Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese

This baked mac and cheese is a family favorite recipe, loved by both children and adults. 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!  Perfect for a comforting dinner or as a holiday side dish!

Looking for other comfort food dishes?  Check out my Homemade Sloppy Joes, Creamy Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Crockpot Meatloaf, and Homestyle No-Boil Mashed Potatoes!

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! #macandcheese #comfortfood #macaroni #cheese #sidedish #comfortfood #holidayfood

BAKED MAC AND CHEESE

Baked mac and cheese.  It’s nearly the universal comfort food, and there are SO many variations!  In fact, I almost didn’t post this recipe, 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

HOW TO MAKE MAC AND CHEESE

If you’ve never made homemade mac and cheese before, it can seem a bit daunting.  But don’t worry, we’ll break it down and take it step by step!

  • Boil the pasta, drain.
  • Make the cheese sauce by combining a fat (butter), and starch (flour), then whisking in the milk products.
  • Cook the sauce until it’s nice and thick.
  • Add in shredded cheeses, stir well.
  • Combine cheese sauce with cooked pasta.
  • Transfer half of the mac and cheese to a baking dish, sprinkle with more shredded cheese.
  • Top with the rest of the mac and cheese, top with more shredded cheese.
  • Bake and prepare to thoroughly enjoy!

Baked mac and cheese in baking dish

COOKING TIPS FOR BAKED MAC AND CHEESE

  • Boiling the pasta – cook the pasta less than you normally would.  I like to boil my elbow pasta for between 4 and 5 minutes.  The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, and you don’t want it to get mushy.
  • Use room temp liquids – if you can… cold liquids generally take longer to thicken than warmer ones.  I usually set my milk and half and half out while the water for the pasta is coming up to a boil.
  • The cheeses – use your favorites!  Our personal favorites are the cheddar and gruyere used in this recipe, but you can be very creative with the cheese selection here.  Mozzarella, gouda, smoked gouda, swiss, monterey jack, colby jack, colby.  There are plenty of reader comments down below the recipe that talk about the cheeses they used!
  • Shred your own – I know it’s a pain, and it’s SO tempting to use the pre-shredded cheese in the bags.  But those bags of cheese contain a starchy substance that keeps the cheese from clumping… which also prohibits it from melting as well as it should.

Bowl of creamy baked mac and cheese

VARIATIONS OF MAC AND CHEESE

  • Bacon – if you love bacon, feel free to add some crispy, crumbled bacon to the topping, or even inside the mac and cheese as well!
  • Stovetop – if you’d prefer not to bake this mac and cheese, you don’t have to! Make sure you boil your pasta until al dente (check the packaging for correct times), and you’ll only need about 3 – 3 1/2 cups of cheese total.  No need to layer the pasta and cheese, just add all the cheese to the sauce, then combine with the pasta.
  • Different Toppings – I’m a huge fan of the cheese layer on top, since it gets nice and crispy, but we also love tossing 1 cup of panko with 2 Tbsp of melted butter and using that as a topping.  1 cup of crushed Ritz crackers with 2 Tbsp of butter work amazingly well too!
  • Different Baking Times – the recipe calls for a lower baking temperature and time, but most of the time I find myself adjusting that based on my family’s tastes.  I like to bake this mac and cheese at 350 F degrees for 30 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes to get that glorious cheesy “crust”.

MAKING MAC AND CHEESE AHEAD OF TIME

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

As a caveat, this recipe, as with most mac and cheese recipes, loses some of it’s creaminess when made ahead.  This dish has been tested when made right away, which yields the best results.  

I would increase the amount of sauce slightly if you need to make this recipe ahead of time.

Forkful of cheesy mac and cheese

STORING MAC AND CHEESE

Any leftovers need to be refrigerated and covered tightly.  Mac and cheese can be stored this way for 3-4 days.

To reheat, stir in a little bit of milk or cream and microwave partially covered with plastic wrap.  Stir often as it reheats.

SPECIAL EQUIPMENT USED IN THIS RECIPE

  • Box Grater – remember, the best mac starts with freshly shredded cheese!

BE SURE TO SCROLL DOWN TO CHECK OUT OTHER READERS’ COMMENTS!

AND DON’T FORGET, IF YOU’VE MADE THIS RECIPE, LEAVE A COMMENT AND PLEASE GIVE IT A STAR RATING!

Post has been updated in September 2019 with new photos and additional information.

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! #macandcheese #comfortfood #macaroni #cheese #sidedish #comfortfood #holidayfood

Creamy Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese

This baked mac and cheese is a family favorite recipe, loved by children and adults.
4.7 from 929 votes
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Servings 8 - 10 servings
Calories 665

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb. dried elbow pasta
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 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 (measured after grating)
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese - divided (measured after grating)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 3 qt baking dish (9x13").  Set aside.
  • 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.
  • While water is coming up to a boil, grate cheeses and toss together to mix, then divide into three piles.  Approximately 3 cups for the sauce, 1 1/2 cups for the inner layer, and 1 1/2 cups for the topping.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in spices and 1 1/2 cups of the cheeses, stirring to melt and combine.  Stir in another 1 1/2 cups of cheese, and stir until completely melted and smooth.
  • 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 1 1/2 cups of grated cheeses, then top that with the remaining pasta mixture.
  • Sprinkle the top with the last 1 1/2 cups of cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until cheesy is bubbly and lightly golden brown.  

Video

Notes

Mac and Cheese can be made ahead:

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

 

FIVE CHEESE VARIATION:

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

 

FOR A CRUNCHIER TOPPING AND FIRMER CONSISTENCY:

  • Prepare recipe as directed but bake at 350 or 375 F degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Broil at the end of baking for approximately 2-5 minutes, until golden brown and crunchy.
Tried this recipe?Mention @the_chunky_chef or tag #thechunkychef!

If changing the recipe serving quantity, the recipe plugin will change the ingredient values for you, but it does NOT change the written instructions, those are manually added and not subject to a slider/button. You will have to extrapolate that multiplication to any amounts listed in the instructions.

For example: if an ingredient calls for 4 cups, and you doubled the recipe, it will automatically change to 8 cups. In the instructions, if I say “use 4 cups of cheese”, you will have to realize that since you doubled it, you use 8 cups, not 4

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!

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! | http://thechunkychef.com

 

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Recipe Rating




1,837 comments on “Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese”

  1. Do you cook covered or uncovered, the baking directions are bit very clear. 

  2. Can I put panko bread crumbs on top of the cheese and bake it that way?

  3. Your instructions were spot on and very helpful, and so this turned out really wonderful!  Thank you so much for sharing this delicious recipe!

  4. I had never made from scratch macaroni and cheese before so when I was googling for recipes I picked yours because it looked the sauce was nice and creamy as opposed to “sticky”.  I didn’t have whole milk so used a combo of Skim Plus, half and half and heavy cream.  I halved the recipe to feed me, my husband and daughter and baked it in an 8 x 8 pan. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.  The sauce was delicious and after broiling it the cheese got nice and crispy on top.  I will absolutely make this again.  

  5. I don’t have whole milk on hand but I do have the half and half cream. Would 2% milk be ok to substitute for the whole milk? If yes, do a straight swap or increase the half and half?
    Thankyou for this recipe. I made it several times and my family LOVES it.

  6. Just found this recipe and OMG!!!! I thought my recipe was good….this is SO delicious!!!

  7. Great recipes,
    They look delicious and easy to make.
    My favorite one is the baked mac and cheese. I think I will give it a try and make it tomorrow.
    Thank You!

  8. Hi! This looks amazing. I’m on weight watchers, what is the serving size for your dish? 

    • Hi there 🙂 This is a very rich dish, and not what I would consider very diet-friendly… but I don’t precisely measure my serving sizes, it makes a 9×13 pan, and you can divvy that up as you wish 🙂 For WW, I would plug in all the ingredients, say serving size is 1, then you’ll have the point value of the whole pan. Divide that up by however many servings you want and you’ll get your point value.

  9. Can I use a pasta other than macaroni such as rotini or penne? Thank you!

  10. Made this at Christmas and it was completely empty before anything else.  After 1 bite I had people fighting over who was taking home the leftovers- I wanted them myself since this was the only thing my husband asked for this year -needless to say we didn’t have to worry about it.  I will say that I did complain at first about the time it took to make it, but it was well worth it!!! Take it when you have a party somewhere.  You will be a hit! 

  11. This was delicious, thanks! I didn’t have whole milk, but fortunately 1% worked just fine in its place. I used two 8×8 plans so we could eat half and give the other half to a neighbor who will be having surgery tomorrow. I will make this again! I liked your suggestion to cook it on 350 for 20-30 minutes so it browns more. I used 16 oz of sharp cheddar (two 8 oz blocks) and one 6 oz block of gruyere to have pretty much the right amount of cheese. You convinced me to grate it myself, and it was really good! Thank you!

