A bowl of creamy, delicious macaroni and cheese is certainly comforting. This well-known classic is a favorite of both children and adults.
But what if you could make it even easier without sacrificing the thick, cheesy flavor?
In this article, we’ll walk you through a simple and tasty oven-baked mac and cheese dish that will quickly become a family favorite.
Easy Oven Baked Mac And Cheese Recipe
- Prep Time: 20minutes mins
- Cook Time: 45minutes mins
- Additional Time: 10minutes mins
- Total Time: 1hour 15minutes mins
- 1 lb of dry elbow pasta
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup regular flour
- 1 and 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 and 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 4 cups of grated medium-sharp cheddar cheese divided
- 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
Preheat the oven to 325degree F and grease a 3 quart (9×13″) baking dish. Place aside.
A big saucepan of salted water should be brought to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the dried pasta and cook for 1 minute shorter than the package directions for al dente. To prevent sticking, drain and sprinkle with a little olive oil.
While the water is heated, shred the cheeses and blend them, then divide into three heaps. The middle layer is 1 1/2 cups, the sauce is 3 cups, and the top layer is 1 1/2 cups.
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the flour and mix it in. The mix will look like sand that is very wet. Cook for 1 minute, whisking often.
Pour in about 2 cups of the half-and-half and whisk constantly until smooth. While whisking constantly, gradually pour in the remaining half, half, and whole milk until smooth and mixed.
Continue to heat over medium heat, whisking often, until the mixture thickens to a very thick consistency. It should have the consistency of a semi-thin condensed soup.
Remove from the fire and whisk in the spices and 1 1/2 cups of the cheeses, combining and melting them. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cheese until totally melted and smooth.
Blend drained pasta and cheese sauce in a large mixing bowl, stirring to blend well. Half of the pasta mixture should go in the baking dish that has been set up. Top with 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese, followed by the remaining pasta mixture.
On top, sprinkle the last 1 1/2 cups of cheese and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and just a little bit golden.
Cooking Tips For Baked Mac And Cheese
Keep the pasta al dente: Because this is the best baked mac and cheese, we must remember to keep the pasta al dente. Simply cooking the pasta until it is al dente will prevent it from overcooking in the oven.
Use block cheese: Instead of using pre-grated cheese, freshly grate the cheese for the best and creamiest mac and cheese. While the macaroni is cooking, I like to grate the cheese.
Add cheese gently: To ensure the cheese is properly absorbed and gooey, add it to the warm spaghetti a little at a time.
Return the saucepan and pasta to the hot burner (with the heat turned off) and add the butter, egg, cheese, and milk.
The heat helps to melt everything together, which makes mixing easier. There is no need to rinse the pasta because the residual moisture and starch on the pasta keep it rich and creamy.
Bake only long enough to heat: When it comes to baking mac & cheese, less is more. The only purpose of baking is to heat through, blend the flavors, and guarantee the cheese is melted and tasty!
Enjoy right immediately: The creaminess of this homemade baked mac & cheese is best served immediately after baking.
Modify and multiply (or half) – Because you can use any pasta shape and any cheese in this recipe, you can make it your own. It’s also convenient because you can easily double the recipe and bake it in two large dishes or half the quantity and bake it in an 8×8 baking dish.
Variations Of Mac And Cheese
Bacon: If you like bacon, you can put chopped, crispy bacon on top of the mac and cheese or even in it.
Stovetop: You don’t have to bake this mac and cheese if you don’t want to! Make sure to cook your pasta until it’s al dente (see the package for exact cooking times), and you’ll only need around 3 – 3 1/2 cups of cheese altogether. There’s no need to layer the pasta and cheese; simply add all of the cheese to the sauce before mixing in the pasta.
Toppings: We love the cheese layer on top because it becomes nice and crispy, but we also like mixing 1 cup panko with 2 Tbsp melted butter and using that as a topping. 1 cup smashed Ritz crackers with 2 tablespoons butter also works great!
Different Baking Times: The recipe calls for a reduced baking temperature and time, but I usually change that based on my family’s preferences. I bake this mac and cheese for 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then broil for 2-3 minutes to achieve that lovely cheesy “crust.”
Mac And Cheese Storage
Any leftovers should be refrigerated and carefully covered. This method of storing mac and cheese will keep it fresh for 3-4 days.
To reheat, place in a microwave-safe dish partially covered with plastic wrap and add a splash of milk or cream. As it reheats, stir often.
That’s a quick and easy oven-baked mac and cheese recipe that adds warmth and flavor to any meal. This creamy meal is perfect for a family dinner, a potluck, or a solo indulgence. Savor every delicious taste of your homemade mac and cheese!
Thanks for reading. I hope you find it helpful.