Table of Contents
  1. A super flavorful baked macaroni & cheese recipe.
  2. Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.
  3. Here’s how to make this recipe.
  4. These pro tips will make this recipe a success.
  5. Frequently asked questions about this recipe.
  6. More pasta recipes you'll love.
  7. Watch how to make this recipe.
  8. Have I convinced you to make this recipe?
  9. Baked Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

This recipe for homemade macaroni & cheese is definitely not the same as the one from a box. It’s so much better! With a creamy texture and four different types of cheese, this is a simple and straightforward dish. And while baked macaroni & cheese is usually for adults, kids will love this too!

A super flavorful baked macaroni & cheese recipe.

I know there will always be boxed macaroni & cheese and those who love it. And I’ll admit it: the box has its place.

Personally, I’ve never really loved it. I find that most food memories come from times derived while growing up. In our family, we never had boxed macaroni & cheese. It’s not like I was a sheltered child. Instead, Mom was a frugal grocery shopper and didn’t purchase foods that were not necessary. I assume she didn’t see the draw, and as a kid, I didn’t know if I was missing out or not.

We didn’t have homemade macaroni and cheese often either, but when we did, it was great. How could creamy, cheesy pasta, usually finished with breadcrumbs on top, not be amazing? This recipe is the food memory I have with some added lusciousness and a little more flavor.

Baked macaroni & cheese sitting in white baking dish showing the elbow macaroni pasta covered with cheese and breadcrumb topping.

Everything you’ll need to make this recipe.

  • Elbow macaroni is the classic pasta when it comes to macaroni & cheese. The shape draws in the cheese sauce and ensures each bite is intensely covered with cheese.
  • Evaporated milk starts as milk but is cooked down, allowing the excess water to evaporate. It will help the roux hold together better when mixed with the butter and flour.
  • Monterey Jack cheese has the ideal quality of being a good melting cheese.
  • Sharp cheddar cheese adds a strong flavor, which will be prevalent when baked with the macaroni.
  • Cream cheese works to add a creamy texture to the recipe. It also introduces a bit of tanginess, which sounds odd, but works so well in this dish.
  • Nutmeg is a classic spice when making a cheese sauce. The spice brings out a more intense milk flavor and adds an underlying nuttiness.
Marble surface filled with all ingredients needed to make baked macaroni & cheese including pasta, cheeses, evaporated milk, breadcrumbs, spices, and more.

Here’s how to make this recipe.

  1. Cook the pasta. Boil water in a large stockpot on the stove. Add salt to flavor the pasta, and then add in the macaroni. Cook the pasta to al dente per the instructions on the pasta’s packaging. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set aside.
  1. Prepare the roux. To a stockpot over medium heat, add butter. Once the butter has melted, sprinkle the flour on top. Mix the flour into the butter using a wooden spatula or spoon, ensuring the flour cooks to cook off the raw flavor. Once the butter and flour have cooked together and bubbles form, slowly begin adding the evaporated milk a tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition.
  1. Add the spices. Once all of the milk has been added, and the mixture has some viscosity, add in the dry mustard, ground nutmeg, black pepper, and salt. Stir all of the spices into the milk mixture.
  1. Add the cheeses. Using a grater, shred the sharp cheddar cheese and Monterey Jack cheese. To the milk mixture, add the room-temperature cream cheese and the two shredded cheeses. Slowly whisk the cheeses to incorporate them into the milk mixture. Once fully mixed, remove it from the stove.
  1. Pour into the baking dish. Pour the drained macaroni noodles into the cheese mixture and stir everything together to coat the pasta. Once mixed, pour everything into a greased 9×13 baking dish. Smooth out the mixture to ensure it is evenly distributed. Set it aside while preparing the breadcrumbs.
  1. Prepare the breadcrumbs. To the melted butter, add the breadcrumbs and grate fresh Parmesan on top. Mix all three ingredients until the melted butter coats the breadcrumbs.
  1. Sprinkle and bake. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the combined macaroni and cheese. Once all of the breadcrumbs are on top, place the dish in the preheated oven to bake at 375°F for 17 to 20 minutes. When the top is browned, and the cheese is bubbling, remove it from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

These pro tips will make this recipe a success.