  12. Great recipe! Turned out yummy and creamy. Made for dinner with my sister and both our families. There was nothing left in the pan after dinner and they asked me to make it every week. Yummy for two 40 somethings, two thirty somethings, a 7 yo,  two 5 yo’s, and a 10 mo (all of whom are a little particular about cheese, pasta, or both) so 👍👍

  13. Wow this recipe was so good!!!! The only downside was that the cheese was gritty tasting after i baked it. I am wondering why it does that. Have any idea?? Thanks for sharing1!

    • Hmm, it sounds like your cheese separated a bit during the baking process. Completely melting the cheese into the milk mixture while it’s not on the heat/burner will help reduce the probability of a grainy sauce. Also, definitely grate your own cheese (not sure if you did or not), and if you’re having trouble with creaminess, try using room temperature half and half and milk, and room temperature cheeses.

  14. Hi Amanda!

    I just made your recipe for baked macaroni and cheese and I had to email you to tell you how wonderful your recipe is! It is without a doubt the best Mac and Cheese recipe I have EVER made! My family loved it and my granddaughter who is 3 and 1/2 years old (and a picky eater) said she was going to eat all of my mac and cheese!!!!
    Your recipe is wonderful, it turned out absolutely perfect according to your directions and I love how you included several options for varieties of cheese that could be used. I chose to use Le Grueyere cheese from Switzerland and a medium and sharp cheese (all purchased at Sprouts).
    My family has already asked that I make this again the next time they visit, so I will try other cheeses next time.
    Thank you so very much for your wonderful recipe and your directions!!
    It’s truly an amazing recipe!!!
    Debbie Lessard

  15. This looks really good. Can’t wait to try it!

  16. This macaroni and cheese is wonderful. My son and his wife came for late Christmas, and because he regularly says that he doesn t know how to cook, I asked him if he wanted to make this with me. After a sight nudge from his wife, he did. This dish was delicious and is fun to do together if you have someone trying develop a skill set. Had left overs for lunch today and heated at 50% power in the microwave it was perfect. Highly recommend!

  17. This is the best macaroni and cheese recipe out there. I like to use smoked paprika for a little kick.

  18. Over the TOP good.

  19. I have smoked Gouda, Havarti and Fontina cheese on hand. Which of these to use?

  20. Which cheese is better as an alternative for gruyere cheese, parmesan block cheese, or mozzarella? Also, for the measurement of the cheese that I am going to use as the alternative, will it still be 2 cups?

    THANK YOU!

    • Yep, you’d still use 2 cups, unless you wanted to use less 🙂 This recipe is really adaptable! But if you did use less, you’d want to increase the cheddar a bit, so you still have 6 cups total. I would do half parmesan and half mozzarella 🙂

  21. Hello!  I want to make this mac & cheese recipe for my sister who is starting chemo next week.  My goal is to double or triple the recipe, bake it in small disposable pans (8×8 and/or 4×8), freeze it and then bring it to her in what I’m hoping are more easily managed portions.   Do you recommend altering this recipe somewhat to accommodate the freezing and reheating?  
    Thanks in advance for responding…. I really appreciate your advice!!

    • That is so sweet of you, and bless your sister in her journey! I’ve not tested freezing this recipe myself, although I do know several other readers have frozen this mac and cheese successfully 🙂

  22. I am making for childeren with peanut and egg allergies so I have to be very careful of the ingredients. Sargento Cheeses are made in a dedicated nut free facility (unless they say “imported” or “product of france”, etc.) so I trust those cheeses. Can I substitute 2 cups of Sargento swiss cheese for 2 cups of Gruyere?
    Thanks!

  23. Hi, I am planning to cook this Mac and Cheese but I dont have half and half but i have full cream milk. What can I do to substitute this half and half?
    Please advise. Thank you

    • You can use all milk if that’s what you have on hand, just make sure you have 4 cups of liquid 🙂

    • This thought is ever so sweet! I know how much help this would be! I wish her the very best, and thank you for your thoughtfulness!

      As I am preparing for Chemo, I had the same idea! I wonder if you did freeze it, and if you did, how did you do it, and did it work out well?

      A difficult time for all, but this is what family means!

  24. I have never commented on a recipe post, but this is hands down the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. The whole family raved about it, and my sister (who is incredibly disciplined about her diet) texted me the next day saying she ate the rest of what she took home for her family because it was so good. I added garlic powder, grated Parmesan and shredded Romano. Made it the day before and baked it until it was bubbly and getting crispy around the edges. Thank you for helping make Christmas dinner one of the best, especially during such a bummer of a year!  We’ll be using this recipe and this recipe only moving forward. 🙂

  25. Wow! Just made this recipe and it was DELICIOUS! Used mild cheddar and Monterey Jack with Jalapeños. Followed recipe but added 1/4 tsp onion and garlic powder with spices, and added buttered panko on top before baking. The roux took about 10-15minutes before it was thickened. Fairly straight forward recipe. Will definitely make this again and recommend.

  26. how many calories per serving and how big is a serving?

    • The calories are listed in the recipe card, next to the number of servings. The serving amount is truly up to you, and the suggested number of servings isn’t specifically measured, it’s just 1/8th of a 9×13 pan 🙂

  27. I have been searching for the past 3 YEARS for a good baked Mac and cheese recipe. The other ones failed. The ratio was off. There wasn’t enough cheese, etc. Etc. 
    However, this one. I could tell it was going to be great when I was making the sauce. There was so much of it that coated each noodle. I modified it a bit by doing a 1/2 mozzarella, Colby jack, Gouda and sharp cheddar. I added breadcrumbs as the top layer. You could see the ooey gooiness when you grabbed a serving. My new favorite. THANK YOU! 

  28. This was a hit!! I would probably use a little less pepper next time for mine, but that is personal preference 🙂 It was so good!

  29. I first made this recipe twice for back to back Thanksgiving dinners, and it was such a hit, it’s been requested for Christmas! I’m so excited to start cooking for friends and family once we’re allowed to gather again. I even made fried mac n’ cheese sticks with the leftovers! Appreciate you for posting this recipe! It’s made the end of my 2020 that much better – looking forward to creating everything you’ve posted! Happy Holidays!!

  30. I have heavy whipping cream and whole milk, but no half and half. Can I substitute?

  31. Can you explain the different baking times recommended? 325 for 15 mins or 350 for 30 mins? Why the baking time double at a higher temp?

  32. I haven’t tried this mac n cheese recipe yet but am wondering if you have an explanation for my mac n cheese failures.  I used to make baked mac n cheese using a roux + commodity cheese (no cheese in roux) and it was so good; turned out perfectly every time.  Now that I can no longer get commodity (government cheese) cheese I have had no success in making baked mac n cheese as the final produce always curdles.  Help, what am I doing wrong?  I am definitely going to try your recipe – may vary the cheeses and will add onion but otherwise follow the recipe to a T.  Thank you.

    • Without being in the kitchen with you, I can’t say for certain, but I’ll try my best to answer your question. In my experience, when a cheese sauce “breaks” and separates/curdles, it’s from overheating. To counteract that, I don’t add the cheese until the sauce is already mostly thickened, and it’s off the heat. The residual heat from the sauce will melt the cheese as you stir it in slowly. The other big thing is shredding your own cheese. The pre-shredded bags contain a substance that coats each shred of cheese to keep them from clumping together in the bag, which also keeps the cheese from melting as well as it should. I’ve not worked with commodity cheese, but from my Googling, it looks like it’s processed, very similar to Velveeta? That cheese will also melt completely differently than regular cheese.

  33. so you use the boiling water from the pasta for step 3 to mix the cheese

  34. Outstanding!! Probably the best baked mac I’ve ever made. It reminds me of traditional, Southern-style mac that your grandma would make. I cooked it at 325 like she recommended, because I prefer my mac extra creamy, and then I broiled it on high for a couple minutes to make the top brown and crispy. It even tasted amazing heated up in the microwave the next day. Be sure to use room temperature milk and half/half like she mentions, it makes the process so much faster! All in all, definitely a recipe I will continue coming back to, and it’s great for beginners as well. Btw, the reason why I took off one star is because the flour was a little too heavy and made the sauce too gloopy. Maybe it’s personal preference, but I like a more velvety texture, so I would try cutting the flour in half next time and not cooking the sauce for as long.

  35. Not creamy at all. I suggest cutting the flour in half and adding more milk to your liking. In addition, another 1/2 lb of pasta could help.

  36. I have made this many times (10+) and it is always a HUGE hit. The only change I make is to use 1/4 cup cornstarch instead of the flour. I find that is not as heavy feeling (and I can eat more,lol). Usually people do this if they are trying to do gluten free (and you totally could combined with gluten free noodles), but I just like it better as it seems lighter to me and I use regular noodles. Anyway, the Gruyere cheese MAKES this dish- don’t substitute. I use the best I can find- Boar’s Head brand. This is a must at every holiday (or else my family would revolt). Thank you!

