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.
5 from 630 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!

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




1,690 comments on “Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese”

  1. 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????

  2. 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. 

  3. 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**!

  4. 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!

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

  6. 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!

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

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

  9. 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. 

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

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

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

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

  14. 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! 

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

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

  17. 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! 

  18. 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.

  19. 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!!

  20. 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.

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

  22. 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. 

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

  24. 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.

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

  26. 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 🙂

  27. 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!

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

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

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

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

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

  33. 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

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

  35. could i add cream cheese to this?

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

  37. 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 

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

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

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

  41. 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

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

  43. 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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  50. 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!!

  51. 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!!

  52. 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?

  53. 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.

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

  55. 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.

  56. 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! 

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

  58. Thanks for this awesome recipe. Highly Recemended!

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

  60. 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

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

  62. 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. 

  63. 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?

  64. 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!

  65. 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.

  66. 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?

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

  68. 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!

  69. 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.

  70. 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?

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

  72. 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! 

  73. Hello,

    Did you use white cheddar or yellow?

    Thank you

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

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

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

  77. 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. 😁

  78. 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!!

  79. 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!

  80. 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!

  81. 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! 

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

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

  84. 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! 

  85. 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!!

  86. 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!!

  87. 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!

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

  89. 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

  90. 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!

  91. 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.

  92. 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

  93. 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.

  94. 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! 

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

  96. 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!

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

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

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

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

  101. 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!

  102. What size baking dish do you use?

  103. 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!

  104. Can I use Mexican blend cheese for this recipe

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

  106. 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 🙂

  107. 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!

  108. 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.

  109. 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!

  110. 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!

  111. 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!!

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

  113. 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.

  114. 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 😁

  115. 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!!!!

  116. 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

  117. 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!

  118. 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.

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

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

  121. 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

  122. 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.

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

  124. 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?

  125. 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!

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

  127. 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!

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

  129. 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!

  130. 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!!

  131. 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

  132. 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.

  133. 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.

  134. 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 🙂

  135. 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?

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

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

  138. 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.

  139. 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!

  140. 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.

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

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

  143. 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

  144. 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! 

  145. 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!

  146. 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!

  147. 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.

  148. 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.

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

  150. 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 🙂

  151. 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!

  152. 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.

  153. 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!!

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

  155. Really yummy!

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

  157. 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!

  158. 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.

  159. 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!

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

  161. 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! 

  162. 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!!!!

  163. 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.

  164. 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.

  165. 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!

  166. 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.

  167. 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!

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

  169. 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!

  170. 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!

  171. 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!

  172. 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

  173. 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.

  174. 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?

  175. 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!

    • That sounds delicious! I’m curious, did you need to adjust/change the amount of 1% milk or heavy cream? That’s exactly what I have too so thank you for this option! 

  176. I am always skeptical when a dish says “award winning” or “the best”, but this is legitimately excellent mac & cheese. I made it using your directions/method and ratios (well, maybe I added more cheese).

    I use a wide variety of cheeses (including gorgonzola), mustard powder, paprika, and cayenne.

    I also cooked it for longer, because the crispy bits around the edges are the best part.

    Thanks for a great recipe.

  177. Can I make this with gluten free pasta and gluten free flour? Will the recipe still work & thicken properly?

    • I’ve not tested this recipe with gluten free pasta or flour, as no one in our household has celiac disease, but I believe a few other readers have left comments about gluten free substitutions.

  178. If you’re looking for a homemade mac and cheese recipe that’s just as good as Chick-fil-a’s, this is the one! I had to sub shredded mozzarella since gruyere was out of my budget, and I bought shredded cheddar as well. I’m keen to remake this with grated cheeses instead to see how it affects the texture, and hopefully with gruyere as well. Thank you so much for sharing! This is going to be a staple in my household from now on!

  179. Made this with just sharp cheddar and subbed heavy cream for milk and eggs for flour… added sugar to taste and I must say it’s the best cheese sauce I’ve ever had…hits nicely with the added sharp cheddar after baking…

    • heyy i was wondering about the roux. You said it was 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup flour. But when i change it to grams, it become 113 grams (butter) and 64 grams (flour) Is it the same as your measurements? Please answerrrr 

      • Honestly, as I’m in the US, we don’t use grams, so I can’t answer with any certainty.

      • That sounds about right to me. For the butter, we buy it in big bars (inDK), so I use about a half of one. It is around the 113 grams. I have American measuring cups for the flour, though. I feel it comes in handy when I make many American meals. 🙂

        I am making this today for my son´s birthday at his request!

  180. Can this be frozen as I have two thirds of it left over there is only two of us we loved it but can only eat so much.

  181. I absolutely love everything I have made from your recipes. Easy fun and delicious. I have shared many recipes!

  182. hello i’m gonna try this tomorrow and i was wondering if i can use Mozarella cheese, Cheedar cheese and Parmesan cheese. I’m afraid it would taste bad/different. Can you answer it? 🥺🥺

  183. Made as directed, but *gasp* used shredded cheese as I had some that needed to get used up (a three cheddar blend and a 4 cheese Italian blend). Added dried mustard to the sauce, because imo, not doing so is blasphemous! Cooked up a pound of thick cut (good quality, none of that cheap crap) bacon. Subbed some of the butter for bacon grease (about 1/4 c of each). You really need to cook the roux until golden brown. Next time, I’ll do a panko crust on top.

  184. We don’t eat a lot of cheesy food so we weren’t sure how this would go.  We added some precooked italian meatball and some lagostino to make it an all in one meal.  Make some vegetables on the side to smooth out the cheesiness.  

    All in all a great meal.  May have used too much flour because my measuring spoon was missing but still very good.

  185. Great recipie! My go-to mac&cheese dish now. I’ve made it many times. Thanks so much!
    I sometimes have to give it a little broil in the last few minutes to get the browned top.

  186. Loved this, l used Monterey Jack and a Welsh cheddar with mozzarella, was best l ever made, only thing l added was teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Will definitely be making again, we loved it. 😋

  187. I have never made homemade macaroni and chees before and need this recipe for a family potluck. Thanks for posting it- I picked your recipe because of your name “Chunky Chef”. Keep being yourself. It’s great 🙂

  188. A real keeper. Sensational, sinfully rich and decadent. I followed the recipe exactly except for needing to adjust it for using heavy whipping cream and 2% milk instead of half-n-half.and whole milk, but I think I got close in total milk fat by using 1 cup heavy cream and 3 cups 2% milk. Other than that, I didn’t deviate. It’s extremely tasty, I can’t think of any way to improve it. The only caveat is it is a waistline killer, but you already know that before making it! The search is over for a better recipe, this is it!

  189. This is the worst recipe I’ve ever followed. You end up with equivalent of cheese soup with noodles in it. Don’t waste your time, and especially don’t waste your money on this garbage. 

    • Hi Joe. I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience with this recipe. However, it’s not “garbage” as over 1000 people have really enjoyed it. Everyone has different tastes of course, but in your case, it sounds like you didn’t thicken the cheese sauce long enough, in which case it would be soupy.

  190. I was at Trader Joe’s and they had my favorite cheese from them in SHREDDED form. Unexpected Cheddar. So I bought it. I came home and googled Mac and Cheese recipes. I wanted one that’s for grown ups. when I came across yours. And I adore Gruyere. I also had a huge block of it in the fridge so that worked out perfectly.

    I followed the recipe with only a couple of deviations based on the spices recommended in the comments below. But otherwise I followed the recipe very closely.

    I also halved it since it’s only my husband and me. It halves very easily. And it is enough for 4 people when you halve it. And that’s as an entree. As a side it would easily feed 6. My deviations are that I added dry mustard, paprika and garlic powder (I couldn’t find the cayenne) and I forgot the nutmeg. I was fairly conservative with them, and I think that I will be less conservative next time and add both the spices I didn’t put in this one. And I really think that if you heated the cream and milk with a bay leaf to this it would be AMAZING for Thanksgiving. I was very worried about the proportion of cheese sauce to pasta (I used De Cecco #50 sized shells which were perfect and adult). It looked like easily double the sauce needed. But once I baked it, it worked out well. The extra cheese let hte shells grow and the proportion was just right. Since I did half the recipe, I only did one layer. Only other change I would make is that I would do less cheese on top. It was too much. But it was definitely a grown up mac and cheese. And it’s a keeper.

  191. Absolutely delicious family favorite now.. My son told me I have to make this from now .thank you so much for the Recipe.

  192. Literally just took my last bite of this mac n cheese. Amazing!! My family loved it and wants this to be our go- to recipe. Here are the changes I made due to limitations in my kitchen ingredients on hand. First, I did not have block sharp cheddar so I did use it shredded out of the bag. I used smoked gouda as my second cheese. This was a block so I was able to shred it myself. I also used smoked paprika instead of regular and I doubled the amount. The result was fantastic and very flavorful. We served it with smoked ribs and smoked chicken wings as well as roasted cauliflower in the Dutch oven. Thanks so much!!!

  193. For some reason, I love cooking your recipes. It looks delicious, for sure this baked mac and cheese is going to be on my table tonight. Thank you, Amanda, for this simple yet delicious looking recipe. !!

  194. Best ever Mac and cheese!  I did not have enough gruyere so added Parmesan!  The best I have ever had at my home or anyone else’s.  Highly recommend!
    5 stars!!!

  195. I really wish chefs/cooks would make recipes with real everyday ingredients that everyone normally have in their fridge and pantry. I rarely find a recipe that I don’t have to make a special trip to the store to find “kangaroo cheese, Russian yak cream,Tiberian fruit, Japanese tree fruit sauce, pre sifted almond bark flour…?” etc. Nobody keeps most of the ingredients in most of these recipes for everyday use. If I buy half n half to get a half cup then I have to
    throw the rest out as it will go bad.

    • Hi Damon, the reason chefs and cooks use the ingredients mentioned is because they work best in the recipe 🙂 Thankfully, no “kangaroo cheese” here, and you actually use 2 1/2 cups of half and half, so depending on the size you buy, you wouldn’t have a ton leftover. It’s great in coffee, or to make other cream sauces with. I can’t write recipes based ONLY on what you happen to have in your pantry… it’s just not how recipe development works.

    • I didn’t realize Gruyere was considered exotic… If you wanted to use Kraft Singles instead there were plenty of other recipes you could have found instead of this one.

  196. you did not explain how to prepare the baking dish. that would be helpful.

  197. WOW! Made this tonight, and omg was it delicious!! Even my husband loved it! (that’s saying a lot, he’s weird about cheese) Thank you for this awesome recipe! I’m looking forward to trying out more from your website! 

    • I dont kniw what I did wrong I followed the recipe to the tee. My family hated it it tasted like flour and noodles.

      • Oh no, that sounds disappointing to be sure! It sounds like the flour and butter mixture needed to be cooked a bit longer, otherwise that raw flour flavor will be there. On my stovetop it only takes a minute, but all stovetops cook differently.

  198. If I could give more than 5 stars I would! All I changed was I used pepper jack cheese and medium sharp cheddar and cooked the roux for about 4 minutes instead of 1 minute to make sure that floury taste is gone. It came out so perfect you guys!!! Use this recipe. 

  199. the absolute best ever and makes plenty to share!

  200. Can this recipe be frozen? I’m hoping to double up and freeze. 

  201. What can I use to bake it if I don’t have a baking pan?

  202. Delicious! The family loved it!

  203. Yum yum yum! The whole family loved this, even my picky 6 year old. Best mac and cheese recipe I’ve tried. Will probably keep using this one all the time. Had a left over tub of light smooth ricotta in the fridge so substituted 1 cup of cheese in the sauce for the ricotta. Worked beautifully.

  204. I gained 27 lbs because of this recipe.

  205. Having gone to school in Mississippi, your pictures reminded me of the homemade Mac and cheese my friends moms would make for a great southern dinner. Decided to try it lastnight for a chicken wings and Brussel sprouts dinner . This was the main hit . We all couldn’t care less for the wings and kept going back for the Mac and cheese . Thank you for their amazing recipe.

  206. Awesome recipe with great instructions and alternative suggestions.
    I substituted 1 1/2c. whole milk with buttermilk and added 1 lb cooked hamburger.
    I shredded 12 oz. Cracker Barrel Aged Reserve Sharp Cheddar and 6 oz. Gruyere. I might add some mozzarella next time.
    I also added the crushed Ritz crackers with butter as a topping and broiled it the last 2 minutes.
    It was a hit! Everybody loved it. “It’s perfect”.

  207. Absolutely fantastic! So decadent & delicious! Your recipes are always consistent. I’ve never ever been disappointed!

  208. This is one of the best mac and cheese recipes I’ve tried. I’m no expert and am still learning the basics…especially on the roux making. This will usually make or break your dish. You have to cook the butter and flour until its dark brown. Like, darker than you think it should be. That is what cooks out the floury taste. When you slowly mix in the milks, you have to constantly stir to break up the chunks. I think I could’ve cooked my roux a little longer but I got paranoid about burning it and removed from heat a min or two too soon I think. I think it’s important to use the cheeses recommended in this recipe because other varieties will change the consistency. I had a fancy sliced cheese tray from Sam’s (irish cheddar, fontina, elemental, gouda). I measured 24 ounces total and layered them together and shredded with a box cutter. My mac and cheese was not as creamy as pictured. Also, if you are using random cheeses, it’s helpful to have a scale to measure 24 oz of cheese before you start shredding. Anyways, I will def be making this again until I feel that I’ve got it just right. Also, I couldn’t see where in the recipe it says to add the seasonings…?

    • Nevermind, I missed the “stir in spices” part. It happened to be when I added it anyway lol.

    • Rues take patience. At first you are like… this is taking for ever. And then once it starts browning it goes quick and you can easily overbrown or burn it if you aren’t standing over it. I always prefer recipes that tell me the color of the rue. In the absence of that I do a light red color and it comes out just right most of the time. I did a medium red one this time. Also it does tint your white sauces like the French mother sauces, so with those I do a barely colored rue. When there is no direction for the color of the rue, I may also defer to to where the recipe is from. For example, many cajun recipes need a very brown and red rue.

  209. Made half recipe of this today, using sharp and swiss and, because I was out of regular paprika, I used smoked paprika.

    Fantastic!

    As regards the roux, I make bechemel and Mornay sauces frequently. 1 to 1 ratio with butter and flour, cook for several minutes, stirring constantly, don’t be tempted to add milk/cream too soon!

    Thanks for this recipe, it was a hit!

  210. Have you ever added crab or do you have suggestions for how to make crab Mac & cheese?

    • Oh great idea!! I’ve not done it myself, as my kids wouldn’t eat it (unfortunately), but I think this recipe would work well with crab. To complement the crab meat, I’d probably use 3 cups of cheddar and 2.5 cups of gruyere and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese 🙂

    • My whole family loved this recipe. I baked some bacon off and crumbled it in. Delicious Next time maybe lump crab

  211. Can I confirm the amount of cheese we are talking about?  When you say 4 cups of cheddar, are we talking 32 oz? Like 4 of these 8 oz blocks to shred?

  212. There are no words for how bomb this mac & cheese is.

  213. This is one of the best Mac & cheese I’ve ever eaten. I added about two teaspoons yellow mustard and a half cup fresh grated parm. Used Swiss rather than gruyere because same flavor way cheaper. 

    • Actually, I had 2% milk and one can of evaporated so I used those rather than whole milk and half& half. Worked great!!!

  214. Loved this recipe! I’ve tried many and this is the best. I had to get creative and used unsweetened cashew milk because I didn’t want to go to the store. I used 2 cups of each half & half and cashew milk. It was silky smooth. I also used Truffle salt instead of plain. Thank you for sharing this recipe 😉 There was definitely no flour taste for us. 

  215. Does this double well?

  216. Excellent recipe!! I tried this out for a family picnic and it was a total win!

  217. It was ehh.  Not the best and not the worst.  

  218. Hi, we don’t have half and half here in our country, what could be a good alternative to it? Thanks!

  219. I found this looking for a new mac and cheese recipe. I halved the recipe. I know how to make a really good roux which is the key ingredient for most recipes when making a sauce. It seemed like a lot of flour so I didn’t use all of it. I cooked my roux for about 4 minutes instead of the 1 recommended. It still came out with a raw flour taste and the sauce was quite thick so I had to thin it out by adding liquid. Just caution on the amount of flour. I noticed in the comments that others who reviewed the recipe also had the raw flour taste as well and that is why I cooked my roux much longer but to no avail.

    • How frustrating! A typical roux is made using equal amounts of butter and flour, as is the case in this recipe. The sauce is definitely supposed to be thick, not thin, but you shouldn’t be tasting flour. I’ve made this recipe literally dozens of times and never tasted flour, and neither have the vast majority of readers and commenters. My only thought is that the sauce isn’t simmering long enough, or did you perhaps use pre-shredded cheese?

  220. Thank you for this recipe! I needed to cook for family dinner and I needed to accommodate a vegetarian, a pescatarian and a 6 year old as well as 4 other adults. This recipe was fun to make and a huge hit with the entire family! Even the fussy 6 year old. The flavor is amazing, so rich and creamy. I did the 3 minute broil to crisp the top which was very popular. I highly recommend this recipe to anyone looking to satisfy hungry family. I’m not gonna lie, this took me way over my calorie intake for the day but it was worth it! 

  221. I made this tonight with mostly mild cheddar, a little mozzarella, salted butte (omitted salt), and used all whole milk as I had no half and half. Followed everything else as stated. Turned out very good. Only thing I would do differently is boil macaroni 8 minutes instead of 6 because even after baking I found the noodles too firm. Otherwise, a keeper and I will be making again! Thanks! 

  222. This is the BEST macaroni and cheese recipe! Made it exactly as directed. No substitutions, no additions. Everyone loves it and declared it the best they’d ever tasted; from a 4 year old to a 68 year old. That being said, I can easily see adding different ingredients to change it up a bit. This recipe is going in the file for rotation.

  223. I used olive oil for this recipe and it was damn delicious

  224. By far THE BEST m&c I’ve made! I use Extra Sharp Sheddar and Gouda. Fortunately I have a Salad Shooter so shredding the cheese only took a few minutes (don’t hate me). I made this especially for my husband as part of a birthday meal. He was one very happy man! I look forward to making the 5 cheese variation next time…but I will make this only occasionally as it’s pricey and super rich lol. Awesome stuff!

  225. Looks great, looks like the diet is postponed again.

  226. I haven’t made it yet but I was wondering whether or not you can just use cheddar?

  227. This is the best mac & cheese recipe! In addition adding the bacon suggestion I added crab & scallops….ih my goodness!

  228. This is so yummy! I have not tried the five-cheese variation yet, but the original recipe is delicious! Everyone enjoyed it and it’s a perfect dish to bring to a potluck.

  229. This is the BEST mac & cheese receipt EVER! I will be making it tonight for the 3rd time. It is extremely good reheated as well. Kids and husband loved it. The last two times I made it I was confused about why I had SO much cheese left over, as I was using the required 6 cups of shredded cheese as noted in the recipe. Welllll, today I decided to google how many ounces were in a cup just to confirm that it’s 8 – which would equal “6” 8oz cheese blocks (6 cups), right??? NOOOOO! I did not know (don’t shame me) that due to weight, 4oz of shredded cheese is actually equal to 1 cup – I was assuming the entire 8oz was equal to 1 cup, but it’s actually equal to 2 cups! The cheese is the most expensive part of the recipe so if like me you went off of your normal measurement knowledge and bought 6 cheese blocks—-now you know that you only need “3”. Hope this helps someone:)