  • When cooking the pasta, make sure to cook the macaroni al dente. If the pasta is fully cooked before it’s added to the cheese sauce and then baked in the oven, it will become really mushy. If you only cook to al dente (meaning the pasta still has a bit of “bite” to it), the pasta will finish cooking correctly with the cheese.
  • When mixing together the milk mixture and the cheese, if not all pieces of cheese melt right away, that is fine. When the pasta is poured over the top of the cheese, it will add additional heat, which will finish melting the cheese.
  • This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and then baked when needed. Simply prepare everything, add everything to the baking dish, then cover and place it in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, remove it from the refrigerator and bake.
Spoon holding serving of baked macaroni & cheese showing the elbow macaroni and cheese mixed together with rest of casserole below in white pan.

Frequently asked questions about this recipe.

How long does this recipe last in the refrigerator? Can it be frozen after being prepared and before being baked?

As leftovers, this will last up to 10 days in the refrigerator. But note that the macaroni and cheese can become dense when chilled and take more time than expected to heat up.

Are there other types of cheese that would work well in this recipe?

Yes, any cheese with flavor can be added for a more “adult” version. Gruyere, smoked gouda, fontina, and even Brie could be added.

Can another type of pasta be used in this recipe?

Yes, any small pasta that holds onto the sauce works well. I also like to use small shells in place of elbow pasta.

Can this be a stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe?

This can be served directly from the stove but will take some additional cooking time on the stove. The time in the oven allows the cheese sauce to be absorbed fully into the pasta.

Watch how to make this recipe.

More dinner recipes

Have I convinced you to make this recipe?

I hope you make this recipe and put some food on your dessert table. Leave a comment and share a star rating so you let others know how much you love this recipe. This helps show others that this is a recipe they too can make, enjoy, and love!

White plate filled with serving of macaroni & cheese with breadcrumb topping with a few crumbs on the side of the plate.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese

5 from 3 votes
This recipe for homemade macaroni & cheese is definitely not the same as the one from a box. It's so much better! With a creamy texture and four different types of cheese, this is a simple and straightforward dish. And while baked macaroni & cheese is usually for adults, kids will love this too!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 35 mins
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 36 oz (3 cans) evaporated milk
  • 2 ¼ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 4 oz cream cheese room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

For the breadcrumb topping

  • 3 tbsp melted butter
  • 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs
  • cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside.
  • Cook the macaroni al dente according to the instructions on the box. When the pasta is finished cooking, drain it and return it to the cooking stock pot. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the cheese sauce.
    1 lb elbow macaroni
  • In a 4-quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk to combine. Cook the flour and butter until it forms a paste and is bubbling, 2-3 minutes. Slowly pour in the milk a few tablespoons at a time, making sure to fully whisk until smooth. After each addition of milk, cook the mixture until it slightly thickens. Continue whisking and adding milk until all of the milk is used.
    5 tbsp unsalted butter, 4 tbsp all-purpose flour, 36 oz (3 cans) evaporated milk
  • Once all the milk is added, bring the mixture to a simmer for 1 minute. Add the dry mustard, ground nutmeg, black pepper, and salt. Mix to combine all of the spices into the milk mixture. Then add the cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and cream cheese. Whisk until smooth, 2-3 minutes.
    2 ¼ cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 4 oz cream cheese, 1 ½ tsp dry mustard, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, ½ tsp black pepper, 1 tsp salt
  • Pour the cheese sauce over the prepared macaroni and stir to combine. The mixture will seem slightly liquid-like. Pour the pasta and sauce into the prepared baking dish.
  • Combine the melted butter, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese and mix. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the pasta.
    3 tbsp melted butter, 1 ½ cups breadcrumbs, ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the breadcrumbs are golden and the pasta is finished cooking, 17-20 minutes. Allow the dish to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • When cooking the pasta, make sure to cook the macaroni al dente. If the pasta is fully cooked before it’s added to the cheese sauce and then baked in the oven, it will become really mushy. If you only cook to al dente (meaning the pasta still has a bit of “bite” to it), the pasta will finish cooking correctly with the cheese.
  • When mixing together the milk mixture and the cheese, if not all pieces of cheese melt right away, that is fine. When the pasta is poured over the top of the cheese, it will add additional heat, which will finish melting the cheese.
  • This recipe can be prepared ahead of time and then baked when needed. Simply prepare everything, add everything to the baking dish, then cover and place it in the refrigerator. When ready to bake, remove it from the refrigerator and bake.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 562kcal
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Baking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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