  37. I plan on making this for Christmas and im tripling the recipe…is it better to bake it at 325 or 350? 

  38. I made this (without a trial run) on Thanksgiving. It was such a hit! I’ll be making it again for Christmas. 

  39. I have made this mac ‘n cheese many times. It is our favourite! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  40. Can this recipe be cutie half?  Cooking time adjustments or recommendations? Thank you! 

  41. Can I use salted butter?

  42. if i were to add bacon and mushrooms to this, which step should i put them in and should i cook them beforehand? recipe looks amazing!!! i’m planning on making this tomorrow for christmas dinner 🥰

    • I would definitely cook them beforehand, and would add them when you stir the cheese sauce into the pasta. I would save some of the bacon and sprinkle it over the top before you bake it 🙂

  43. What’s the size of the cup you refer to in the recipe? Is it a standard cup (mug)?

  44. I added a variety of cheeses. And it is absolutely amazing.
    Best macaroni and cheese I have ever had

  45. Hi I was wondering a good cheese to pair with parmesan, if anyone had any recommendations? 

  46. I impressed myself making this. Outstanding! I will def lake for thanksgiving next year. Thank you so much!

  47. I am planning to make this dish. If I choose to make it with the bread crumbs on top, do I put the second layer of cheese and then the bread crumbs on top of that, or do I omit the second layer of cheese and just top it with the bread crumb mixture?

  48. This is absolutely the best, most fool-proof Mac and cheese recipe I have ever tried. It comes out perfect every time and everyone always raves over it and asks for the recipe. I make this for every holiday – it’s so creamy, cheesy, and decadent. Thank you so much for such a great recipe!

  49. What might I change if I’m wanting to make ahead for an expecting mother so that she can keep it in her freezer and then make when she needs it?

    • How sweet of you! I know several other readers have frozen this mac and cheese assembled (but not baked) successfully, but without testing and retesting it myself, I can’t say for certain.

  50. How many ounces of cheese (blocks) do you need for each type? It’s hard to estimate based on the grated measurements.

  51. I’ve made this multiple times for friends and family and it’s a hit every time.  My grandparents still rave about the time I made it for them 2 years ago.  Other recipes I’ve tried just don’t have the same ooey gooey cheesiness.  
    Thanks for making such an easy to follow and delicious recipe!

  52. Great recipe. My youmgest is picky about her Mac and Cheese…she loved it as did the rest if the family. Thank you for sharimg!

  53. I’m making this for a birthday gathering with about 15 people. I’d like to double it as I have big eaters in my family. Growing men…would it still come out the same? I plan on putting it a large foil pan. Would the time of baking be longer?

  54. Would this recipe work as mac n cheese cups made in muffin tins?

  55. This was my first time making baked mac n’ cheese and it was absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe exactly and it was gone! I very rarely leave reviews but this is an absolutely fabulous recipe. Thank you for making my first baked mac n’ cheese such a success!

  56. Hello 

    You mention about making ahead of time make extra sauce, could you give me a guide how much extra, 1/4 more? Thanks 

    • I would take the sauce ingredients (butter, flour, milk, half and half, and seasonings) and multiply them by 1.33-ish. It’s not an exact science, and in fact I don’t normally measure it when I’m making a bit of extra sauce, just go a little more heavy handed when you pour the milk. Make the seasoning amounts a heaping amount etc.

  57. Aloha dear Chunky Chef,
    Now I am thinking of baking in individual servings 5″ round aluminum foil pans. What do you think… Any suggestions re baking time, etc.?
    Mahalo,
    Kathryn

  58. This is the best mac I’ve made! I listened to a few of the comments that said use less flour in your roux and only used a 1/4 cup and I think that was perfect. Also added some bacon which is just perfect for a salty touch! Loved this!

  59. Made this recipe for Thanksgiving and it was such a hit that I was asked to make it again last night. Pretty sure I’m now the designated mac & cheese lady for all future family holidays/celebrations. Changes made to the recipe: 1.) replaced 2 cups of medium cheddar with 2 cups of habanero cheddar. 2.) added langostino lobster. Purchased frozen from Costco, allowed to fully thaw and than squeezed the langostinos in small handfuls to remove excess water before layering into mac & cheese.

  60. This is hands down the best mac
    & cheese recipe ever!!!! I am 11 years old and made it for my family everyone loved it will be making it again very soon 🙂

  61. I have made this three times so far and it is actually the BEST Mac and cheese recipe! I use sharp cheddar and double the pepper and salt. Perfection!

  62. Sooooo good!
    The only bad thing about this recipe is that people love it so much, now I have to make it for every occasion. 

    I normally make it the night before and bake it the day of, just like your instructions say. And I use the larger casserole elbows pasta, because I like that it doesn’t get mushy even when preparing ahead. 

    If you are looking for a Mac and Cheese recipe to make, this is it!

  63. Can I add lobster to this? Thanks

  64. Made this yesterday as my only second time of making Mac and Cheese. What a wonderful recipe, it was firm, yet light and full of flavour. Thank you!! I adjusted my recipe a bit by cutting back on the flour a bit as I didn’t want a too thick roux. Used only 50 grams instead of your suggested 65, used 560 ml of full fat milk and ommitted the half-half.

  65. I made this recipe and it was delicious! What is the best way to reheat the mac and cheese? I have a nice amount left over and am dying to have more tonight!

  66. Just made this and it was a bit grainy texture for me. Not sure if it was the paprika or the flour. Maybe next time i will use less flour and butter to make the rue? I’ll try 6 tbsp unsalted butter and
    1/3 cup flour. Consistency was excellent. not soupy, not thick and clumpy. The sauce consistency was spot on! I used a combo of NY sharp cheddar, cracker barrel aged white cheddar, and colby jack cheese bricks.

  67. Could I bake this at 400? If so, how long?

    • I’ve never baked it at 400, but I think it would be okay. Just know that the more you cook the cheese sauce, is has more of a potential to separate and get oily. I would bake for 10 minutes.

  68. Looking forwarded to creating this for a crowd but would like to bake individual Mac and cheese serving any suggestions

    • I’ve not made individual portions of this recipe, but I’m sure it would work well! Just portion it into whichever individual dishes you want to use, then bake at 325 for about 10-15 minutes.

  69. I tried making this receipe for the first time and it was delicious however I used half a cup of flour and I had to remake it because it setup way too fast. The second time I made it I used 1/4 cup of flour and it was much better. However, I forgot to add my half n half.

  70. I made this for the first time for Thanksgiving. OMG, soooo good. My friends couldn’t believe I made it and asked for recipe. Thank you so much.

  71. Omg this was brilliant! Perfectly cheesy and flavorful! Good to the last drop! After reading other reviews, I halved the milk and only added more (hot) milk as necessary. Turned out perfect.

  72. Is adding some sautéed crimini mushrooms, onion and garlic to this blasphemy? I’m having a vision that it could be great!

  73. I’m hoping for some help please! I’ve made this recipe twice and both times there is a TON of oil (so much I have to try and pour it out before serving). I followed the directions to a T with the exception of needing to use 1% and whipping cream because that’s what I had in the fridge. Any ideas on what I did wrong? I used high end cheese (cheddar and gruyere) so I don’t think it would be because of the quality of the cheese… Thanks for your help in advance!

    • Hi Celeste! The quality of the cheese isn’t really what can cause oiliness, it’s that different types (such as a sharp cheddar), have a higher oil content, regardless of the quality. So there are several things you could try. First, I’d use mild cheddar instead of medium. You could also reduce down to 1/4 cup each of butter and flour, and make sure you’re adding the cheese when the pot is off the heat. I don’t even do it on the burner when it’s off. Overheating the cream sauce will cause the fats to separate. Also, by using the heavy cream, it has a much higher fat content (why it tastes so good lol), which could also be contributing to the oil.

  74. It was my first time making Mac and cheese and this recipe turned out pretty good. It tasted amazing and was easy. The only thing I wish is that the recipe said how long to thicken the cream mixture before adding cheese. Mine got too thick because it didn’t specify and the Mac and cheese was too hard and thick.

    • Glad you enjoyed the taste! I didn’t specify a time for the cheese sauce, since it will vary from person to person. All stovetop burners have different BTU levels, which means even on a specific heat level, one may cook differently than the other. So my stove will likely be a bit different than yours. Also, a lot of people substitute the dairy in this recipe, which will effect how long they’ll have to simmer the sauce.