  230. The shredding took the most amount of time (about 30-40 minutes because I bought so many cheeses), but the recipe was perfect! I used a mix of Gruyère, Colby-Jack, mozzarella, sharp cheddar, white cheddar, and Gouda because I couldn’t pick a favorite. I cooked bacon and crumbled that over the top with chives and it added even more flavor to this delicious dish. I didn’t try the panko breading this time, but I think I will next time because I would like a little more texture rather than simply the broiled cheese crust at the top. Overall, this recipe is fantastic! I only had two cups of half and half so I used two cups of milk to even it out and tossed in a little cornstarch to thicken it a tad. 10/10 would recommend if you’re willing to put in the time and money for all the cheeses.

  231. I haven’t tried this yet, but was wondering if you can use almond milk (unsweetened) instead of whole milk?

  232. This recipe is delicious! It’s a family favorite! It’s requested by family members for gatherings. I use smoked gureyre cheese and omg so good!!!!!!!

    • Wonderful mac & cheese recipe. I like that variations of cheeses are suggested with encouragement to be creative. I have made this recipe a few times. We like it with gruyere & sharp cheddar especially. Last time I made it, I wanted extra creamy, so I also added a small amount of ricotta and used 1/2 amount of whole milk and substituted heavy 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!

  233. Looks great! The recipe is quite simple and easy to prepare, added to the menu for this weekend. Hope to enjoy the best Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese with my family. Thanks and have a nice day!

  234. I have a couple variations of macaroni and cheese I make, but this one here just became my go to. The creaminess makes it so you can add anything to the top or inserted! For whoever said lobster tails please try it cause it turned out bomb for me! My seasoning varied and there was cheese sauce left over to add to the corners of the dish! Great recipe!

  235. Calls for a total of 12 cups of cheese- 8 cups cheddar and 4 cups gruyere… however – recipe directions say 3 cups for sauce and then 1 1/2 for middle of pasta and then 1 1/2 for the topping… that’s a total of  only 6 cups. I’m confused and I wasted 6 cups of cheese lol. Just an FYI for anyone making 

    • Not sure how you got 12 cups of cheese. I think you may have doubled the recipe, which of course means you’ll need to adjust the amounts listed in the instructions. The recipe card only automatically changes the ingredient amounts, not the instructions.

  236. To add to my comment ,I added an extra cup of half n half. I also added all the cheese to the roux and then mixed in the cooked pasta. I didn’t bake it,instead I put it in a 6 qt. crockpot on warm when I got there .2 hrs later when we ate it was still creamy and not dried out.

  237. This is the best mac n cheese EVER!! I doubled the recipe for a barbecue. I couldn’t remember the cheeses at the store so I bought 16 oz. of gruyere, 8 oz. of smoked gouda, 12 oz. of fontina,and 16 oz.of medium cheddar and mozzarella to bring it to 12 cups cheese total. I added about 1/2 lb. of bacon. Delicious! I grated all my cheeses. Makes a big difference in the creaminess of it. I used 2 lbs. of large elbow macaroni. Chunky chef,you’re my new best friend! I kept some of it here (glad I did,there was none left)I’m going to add some cooked hamburger to it with a big salad on the side. Yummy and thank you for such a wonderful recipe. I also used smoked paprika.

  238. For the many who asked, I measured how many cups of dry macaroni is in a 1 pound box. The answer is about 6 cups of dry pasta = 1 pound.

  239. Last time I tried this recipe I tasted the flour I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. First time making Mac. 

    • It sounds like the melted butter and flour mixture wasn’t cooked long enough. Make sure you cook it for about a minute before whisking in any of the dairy, as this will cook the raw flour taste out.

  240. Too cheesy. Have to admit I generously measured though. I would go super light on the inner layer. Maybe 1/2 cup. I added a light layer of bread crumbs on top with the cheese. I’d do a cup of breadcrumbs and a cup of cheese next time. Two 11 year old boys gave it 10 million out of 10!

