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Homemade Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Updated on April 1, 2013

One of America's Favorite Dishes, Classic Baked Mac and Cheese!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese contains several different types of cheeses, milk, and some light spices. Often times it calls for breadcrumbs as this recipe does.

It's easy to make a batch or two of this for a family get together or cookout. Beware: this recipe is extremely filling and definitely a major comfort food! Read on to find out how to make this easy, delicious homemade recipe from ingredients you might already have in your home!

Ingredients for Baked Macaroni & Cheese

It's easy, quick to make, and guests always love it.

You can make a lower fat version of this recipe by using 1% milk, 2% cheddar cheese, and 1/2 the amount of American cheese!

The beauty of baked macaroni and cheese is that it can be made on a whim. Have pasta, a few types of cheese, and some milk on hand? You have pretty much all you need for the perfect mac and cheese dish.

  • (1) 8 oz bag of Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, white or yellow
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 lb of Land O' Lakes White American Cheese sliced thin (deli version only)
  • (Directions below)

Glass Baking Dishes - The perfect dish for baking macaroni and cheese

Easy to wash, cooks perfectly (and you can see how well the bottom has cooked!). The high sides of this dish will help keep your kitchen from getting too messy, while keeping your baked macaroni and cheese contained and ready to serve.

* Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

* In a large saucepan, slowly simmer the milk until it just starts to bubble slightly.

* While the cheese is bubbling, boil water and make 1 box of the pasta of your choice. Elbows, shells, and penne work the best. Cook the pasta al dente so the pasta is about 1-2 minutes undercooked.

* Add the cheese to the milk and stir constantly to avoid scorching the cheese and curdling the milk. Reduce the heat if necessary.

* Heat the mixture long enough to completely melt the cheese into the milk. If the consistency is too milky, slowly add 1 tablespoon of flour.

* Remove from heat once melted. Add the worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, and pepper. Stir the mixture thoroughly with the cooked pasta.

* Place the macaroni and cheese mixture into a large glass pan. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs onto the mixture, then the paprika and parsley.

* Cook the macaroni and cheese for approximately 30-40 minutes, or until the top is slightly browned and crispy. Serve with green beans or garden salad.

Scroll down for a healthier alternative to this recipe!

For a crispier macaroni and cheese

remove the pasta from the boiling water 1-2 minutes before the pasta is ready. The pasta will continue to cook in the cheese mixture when baking, so this will give it an added crunch.

To avoid curdling the milk

heat as slowly as possible. The lower the heat, the better. Stir constantly and you'll prevent the cheese from burning.Keep an eye on the cheese even after it has melted, and remove it from heat once it has melted. Once you add the pasta and bake it,the mac and cheese will further melt in the oven.

Want to make this dish the ultimate comfort food? Read this recipe on bacon macaroni and cheese to see how to add flavorful bacon into the mix.

For Great Mac and Cheese

Be sure to simmer the milk slowly to avoid scorching. Add cheeses to the mixture one at a time, and stir frequently to avoid cheese sticking to the pan. Use a nonstick saucepan for best results.

Calphalon Saucepans - Get a pan that lasts! Great to make your baked mac & cheese with...

Why Calphalon for your macaroni and cheese? Because it's the best that I've found for sauces not sticking to the bottom of the pan, and doesn't have a temporary nonstick coating (that will flake off into your food). It also distributes the heat more evenly throughout the pan, and is a much easier clean up.

Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 2-1/2-Quart Shallow Saucepan with Lid
Calphalon Contemporary Nonstick 2-1/2-Quart Shallow Saucepan with Lid
This Calphalon saucepan is better than nonstick -- it has a matte finish to prevent things from sticking to it, and metal utensils won't harm the finish of the pan (unlike nonstick surfaces). Nonstick surfaces are largely harmful once they start to flake off, entering the cooked food and possibly being ingested. With matte finish cookware, you don't have to worry about that. Thick sides prevent burning and give an all-around even heat. Calphalon provides a lifetime warranty for this product, just like the rest of their products!
 

Why American Cheese?

Strangely, American Cheese works well in macaroni and cheese recipes. The texture and consistency of the cheese helps "glue" the cheese together, making it smooth and easily meltable

For an Even Tastier Baked Macaroni and Cheese

try using these additional ingredients!

* 3-5 slices of Sharp Deli Provolone

* 2 Tablespoons of Dijon Mustard (add this ingredient after the cheese mixture is finished)

* 1 teaspoon of Coarse Ground Black Pepper

* 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce (add once cheese mixture is finished to prevent curdling)

* 1-2 Tablespoons of Parsley on top of the Macaroni and Cheese for garnish

Additional Options:

Some people like to add tomato slices, bacon, bratwurst, spinach or blue cheese to the mix for variety.

Healthy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Make a healthier, lower fat version of this recipe!

Ingredients for Healthy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • 1 box whole wheat or whole grain pasta (Barilla Plus is a good option)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup lowfat cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup lowfat havarti cheese, monterey jack, asiago, or swiss cheese (each will provide its own unique taste)
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 cup lowfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter spread (like Smart Balance)
  • 1 red pepper diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 small package frozen spinach
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 6 tbsp. breadcrumbs

Directions:

1. Prepare the pasta according to the box directions and preheat an oven to 400 degrees. Sauté all of the vegetables (including the tomatoes) in a saucepan with the olive oil, except the spinach. Microwave the spinach according to the package directions. Add the spinach to the veggie mixture and continue to sauté until all of the vegetables just start to get soft.

2. In a separate saucepan, heat the milk on very low heat until the milk just starts to bubble. Add the cheese and stir frequently to avoid the milk from sticking to the bottom.

3. Add the flour to the cheese mixture, then the mustard. Continue to stir until the mixture is a creamy consistency. Do not overheat. To make a moister baked macaroni and cheese, add more milk to the mixture.

4. Combine the veggie mixture and cheese mixture. Drain the pasta and add to the veggie and cheese mixture. Place in a large shallow glass baking pan and top with the breadcrumbs.

5. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately.

Picture by Evan.

For a crispier mac and cheese...

...use panko bread crumbs. They're large and won't dissolve into the cheese. Finer breadcrumbs will make the consistency of the macaroni and cheese slightly grainy.

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