  75. Aloha dear Chunky Chef,

    I have to use toaster oven and the baking pan that fits is 9.5″ x 9.5″ x 1″ deep. Or Corning 8″ x 8″ x 2.5″ will fit into my small oven. How do you think this will turn out if I follow your exact directions? Please advise cooking adjustments, etc. I would sincerely appreciate. Plan on bringing to Christmas dinner at friends…

    Mahalo,
    Kat

    • Hi Kathryn! I would halve the recipe (make sure you halve all the ingredients), and bake it as directed. I don’t have any experience using a toaster oven, so I’m not sure if any other adjustments would need to be made.

  76. My family loves this and request I make this all the time. I even made this for thanksgiving as a side. Everyone loved it! 

  77. I used a combo of smoked gruyere with sharp and mild cheddar and didn’t bake it. This IS the best Mac and cheese we have ever had. Thanks for the recipe and the tips you gave for the stovetop version. 

  78. This recipe lives up to the description. It was moist and creamy even after reheating. I added garlic and onion powder. I tripled the recipe for my brother’s birthday bash and had the same outcome. Great recipe…thank you so much.

  79. This is hands down the best mac n cheese recipe. I have made countless versions of mac n cheese and I am not a novice home cook. I stayed true to the recipe but included 8 oz of grated fresh mozzarella because I just have to have it in my mac. Typically, baking it dries it out a little, but not this recipe. My family of 7 agrees it’s the best! 

  80. Delicious! I followed the recipe as written except I reduced the flour by about a 1/4 cup, and I put panko breadcrumbs on the top. Highly recommend!

  81. On this Mac and Cheese recipe, you don’t tell when to add the salt and pepper. If one is a chef, I think they would know, but I am just a regular person who cooks occasionally. Sorry about that.

    Please help!!

  82. Absolutely the best Macaroni and Cheese recipe I have ever made.

  83. Could I put this in a crock pot to keep it hot?

  84. When i saw that this recipe had gruyere cheese, i knew i had to try it. Definitely the best mac n cheese i’ve ever tasted. So glad you posted this recipe….Thank you!

  85. This is my grandma’s almost to a tee.  We prefer cheddar and Colby. And there is no center layer of cheese, rather my grandma always stirred some cheddar and Colby cubes into the pasta and cheese sauce.  Little cheese bombs all throughout.

  86. I only have sharp cheddar and mozza. Will that be ok or will the mozza be too stringy? Also, I only have milk and coffee cream (which I assume is like half and half), but could I sub in some greek yogurt to thicken the milk instead?

    • Mozzarella would tend to make it a bit stringy, so if I were you I would use 4 cups of cheddar and 2 cups of mozzarella. I would double check the coffee cream to make sure it doesn’t have any sugar or anything added to it before using it. I’ve made this recipe with only milk (4 cups worth) and it turns out really well, so you could do that as well 🙂

  87. excited to try this based on all of the positive comments!! how long should I bake for if I’m doubling the recipe in a 9 by 13? thanks in advance!

    • Hope you love it! The original recipe calls for a 9×13″, so for doubling it you’d need two 9×13″ pans or a really large and deep pan. I’d bake it for about 25 minutes if using the larger pan, and keep the time the same if using 2 9×13’s 🙂

  88. This has been my go to mac n cheese recipe for years. I usually make it in the winter with collard greens. It’s an amazing combination.

  89. This is AMAZING. I cooked it longer as per the crunchier version instructions. I also added 1/2 tsp of garlic powder and onion powder to the recipe and it was amazing. 10/10 recommend

  90. Looks yummy. Thanks for sharing. I really love creamy baked mac and cheese. I will follow your recipe and i hope my family love it. And I will share your recipe for my friends. Thank you so much.

  91. Perfection!!!! Come for a long family of Mac and Cheese connoisseurs…. I have found my go to! It is decadent

  92. tHis luoks veri good

  93. OMG!!! My macaroni turned out horrible! I followed it to. A tee! My dish looked pale and not a hint of sharp cheddar . I put it in the fridge after baking till have for dinner the following afternoon. It was hard, thick, and not even able to get out of the dish. What the hell happened?  I made a Mac n brick! Adding milk to soften made it look like baby food. What the hello ????? Too much what????

  94. I tripled this recipe for Thanksgiving, and added sour creme and eggs. The mac and cheese was so creamy, moist, and flavorful. It was the first dish emptied. It’s the Sunday after Thanksgiving and I have another batch in the oven now, but this time I doubled the recipe. Let’s see how long it will last.
    Thank you for sharing. 

    • Hi! I am looking to try this recipe and add eggs as well and sour cream. Would you mind sharing how much of each you used? 

  95. I made this recipe for Thanksgiving. It was by far the star at the table. My husband can be picky mcpickyson. But he loved it SO much he requested a fresh batch tonight. I used fresh grated sharp yellow cheddar, sharp white cheddar, medium cheddar, and Gouda. I also added in a touch of salt, pepper, onion, garlic, seasoning salt, mustard powder, and cayenne. It’s is **chefs kiss**!

  96. This was phenomenal!
    I used heavy cream and half and half instead of whole milk and half and half. I also used 8 oz each of Wisconsin orange cheddar, Havarti, and gouda. I also used smoked paprika.
    I omitted the middle layer of cheese for fear that is was overkill. Used all but 3/4 cup of cheese to top and used panko on half of the tray. After the bake, I broiled the tray on high for about 2-3 minutes. What a crust!
    I’m in serious trouble now!

  97. A friend made this for Thanksgiving, and it was delicious! Everything about it was perfect!

  98. Can I just say, W O W. A mac and cheese recipe like this is definitely a special treat in our house, so I wanted a recipe that hit it out of the park. This one was SO. ON. POINT. I opted for the less goey, more southern-style version and since I couldn’t find gruyere cheese I subbed gouda and added a bit of parmesan and romano blend. Also, I added the panko bread crumb topping but mixed it with grated parmesan and Trader Joe’s Mushroom & Company Multipurpose Umami Seasoning Blend. It was a perfect touch. Thanks for an amazing recipe – I can’t wait to make this for a larger crowd once we are behind this pandemic!

  99. So delicious, whole family loved it. Made this exactly as recipe says. Not much work for a totally amazing dish. Highly recommend.

  100. This recipe was absolutely delicious! The entire family loved it!

  101. I’ve never made home made Mac and cheese before this. I’d always see Mac and cheese on cooking show or YouTube and it always look so good but I could never fine Mac and cheese that looked that good at any restaurant and the box Mac and cheese  certainly did not look anywhere near as good. So for this thanksgiving I decided to look up a recipe and make it myself and OH MY GOODNESS, it was absolutely wonderful. The nice crispy top, the creamy center, just wonderful. Once change I made was to use fusilli macaroni instead of elbow and it still came out great and I think the spirals of the fusilli might have actually held the sauce better. 

  102. This recipe is perfect. I made it with panko crumbs, bacon, and sharp cheddar on top & broiled it for 3 minutes – came out amazing!

  103. My daughter made this recipe it was delicious. I asked her to give me the recipe. 
    Delicious Mac and cheese 

  104. This came out wonderful! A regular for our family now!

  105. I tried this for Thanksgiving, it was the star of the show! So decadent. Thankyou!

  106. Hello. I’ve made this EXACTLY step by step x2 .This is the best recipe for Mac and cheese on the internet! My family loves it.. already gobbled it up! 

  107. I’m a 25 year old lady that hosted my first Friendsgiving and this dish was a hit!

  108. The mac & cheese was a awesome. Thank you!

  109. This turned out amazing! I made a double batch with 6 different cheeses! Sharp cheddar, Colby, Monterey, Gouda, Fontina and Parmesan. Thanks for the recipe, it was the hit of Thanksgiving! 

  110. I loved the flavoring of the Mac and cheese it was a big hit. The only thing was it wasn’t creamy. I did everything the ingredients I just switched from medium cheddar to a sharp cheddar. After I baked the Mac and cheese it sat out for about an hour and then we placed it in the oven on warm until we served thanksgiving l. What did I do wrong and what should I do next time? It was not creamy at all.

  111. I made this yesterday for Thanksgiving with a combination of medium cheddar and sharp black truffle gruyere, and used whole milk and heavy cream. It turned out great!  It was so creamy, even after warming the leftovers today in the microwave – no extra milk needed. The only thing I neglected to do was put it on broil for a few minutes to get that baked cheese topping, but it was still delicious!  I had never made mac and cheese from scratch before, and this recipe is easy to follow, and makes a great base for experimenting with add-ins (like shiitake mushrooms!) and spice. I will definitely make it again!!

  112. Overall the recipe is fine but 1/2 cup of flour is way too much, you can taste it in final product. Cut the flour in half to 1/4 cup, boil milk mixture just a bit longer while whisking and before adding cheese, it will to thicken to same consistency without the added flour taste.

