Easy baked macaroni and cheese recipe – this is a very classic recipe for how a true mac and cheese should really be prepared. There are many easier ways to make it, but this recipe is the classic one you want to use for the real deal!
I make a lot of easy “adult” mac and cheeses (with strong cheeses and funky add-in’s) to follow steaks in our house. For once, however, I decided I wanted to make a “real” homemade mac and cheese: very traditional, using regular cheese (such as cheddar), baked in the oven, and using white sauce.
As I was looking for an easy homemade baked macaroni and cheese recipe, a lot of sources seemed to be pointing to Martha Stewart macaroni and cheese, so that seemed like a good place to start.
Martha’s recipe for mac and cheese calls for 1 pound of elbow macaroni, which produces a huge amount of pasta, so I halved the recipe, using 1/2 pound of elbow macaroni instead of 1 pound, and halving the rest of ingredients. Even after I halved the recipe, it still produced quite a lot of pasta – enough to make 6 or 8 very rich servings. I also reduced the amount of cheese to sprinkle over top as the original amount called for in the recipe seemed excessive. Also, the recipe calls for Kosher salt, which is less salty than table salt, so because I used regular table salt, I reduced the salt amount accordingly. A reminder to myself: always pay attention to what salt the recipe calls for: Kosher or table salt.
I highly recommend halving the recipe for this baked mac and cheese, because 1) I can’t imagine using a total of 6 cups of cheese for any kind of dish (3 cups will do), and 2) because I found that this mac and cheese has the best and the creamiest quality when served right after it’s made. If leftovers are reheated the next day, the macaroni get mushy, and the sauce itself get thicker, so you have to add milk and manipulate to achieve the same wonderful consistency as on the day you made it.
The breadcrumbs do become soggy if you reheat this dish in microwave, so to make the most out of this recipe, I would not recommend making it in advance and then reheating: too many qualities are lost.
This easy recipe is definitely self making and is a great base recipe for further experiments! The baked macaroni and cheese when served straight out of the oven come out creamy, buttery, with very crisp breadcrumbs on top.The whole top layer of mac and cheese has this nice golden brown veave.
STEP BY STEP PHOTOS: HOW TO MAKE EASY HOMEMADE BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. In a separate pan or a skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.
Add 1/4 cup of flour, cook and stir for about 1 minute to form a roux.
In a medium pan, heat milk until it boils.
Pour hot milk into the hot flour-butter mixture gradually, while whisking.Continue cooking the mixture, constantly stirring, on medium or high heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens about 1 or 2 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat.Add salt,nutmeg, black pepper,1 and 1/2 cups cheddar, and 1/2 cup Gruyere,or pecorino Romano, or Parmesan.While off heat, whisk until all cheese is melted and the cheese sauce has even consistency.Set aside.
Bring a large saucepan with water to boil.Add macaroni,cook 3 minutes less than indicated in manufacturer’s directions,so that pasta is still undercooked inside.The pasta will continue cooking as it oven.Transfer macaroni to a colander and rinse under cold running water really well.Running the pasta under cold water will stop the cooking and will wash off the excess starch.Drain pasta well.
Add drained macaroni to the cheese sauce.
Butter a 1.5-quart casserole dish. spew the pasta with cheese sauce into the prepared dish.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/4 cup Gruyere (or pecorino Romano, or Parmesan).
Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs.Here is how made breadcrumbs:I placed several bread slices in the food processor and processed them until they turned into nice bread crumbs – enough to fill 1 cup.Next, I placed 1 cup of bread crumbs in a medium bowl,added 1 tablespoon of melted butter and mixed everything together.
Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on top.move dish to a wire rack for about 5 minutes, then serve.
- 1 cup white bread crumbs (I used regular bread in food processor)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 3/4 cups milk
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or more – to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups Cheddar cheese (about 9 ounces of shredded sharp yellow or white Cheddar cheese)
- 3/4 cup Gruyere cheese shredded or pecorino Romano, or Parmesan
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni