Listen, this is the best baked macaroni and cheese ever! I can confidently say that, because the judges are my family and friends and they’d never lie to me. Ha! But seriously, it is legit a huge hit among friends and family alike, and was the number one recipe on my old blog – MomAndWife.com. My Mom, YaYa, has been making this since I was little, and I’ve been making it since that one Thanksgiving she was running behind and hollered at me to start shreddin’ cheese. We’ve churched it up all sorts of ways, but the way we like best is this super simple recipe below.
The Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese Ever
- 16 ounces Elbow Macaroni
- 16 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese Block, not shredded.
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack Cheese Block, not shredded.
- 7 tbsp Flour
- 7 tbsp Butter
- 5 cups Milk
- 2-3 tsp Salt to taste
- 1 tsp White Pepper to taste
- 1 tsp Pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven to 350°
- Boil water and a dash of salt in a large pot and cook your pasta until al dente.
- While your noodles boil, shred your cheeses.
- Drain your noodles, then pour them into a 9x13 casserole dish.
- Melt your butter on medium high heat in a large pot, or deep skillet.
- Whisk your flour into the melted butter to create a roux. Whisk until there aren't any lumps.
- Pour your milk in whisking as you add it. If your roux isn't thickening, increase the heat and keep whisking.
- Keep whisking until the “gravy” thickens up a bit. If it gets too thick add a splash of milk at a time until it’s at your desired consistency. We're going for the consistency of your basic white gravy.
- Throw half of your cheese into the mix and whisk until it melts and becomes “cheese gravy”.
- Pour your cheese gravy over the noodles in the casserole dish, and mix it all together.
- Sprinkle your remaining cheese over the top and put it in the oven.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbling. Don't overcook or the cheese will get greasy.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese Tips
There’s not a whole lot you can do to screw up macaroni and cheese, but there are definitely a few things you can do to make it even better.
Shred Your Own Cheese
You don’t want to use bagged shredded cheese in this recipe when possible. Can you? Totally. Will it still taste amazing? Yep! If I have bags of cheese and no blocks, will I just use that in a pinch? Of course! But, there are a lot of extra ingredients in shredded cheese that prevent it from melting as smoothly as a block you shred at home. If you haven’t noticed before, you definitely will now, there’s a white powdery substance on bagged shredded cheese to prevent it from sticking to itself among other unnecessary additives. So, if you want to make the best baked macaroni and cheese ever, start by grating your own cheese.
More Cheese on Top
My Mom is a stickler for this, but sometimes I get carried away and add most of the cheese to the gravy. Yaya says to add less cheese to the gravy, so it doesn’t “get all grainy”. She’s right. So only use half your cheese, or even less, in the gravy, and throw the rest on top to melt. It also reheats better the next day when the gravy has less cheese in it.
When in Doubt, More Gravy.
If you decide to create our own version of this, just make sure you don’t skimp on the cheese gravy. Your pasta will suck up a lot of the sauce, and you can easily end up with a super dry end product if you don’t have enough cheese gravy.
The type of cheeses you use will determine how much salt you’ll need. The key here is to add a little bit at a time, stir, then get a few tasting spoons ready.
It’s mac and cheese, y’all – you’ve gotta make this at least once!