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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 JR8782-2P Contemporary Nonstick 2-1/2-Quart Shallow Saucepan with Lid
Calphalon JR8782-2P 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.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Videos

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    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      maybe if i skip a few cookies i can make this in a week or so - love mac n cheese!

    • beaworkathomemom profile image

      beaworkathomemom 4 years ago

      oh, that was pretty easy to do. cook pasta. heat milk, mix cheese, eating time!! my mom used to make baked mac and cheese, and she would bake it. it has a crisp top and saucy filling :D

    • kevkev227 lm profile image

      kevkev227 lm 5 years ago

      Panko breadcrumbs work really well :)

    • IQplusone profile image

      IQplusone 5 years ago

      I love your cheese lens - great stuff. Thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      Well, I am now hooked on a particular type of macaroni and cheese ... found it at Ruby Tuesday's! Love adding lobster [and perhaps scallops and shrimp] to my baked recipe ... with some crispiness on top ... might even sprinkle with fried onion rings bits.

    • profile image

      RobinDM 5 years ago

      When I was a little girl, I thought that making it polka dotted with slices of hotdog was the best!

    • Marigold Tortelli profile image

      Marigold Tortelli 5 years ago

      I love macaroni and cheese. This sounds like a delicious recipe.

    • Noelle and Dan profile image

      Noelle and Dan 6 years ago

      Sounds like a solid recipe. Good photos and comments. Thanks.

    • profile image

      cocktailsexaminer 6 years ago

      Best comfort food ever.

    • profile image

      wayne_luvinlife 6 years ago

      Although american cheese is smoother and makes it creamer my personal favorite is sharp cheddar and provalone!

    • Gerald McConway profile image

      Gerald McConway 6 years ago

      One of my favorite homemade comfort foods. Tweeted it above, but will add it again. Get some maple bacon, cook it off to make your own bacon bits, and then add the pan drippings to the mac and cheese. Top it with the bacon bits, serious stuff!

    • bames24 lm profile image

      bames24 lm 6 years ago

      love your recipes.... :)

    • profile image

      tssfacts 6 years ago

      There is nothing like the real deal. Great job. Blessed by a SquidAngel. Happy St. Paddy's Day.

    • TheScriptedLand profile image

      TheScriptedLand 6 years ago

      oh man...sooo good! my mouth is watering.

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Love MacCheese (Scottish version?):-)

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Great lesn and another recipe to try out. Top marks

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wow now I am Extremely hungry, this Squidoo Lens is Practically Edible!!!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image

      MargoPArrowsmith 6 years ago

      Sounds yummy

    • CofCJenny LM profile image

      CofCJenny LM 6 years ago

      Everyone always tells me that once you have homemade mac & cheese you will refuse to eat it from a box. Eventually, I'll try it out ;-)

    • jodijoyous profile image

      jodijoyous 6 years ago from New York

      Personally, I think mac and cheese is a food group. Never made the sauce that way though, I always make a roux..

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Who doesn't like Macaroni and Cheese? Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      OMG, the perfect major comfort food is right! I wasn't surprised by the american cheese, though I've never used the white american ~ will have to give it a try. The 3 cheeses together sound like heaven and your even tastier version sounds amazing. I'll go with the 100 million calories version! I like the extra hints ou givie in your directions, especially being careful about heating the milk and avoiding burning the cheese.

    • Linda Pogue profile image

      Linda Pogue 6 years ago from Missouri

      Yum! I hadn't thought of using parmesan or asiago cheese in macaroni and cheese, but they sound wonderful. Great lens!

    • ICanCook profile image

      ICanCook 6 years ago

      I love that you actually make a cheese sauce for your macaroni and cheese. When you just mix up the ingredients, it never comes together as well. Good job!

