Sometimes classic comfort food is just what you need at the end of a hectic day. This classic macaroni and cheese is one that feels like it came from Grandma’s kitchen.
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Trust me. This isn’t a low-calorie, healthy meal. It’s rich and decadent. But for special occasions or when you need to curl up on the sofas and drown your sorrows in fatty goodness, this is the meal for you!
Classic Macaroni And Cheese
Everyone needs an easy, ‘go-to’ mac and cheese recipe. We’re all too old to open the box with the powdered cheese. Mac and cheese is the food you want after a hard day, after a break-up, or as a condolence offering. It’s also the dish you take to friends to celebrate a baby, an engagement, or to welcome new neighbors.
This recipe starts with a homemade white sauce, which is the base for the cheese sauce. It’s salty and creamy with the most luscious mouthfeel.
Then you stir in the macaroni and top the casserole with buttered bread crumbs. When it comes out of the oven you have the crunchy, salty, buttery topping covering the cheesy, creamy macaroni. It is sublime in its simplicity.
- Macaroni – I like using a ridged elbow macaroni because I think it holds the sauce better, but plain elbow mac, cavatappi, or any other pasta you like works just fine.
- Whole milk
- Butter – I use salted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Dry mustard, salt, and white pepper
- Extra sharp cheddar cheese – grate your own. The pre-shredded stuff has a coating on it that will make your sauce grainy.
- Cayenne pepper – optional
- Plain bread crumbs – for extra crunch, use panko breadcrumbs
How Do I Make This Recipe?
- Make a roux by cooking flour and butter together. This is what will thicken the sauce. It also stabilizes the sauce so it doesn’t separate while baking the macaroni and cheese in the oven.
- Make the sauce, also called bechamel sauce, by whisking warm milk into the roux until thickened. Then you’ll whisk in the shredded cheese and stir until melted and creamy.
- Stir in cooked macaroni and spoon the mixture into a baking dish.
- Combine butter and bread crumbs to sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese.
- Bake and enjoy!
- Use warm milk when making your sauce. It will whisk into the roux easier if its warm.
- Pour the warm milk into the roux slowly and whisk it continuously. The mixture will seize and get pasty thick. Just keep pouring in the warm milk and whisking it into the flour. It will thin out and get to the consistency of heavy cream. Perfection.
- You’ve heard me say it again and again but grate your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese = grainy sauce, never a good thing.
Classic Macaroni And Cheese is the easy, comfort food recipe that you need. It’s like Grandma whipped up a bowl of love for you. Creamy, cheesy, and decadent, this mac and cheese will be a family favorite.
½ box (16-ounce) package elbow macaroni, cooked
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 (10-ounce) block extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¾ cup plain bread crumbs
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Butter for greasing the dish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Butter a 2-quart baking dish. Set aside.
Prepare the pasta according to the package directions.
Warm the milk by microwaving it on high for 1 ½ minutes. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter.
Whisk in the flour until smooth.
Cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute.
Whisk in the warm milk and cook, whisking constantly for about 5 minutes or until thickened.
Sprinkle in the salt, pepper, mustard powder, cayenne, and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Whisk until smooth.
Fold in the cooked pasta.
Spoon the pasta into the prepared baking dish.
In a small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle over the macaroni in the baking dish.
Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Bake
- Cuisine: Southern Heritage
Keywords: classic macaroni and cheese, mac and cheese, comfort food, side dish, kid-friendly recipes, cheese recipes, macaroni