Classic baked macaroni and cheese is a comfort food favorite that is loved by people of all ages. It is creamy, cheesy, and gooey, and it is perfect for any gathering. It is a very versatile dish that can be easily made ahead of time and reheated.
If you’re looking for the perfect recipe for classic baked macaroni and cheese, you’ve come to the right place. This recipe is tried-and-true, and it’s guaranteed to please everyone at your table.
Why You’ll Want To Make My Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Classic baked macaroni and cheese is a delicious and comforting dish that is enjoyed by people of all ages.
- It is also a relatively easy dish to make, which makes it a great choice for busy weeknights or special occasions.
- Classic baked macaroni and cheese is a great dish to make for a large group of people. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to prepare, and it is sure to please everyone at the table.
Ingredients – Here’s What You’ll Need
- Pasta: you can use either elbow macaroni or, for something a little more fancy, use corkscrew pasta, which is called Cavatappi – which is what I used.
- Butter: make sure you use unsalted because you will be adding salt when you make the roux, and there’s also a lot of salt in the cheese.
- Mustard Powder: This is the secret ingredient you should always add to your macaroni and cheese because the acidity in the mustard helps cut through the fat.
- Cheese: Use sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese for maximum flavor. Also, you should shred your own cheese instead of pre-shredded cheese.
Steps To Making Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- In a large saucepan or saucier over medium heat, melt the unsalted butter.
- Once the butter is melted and slightly sizzling, add the flour, dry mustard, and salt, then whisk together to form a roux.
- Once your roux has formed, pour the milk in, one cup at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking until the mixture has slightly thickened.
- Add the shredded cheese one handful at a time, whisking well after each addition until the cheese has melted. Once all the cheese has been added, continue whisking until the sauce begins to bubble slightly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue to stir occasionally so that the sauce doesn’t burn.
- Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. (Make sure you don’t overcook your pasta because it will continue to cook in the oven.) Drain the pasta and return it to the pot you cooked it in. Then pour your cheese sauce over the pasta and stir until everything combined.
- Once everything is combined, pour into a 9×13 well-greased casserole dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Then bake in a 375°F oven for 30 minutes until nicely browned and bubbly.
- Once it has finished baking, remove it from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Classic baked macaroni and cheese is a timeless dish that has delighted generations. Its creamy, cheesy goodness and comforting warmth make it a favorite among people of all ages.
Whether you’re seeking a quick and easy weeknight meal or a show-stopping dish for a special occasion, classic baked macaroni and cheese is sure to satisfy. With its versatility and endless possibilities for customization, this culinary classic will continue to be a beloved staple in kitchens worldwide for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
Elbow macaroni is the traditional pasta for baked macaroni and cheese, but I like to use Cavatappi. However, you can use any type of pasta that you like, such as shells, penne, or rotini.
Sharp cheddar cheese is the most popular type of cheese for baked macaroni and cheese, but you can also use other types of cheese, such as Gruyère, Swiss, or Monterey Jack. You can also use a combination of different types of cheese. But whatever type of cheese you use, just make sure you shred it yourself and don’t use pre-shredded cheese because there are additives in the pre-shredded cheese, and it won’t melt down as smoothly, and you’ll end up with a broken sauce.
Yes, you can make macaroni and cheese ahead of time and bake it just before serving. Just assemble the macaroni and cheese according to the recipe and then refrigerate it. When you’re ready to bake the macaroni and cheese, just remove it from the refrigerator and bake it at 375°F for 40-45 minutes or until it is heated through and bubbly.
Yes, you can freeze macaroni and cheese. Just assemble the macaroni and cheese according to the recipe and then freeze it in a freezer-safe container. When you’re ready to serve the macaroni and cheese, just thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and then bake it at 375°F for 40-45 minutes, or until it is heated through and bubbly.
Recipe Tips And Tricks
- Use freshly grated cheese. Pre-shredded cheese contains additives, which can make the sauce grainy, and it won’t melt down as smoothly, and you’ll end up with a broken sauce.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. The pasta should be al dente, which means it should be cooked until it is tender but still has a slight bite to it. If you overcook the pasta, it will become mushy, and the sauce will be watery.
- Don’t rinse the pasta. Rinsing cooked pasta washes away the starchy coating that helps the cheese stick to the pasta and makes it creamy.
- Make the cheese sauce slowly. Don’t rush the process of making the cheese sauce. Add the milk slowly and whisk constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Cook the sauce over medium heat until it is thickened and smooth.
- This recipe is really easy to scale up or down as shown below, depending on the size of the crowd you’ll be serving.
Other delicious side dishes
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Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- 4 tbs unsalted butter
- ¼ c all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 4 c whole milk
- 12 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 16 oz dried elbow macaroni
- 4 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- non-stick cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a large saucepan, or saucier, over medium-low heat, melt butter.
- When the butter begins to sizzle slightly, add flour, dry mustard, and salt. Whisk with the butter to form a light roux.
- Whisk in milk one cup at a time; continue whisking until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Whisk in 12 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese, one handful at a time, whisking until the cheese is melted after each addition. Continue whisking until all the cheese is melted and the sauce has thickened. Reduce heat to low and whisk occasionally, making sure sauce does not burn.
- Cook pasta according to al dente package directions. Drain, do not rinse, and return to pot.
- Pour hot cheese sauce over pasta and stir to combine.
- Spray a large, 9×13, casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
- Pour macaroni and cheese into the prepared pan and top with the additional 4 ounces of shredded cheese.
- Bake in the 375°F preheated oven for 30 minutes, until golden and bubbly.
- Remove from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.
- Yield 8 servings.