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.
4.97 from 394 votes
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Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 35 mins
Servings: 8 - 10 servings
Calories: 665
Recipe Author The Chunky Chef

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.
  • 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.
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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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1,004 comments on “Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese”

  1. Is it possible to make this recipe using just light cream instead of the milk & half/half combo?

  2. Have made this mac m cheese 10 x now since finding your recipe, by far the best mac n cheese recipe ever, the whole family absolutely love it, only mac n cheese recipe I will ever use again.

  3. Do you add both the 1.5 cups of milk and 2.5 cups of half and half or just one of the two.

  4. Mac and cheese never fails. This recipe is vert tasty!!

  5. Hi .I am ignorant about the half and half in this recipe.Please do explain.I am not an experienced cook

    • Here in the US, half and half is a dairy product that is half whole milk and half heavy cream. It’s found in the dairy section of grocery stores. If you don’t have half and half where you live, you can replace the 2.5 cups with 1.25 cups whole milk and 1.25 cups heavy cream.

  6. Just made this! Came out so good. My husband said this is our new Mac and cheese recipe. I’m going to try the 5 cheese variation next time but it was excellent!

  7. Hat’s off to you!  I’ve eaten and made a lot of mac and cheese in my life – but yours takes the Crown!  More work than normal – but well worth the effort!  Everyone always loves it!!  Thank you!!

  8. I made this last night and I have to say it was amazingly delicious.i did not use the cheese where I had to sell a limp to purchase. I substituted it with equal parts of grated Parmesan cheese and Fontana cheese along with extra sharp cheddar. And I agree with those who commented that they will only use this recipe. 

  9. I have followed these directions three times and everyone enjoyed the mac and cheese. My granson ate mac and cheese for the first time, in November, for Thanksgiving dinner and loved it.
    I made it for Christmas dinner and all enjoyed it and commented me. Some hat it for the first time. A couple had it from fast foods eater. Said what they had there did not come near to taste to what I made. Today, before leaving, returning home after a long visit with my daughter and family. I am making it again.

  10. Always wanted to make homemade mac and cheese and this recipe was perfect (I used heavy cream instead of half and half). It tasted fantastic… will always make it this way

  11. This looks delicious! I’m going to make it tomorrow but why don’t you use eggs?

  12. This Mac and cheese was amazing!  First of all, mine came out of the oven looking just as beautiful as your pictures. That never happens. I’ve tried many Mac and cheese recipes over the years and my family agreed that this I don’t need to anymore. I made it with medium cheddar, sharp white cheddar, and Colby jack cheeses. 

  13. Excellent recipe !! It’s a keeper !

  14. This was the BEST mac-n-cheese recipe i’ve made.  The entire family went crazy for it!  It wasn’t dry, wasn’t custardy, it was creamy and delish.  I used medium cheddar and swiss.  This will be my go to when I need a baked mac-n-chese dish!

  15. I just made this for the first time. This will be my go-to recipe now for mac & cheese. I used extra sharp cheddar & fresh grated parmesan-I like a super cheesy sharp taste. I also added 2 finely diced jalapeno peppers, 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic & I topped it with crumbled bacon. Nothing like taking it over the top right?!? Anyway, it came out spectacular if I don’t say so myself!

  16. This was the best Mac n cheese I’ve ever made!  Thank you!!

  17. If I wanted to make this ahead but put it in the Crock Pot to heat it back up and didn’t bake it all all, do you think that would be okay?

  18. Best Mac and cheese I have ever made! I made it last year for thanksgiving and my family is requesting it again for New Years. I used sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, I just can’t remember if I used salted or unsalted butter… I know your recipe says to use unsalted butter… if I’m using Monterey Jack cheese again, should I use unsalted butter? And which brand would you recommend? I’m making a lot this year for our family so we have left overs and using gruyere cheese would be too expensive! 
    Thanks! 

    • I’m SO glad you love this recipe as much as we do! The salted or unsalted butter doesn’t really change on the cheese used, and you can truly use either. Just if you use salted butter, cut back on the salt a bit and taste test to see if the sauce needs more 🙂 I prefer Land O Lakes brand of butter, and Cabot is a great brand of Monterey Jack cheese. Oh I hear you, I hate how expensive Gruyere is!

  19. I tried this recipe today & hands down it is the best Mac & cheese ever!  I used cheddar cheese & Swiss.  I also added some dried mustard to the sauce.  Delicious,

  20. I have upcoming get together and have to use a crockpot. Would this recipe be ok in one? 

  21. WOW! So good Me and my fiance loved it! Very easy to make

  22. Can you half the recipee

    • Sure can! In fact, if you hover over the servings number, a toggle bar will appear. Slide that until it’s the number of servings you want (in this case, halved would be 4), and it will automatically calculate your halved ingredients for you 🙂

  23. Served it last night for guests; it was a big success!

    One question, though: I used “Medium Cheddar,” is that the same thing as “Medium Sharp Cheddar?”

  24. first time making mac and cheese today, and i am very happy with the results!!! i wanted it to be a bit spicier, so i used half of jalepeno monterey jack cheese and half habanero cheddar, and everyone loved it!! i also added some chilli flakes and a tiny bit of sriracha into the cheese sauce. (did not add paprika as i did not have any, and it does not do much for flavor). followed the rest of the recipe exactly, and was so happy with how it turned out. just had to adjust spiciness with my seasonings, which is just a personal preference. wonderful recipe!

  25. Can you use heavy whipping cream for half and half substitute. 

  26. My boyfriend and I are in charge of the Mac & Cheese for our family dinner tonight. His mom bought us Velveeta to use. Do you think that will that work? 

  27. Made it for Christmas Eve. Your honey baked ham and Mac and cheese was a huge hit.
    It’s a keeper.

  28. I made this for our Christmas eve dinner. It was a huge success! I followed the recipe but also added a few pinches of nutmeg. I’m not waiting until next Christmas to make this again!

  29. Super yummy! Extra gooey and the taste is wonderful.

  30. Best macaroni and cheese in the world. I used sharp cheddar, medium cheddar and Muenster. My family loves it and it has replaced our former favorite loaded potato casserole. 

  31. Made this today for Christmas Eve dinner and my kids can’t get enough! I used sharp white cheddar, Colby jack, gruyere and medium cheddar cheese. So delicious!

  32. Yum, Yum, Yummy!!!
    I have tried a dozen different baked Mac and cheese recipes but NONE would touch this delicious dish. I made this exactly by the recipe for Thanksgiving last month and it was the best baked Mac and cheese we have ever tried. This will be our on our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner table for years to come.

  33. I found two types of gruyere at the store. Processed and authentic. Which type do you suggest using with this recipe?

  34. This was awesome mac and cheesy delish! Thank you for sharing

  35. I made this for the first time today for my husband’s Christmas pot luck and it got RAVE reviews!  I modified it to be gluten free (using cornstarch for the roux, so I had to add more milk when adding the cheese) and made sure I broiled the top for a crunchy cheese crust.  It was the only dish that didn’t have leftovers and no one could believe it was GF.  Another hit recipe from the Chunky Chef!  I never hesitate to make anything I find on your site and I’ll be adding this recipe to my regular roster.  Thanks!!

  36. I am going to try this recipe. I’m nervous because when I have tried before, my final product is grainy/gritty. Any suggestions on how to avoid this?

    • Make sure you use a block of cheese you’ve shredded or grated yourself, and whisk the sauce really well to make sure no lumps remain from the flour/butter mixture. I’ve made this recipe literally dozens of times and have never had it turn out gritty.

    • When cheese is heated the proteins separate creating a gritty texture. If you remove the warm milk and flour mixture from the heat or just turn off the burner and then add the cheese and stir you will not get grit.

  37. How much would you increase the sauce measurements if making two nights prior?

    • In the recipe card, if you hover over the servings number, a toggle bar will show up. Slide the bar to adjust for how many servings you’ll need, and it will automatically calculate the ingredient amounts you’ll need. I would toggle it to about 9 or 10 servings, and use those amounts for everything, except keep the pasta amount the same

  38. SO GOOD! We used blue cheese instead of Gruyere and it was outstanding. My husband loves it, going to be a new family favorite used for years to come 🙂 Thank you!!

  39. This is the best recipe I have ever used for mac and cheese! I followed the instructions and it always turns out perfect. Cheddar and Gruyere make a beautiful combo! I actually used 2 cups of white cheddar and 2 cups of yellow cheddar since I love both. I used this recipe last year for Christmas Eve and this year for Thanksgiving and it’s always a hit! I’m not a fan of whole milk or half and half so I resorted to using regular and extra creamy oat milk (Oatly for the regular consistency and Planet Oat for the extra creamy) this year and it was perfect! Made little to no difference in flavor. People were shocked when I told them! So don’t be afraid to make the switch, worth it if you wanna tone down the lactose a little bit.

