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Baked Mac and Cheese on a white plate with a fork on the side.
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5 from 4 ratings

Baked Mac and Cheese

This Baked Mac and Cheese recipe is easy to make with a creamy 3-cheese blend and perfectly cooked macaroni.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon each: onion powder, pepper
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere
  • 1 cup shredded Gouda

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Pro tip: Shred the cheese from a block. It will melt and taste much better than packaged shredded cheese. See notes for brand of cheese that I use.
  • Prep Work: Shred the cheese and toss to combine. Reserve 2 cups for the top of the macaroni and use the remaining 4 cups for the cheese sauce. Measure out remaining ingredients before beginning.
  • To Cook the Macaroni: Begin boiling salted pasta water for the macaroni while you prepare the cheese sauce. Add the pasta to the boiling water right around when you are letting the cream sauce reduce/thicken, before adding the cheese. Refer to the package and cook it for 1 minute less than al dente. Set a timer to avoid overcooking the macaroni.
  • For the Cheese Sauce: Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Use a silicone spatula to stir in the flour. Continue to stir for 2 minutes, it should start to turn a light brown. Add the heavy cream/milk in small splashes, stirring continuously. (If you add it too quickly you’ll “break” the roux and the sauce will be thin.)
  • Let it heat through and thicken while you boil the macaroni. Stir continuously during this time.
  • Add the seasonings and hot sauce. Remove from heat.
  • Gradually sprinkle in 4 cups of shredded cheese. Stir continuously until smooth and combined. If it seems too thick, add a splash of milk.
  • Once the macaroni is cooked, drain it and add it to the warm pot you boiled it in. Pour the cheese sauce on top and stir to combine. Transfer to a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Top with remaining 2 cups of cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes. If desired, broil at 450 for 3 minutes to brown the top. Serve!

Video:

Notes

Pro Tips:
  • Optional additions include diced ham, bacon, caramelized onions, steamed broccoli, shredded chicken, buffalo chicken, and more!
  • Pasta shells also make a great choices for this recipe instead of macaroni.
  • Make sure the base of the sauce isn't too hot when the cheese is added, otherwise the dairy will separate and the consistency will be grainy.
  • Cheese options are endless, you can use any combination of cheddar, gouda, gruyere, mozzarella, Colby, and more.
  • I used Cracker Barrel Cheddar, Yancey's Fancy Gouda (regular, not smoked), and Emmi Gruyere cheese as well as Frank's hot sauce.
  • The hot sauce and mustard powder are flavor enhancers and can't be tasted outright. The hot sauce doesn't make it spicy.
  • For a crunchy topping: Combine 1 cup of crushed Ritz crackers and 2 tbsp. melted butter. Add it during the last 15 minutes of baking.

Storage:
  • Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • You can freeze leftovers, however they don't restore quite back to their original consistency.

Nutritional information is per serving, this recipe makes 10 servings. Note that the nutritional information shared is an estimate.

Nutrition

Calories: 677kcal, Carbohydrates: 42g, Protein: 27g, Fat: 44g, Saturated Fat: 27g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 138mg, Sodium: 694mg, Potassium: 294mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1454IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 661mg, Iron: 1mg