  113. NEW FAMILY FAVORITE, THIS RECIPE WAS PHENOMENAL ! I USED THE 4 CHEESE VARIATION SUGGESTION: LOOKING FORWARD TO MAKING THIS AGAIN ALREADY.

  114. I made this for Thanksgiving yesterday and it was the best I have ever had! I crushed some ritz crackers on top before I baked and then broiled until brown and crunchy because that is a personal favorite. Thank you for this. I will never make Mac n cheese with any other recipe. 

  115. Best Mac and Cheese ever!! made it for my family and it was gone in under 15 minutes! definitely will make again and again

  116. Thank you for the recipe. I did not make it as you wrote it but it was a great inspiration to achieve my goal of showing up my brother in law for thanksgiving (we are rivals when it comes to cooking and smoking foods). I made the base similar to your recipe but when it came to the cheese I used red wax gouda, Irish cheddar, triple cream brie (rind removed), gruyere, and mild cheddar. I made a batch without the Brie and one with as test batches, the brie really makes the mac and cheese really creamy. To anyone using your recipe I highly recommend using brie as your secret ingredient as it really sets the dish apart. Thank you again for providing me a jump off point to making an awesome dish.

  117. AWESOME! I have been asked to make it again soon.

  118. This recipe deserves 5 stars and more!
    I tried a mac and cheese recipe last year and it was not the best to say the least, so I was hesitant to try another recipe from online.
    Let me just say this recipe was AMAZING!!
    A side note: I made this gluten free! I used Barilla Elbow Macaroni and King Arthur Gluten Free Flour. You couldn’t even tell it was gluten free!
    Everyone at thanksgiving dinner praised this dish! Super creamy, perfectly baked, and well balanced cheeses.
    Just follow the steps as given and it’ll be perfect 🙂

  119. This was my first time making homemade Mac & Cheese and my family and I really enjoyed this recipe. I used mild cheddar cheese with battery ritz crackers on top and it turned out scrumptious. 
    Thank you for sharing!
    Happy 🦃 Thanksgiving 2020 

    • First time making Mac n Cheese from scratch or that didn’t have processed cheese. It was easy and delicious! Last minute change in plans to make mac, had to hit a couple stores up for gruyere cheese. The cheese to pasta ratio was on point. I was hesitant on adding more salt and pepper because I didn’t know the flavor of cheese, and will add a little more next time, but it was my husband’s favorite dish. Thanks!

  120. I’m making this tomorrow for our Thanksgiving!! I’m super excited!!!

  121. I just made this today for Thanksgiving and that m’f***a smacked!!!  Easily the best recipe I’ve ever tried for Mac & Cheese.

  122. we made this for thanksgiving today and it was simply wonderful. thanks for the great recipe and i hope you had a lovely thanksgiving!

  123. Best Mac and cheese I have ever made!!

  124. Hello! How long does it take for the milk/half and half to thicken? Mine seems to be staying the same liquid consistency. Thanks!

  125. Is it okay to use equal parts 2% and half and half to create whole milk? I used to do this as a Barista- wondering if it works for this recipe

  126. If I don’t have half and half, could I use evaporated milk? or should I just stick with all regular milk?

  127. could i add cream cheese to this?

  128. do you know how big a serving is? i’m wondering so i can make enough for my big family:)

  129. Just pulled this out of the oven and it is so good it’ll make your tung slap your teeth out! This is the world’s best mac and cheese hands down!
    Thank you so much
    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone 

  130. I am going to try this today, will it work with pre-shredded cheese? If not, I am screwed and will go cry. 

  131. Excited to make this today. The grocery store was all out of elbow pasta, does this work with different shaped short pasta? 

  132. Would this work with sharp cheddar and Monterey jack? 

  133. I am going to make this for thanksgiving.
    I have sharp cheddar and Swiss will that work? 

    Also my dinner isn’t till 6 but we are going around 3 will the Mac be ok if already baked

  134. Making this now. So 12 cups of milk if I triple the recipe? But only three cups of cheese to all that milk??

  135. How can I warm this in the oven? I didn’t have the option to make it immediately before I can serve it, so I had to cook it last night and plan to serve it in a few hours. How would you suggest the best way to warm this would be?

  136. i only have a 9×5 pan is that okay???

  137. Is the 1/2T salt going in with the “spices”?

  138. Would it work wit whipping cream and milk? Or pet milk and regular milk?

  139. Can you substitute half and half with heavy cream?

  140. Can I make the Mac and cheese without the half and half or do I need it

  141. I only have medium cheddar mozzarella and Munster would that work?

  142. This was so good and happy I found it as I usually use the packaged cheese sauce, this was a great alternative (not able to get the sauce this yr). Thanks for sharing it was a hit for the family this Thanksgiving!!

  143. Good morning and happy thanksgiving! For the 5 cheese, could I sub the Colby for Monterey and sub the Muenster for smoked Gouda? I plan on doubling all ingredients. Thank you!!

  144. Hi! I just made this for Friendsgiving and it was such a hit! It stayed so soft and creamy! I am making another batch today, for Thanksgiving, do you know if this will work in a crock-pot?

  145. I found this recipe last year and it is the best by far. I use a smoked cheddar cheese mixed into mine. Takes this already amazing mac n cheese to new levels.

  146. can i use heavy cream instead of milk? like half heavy cream, half milk ( i only have 1% milk here)

  147. I made this recipe today and thank you for sharing!!!
    It came out creamy, and full of flavor. I used sharp yellow cheddar, white cheddar and pepper jack.

    Note- a block of 16oz cheese then grated will give you roughly 4 heaping cups.

    I can’t wait to try this again with different cheese selections.

  148. Best by far! No condensed milk or egg! I do add bread crumbs, Panko, with the cheese in top! A tiny bit off garlic powder and mustard. But absolutely the best homemade recipe I’ve found! 

  149. All I have on hand is Smoked Paprika. Would that work or would that change the overall taste? 

  150. Thanks for this awesome recipe. Highly Recemended!

  151. Hi! If I am using the 5 cheese alternative am I supposed to double each for double the servings?

  152. I didn’t look closely and already bought preshredded cheese from the bags. Will it taste different or less creamy? I dont have time tomorrow to get up early, go buy and shred it myself

  153. Hi, if I don’t have cream can I use more milk instead?

  154. If my family does not drink or use whole milk would it make a difference if I used Almond milk or do I have to use different measurements? 

    • I’ve only tested this recipe as written, so without testing it myself using almond milk, I can’t say for certain… but I would think the measurements would be the same.

    • I made this recipe with 2Cups of unsweetened almond milk and 2Cups of heavy cream. It turned out great needed a bit extra salt but the consistency was fine. Don’t know about using all almond milk it may not be rich enough or creamy enough. 

  155. Hi,
    I am making half the portion size. If I want it to be crunchier like your version how long should I cook it at 350 degrees with the ritz cracker crumbs?

  156. Can this be frozen?

    • I know several other readers have successfully done so, but without testing and retesting it myself, I can’t say for certain if that would work. If you try it, I’d love to know how it turns out!

      • I’ve frozen this in individual portions, added milk or half and half, then heated in the microwave. Turns out great! Warm it partway, mix in the added liquid, and finish heating it.

  157. I halved the recipe and mine came out more mushy instead of a creamy cheese after baking. I’m not sure where I went wrong but It still tasted good. I’ll try again.

  158. HI, i am wondering if i make this recipe a day in advance, store in refrigerator and then bake would it still come out okay?

  159. Can I make the dish then bake put it in fridge till the next day then bake it

  160. Hi, Happy Pre-Thanksgiving! I was wondering if you can add egg to this recipe? If so, how many and when should it be added?

    • Without testing and retesting it myself, I can’t say for certain if adding an egg would work. There are two main methods for making mac and cheese, using egg, and using a roux (which is what this recipe is). If you try it, I’d love to know how it turns out!

  161. I’m confused….”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.” Are we supposed to use a mix of both? One or the other? Hoping to try this recipe for Thanksgiving but I want to make sure its right! Thanks!

    • You have to use both the milk and the half and half, as called for in the ingredients. I wrote it this way so readers would know to pour in the liquids, about half at a time, instead of all at once.

  162. I’m just doing the two cheese, but my family isn’t a fan of gruyere, is there another cheese I can substitute that for?

  163. Is it okay for me to use salted butter if I dont have the unsalted butter?

  164. This is easily the best Mac and Cheese I have ever had. I am a foodie, bit of a snob if you will. I have tried Ree Drummond, Ina Garten, numerous cookbook recipes. This right here is the absolute best. I added a bit of mustard powder and tiniest bit of nutmeg, it was absolutely amazing! 

  165. Hello,

    Did you use white cheddar or yellow?

