Creamy Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese

This baked mac and cheese is a family favorite recipe, loved by both children and adults. ย My version uses a combination of cheeses for a gloriously cheesy dish!

Everyone has their favorite baked mac and cheese recipe… and this is mine. ย It uses a combination of cheeses, layered in the dish as well as melted into a rich and creamy cheese sauce, for the ultimate in cheesy deliciousness!

Rich and creamy homemade baked mac and cheese, filled with multiple layers of shredded cheeses, smothered in a smooth cheese sauce, and baked until bubbly and perfect!

Baked mac and cheese. ย It’s nearly the universal comfort food, and there are SO many variations! ย I have some other variations in the development stages, so expect them to come to the blog at some point ๐Ÿ™‚ ย In fact, I almost didn’t post this recipe today, as there are SOOOO many mac and cheese recipes available, and most people already have their favorite way of making it.

Of course, there’s no “right” way or “wrong” way, so I’m here sharing the way I like to make my mac and cheese (the way my family loves it too).


Cheese sauce pouring over pasta to make homemade Mac and cheese

It all starts with pasta, cooked about a minute shy of al dente. ย You don’t want to cook it all the way to al dente, since it will be baking a bit in the oven and will finish cooking there. ย You can use any shape you’d like. ย I kept it original here with the classic elbow shape, but I’ve done rotini, farfalle, cavatappi, etc. ย Pick the shape you and your family love the most!

Macaroni and cheese recipes in baking dish

I love to use a mixture of cheeses in my baked mac and cheese… specifically a medium cheddar and Gruyere. ย The sharp tang from the cheddar and the creaminess of the Gruyere are a great combination! ย But you could make this with white cheddar, all mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, etc.

Even with the tang from the medium cheddar, my kids literally gobble this up! ย Every time I make it, which is often, they have multiple servings and happily eat any leftovers the next day ๐Ÿ™‚ ย Whenever my kids love a recipe, I consider it a winner!

Spoonful of creamy baked Mac and cheese

Now for the secret to making this baked mac and cheese SO cheesy and irresistible… the layers. ย First, there’s the rich and creamy cheese sauce, made with part whole milk and part half and half, with 2 generous handfuls of grated cheese swirled and melted in. ย Seriously, when you’re cooking this sauce, you might find it incredibly hard to not lick the stirring spoon! ย Secondly, there’s an inner layer of grated cheese… the secret weapon. ย Once you add half the pasta and cheese sauce to the baking pan, sprinkle on a generous layer of grated cheese, then top it with the remaining pasta and cheese sauce. ย You could even be extra decadent and divide the pasta and cheese sauce into thirds and layer in 2 layers of the grated cheese!

Layers of cheese in this creamy Mac and cheese dish


You could, but then you wouldn’t get that glorious bubbly cheesy “crust”. ย I don’t know about you, but it’s my favorite part! ย If you really love that crust, go ahead and broil it for several minutes after baking.


  • Grated cheese (my personal favorite – and what I’ve done here in these photos)
  • Buttered panko breadcrumbs (feel free to add some herbs to this as well)
  • Bacon pieces/panko breadcrumb combo

Homemade Mac and cheese on plate


This recipe doesn’t bake long at all, but I’ve actually baked it longer before, and it’s still every bit as delicious! ย Most baked Mac and cheese recipes call for it to be baked 15-30 minutes. ย My kids aren’t huge fans of the cheesy “crust”, so I bake mine at 325, but 350 or even 375 work as well. ย It’s a very forgiving dish!

Of course, you could alternately not bake this mac and cheese at all, and just combine the pasta with the cheese sauce if that’s what you prefer ๐Ÿ™‚

I really hope you all give my family favorite mac and cheese a try… I’m sure you’ll love it as much as we do!

Ultra cheesy forkful of baked Mac and cheese

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Family Favorite Baked Mac and Cheese | Rich and creamy baked mac and cheese, filled with multiple layers of shredded cheeses and smothered in a smooth cheese sauce for the ultimate macaroni and cheese! |
4.46 from 137 votes
10 servings
Creamy Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
15 mins
Total Time
35 mins

This baked mac and cheese is a family favorite recipe, loved by children and adults. My version uses a combination of cheeses for a gloriously cheesy dish!

