Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Gooey cheese on top of creamy macaroni pasta. Served in a large oven dish.
Gooey cheese on top of creamy macaroni

When it comes to comfort food, there’s some great contenders out there, from the humble ham and cheese toasty to bowls of spicy buffalo wings. But for me there’s only one winner – homemade macaroni and cheese. It’s an American classic for good reason.

As if a steaming bowl of pasta wasn’t good enough on its own, imagine it with a creamy béchamel sauce and mountains of grated cheese. Just perfect when you are craving something warm and hearty. Although everyone has their favorite take on this classic, we hope you enjoy this version as much as we do!

Gooey creamy macaroni and cheese mixture
Family Favorite Mac and Cheese

Tips for the Best Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

  1. You can use store bought béchamel sauce but I would highly recommend making it yourself. It will only take 10 minutes to make a silky sauce.
  2. Keep stirring the roux for a few minutes to cook out the raw flour flavor. 
  3. Whip the finished béchamel sauce as fast as you can to remove any lumps of flour and to help ensure a silky smooth finish. 
  4. Make sure all the cheese has melted before adding anything else. 
  5. Cook the pasta for a slightly shorter time than advised by the packaging. If it says that the pasta will be cooked in 10 minutes, then drain the pasta after 8 minutes. This is because the pasta will finish cooking in the oven.
  6. If you are fast in the kitchen then you can grate the cheese and make the béchamel sauce while the pasta cooks. However, if you prefer to take your time, then grate the cheese before you start. That way, you can concentrate on the sauce. 
  7. Store bought grated cheese contains preservatives that are meant to keep the cheese from clumping together in the bag. That also means it might not melt as well together when cooking. It is worth it to grate the cheese yourself.
Macaroni and cheese in a large oven dish. Melted cheese topping on gooey creamy macaroni
Comfort food at its best

Variations To Enhance your Mac n’ Cheese

  1. Mix Panko breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon of melted butter with your last pile of cheese for the topping and pop it under the oven. This should create a crunchier topping. 
  2. For different variations, try adding chorizo, crispy bacon, pesto, minced garlic or Dijon mustard. 
  3. If you would prefer not to bake the mac and cheese then you can cook your pasta fully and add in your cream/cheese sauce.
  4. Using cheddar, gruyere and gouda gives your mac and cheese a great taste but try different varieties like mozzarella, smoked gouda, swiss or Colby jack. 
Gooey cheese on top of creamy macaroni pasta. Served in a large oven dish.
Tasty comfort meal for all the family

To Serve

Serve your mac and cheese with a fresh arugula (rocket) salad or oven roasted vegetables such as an asparagus/cauliflower combo. If you are having your mac and cheese as a main meal, pair it with a light fresh Caprese salad as your appetizer. Wash it all down with a nice glass of pale ale from this Irish company Trouble Brewing. Enjoy!

Gooey cheese on top of creamy macaroni pasta. Served in a large oven dish.

Homemade Mac and Cheese

Author: Fiona Halligan
Melted cheese over gooey creamy pasta. This classic American dish reminds you why comfort food is the best.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Course Appetizer, Entrée, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 993 kcal

Equipment

  • Grater

Ingredients
 
 

  • Drizzle of Vegetable Oil to oil the oven tray
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 500 g Macaroni Pasta uncooked
  • 110 g Unsalted Butter
  • 70 g Plain Flour
  • 400 ml Whole Milk
  • 250 ml Double Cream
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard (optional)
  • 1 clove Garlic (optional) minced
  • 230 g Cheddar Cheese grated
  • 140 g Gruyere Cheese grated
  • 120 g Gouda Cheese grated

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C Fan/325°F. Rub a little bit of oil around your oven dish. Set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add your dry pasta and a pinch of salt to the pot. Cook your pasta a minute or two less than usual, as it will continue to cook in the oven.
  • Once all your cheese is grated, mix it all together and split it into 3 piles. Approximately 2 piles go into the sauce, 1 pile for the topping.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat.  Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine.
  • Whisk continuously until it is well combined. Cook for around 2/3 minutes until the flour is cooked through.
  • Combine the milk and cream together. Slowly pour in 100ml while whisking constantly until well combined. Continue to pour in the remaining milk mixture slowly and whisking constantly until silky smooth.
  • Continue to whisk until the béchamel sauce has thickened. It should be thick enough to coat your spoon.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, smoked paprika, mustard and minced garlic. Add in 1 pile of the cheese mix and stir until completely melted.
  • Add the 2nd pile of cheese in and stir until melted and well combined. The cheese sauce should look fully combined at this stage and have a very silky smooth consistency.
  • In a large bowl, combine the drained pasta with the cheese sauce, making sure to cover every piece of pasta fully.  
  • Pour the pasta mixture into the baking dish.  Top with the last pile of cheese.
  • Bake in the oven uncovered for 15 minutes, until the cheese is lightly golden brown.  
  • Serve with a salad or roasted vegetables. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Keep stirring the roux for a few minutes to cook out the raw flour flavor. 
  2. Whip the finished béchamel sauce as fast as you can to remove any lumps of flour and to help ensure a silky smooth finish. 
  3. Make sure all the cheese has melted before adding anything else.  
  4. Follow your pasta package cooking directions. For example, if it says that the pasta will be cooked in 10 minutes then finished boiling the pasta after 8 minutes. The pasta will finish cooking in the oven.
  5. The serving size is 300g and that is for a main course serving. If you are having it as a appetizer or side dish then cut it in half or to your preference. 

Nutrition

Serving: 300gCalories: 993kcalCarbohydrates: 77gProtein: 37gFat: 60gSaturated Fat: 37gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 192mgSodium: 1317mgPotassium: 418mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 2063IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 782mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Macaroni and Cheese
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