    Thank you

  166. Amazing and easy, added bread crumbs and some garlic powder to the mac as well! Thank you!

  167. Every time I try to make a roux it has a powdery texture to it. Any tips on how to fix that?

  168. Awesome recipe!! I followed it exactly and omg my family loved it. Thank you.

  169. I’ve made this macaroni & cheese for 3 different holidays and I am just now commenting 🙄 because I had to double check something on the recipe. (For Thanksgiving in a couple days😁) This is by far the best macaroni & cheese I have ever had/made. It quickly became a staple in our household for holidays because it just tastes SO special. Say “bye bye” to dry baked M & C and “hello” to the creamy deliciousness that is this recipe! 10/10 would recommend. 😁

  170. I made this Mac and cheese for my super picky boyfriend and he loved it! It DOES NOT dry out like other recipes I’ve tried and stays super moist and creamy. I followed the recipe exactly and then added some seasoned bread crumbs/Parmesan/garlic powder on top for some crunch. Delicious!!

  171. Hi! I use this recipe quite a bit and it’s delicious. I don’t typically bake it as I prefer it straight from the stovetop. The last time I made this, I noticed some oil separation after cooling, do you have any recommendations for this? Thanks!

  172. I have tried so many different mac & cheese recipes and THIS ONE is the winner!! I used Sharp White Cheddar & Colby, so delicious and creamy! Rave reviews from everyone in my house, we had 5 people eating it and it was gone in a flash LOL Thanks for this recipe!

  173. Hi!  If I am only making 4 servings and using the Five Cheese Variation do I half the cheeses? Just wanna be sure! :-). Can’t wait to make it! Thank you! 

  174. How do I substitute half and half with vegan option?

  175. Can I bake this in a disposable aluminum pan? If so, does the cook time and temp vary? 

  176. I made this Mac and cheese over the weekend, and we were all blown away!  My daughter is the most pickiest eater and she loved it! I followed the directions, the only difference  is I added able 1 tablespoon of white truffle oil….(I’m obsessed with truffle oil) …. since the Mac n cheese passed the “weekend test,” I will use on thanksgiving. I plan on making. It about 1-2 hours before guest come, and plan to pop it in the oven when they start to arrive. Hope it doesn’t mess up the creaminess! 

  177. This is my second year making this Mac and cheese, and I must say, it SMACKS! It’s honestly the best recipe I’ve ever come across. Definitely deserves all awards!!

  178. I’m sorry if I’m being dense, but if I decide to use the panko topping do I still use the layer of cheese on top? Or is it replacing it? (and if it’s replacing it, do I just add it to the sauce or the middle layer? Thanks!!

  179. Hi! This may be a silly question..is it 665 calories for the total dish or per serving? Was hoping it was for the whole dish!

  180. What size baking dish and cooking time would you recommend for half the recipe?

  181. This recepie was great. May suggest adding a teaspoon or two more of salt. Got devoured at my friendsgiving and I am 21 years old so all of my friends were very impressed with this recepie.

    • I only have medium and sharp cheddar on hand. Would you recommend I do 4 cups medium cheddar and 2 cups of Sharp cheddar? Or would you highly suggest I go pick up a different type of cheese to instead of the sharp cheddar??? Is that just too much cheddar cheese?? 

    • i added more salt as you suggested and we will see how my daughter Emily likes it 🙂 this will be the first time im adding the mac & cheese to our thanksgiving dinner. got so much food now had to go buy another fridge Emily has her own apartment now so i can send her home with the left overs 🙂 IF THERE is Any 🙂 Have a Happy ThanksGiving with love MWatkins

  182. By far my favorite mac and cheese recipe! Even my kids love it, and they usually only want the boxed stuff. I’ve made this as is, and sometimes with pepper jack, and sometimes with smoked cheddar. Comes out great every time!

  183. Best mac and cheese recipe! I made it this past weekend and it did not disappoint. My family loved it. I love how cheesy it is. I made it with extra sharp cheddar and gruyere. I used lactose free whole milk and the sauce thickens just fine. I can’t wait to make it again.

  184. FOR CROCK POT: 
    Follow all instructions as is; however, I suggest using 3 C whole milk and 1 C heavy whipping cream or half and half considering the longer it is in the crock pot it gets thick! Do not layer cheese. Just add noodles and cheese sauce to crock pot. It will look watery at first but don’t worry it will thicken! If you are trying to serve almost immedetly you can do high heat for 15 min then serve, serving time in an hour use low heat; if this will be sitting for a couple hours only use Keep Warm setting and stir occasionally.
    SO YUMMY AND SO EASY

  185. Please help! I need to know how to make more sauce since i’m making ahead. Also, please tell me when you add the panko bread crumbs and should i put butter on top?

    • As I mentioned in the post, mix 1 cup of panko with 2 Tbsp of melted butter. Then just sprinkle it over the top before baking, so it can get golden brown. I would take the sauce ingredients (butter, flour, milk, half and half, and seasonings) and multiply them by 1.33-ish. It’s not an exact science, and in fact I don’t normally measure it when I’m making a bit of extra sauce, just go a little more heavy handed when you pour the milk. Make the seasoning amounts a heaping amount etc.

  186. Hi!! I’m so excited to try this for my family’s Thanksgiving. Thank you for this recipe!! I don’t have half and half – can I use heavy whipping cream instead?! 
    Thanks in advance! 

  187. Can I use evaporated milk instead half and half?

  188. I discovered this recipe when my grandson and I were in search of the ultimate Mac and  cheese recipe. Everyone absolutely loves it! I am making it as a side dish for Thanksgiving. I always make a lot because everyone loves the leftovers!

  189. If I were to double this recipe would I need to double the baking time as well?

  190. Trying this recipe for thanksgiving this year ! Can we use any seasoned breadcrumbs besides the Panko ? 

  191. Delicious! I am making this again. Best Mac and cheese I’ve ever had.

  192. Has anyone tried Habari cheese? What will it do to the taste and consistency?

  193. I made this last night using smoked Gouda and instead of bread crumbs I used crumbled Frosted Flakes! Perfect mixture of sweet and savory! It was a big hit, I will definitely be making this again!

  194. What size baking dish do you use?

  195. Can this be cooked in a crockpot as well?

    • I know a few other readers have baked it, then kept it warm in a crockpot, but without testing and retesting it myself, I can’t say for certain if that would work. If you try it, I’d love to know how it turns out!

  196. Can I use Mexican blend cheese for this recipe

  197. What about using heavy whipping cream in place of the milk???

  198. HI – I have whole milk and heavy cream, what measurements should I follow instead, since I do no have half-and-half? Also, can I use sharp cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan? If so, what would be the measurements?
    Thank you 🙂

    • I would do 3 cups of milk, and 1 cup of heavy cream. Those cheeses would be delicious, and as long as you’re using 6 total cups of cheese, the proportions would be up to you and which cheeses you like the best 🙂

  199. Have you ever added fresh spinach or broccoli to this dish? My daughter and I are vegetarians and I am always looking at ways to add nutrition. Thanks!

  200. I have made several times since making last year for thanksgiving and everyone loves this!! I have never made ahead of time and need to this year. SO

    1- How do you increase the sauce slightly if making ahead?
    2- DO you just sprinkle the panko breadcrumbs on top before baking? Do I need to toss them in butter?

    • Mix 1 cup of panko with 2 Tbsp of melted butter. Then just sprinkle it over the top before baking, so it can get golden brown. I would take the sauce ingredients (butter, flour, milk, half and half, and seasonings) and multiply them by 1.33-ish. It’s not an exact science, and in fact I don’t normally measure it when I’m making a bit of extra sauce, just go a little more heavy handed when you pour the milk. Make the seasoning amounts a heaping amount etc.

  201. My oven will be very busy this thanksgiving, I’m hoping to bake it off in my slow cooker while I’m doing everything else. I was thinking maybe making this recipe first and plopping it in the crock pot for a few hours on low? Would that work?

    • I know several other readers have done this successfully, without testing and retesting it myself, I can’t say for certain if that would work. If you try it, I’d love to know how it turns out!

  202. Wonderful mac & cheese recipe. I like that variations of cheeses are suggested with encouragement to be creative. I like it with gruyere & sharp cheddar especially. Last time I made it, I also added a small amount of ricotta and used 1/2 amount of whole milk and substituted cream for the other 1/2 of liquid. I topped with a bit of truffle oil on the top. It was creamy, decadent, and delish!  Thank you for posting. This is now my go to recipe for mac & cheese!

  203. This recipe was amazing! It did seem like it was lacking a sharp enough taste for me, so I ended up adding some sharp cheddar when I reheated some and it was perfect! I will be adding sharp cheddar into the recipe next time! Thank you for an amazing recipe that my mom even loves now!…she’s never liked homemade Mac n cheese according to her! Making for thanksgiving this year and hoping it’s a hit!!