Calories: 830 kcal
Author: The Chunky Chef
  • 1 lb. dried elbow pasta
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 4 cups grated medium sharp cheddar cheese divided
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese divided
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 3 qt baking dish (9x13").  Set aside.

  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  When boiling, add dried pasta and cook 1 minute less than the package directs for al dente.  Drain and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil to keep from sticking.

  3. While water is coming up to a boil, grate cheeses and divide into three sections.  Approximately 3 cups for the sauce, 1 1/2 cups for the layer, and 1 1/2 cups for the topping.

  4. Melt butter in a large saucepan over MED heat.  Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine.  Mixture will look like very wet sand.  Cook for approximately 1 minute, whisking often.  Slowly pour in about 2 cups or so of the milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until smooth.  Slowly pour in the remaining milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until combined and smooth.

  5. Continue to heat over MED heat, whisking very often, until thickened to a very thick consistency.  It should almost be the consistency of a semi thinned out condensed soup.

  6. Stir in spices and half the reserved cheese sauce grated cheese, stirring to melt and combine.  Stir in remaining cheese sauce grated cheese, and stir until completely melted and smooth.

  7. In a large mixing bowl, combine drained pasta with cheese sauce, stirring to combine fully.  Pour half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Top with reserved layer grated cheese, then top that with the remaining pasta mixture.

  8. Sprinkle the top with the topping grated cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until cheesy is bubbly and lightly golden brown.  

Recipe Notes

Mac and Cheese can be made ahead:

  • Make as directed (but do not bake), transfer to baking dish and cool completely. ย Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate 1-2 days ahead. ย 
  • Before baking, let dish sit on counter for 30 minutes.
  • Bake at recipe temperature for 25-35 minutes, until hot and bubbly. ย 


Replace cheese amounts with the following:

  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Colby cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Muenster cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded

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Family Favorite Baked Mac and Cheese | Rich and creamy baked mac and cheese, filled with multiple layers of shredded cheeses and smothered in a smooth cheese sauce for the ultimate macaroni and cheese! |



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119 comments on “Creamy Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese”

  1. This looks so yummy!

  2. Ah Mac & Cheese! Absolutely love this idea for the whole family

  3. The cheesiness is off the charts!! I will be making this soon!

  4. My husband and son are mac and cheese fanatics, and I know they would devour this — looks amazing!

  5. I love a super creamy mac and cheese. Most of them aren’t. Yours is. I love it!

  6. I mean, is there anything better? This looks sooo good. It would be wonderful on one of these chilly nights, tucked in watching TV ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. This mac looks fabulous!

  8. Pass me a giant spoon, I’m digging in!!

  9. You forgot to include the addition of spices in the written recipe

    • Hi Emily ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh man, you’re right… in all my excitement to share the recipe, I totally forgot that part. Thanks for reminding me ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve updated the recipe so it’s as it should be.

  10. This is some seriously cheesy mac and cheese! This recipe was a huge hit!

  11. Loved the recipe! We made it tonight for New Year’s. I had a little time following, because I’m not good with cooking terminology (lol) but I got it! Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Amanda ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m SO happy to hear that you all loved the Mac and cheese and that you figured it all out ๐Ÿ™‚ Cooking terminology can seem like a foreign language at times! Happy New Year!!

  12. I have tried SO MANY mac and cheese recipes over the years searching for the best one, and I’ve finally found it.
    Thank you for ending my search!

  13. I can’t wait to try this!

  14. This mac and cheese looks so awesome. I’ve been searching for the best mac and cheese for ages. I’m gonna try this next week. Good job ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Is there a substitute for the Gruyere cheese? I can’t find it and have been to many stores!

    • Hi Katey ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh what a bummer! I would say a Swiss or even a white cheddar would be a good substitute, but really any cheese would probably work just fine ๐Ÿ™‚

    • This cheese is very hard to find but i found it at walmart where the deli is where they sell the sub sandwiches n specialty cheeses. Not in the section where they sell regular cheeses.

