This Mac and Cheese Recipe is creamy, cheesy and delicious. The ultimate in comfort food, this pasta dish is made with a gooey homemade sauce of butter, milk and melted cheese. A light topping of breadcrumbs adds a fabulous crunch.
This recipe includes directions on cooking a complete mac and cheese dish with an amazing homemade cheese sauce on the stovetop. Then, it also goes on to show how to bake the macaroni and cheese into a delicious casserole. Both versions are tasty and vegetarian.
About this Mac and Cheese Recipe
Macaroni and cheese is known as a classic quick meal for kids. However, this is not the powdered cheese version you will find at the store. Instead, this recipe includes a homemade savory sauce that will make this dish popular with the whole family.
In our home this macaroni and cheese meal is up there with other popular American recipes, such as hash browns, pancakes, veggie burgers, baked beans, apple pie, and eggless waffles.
Making homemade mac and cheese is actually quite easy once you know how to prepare the perfect cheese sauce. Making the sauce is not difficult, but you do need to keep a few tips in mind to get a creamy, cheesy and smooth sauce.
Tips to Make the Perfect Cheese Sauce
- Cook the entire sauce right from the beginning on a low flame.
- Use a thick bottomed pan, so that the flour or milk does not scorch or burn.
- Using chilled milk or cold milk for making the sauce does not lead to the formation of lumps.
- Be sure to stir the sauce mixture often with a wired whisk or balloon whisk.
- If the sauce becomes too thick, then drizzle some hot milk into it to thin it down.
- When adding shredded cheese, keep the pan on your workplace and not on the stove top or burner.
- Shred your cheese and do not use packaged shredded cheese as they have additional starch on them which can make the sauce gluey or clumpy.
- Cooking pasta is easy and once the sauce is done, all you need to do is mix together. Now you can eat the macaroni and cheese as is or bake it further.
Baking Mac and Cheese
- Baking macaroni and cheese is optional. I always bake my mac and cheese further as it tastes so good. But if you don’t have an oven or the time, then just mix and serve.
- Do top with breadcrumbs when baking as they add a lovely crispy and crunchy layer.
- Feel free to add seasonings, herbs and spices of your choice. I keep it simple with crushed black pepper and a bit of ground nutmeg. A dash of mustard powder also perks up the flavor.
- To add some fiber and extra nutrition to in the dish, simply mix in some steamed veggies.
How to make Mac and Cheese
1. Take 1 cup macaroni pasta or elbow macaroni (100 grams or 3.5 ounces).
2. Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the package. I first heated 4 cups water, plus ½ teaspoon salt to a vigorous boil and then added the pasta.
3. Cook the pasta until it is al dente or just cooked. It should not get too soft or mushy or break.
4. Drain the pasta in a colander or strainer.
Making the breadcrumbs topping
Making the breadcrumb topping is only necessary if you plan on baking the mac and cheese. Skip the following steps if you do not plan to bake the macaroni and cheese.
5. While the pasta is cooking, grease a baking pan with some softened butter.
6. Then in a microwave safe bowl, melt 1 teaspoon butter.
7. Now add ⅓ cup breadcrumbs to the melted butter. If you do not have store-bought breadcrumbs, you can easily make your own. Simply take 3 to 4 slices of bread that are 2 to 3 days old, tear them apart and grind them in a dry grinder or mixer.
8. With a spoon, mix the breadcrumbs with the melted butter very well. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
Making the Cheese sauce
9. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a thick bottomed sauce pan on a low flame.
10. The butter should heat up well. You should see the frothing effect on the butter before you add the flour.
11. Then add 2 tablespoons all purpose flour.
12. Using a wired whisk stir the flour quickly as soon as you add it.
13. Keep on stirring so that lumps do not form.
14. The frequent stirring helps the flour to cook evenly.
15. You will see the flour frothing and bubbling up while stirring.
16. Sauté the flour until you get a nice aroma from it and the mixture is a pale golden color. Don’t brown the flour.
17. Keep the flame to the lowest and pour the milk in a gentle stream. Pour the milk with one hand and stir the sauce mixture with the other. The milk has to be chilled, so that lumps do not form. If you use hot, warm or room temperature milk, then lumps will form.
18. Stir frequently while the milk warms and heats up.
19. The sauce will begin to thicken, so continue to stir often.
20. When the sauce has thickened well, switch off the flame. A test is that the sauce should coat the back of a spoon (see example below). You now have a white sauce (bechamel sauce) and next you will be adding cheese to it to make it a cheese sauce.
21. Remove the saucepan from the heat and wait for a minute. Then add 150 grams (5.3 ounces) shredded cheese. I used a mix of cheddar, gouda and mozzarella. You can also use just cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese. Just note that the flavor and taste of the dish depends largely on the kind of cheese you use. Do shred your own cheese and do not buy packaged shredded cheese.