  204. Can this recipe be cut in half?  Having a very small Thanksgiving. Would I just halve all ingredients?

  205. I have a macaroni and cheese recipe I have made for my family for decades but every once in a while I see something I want to try. I made this and everyone loved, loved, loved it. The only addition I made was I added 1/2 tsp ground mustard (just because I always put ground mustard in my mac and cheese) and it was delicious. Going to make this recipe as a side dish for Thanksgiving this year.

  206. Can you freeze it raw meaning prepared to point of oven, thaw out and bake. Just trying to do as much for thanksgiving before hand and still be delicious and I can enjoy the day 😁

  207. I am the husband and not the cook in my family. My wife wanted “real” mac and cheese as part of her birthday dinner. I failed at 2 previous attempts before but did this recipe last night. WOW it was a hit. I had to substitute the Gruyere cheese. I used an 8oz fontina and a 9oz smoked gouda cheese along with the pound of sharp cheddar. It was AWESOME!!!!

  208. If I make ahead, will it still be as creamy? Not sure if noodles would soak up the cheese/sauce. 

    Have made this and looveee it

  209. I have made many recipes that came out great the first time, but I cold never replicate them for some reason or getting the cheese creamy seemed tricky (and I’m an experienced cook in the kitchen) – this one comes out every time! Perfect smooth cheese, delicious. We add peppers and fried onion…so good!

  210. Great basic recipe.  Want a twist that will have the neighbors showing up with bowls.  Exchange 1/2 cup milk with 1/2 cup single malt scotch (peated – scotch drinkers will understand).  It’s a Scottish lullaby for the tongue.

  211. I want to make this recipe but I can’t find Gruyere cheese what other cheese can I use.  Can I use mozzarella cheese? 

  212. If i want to double this recipe, do i double all of the ingredients? also was going to add jalepeno..

  213. I am really excited to try this recipe. Can I use Lactaid whole milk? I know the cheeses are definitely dairy just wanted to tone it down a little?
    thank you

  214. Oh so yummy.  Just made 1/2 the recipe and it portioned out into 4 individual pot pie tins perfectly.  Great for popping in freezer and just cooking one in a pinch.  I can’t wait for dinner.  I will save this recipe.  I love how there’e cheese layered in the middle too.  Can never get enough cheese.  Thanks for posting this.

  215. Has anyone tried making it and baking it the next day? Will it dry out?

  216. I am hoping to make this recipe in a couple of days but I had a question as I’ve never made mac and cheese before: Id like to add the panko bread crumb crust to this recipe. Do you top the mac and cheese right off the bat with the bread crumb crust and put the entire dish in the oven…bake at 325F for 20 min or so, and then broil for the last couple of mins? Or bake the dish and then add the bread crumbs and then broil?

  217. Made this recipe for my husband’s office Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit. The only thing I tweaked was added Parmesan garlic Panko breadcrumbs on top. Absolutely delicious- my husband’s coworker said it was the best dish at the table. Will make again!

  218. Can I add lump crab meat to this recipe?

  219. Hi! Can I substitute the half and half with whole milk, and the whole milk with low fat milk -or use all whole milk?

    Thanks!

  220. All I have in the house is 2% milk. Can I just use that for the liquid? I do have some cream cheese.

  221. This is my all time favorite recipe for Mac and Cheese! I have made it quite a bit for a lot of people and they all love it! The only thing I do differently is put it on the smoker for about 20-30 minutes instead of in the oven and it is AMAZING!!! I highly recommend this to anyone who loves Mac and Cheese! Thanks for the recipe!

  222. I made this last year for Christmas and it was AMAZING. I decided to make it a yearly tradition. I am thinking ahead about how I’m going to cook everything as wondered if this can be cooked in a crockpot. I scrolled through the comments hoping someone else might have asked but I did not see anything. What are your thoughts? Thank you!!

  223. I’ve made this Mac before last thanksgiving  and it came out great, but this time today it came out grainy and almost pastey , and I’m trying to perfect it for Turkey Day. I think the problem might have been that I left the heat on while mixing in the cheese, or I let the milk come to a bubble for a bit while making the bechamel? I’m not really sure. I’m not sure if it had something to do with the amount of flour, because I actually used less, I only used 4 tablespoons or flour and butter for my roux to make it less thick. I only baked it for 10 minutes, but it was bubbling so I’m not sure if that made the cheese curdle? Now I’m scared to put it in the oven at all besides to just broil the bread crumbs. Please help.

    • It sounds like the issues were leaving it on the heat when you add the cheese, as this can cause the cheese to separate and become slightly grainy. The flour amount shouldn’t have had that effect, however. I have noticed different cheeses have different oil levels, so for the best results, use the same cheeses each time.

      • Hi Chunky Chef!
        What do you mean “use the same cheeses each time”? And, which melts better – cheeses with higher oils or lower oils? I’ve had trouble with cheese getting grainy when making other mac n cheese recipes and really want to get it right :-).

        Thank you!

        • Hi Amy 🙂 Meaning, if you used Kraft Medium Cheddar and had a good result, stick to that cheese instead of grabbing another brand of type. Generally a “younger” cheese, like a medium or mild cheddar will melt easier than an aged sharp cheddar. This article explains a lot about cheeses and melting https://www.seriouseats.com/2015/08/the-science-of-melting-cheese.html However, I think making sure to add the cheese when the sauce is off the heat will eliminate a lot of the grainy issues 🙂

          • Thank you so much! I like the “spiciness” of the sharp cheddars but am so excited about your recipe. Thank you for the article link. #Goals – MacNCheese

  224. We loved this recipe!! I doubled the amount of pasta and shredded 16oz each of sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. Topped with 1 c. Panko bread crumbs and 2 1/2 tbsp butter. Baked at 350 for 39 mins and broil for 3 mins, the top was nice and crispy!! The extra pasta allowed for a well packed 9×13 pan full to the brim and a second 3×4” pan of Mac and cheese. We definitely will be making this again! If you like it much creamier you can use 1lb of pasta, but it was plenty creamy with 2 lbs.

  225. My whole family loved it as well as our neighbors. I made a minor tweak here and there just for fun. It always comes out great. Thank you for sharing.

  226. I haven’t tried this recipe yet because I’m not sure what the serving size is? I may serve it as the main course or a side dish. This will help me shop for the right amount of ingredients depending on how it’s being served and if I need to double the recipe. Thanks, Jean

    • Well the serving size all depends on whether it’s the main course, or side dish, and how hungry your guests are 🙂 As a main course, I’d say it serves 6-8. As a side dish, I would say it serves about 12. However, I’d plan on a few guests coming back for seconds 🙂

  227. My son had dental work done and cannot bite down on his front teeth for a few weeks. I would usually serve hamburgers with this. Would I completely ruin this if I added hamburger inside the mac and cheese? Has anyone tried it that way?

  228. This was a HUGE win for my 50th bday party. Absolutely delicious!

  229. Do you think this recipe can be made in the instantpot? If so how would you alter the steps?

  230. I made this recipe using unsweetened almond milk and Manchego Cheese, sheep cheese,. It was for a friend’s little girl who can not have cow’s milk. She had also been quarantined because someone in her class had Covid. They loved it and asked for the recipe. Yes I think it was genuine like not just being polite. I also added a couple extra Tblsp. of flour as the almond milk isn’t as thick as cow’s. Also used maybe 4 1/2 to 5 C of cheese.

  231. Made this recipe for a quick dinner night with this Mac and cheese recipe with roasted chicken and cornbread. Safe to say this was a hit! Best Mac and cheese recipe I’ve ever tried out. Wonderful!

  232. Can I substitute with gluten free pasta and gluten free flour without it altering the outcome of the recipe? I want to make this for a group that includes a gluten free guest.

  233. What would you  recommend to use if I can’t find gruyere cheese? 

  234. Taught my g-daughter this recipe to teach her how to read a recipe and cook it. Came out delicious.
    Thank You, Amanda.

  235. I never knew it would be so easy to make mac and cheese . Thank you so much. I’m sure I will making this on Thanksgiving

  236. Made this as election-night comfort food and it was everything I hoped for. A note: I had no idea how much cheese to buy to make the right number of cups of shredded, turns out 6oz of block cheese turns out to 2 cups, that would be handy to include in the list of ingredients! 

  237. Made this for a family get-together last week- despite making a double batch, I had no leftovers AND they all wanted the recipe. My niece loved it so much they’re making it for her first birthday. Definitely one of the best Mac & Cheese recipes I’ve come across so far!

  238. Everyone loved this! It’s crunchy on top and creamy and cheesy, but not too rich or heavy. I’m keeping this recipe as my go-to recipe!

  239. Haven’t tried the recipe out yet but planning on making it for the family. Do you think 1/2 cup butter makes the pasta taste heavy? Not sure how to describe it but maybe the word I’m looking for is fatty? I’ve made a few pasta dishes with 1/2 cup butter but it always seemed a bit much. My family and I are not big fans of buttery foods and too much butter in general. Would you suggest I cut down the amount of butter and flour? If so, what should I use as new measurements? Or should I stick to the recipe and hope for the best?