  16. Are you trying to kill me?!?! This looks AMAZING!!!!

  17. My daughter-in-law made this and it was sooo yummy.
    Can this be prepared a few hours ahead, refrigerated, and then cooked?

  18. Can I have this recipe but for a smaller serving size like 5? Just me and my daughter

    • Hi Tiana ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, you can absolutely just halve the recipe for it to serve 5. I would think you could bake the smaller portion in an 8×8 baking pan. You can hover over the “10” in the serving size (or press the “10” on mobile) and a slider bar will appear, so you can slide to whatever serving size you’d like, and it will automatically adjust the recipe ingredient quantities ๐Ÿ™‚ If that doesn’t work for some reason, just halving the recipe will work for the serving size you requested ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Made this today. Used Asiago and cheddar cheese. Was fabulous, creamy, cheesy goodness.

  20. Very good! We enjoyed it.

  21. M y wife love this recipe. Thanks for sharing

  22. Five stars! Easy and fast prep, fantastic flavor, followed recipe to a T and will make again and again. I highly recommend this comfort food recipe. Make it, you won’t regret it and the compliments from your family will make you a hero.

  23. Love it. Thanks

  24. Made this for my husband of 18 years who’s favorite dinner is Hamburger Patties with Mac and Cheese. But in those 18 years have never attempted to make homemade Mac and Cheese but made this tonight and he said it was best he has EVER eaten!! Followed it to the “T”
    Thank you for a obviously delish and easy recipe

  25. I made this today for a potluck at work l followed the recipe exactly and it was the biggest hit ever thank you for sharing your family recipe.

  26. Hello can this item be baked and then reheated for later use , I always try to make large sizes and portion it out for later but only use the oven once kinda thing greatly appreciated

  27. Great Recipe! I substituted the Gruyere with New York sharp cheddar and topped with bacon. Our kids loved it just as much as we did!

  28. Made it. Love it. Needs salt t me but I’m a lover of salty foods.

  29. This was the bomb. The Greyere made it so fantastic mixed with cheddar. Was a total hit!!!

  30. OMG phenomenal I paire it with pulled pork! Make this recipe

  31. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us. It looks like so delicious. The cheese makes it more creamy. Thanks and keep on posting some recipes like this.

  32. This is truly THE best! Want to take it to a potluck. Anyone ever try it in a crockpot?

  33. I googled for the best baked Mac and cheese and this came up. I want to take it to a church potluck tomorrow. Does It stay creamy ANd Moist When sitting?

    • Hi Donna ๐Ÿ™‚ I think it does, although ours usually doesn’t last long (we just make it for dinner). You could always add a splash of extra half and half or milk to make the sauce a little saucier, which should help with the creaminess ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. I never made macaroni and cheese. I have looked at a lot…… Of recipes. This one seems to be kid friendly. My grandkids are very picky eaters. I want to use Gouda cheese. Which cheese I the recipe is the same is Gouda? I want to say the gruyere. Just want it to taste good to the kids.


    • Hi Lisa ๐Ÿ™‚ Mac and cheese is definitely a popular dish, with both kids and adults ๐Ÿ™‚ I would say a mix of half gouda and half cheddar should be good, so 3 cups of each. I’ve never made it with gouda before, so I can’t say for sure, but I think it should taste really good!

  35. Hi! This recipe looks amazing. Can I add a can of tuna and some frozen green beans at some point? How would you incorporate them? Thanks!

    • Hi Hope ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t see why not! I’ve never done it, but I would add the drained tuna and thawed frozen green beans right before you add the Mac and cheese to the baking dish. Love to know how it turns out!

  36. I want to make this for Thanksgiving can you make this a day ahead and then reward it?

    • Hi Carla ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve never baked it ahead of time, but I’ve made it up the night before and put the unbaked dish in the refrigerator overnight, then baked it the next day before serving. It works wonderfully! Just set the dish out on the counter about 30 minutes before you bake it, so it can warm up a little ๐Ÿ™‚

  37. I grew up with a less expensive version and is probably why I haven’t had a stroke yet. Your version looks incredible but I doubt I will make or eat it any time soon because of the sodium and fat content, not to mention how so much fat will narrow a person’s arteries. But it DOES look like heaven on a plate.

