Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This easy Baked Macaroni and Cheese is the perfect comfort food! Tender elbow macaroni in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce is baked until golden brown. This side dish goes with any meal!

Macaroni is one of my favorite pasta shapes! Try my Macaroni Salad for another easy and delicious macaroni side dish, and my Homemade Hamburger Helper (which has macaroni pasta) is ready in less than 30 minutes!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese in a casserole dish with a wooden spoon.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This Macaroni and Cheese is comfort food at its finest. It is rich, creamy, and very cheesy. This macaroni and cheese recipe starts off with a delicious cheese sauce made of equal parts flour and butter mixed with milk and lots of seasonings. Then I stir in extra sharp cheddar cheese. The cheese sauce gets tossed with the tender noodles and baked until golden brown and crispy on top!

This Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe only takes 45 minutes to make from start to finish. Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • Elbow Macaroni: I cook the pasta until al dente. Any longer and the noodles will become mushy after baking. I love using elbow macaroni however cavatappi pasta would also be great too!
  • Butter: I use 1 whole stick of butter in this homemade macaroni and cheese. It makes it rich, buttery, and creamy!
  • Flour: Is used to thicken up the sauce. If you are gluten-free you can substitute cornstarch for the flour. It works great!
  • Milk: I use 2% because that is what I typically have on hand. However whole milk could also be used.
  • Extra sharp cheddar cheese: I love using extra sharp cheddar in baked macaroni and cheese, however, gruyere, gouda, Monterey Jack, or Colby jack would also be amazing in this. I sometimes like to do half gruyere half sharp cheddar cheese!
  • Seasonings: This macaroni and cheese recipe is loaded with flavor thanks to the mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper!

How to make Macaroni and Cheese

  • Boil pasta: In salted water until al-dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven: To 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Make the cheese sauce: Meanwhile, melt butter in a large pot. Add in flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk. Add in all of the seasonings. Cook on medium heat whisking continuously until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Make sure to keep the milk moving to avoid burning. Take off the heat and stir in 4 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese. Season with more salt to taste if desired.
  • Bake: Pour into the prepared pan and top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese. Place in the oven uncovered and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Serve: Immediately and enjoy!
  • Store: Leftover baked macaroni and cheese in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
  • Reheat: On the stovetop with a splash of milk or cream.

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese in a pot on the stove with a wooden spoon.

Variations

  • For some added spice add some pickled or fresh jalapeños to the baked macaroni and cheese.
  • Crumbled bacon would be amazing in this!
  • I’ve made this recipe with leftover diced ham and broccoli and it is delicious.
  • For a crispy topping try adding toasted panko breadcrumbs or crushed ritz crackers on top!

Can this be made in the slow cooker?

I have made this recipe before for potlucks and parties and made it as directed above but skipped the final step of baking. I transfer it to the slow cooker and keep it on the warm setting. It holds up great for hours and does not get dried out.

What to serve with this Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Tips for Success

  • Leave the macaroni and cheese uncovered when baking to ensure that the top becomes golden and slightly crispy.
  • Try different cheeses! I love the sharpness of extra mature cheddar cheese in this baked macaroni and cheese, however, gruyere, gouda, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, and mozzarella all work really well in this recipe.
  • Serve as a main dish with a side of vegetables and healthy protein like grilled chicken to make it a meal!

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Should you cover your mac and cheese when baking? I like to leave my baked macaroni and cheese uncovered so that the top gets a little crispy. It is my favorite part!
  • How do I bake mac and cheese not dry? Keep baked macaroni and cheese moist by adding plenty of milk and not too much flour. The ratios I use in this recipe are perfect for a moist and cheesy macaroni and cheese recipe!
  • How do you know when baked mac and cheese is done? The baked mac and cheese casserole is done when the cheesy sauce is bubbling and the top is golden and slightly crispy.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese in a casserole dish with a wooden spoon.

Here are more delicious Side Dish Recipes to enjoy!

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Baked Macaroni and Cheese

4 from 5 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 -10

Easy Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Tender elbow macaroni in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce baked until golden brown. The perfect side dish to go with any meal!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cup milk (I used 2%)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 5 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Instructions

Images:
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
    Boil pasta in salted water until al dente according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile melt butter in a large pot. Add in flour and whisk constantly for 2 minutes.
    Slowly whisk in milk. Add in all of the seasonings. Cook on medium heat whisking continuously until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes. Make sure to keep the milk moving to avoid burning.
  • Take off the heat and stir in 4 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese. Season with more salt to taste if desired.
  • Add the cheese sauce to the macaroni and stir to coat. Pour into the prepared pan and top with the remaining 1 cup of shredded cheese. Place in the oven uncovered and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!
Nutrition Facts
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Amount Per Serving
Calories 704 Calories from Fat 360
% Daily Value*
Fat 40g62%
Saturated Fat 25g156%
Cholesterol 117mg39%
Sodium 715mg31%
Potassium 370mg11%
Carbohydrates 56g19%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 30g60%
Vitamin A 1321IU26%
Calcium 662mg66%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Comfort food, Easy side dish, Holiday Recipes