    • Well mac and cheese, to us anyway, is a fairly heavy and rich dish in general. Without trying this myself, I can’t say with any certainty, but you could use 1/4 cup butter and flour. The sauce may take a little bit longer to thicken up though.

  240. DELICIOUS! I minced some garlic and put it in while my butter was melting. The cheeses I used were smoked cheddar, brie, gouda and parmesan. I would use less parm next time or replace it with a different kind! I think I will add some prosciutto when I reheat it, add some depth. Possibly broccoli, too! 

    • Honestly, mac and cheese is not my favorite but this is sooooo good. I tried it out because my son loves mac and cheese. Now he requests this recipe all the time.

  241. Wonderful recipe. Only changes I made we’re types of cheese, a little Cajun seasoning, added eggs before baking! Turn out great! 🤘🏿

  242. Hello, I have a question 🙂 I’m from Poland and I don’t understand what is 2 1/2 half and half 😀 this dish looks sooooo delicious, I want to surprise my husband tomorrow 😀 It will be very nice if you answer my question 🙂

  243. This was amazing – and fairly simple to make. My kids loved it!

    • I’ve made this multiple times in the past year, and my entire family loves it! I make my own compound butters, and using a Cajun butter for the roux adds some incredible bonus flavor. I also always use smoked gouda and extra sharp white cheddar. Thanks so much for this delicious recipe!

  244. This is the best mac and cheese I have ever made. Added 1/2 tsp of garlic powder, onion powder, ground mustard. And I didn’t have enough half and half so used some heavy cream and 2% milk. Fried breadcrumbs in butter with a little paprika and put on top for a crunch topping, broiled as suggested for 3 minutes. Kids says this is a winner. Thanks so much for the recipe – this is my go to from now on.

  245. This recipe is so amazing and I’ve tried many!! I’m NEVER going back to anything else! NEVER! Got so many compliments so thank you for this awesome dish!! Here’s my take and how I prepared it. First, I doubled the recipe (for a party) and skipped the middle layer of cheese. I used 8 oz each cheese blocks (10 cups total shredded) of Colby Vermont cheddar (yellow), Cracker Barrel sharp cheddar (yellow), Boars Head Gruyere, Boars Head Smoked Gouda (remove the rind) and Munster. I used 6 cups of cheese for the sauce and about 1 1/2 to 2 cups for the topping (just eyeball it… sprinkle until you see fit and to your liking). 2 lbs of pasta didn’t fit in the throw away pan (about 1 1/2 lb fit) so I put the remainder in an 8×8 casserole dish and put the remainder of cheese on top. I knew the mac and cheese would be sitting and heated for awhile so when completely done and still in my pot, I added a good 3 cups or so of additional milk (totally cold mind you!) to cream it more and before putting into the baking pan. You can not go wrong with this recipe!!

  246. This is a great recipe. Made it according to the directions and it came out amazing!

  247. Really yummy!

  248. I made the 5 cheese version and it was awesome! I’m hooked!

  249. Delicious! I like crunchy toppings so before I put it in the oven I mixed melted butter with some panko and parm and spread a thin layer on top. I also only cooked for about 10 min then turned on the broil for 3 it was so yummy!

  250. Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese
    I just made this for dinner tonight. I tasted it before dinner and it is delicious. I did make a few adjustments. I only had Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese, so I used that, and I put in some Penzey’s Mustard Powder, about a teaspoon. Other brands will do, but I think Tillamook Ceddar is one of the best for cooking. 
    I went with the directions at the end for making it crunchy and browned on top, by cooking it at a higher temp and then broiling the top. It’s creamy on the inside and crunchy on top. Perfection. 
    I don’t know everyone’s opinion yet, because one is vegan, two like Kraft, and one isn’t home from work yet. I cook to please the others at times, but this is how mac and cheese should be. 
    It’s an easy recipe to follow and it didn’t take long.

  251. This Mac and Cheese is hands down, the best I’ve ever had, and that is saying a lot because I have tried a LOT of homemade Mac and Cheese! It is basically like the best cheese fondue you’ve ever eaten with some macaroni in it, and I am here for it! You must try it!

  252. I was the talk of the party, “ who made this?” . My Mac & Cheese was the BEST dish served. Thank you 

  253. I made this recipe for three different celebrations and each time it has been a hit! The Mac n cheese is creamy but has good texture for the noodles(pre-cooked to al dente) and full of flavor. I have been repeatedly asked for the recipe and I’ve had special requests to make it again for the upcoming fall holiday dinners. Awesome Job! 

  254. Made this this weekend for a bbq and everyone LOVED it! It’s easy to love mac and cheese but everyone is asking for the recipe.. so i printed stored and shared. I chose the recipe because of it’s great ratings and because it said “creamy” so thank you very very much for posting and sharing this with us!!!!

  255. Great recipe!! I usually don’t like baked mac and cheese because the texture was always too grainy, but now I’m realizing that it depends on the method of the roux and the mixed in cheese. First time I’ve loved baked mac and cheese! However, I think the amount of cheese was a little rich for me. If I wanted to reduce the amount of cheese “overwhelm” haha, would you recommend I added more noodles or reduce amounts of sauce/cheese? I’m thinking add more noodles because the measurements would get too tricky if I tried to reduce the amount of cheese sauce? Let me know what you would recommend!

    Thank you so much!!!

    • So happy to hear you enjoyed it! Actually to reduce the cheesiness, I would just eliminate the layers of cheese when assembling, so you’d use 2 1/2 cups in the sauce and the remaining 1/2 cup on top.

  256. I like to eat this dish. I usually make this on the weekends. I followed your recipe over the weekend. After that, I had a great dish. Everyone loves it. I want to double this recipe. What do you think?

    • So glad you enjoy it! This recipe is easily doubled, just select 2x and the recipe card will automatically calculate the doubled ingredients for you. Just add an extra 10 minutes or so to the bake time.

  257. Absolutely delicious I always use gluten free elbow macaroni and I have used a combination of mild and sharp cheddar, Munster and medium cheddar, and even made one with just Famers cheese and fresh mozzarella, for someone who gets severe headaches with aged cheese. All were delicious!

  258. This was my first mac and cheese ever and also the first time I found this blog.
    The result was GLORIOUS! I did the ”crispier” version recommended at the end and wow, I was so proud of myself. So SO good.
    The 8 to 10 servings ended up being dinner for 3 persons and one leftover lunch…I regret nothing, it was really great. This recipe is going straight into my hard-cover recipe book for posterity.

  259. Made this for Sunday Dinner. It was excellent. Had to substitute the gruyere with 1 cup each swiss and gouda because I’m vegetarian. Also added 1/4 teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder. Used 18% cream and 2% milk instead of half and half and whole milk so I wouldn’t have to buy anything I don’t normally use in the house. It was rich, creamy and lightly spiced. Will be making again!

  260. Made this for a pot luck but made it gluten free as there were two people who were Celiac. Everyone loved it!

  261. Delicious! We added bacon bits to the pasta and sauce, so good! We used less half and half and more milk and still came out great. We sprinkled more bacon bits and panko crumbs on the top and let broil for a few minutes at the end. Great recipe!

  262. Just made a batch for tailgating! SO amazing! Added about 1/4 cup of cream cheese to the cheese sauce. This is a winner.

    I only had 2 cups 1/2 and 1/2 and the rest skim so the cream cheese helped. Just in case anyone else finds themself in this predicament. Go Hokies!

  263. Best I’ve ever had! I used 2 cups each of whole milk and heavy cream, with 2 cups each of muenster, gruyere and sharp cheddar. I fried up some thick cut black pepper bacon, chopped it, and added it to the pasta with the cheese sauce. I also used the rendered bacon grease to crisp up some crushed Ritz crackers, and did the last two minutes under the broiler to brown. Fantastic!

  264. It would be great if you had an automated metric converter. As well as converter for Celsius etc. To reach readers worldwide many have adapted this.. specially for something like cooking 🙂

    Many thanks
    Jill

  265. I haven’t made this recipe. It sounds delicious and having made mac and cheese for over 60 years I can tell by just looking. I usually put toasted garlic bread crumbs or smashed up leftover potato chips around the edge of the top of my casserole to soak up any excess grease that I believe comes from the type of cheese you might use.

  266. Can I do this with just velveeta cheese? I have a giant block of it that I found in my pantry that I still good. Could I do it with just that or should I get the other blocks of cheese?

  267. This recipe hit the spot. We only had cheddar and Gouda in the fridge so used that. Also we only had 1% and heavy cream so used a mix of those. Other than that we followed the recipe! We broiled the Mac and cheese at the end and it was perfect!