    It was fun to look at the pictures, I could almost taste it. Thank you for letting me look.

    • Hi Ginna ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m glad you think it looks good… although I’ve never known a person to eat Mac and cheese as low-fat diet food. It’s comfort food, not something to eat for dinner every night. You can always feel free to change it up to make it low-fat, but I can’t guarantee those results, as we live out life by the “everything in moderation” motto.

  38. I made the recipe just like it is listed, and my kids LOVED it. One of them declared please make this more often…haha! Yum!

  39. Do you think I could make this a day before then keep in on the fridge overnight and just bake in the morning? Wanting to make for thanksgiving but trying to have less to do on thanksgiving day

    • Hi Christina ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, you can absolutely do that! I would make it up (without baking), then cover and refrigerate overnight. Set it out on the counter about 30 minutes before you want to bake it, and it may take a little longer to get bubbly and hot, but should bake just fine ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. I forgot to buy half and half ๐Ÿ™ will just using milk work?

  41. Oh. My. God. I just made this to bring to my office’s Thanksgiving lunch tomorrow and I have never tasted a better mac & cheese in my life. This recipe is AMAZING.

  42. OMG!!!! The best Mac and Cheese recipe ever created. My daughter (17) absolutely loved this recipe.

  43. I am so excited to make this today but as another had posted…I can’t find Gruyere! Could I substitute with Havarti?? If so, would it be the same amount?

  44. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I made it for thanksgiving and had a lot of thankful friends and family. My bro in law from Georgia commented it was one of the best he had. It’s a winner. I made it early in the day and baked it just before serving. I topped it with panko and butter and it was heavenly.

  45. Best Mac and cheese I have ever made! I switch up the cheeses every time I make it. I used this recipe for thanksgiving and my guest and I were very pleased!

  46. Can you use evaporated milk in place of the other milks.

  47. I made this for the first time today and will be saving the recipe for future use! To quote my husband, “this mac and cheese is excellent”.

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  49. Hi I am a bit confused with the ingredients.
    1 1/2 cups whole milk
    2 1/2 cups half and half (is this also milk?)
    Must is be 4 cups of milk in total

    • Hi Suzette ๐Ÿ™‚ Half and half is a dairy product that’s essentially half heavy cream and half milk. You can find it next to the milk and heavy cream in grocery stores. But yes, 4 cups of liquid total.

  50. Pingback: Healthier homemade Mac and Cheese Recipes - Detox Your Life

  51. Girlfriend…I was so excited to try this that I put on the pasta before checking I had all of the ingredients. How about I didn’t have any milk? Plenty of heavy cream! ๐Ÿ™‚ So next, I didn’t know about the slidy recipe sizer thingy and just halved everything in the listing (just me and the hubs ๐Ÿ™‚ ) I used oneZll post a pic on instagram for your viewing pleasure ๐Ÿ™‚ Girl…I licked the spatula and decided to write you immediately! It. Is. AMAZING!!!! Thanks for a great recipe!

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  53. It seems like a lot of flour?! Is that correct? Does it change taste?

    • I assure you it’s the correct amount ๐Ÿ™‚ A roux is typically equal parts fat (in this case butter), and flour. We make this at least once a month and it doesn’t taste like flour, I promise ๐Ÿ™‚

  54. I love this recipe! I made it for family Christmas and received multiple compliments! We love it so much were incorporating it into our engagement party and wedding reception menus!

  55. I made this mac and cheese for a Christmas get together back in December and have made it 2 more times since then. It is absolutely delicious. My mom who is picky about mac and cheese loves it too!!! I was looking for a mac and cheese recipe that had Gruyere in it. Its one of my favorite cheeses!!! Thank you so much for sharing the recipe!!!