    • Mrmakingusmile LM profile image

      Mrmakingusmile LM 6 years ago

      excellent instructions. Thanks for making me smile.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      My mouth is just watering! I have such a craving right now for a big ole plate of homemade macaroni and cheese! Your pictures smelled delicious! LOL

    • profile image

      Tarra99 6 years ago

      Back to bless this tasty lens...you had me at "mac and cheese" ummmmm Also featured here: http://www.squidoo.com/100-blessings"

    • willisx32 profile image

      willisx32 6 years ago

      Great lens. I will have to try it. Its making my mouth water

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Ummmm....not yet, but plan to! I'm a cheese addict :)

    • Louis Wery profile image

      Louis Wery 6 years ago from Sarasota, Florida USA

      Good tips for improving mac and cheese!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      i love mac and cheese well done i like it

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      You will certainly be labeled my son's hero for the day! He loves Mac and Cheese and I have always made it from a box :) He will love you for sharing this recipe, but no doubt, I will be the happy recipient of his hug, so I send you a virtual hug from both of us.

    • awakeningwellness profile image

      awakeningwellness 7 years ago

      Yum love mac & cheese, I think I will try the version with the veggies...thanks!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image

      ElizabethJeanAl 7 years ago

      Baked Mac and chees is the best. Here in the south it's considered a vegitable and we can't have enough of those.

      Thanks for sharing,

      Lizzy

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Yummy, so many options. While I appreciate that you included the lower fat version, I think I am going to try the crispier macaroni and cheese first.

    • desilegend profile image

      desilegend 7 years ago

      Planning on making one for the first time in my life!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      The first time I had macaroni and cheese that was not from a box I remember being honestly shocked and surprised that it was possible to make mac and cheese without help from Kraft. I have a huge pail of potatoes to use up and I'm going to try making this recipe with half pasta and half potato so I can freeze it. Sounds delicious!

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 7 years ago

      This sound so yummy!!! Great lens. Blessed by an Angel.

    • dustytoes profile image

      dustytoes 7 years ago

      I had to add my own favorite mac and cheese recipe to Squidoo and am linking yours there... I think we should have a big mac and cheese bake off... !!

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 7 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I'm not a big Mac n Cheese fan, but this does look good. Great, easy to follow directions too!

    • momto4 lm profile image

      momto4 lm 7 years ago

      Macaroni and Cheese is one of my family's favorite things to eat. The kids would eat it every day if I let them. I can't wait to try out your recipe! I'm always looking for new recipes to try out!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 7 years ago from California

      One of my friends on Twitter wrote about this, saying amazing what you can find....yep, this is amazing. *Blessed* by an Angel.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 7 years ago

      Angel Blessings and Happy New Year!

    • Kiwisoutback profile image
      Author

      Kiwisoutback 7 years ago from Massachusetts

      @SusannaDuffy: Well, those are all good, but not exactly healthy eating. America does have that sort of image sometimes - thank McDonald's partially for that! I think it's a little bit of a misconception on the media's part. On TV, all you ever see is the unhealthy side of America, and it's concerning, but not necessarily representative of the entire nation.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 7 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      There are places in the world where people believe all that North Americans ever eat is take-away hamburgers, apple pie and macaroni cheese.

    • profile image

      Tarra99 7 years ago

      ohhhhh...yummy yummy yummy lens!

      looks sooooo good...baked mac n' cheese is such a great comfort food!

      love it!

    • profile image

      GrowWear 8 years ago

      Not a fan of the boxed kind, that's for sure, but this actually looks really tasty!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Love that macaroni and cheese!

    • papawu profile image

      papawu 8 years ago

      One of my most favorite foods, lilke, ever....Baked...it's gotta be baked.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 8 years ago from Croatia

      Hmmm... Yummy, yummy, yummy! Have to try your recipe! I prepare it differently and after seeing pics - I wanna eat that! :D

    • profile image

      California_Dreamin 8 years ago

      You know, I've never made macaroni and cheese except for the Kraft instant variety. I don't know why, because it's actually not a difficult thing to make and certainly better tasting than instant.

      I'll give this recipe a try, it looks delicious.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Yumm! I am going to have to make some mac and cheese -- this looks yummy -- thanks for stopping by the healthy sandwich recipes lens that I am the new curator of for our fellow lensmaster Gordon! Glad you liked it.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      Since I can't really eat this right now (dieting)--except for maybe a few bites, which would be more of a tease than anything--I figured reading about and looking at it would be the next best thing. *sigh* Now you've made me really hungry. Well done lens.

