and continue baking until the sauce is bubbling.

What Types of Cheese Are Best?

Believe it or not, cheese is an essential element of mac and cheese! Let’s look at a few of the best varieties to tweak the flavor of your irresistibly melty, ooey-gooey mac and cheese.

  • Gouda: Gouda is a semi-hard Dutch cheese with a creamy texture and sweet taste. It melts beautifully and adds an amazing flavor.
  • Gruyère: Gruyère is a hard Swiss cheese known for its nutty flavor and sharp saltiness.
  • Mozzarella: Mild in flavor and incredibly melty, mozzarella is an obvious choice for all cheesy dishes.
  • Cheddar: Depending on how long it is aged, cheddar varies in taste from mild to extra sharp. If you’re looking for the classic mac and cheese color, orange cheddar is the way to go.
  • Colby jack: Colby jack has a uniquely speckled orange and white appearance, as well as a mild flavor. Colby jack is softer than cheddar, with a higher moisture content that allows it to melt smoothly.
  • Pepper jack: Pepper jack is just like Colby jack, but with a spicy, peppery kick.

Tips From the Kitchen

Is homemade mac and cheese really worth the time and effort? Absolutely — and here are a few tips to ensure the taste and texture of your mac and cheese farsurpass the boxed version.

  • Shred the cheese yourself. Pre-shredded cheese often contains starches that inhibit silky smooth melting.
  • Use the right pasta. Elbow macaroni is the classic choice for mac and cheese because it’s hollow, allowing the cheese sauce to soak in without compromising the texture. Other good options include cavatappi, fusilli, shells, and ziti.
  • Cook the pasta al dente. To avoid mushy mac and cheese, cook the pasta three minutes short of the instructed time on the box. It should be “al dente,” or still a bit firm. Keep in mind that the pasta continues cooking in the oven.
  • Make it creamy. In this recipe, we use a Mornay sauce (butter, flour, milk, and cheese) to make the creamiest mac and cheese. Don’t skimp on the fat — a blend of whole milk and heavy cream creates the most luscious texture.
  • Add a crunchy topping. This is totally optional, but why not add extra flavor and crunch with a Panko topping? Melt four tablespoons of unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then mix in one cup of seasoned Panko breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the mac and cheese, and bake as directed!
Baked Mac and Cheese with a spoon.

Make Ahead

Baked mac and cheese is the perfect make-ahead dish. To save time the next day, assemble the dish up to the point of baking and allow it to cool completely. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and refrigerate for up to two days. Add the optional breadcrumb topping if desired, then bake as instructed!

Ways To Serve

Whether your baked mac and cheese is the star of the show or a humble side dish, it’s sure to make dinnertime more exciting. Bring out BBQ pork ribs, smoked beef brisket, or crispy chicken wings to get your protein in. Are you ready to add some veggies? Make a mouthwatering bacon Brussels sprouts salad, roasted broccoli, or cabbage cucumber salad to balance the richness of your mac and cheese.

Storage & Reheating

Consider yourself lucky if you have leftover mac and cheese! This comfort food stores incredibly well, so you’ll be enjoying it again in no time.

  • Storage: To store for up to three days, transfer the baked and cooled mac and cheese to an airtight container and refrigerate.
  • Reheating: Reheat leftover mac and cheese in the microwave or on the stove, stirring until evenly heated through. If the mac and cheese is too stiff, add a splash of milk when reheating to restore its creamy consistency.

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About Author

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Natalya Drozhzhin

Natalya founded Momsdish to demonstrate that placing a homemade meal on the table is not hard at all. Natalya makes cooking easier and approachable, by simplifying the ingredients, while still producing the same great taste.