  56. How do I adjust the recipe to serve 16 people?

  57. OK. Very possibility THE BEST… BEST mac n cheese I’ve ever had, my 12 year old daughter shares the same opinion!! Cheese is a little pricey but worth it. I only had smoked paprika not regular and it was still amazing… Made this 3 days ago and have thought about it everyday since… Yup, just that good =)

    Thank you for the recipe

  58. hello I am a student from Singapore I an choosing ur dish to cook for school I am very interested on cooking ur dish can’t wait to cook your dish

    I hope it turn well just to ask how do u really cook the dish

  59. I wanted to make this so bad but I cannot eat grains so I made a compromise. I used tapioca in place of flour and gluten free macaroni. I know it is not going to be as good but it was forgiving and excellent. That being said I made the sauce exactly the same. If you don’t have a gluten problem make as instructed and be in heaven.

  60. This looks fabulous! I will be making this this weekend for Easter! Do you think I could make this ahead of time the night before (without baking) and then bake it on Sunday? Thank you!

  61. Love this recipe!! have made it a couple times, but am curious about topping with breadcrumbs, how much should I put on?

  62. I made this dish yesterday for Easter and it was a hit!! I have never tried using the Gruyere cheese…it added A LOT of great flavor! Thank you for sharing, this is definitely a keeper for us ๐Ÿ™‚

  63. This recipe was awesome. I made it yesterday & served with a spiral ham-great companions.Mac&Cheese was perfect, so creamy. The top on dish was just as you said it would be, a nice cheesy crust- beautiful. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

  64. Made this dish for Easter two weeks ago and the family just requested to have it again. Itโ€™s so creamy
    and great with any meal. Simple and easy, I used Smokey Gouda and sharp white cheddar and Gruyere.

  65. Hi. This looks nice. But what does ‘half and half’ mean?

    • Hi Meri, half and half is a dairy product, found in near the milk and heavy cream in grocery stores. It’s a mixture of milk and heavy cream, so it’s thicker than milk, but not as thick as cream.

  66. Made this last night – a huge hit!!

  67. This is amazing! Didnโ€™t have half and half so I used cream cheese and used almost a whole bag of cheddar cheese. It still turned out really goodย 

  68. Can this be done in a crock pot..taking it to a no oven..what would the timing be?

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  70. Delicious! Best recipe ever! Do not skip the Gruyere cheese, even though it is expensive. . This recipe makes enough to feed 6 at least. They will rave about this!

  71. Made this last night and it was fantastic. Everyone loved it. This will be my new go to recipe for mac n cheese!

  72. Super, super creamy and just lovely. I used Gluten-free flour and elbows & it came out perfect. Very easy to make.ย 

  73. Made this at our last BBQ. It was a hit. Making it again today for a BBQ. Thank you for posting.

  74. Can I freeze this

    • I’ve never done it, so I can’t say for certain, but I would think that it could be. Stir the cheese sauce with the pasta, transfer to a baking dish, cool completely, then cover with foil and freeze for up to 2-3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes.

  75. Hi! So I enjoyed this recipe but the hubs and our daughter did not like the flavor of the Gruyere…whatโ€™s a good substitute for it? Thank you!ย 

  76. I heard putting an egg in my Mac and cheese recipe but when do I put it in?? Thankyou

    • Typically that would be for a different kind of mac and cheese (one where you don’t use the melted butter + flour to thicken the liquid), but if you want to try, I would add a beaten egg when you’re combining the pasta with the cheese sauce. You might want to bake it a little longer too.

  77. Just made this today and it was amazing!!

  78. For anyone who likes things a little spicy, I highly recommend adding just a bit of cayenne or Tabasco to this recipe. The addition elevated this already great dish for me.

  79. Very good, i added a 1/4 teaspoon of mustard powder cuz i like that extral lil tang in my my n cheese, but a great recipe either way.

  80. Too many choices here. If i knew how to make it i wouldn’t need a recipe!! You can use this or that cheese, use handfuls??? , or not! Confusing. Sort of guesswork to follow. I don’t recommend this site at all.

    • Hi Jannette… did you even scroll down to read the actual recipe? The post itself does not give out the exact recipe, as that is contained in the recipe card towards the end of the post. The full recipe lists exact measurements. Sorry you don’t recommend the site, but millions of people have made, and loved, this mac and cheese, so my advice would be to actually read the recipe.

  81. Hello Amanda,
    I was looking for this cheese and mac recipe.
    I will try this next week.
    Many thanks for the recipe ๐Ÿ™‚