    • avocado47 profile image

      avocado47 8 years ago

      Oh yummmmmmm..................

    • RolandTumble profile image

      RolandTumble 8 years ago

      My partner makes the M&C at our house, 'cause it's so darn good (I do most of the cooking, but she's got a few standouts). Instead of just milk & cheese for the sauce component, she makes an actual white sauce (thickened milk), plus cheese.

      Anyway, 5* & lensrolled to my foodie lenses.

    • profile image

      ThomasC 8 years ago

      Great recipe lens! Very impressed! I lensrolled you to my Baked Macaroni Casserole Recipe Lens. Gave you 5 stars and an Angel Blessing!

      ThomasC

    • msbaby profile image

      msbaby 8 years ago

      It just doesn't get any better than mac and cheese for a dish that everyone enjoys. FWIW, I prefer mine without the breadcrumbs. I've never felt that they add anything to the taste and they interfere with the texture of all that lovely melted cheese. Oh well, to each his own! msbaby

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 8 years ago

      Yum...it is one of my fav comfort foods...if I am down in the dumps I better not make it or I'll eat bowlfuls! Great presentation and recipe choices here!

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 8 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Yum. This would be a great addition to the Comfort Food group.

    • Rich-H profile image

      Rich 8 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Great lens, but unfortunately, I must be one of the few people in the States who doesn't like it ;) 5*s.

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Sounds delicious

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 8 years ago from Idaho

      Amazing how many different recipes for macaroni and cheese!

    • Wendy L Henderson profile image

      Wendy Henderson 8 years ago from PA

      Yummy. I like Macaroni and cheese but my hips doesn't. LOL

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 8 years ago

      Yum! My husband make a very good baked mac and cheese.

    • cappuccino136 profile image

      cappuccino136 8 years ago

      I love mac and cheese. It's the best comfort food. On the suggestion of a friend, I baked it with a layer of tomato slices (med. thickness) on top and breadcrumbs to finish it off. Wow, that was delicious!

      Your lens is inspiring me to try some different cheeses next time.

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 8 years ago

      There is just one word that comes to my mind right now: Yummy. Your recipe sounds delicious and I am sure my daughter will like it as well. I will try this one very soon.

    • profile image

      Mayflowerblood 8 years ago

      ok, I should not have looked now I'm starving =]

    • Sniff It Out profile image

      Sniff It Out 8 years ago

      I like macaroni and cheese, it is surprisingly good using half cheddar and half blue cheese.

      Great lens, happy to feature it in 'The Cooks Cafe' group.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 8 years ago from Royalton

      I love Mac and Cheese. To make it a little healthier I sometimes I add spinach. I use non-fat condensed milk instead of whole milk to make it creamier. I have also found that adding a little more mustard can replace some of the cheese sounds strange but it works.

    • aka-rms profile image

      Robin S 8 years ago from USA

      This delicious recipe is being featured at www.cabaretsquidoo.com today!

    • jodijoyous profile image

      jodijoyous 8 years ago from New York

      Just had mac and cheese for dinner last night. When you gotta have cheese, you gotta have cheese!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 8 years ago

      Oh, yeah. Hate it when I envision nice creamy tasty Mac and chees and get a dry tasteless gob. This sounds like the ticket...Thanks!!

    • profile image

      magcody 8 years ago

      Great lens, makes me hungry for mac and cheese...

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 8 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Macaroni and cheese is my all-time favorite comfort food. Now I'm hungry!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Yummy. My grandson loves Mac & Cheese so I will have to make some today. Sounds delicious.

    • profile image

      poutine 8 years ago

      There is nothing than a good oven baked mac/cheese.

      Poutine

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 8 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Nice lens, sounds yummy right now and a lot better than the pretzels I am munching on for comfort... 5***** You can also add onion or chopped tomatoes to vary the taste.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 8 years ago

      This looks so delicious! Welcome to Culinary Favorites From A to Z.