22. Again mix and stir so that the cheese melts.
23. The cheese needs to melt well in the hot white sauce (bechamel sauce). This is what will turn your white sauce into a smooth, creamy cheese sauce.
24. Add ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon crushed black pepper and a pinch or two of grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder.
25. Add a very little salt. About 2 to 3 pinches or about ⅛ teaspoon. Cheese already has salt in it, so add accordingly. You can taste the sauce first and then add salt as per your taste preference.
26. Stir again.
Making macaroni and cheese (stove-top)
27. Now add the pasta to the cheese sauce.
28. With a spoon stir and mix thoroughly so that the sauce coats the macaroni very well.
29. The macaroni and cheese is done and ready to serve, however if you’d like to bake it before serving, proceed further.
How to make Baked Mac and Cheese
30. Pour the prepared mac and cheese into the greased pan.
31. Top evenly with the breadcrumbs and melted butter mixture.
32. Now sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the remaining shredded cheese on top.
33. Sprinkle some crushed black pepper on top of the cheese.
34. Bake in a preheated oven at 390 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese melts and the mac and cheese is bubbly and hot. Be sure to check while baking as oven temperatures vary.
35. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Then serve baked mac and cheese hot.
This post is from the archives (April 2015) and has been republished and updated on 12 August 2020.
This mac and cheese recipe is creamy and cheesy with a light crunchy topping of breadcrumbs and gooey melted cheese. The recipe includes both stove top macaroni and cheese and baked mac and cheese.
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Cuisine American, World
Course: Main Course
Difficulty Level: Easy
for cooking macaroni or pasta
Cook the elbow pasta as per the instructions on the package till they are al dente. I first heated the water and salt to a vigorous boil and then added the pasta.
Cook them till they are al dente or just cooked. They should not get too soft or mushy or break.
Drain them in a colander or strainer.
Now grease a baking pan with some softened butter. Skip this step if you do not plan to bake the mac n cheese.
making breadcrumbs topping
In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter or you can melt the butter in a small pan. Then add the breadcrumbs.
With a spoon mix the breadrcumbs with the melted butter very well. Keep aside.
making cheese sauce
Heat butter in a thick bottomed sauce pan on a low flame. Also preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit).
The butter should heat up well. Then add the all purpose flour.
Using a wired whisk stir the flour quickly as soon as you add it.
Keep on stirring so that no lumps are formed.
The frequent stirring helps the flour to cook evenly.
You will see the flour frothing and bubbling up while stirring.
Saute the flour till you get a nice cooked aroma from the flour and a pale golden color. Don’t brown the flour.
Keep the flame to the lowest and then pour the milk in a gentle stream. Pour the milk with one hand and stir the sauce mixture with the other. The milk has to be chilled, so that lumps are not formed. If you use hot or warm milk or milk at room temperature, lumps can be formed.
Do stir frequently while the milk warms and heats up. The sauce would begin to thicken, so do stir often.
When the sauce has thickened well and coats the back of a spoon, switch off the flame.
Keep the saucepan down and wait for a minute. Then add the shredded cheese. I used an equal mix of cheddar, gouda and mozzarella cheese. You can also use just cheddar cheese or processed cheese or your favorite cheese.
Again mix and stir so that the cheese melts.
The cheese has to melt well in the hot bechamel sauce or white sauce. So now what you have is a cheese sauce.
Add the crushed black pepper and a pinch or two of grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder. You can also add a bit of mustard powder.
Add very little salt. About 2 to 3 pinches. Stir again.
making mac and cheese (stove-top)
Now add the pasta in the cheese sauce.
With a spoon stir and mix very well.
The mac and cheese is done. If you want you can serve it at this step or proceed further to bake it.
how to make baked mac and cheese
Pour the macaroni and cheese in the prepared baking pan.
Top evenly with the breadcrumb and the melted butter mixture.
Now sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.
Sprinkle some crushed black pepper.
Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 to 20 or till cheese melts. Do keep a check while baking as oven temperatures vary.
Wait for 5 minutes and then serve baked mac and cheese hot.
Calories: 672kcalCarbohydrates: 56gProtein: 27gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 23gCholesterol: 107mgSodium: 621mgPotassium: 391mgFiber: 2gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 1194IUVitamin B1 (Thiamine): 1mgVitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 1mgVitamin B3 (Niacin): 2mgVitamin B6: 1mgVitamin B12: 1µgVitamin D: 3µgVitamin E: 1mgVitamin K: 4µgCalcium: 618mgVitamin B9 (Folate): 48µgIron: 2mgMagnesium: 63mgPhosphorus: 529mgZinc: 3mg
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