  241. can you add a egg to the dish that’s how my moms does hers!!

    • Typically mac and cheese recipes that use egg to bind all the ingredients together don’t use the flour and butter. This recipe uses a roux (butter fat and flour mixed together) to thicken the sauce and bind the ingredients together. So I can’t say for sure if adding an egg would negatively impact the recipe or not, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

  242. Sorry, I have two questions. Do you think it would be ok to freeze this and defrost before cooking? Also, you said it works nice with crumb topping. Do you mix the Panko or crackers with melted butter, if so how much? Thanks so much for the great recipe!

    • Yes, you can freeze this mac and cheese. Just let it cool completely, and place in an airtight container in the freezer. Let thaw in the refrigerator for 18-24 hours, then let sit on the counter for bit to come to room temperature. Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly and hot throughout. When I make a crumb topping I like to mix about 1 cup of panko or crushed Ritz crackers with about 1/3 cup of melted butter then spread on the top of the mac.

  243. This recipe is perfect for the campfire! I made ahead according to the recipe (except I added cayenne pepper to give it a little kick), put it in a disposable foil pan, and baked it the next day, covered, on a grate over our campfire for about an hour, stirring a few times to prevent it from burning. The smokiness was infused into the pasta and took it to the next level. We put the leftovers back on the fire the next night, and I thought it was even better! Thank you Chunky Chef! 😉

  244. I’m making this for the first time tonight. I cannot for the life of me find gruyere cheese at my local stores.
    Is there a good replacement? Or would it not be the same?  

    • You could try some gouda or swiss, but honestly this recipe works well with a bunch of different cheeses. Here in the comments a lot of other readers have shared the cheeses they’ve used 🙂

  245. I used this recipe only as a basis for measurements and it might be the best mac n cheese i’ve ever had. I used all almond milk, almond flour (I used a little extra to help thicken), 1 cup of gouda cheese and the rest was all almond and cashew cheeses (2.5-3 cups). I skipped the baking part to save time. So yummy!

  246. Girl! Honey child, let me tell you how this recipe has changed our whole lives!! This is the very best Mac and Cheese we have ever, ever had. It has made me famous and I can’t cook!

    You have done the internet a public service by sharing this scrumptious, creamy and delectable dish. You are now a beloved member of our family!

    Keep sharing these wonderful recipes. Thank you and much love to you!

  247. I have everything but the whole milk…can I use 1 % or how should I adjust?

  248. I measure in the kitchen by cups. Please specify amount of elbow macaroni by cups ant not by weight.

  249. Wow. This was easy and delicious. I HATE cooking but now and again I crave homemade mac n cheese. Will be making this instead of stouffers from now on!

  250. This recipe was perfect the first time that I made it, but every other time for some reason when I take it out of the oven it is very oily. The oven is at the correct temperature but there is always a layer of oil over the top cheese layer. What should I do??????

    • That has to be so frustrating! Are you always grating your own cheeses, or using store-bought shredded cheese? Do you use the same brand and type of cheese each time? I’ve noticed different types and even brands of cheese will vary in oil content.

    • In my cooking experience, when my cheese becomes oily it’s usually because of a mistake when making the bechamel (the butter, flour, milk step)

  251. Thank you so so much for this amazing recipe!!
    I’m 16 and I’ve just started finding my own recipes and making them for my family (I’ve cooked before quite a bit, but only with my mom or recipes I’ve watched her make a thousand times) and this one 2as an absolute HIT!
    It’s creamy and ridiculously cheesy. I used less cheese than the recipe required and it was still very very cheesy. It could use a little more salt and pepper, but other than that I’d say it is perfect! Lots of compliments lol! My dad even said it’s the best mac and cheese he’s ever had!

  252. Would love to make this but find American measures v confusing – e.g, how many ml is a cup??? Plus what’s half & half?

    • A quick Google search tells me that 1 cup is equal to 236.588 ml. Half and half is a dairy product here in the United States. It’s a mixture of half heavy cream and half milk.