  40. I made this without any changes for the first time this afternoon. It was delicious. Next time, I will add additional seasonings & use the five-cheese variation. The other addition will be to add pepperoni. This was the first comment my daughter made after tasting this recipe. We love pepperoni in our mac & cheese!

  41. Can I add lobster to this?

  42. I made this on Thanksgiving and a 16oz. block of sharp cheddar and a 8 oz. block of monterey jack was the perfect amount of cheese for shredding. Everyone loved the mac and cheese! I’ll be making it again on Christmas.

  43. I will try to make this today using Gouda, cheddar and Gruyere. Can I combined Gouda and Gruyere together? I’m excited and will update you the result. 

  44. Thanks for sharing! Those two cheeses together are a winning combination! Paprika is sooo good on Mac n cheese too! 

  45. This looks amazing! What a great side or main dish. It would be fun to have different mix in available when serving guests.

  46. Cannot wait to bake this later today! I tripled the recipe for my son’s birthday party. I used the cheddar and gruyere, but also added mozzarella because I was making such a large batch and Gruyere is more pricy. It looks glorious! I am refrigerating it for several hours in advance, so I hope I have enough cheese sauce to keep it somewhat creamy. I could not fit it all into the pan, so my hubs had a small bowl of just noodles and sauce….he was a fan!  Thanks for the recipe!

  47. Wow!  Super delicious.  Tired of eating dry Mac & cheese recipes.  My husband loved it.  Super cheesy.  I used evaporated milk and half and half.  Used our new favorite cheese — Colby — and Gruyere.

  48. Just made this with my mother in law today and it was the most amazing M&C I have ever had. I think some of the magic is the home grated Greyer. Did the recipe exactly as instructed here and came out exactly as described if not better. LOVE THIS! My mother in law gives it a 10!

  49. And absolute family favorite! Perfection! Made exactly as the recipe stated, would not change a thing! Thank you Chunky Chef  for another amazing recipe!

  50. First time ever making my own mac and cheese and it was amazing! I used a combination of King Island smoked cheddar and Mainland extra tasty cheddar. Was nice and creamy with a perfect tang!

  51. This was the first time I made this recipe and I followed everything as specified but used smoked paprika and added gouda cheese as well. Your suggestion for panko mixed with butter as a top layer, gave it a real yummy crunch! I did cover with aluminum foil while baking and uncovered for 2 min on broil so the panko bread crumbs were nice and toasty. My family loved it and wanted more. Also, this was the only mac n cheese that tasted even better the next day. To my surprise, it was still creamy and delicious even after warming in the microwave.

  52. I have made this recipe twice, yes, it is the best! Thank you for sharing “Chunky Chef :)”

  53. Thank you for this!! I have been searching for “the” m&c recipe and this is it! It is a small labor of love that is absolutely worth it! I have made it with a variety of cheeses including smoked gruyere, mozzarella, Colby and Monterey Jack, gouda – all variations delicious! I do add 2 tsps of ground mustard as others have suggested and a little Adobo (about 1/4 tsp) for some an extra seasoning. This is a recipe you can continue to experiment with to make it your own, and always delicious! Thank you!

  54. My ELA teacher gave me this recipe for Mac n Cheese (She made it for a party) . I made it for Thanksgiving and everyone loved it! Sadly, i had to use whole wheat flour instead of normal flour, but it still turned out wonderful! Both my ELA teacher and I thank you!

  55. Hi, I’m planning on making this for a graduation party coming up. I’ve made it several times in the past exactly as written and everybody loves it. To keep warm for the party could I just make it completely on the stovetop and transfer to a crockpot to keep warm and skip the baking step? Any advice on if I should spray the crockpot first? Thanks in advance 🙂

    • I’ve never tested the recipe this way, so I can’t say for certain if it will turn out as well as when baked fresh, but I think it should work well. I would probably give the crockpot insert a light spray with cooking spray just to keep any possible sticking at bay 🙂

  56. After searching and searching, trying and failing to find the perfect mac and cheese recipe, this is THE ONE. I made it for Thanksgiving this year, and it was gone less than halfway through the meal. I have finally found my cheesy pasta soul mate.

  57. I’ve made lots of mac and cheese over the years. I made this to take to Thanksgiving this year and everyone loved it! I prepared a double batch a day ahead, left it in the fridge overnight, and baked it on Thanksgiving morning. It was still nice and creamy! Would it be okay to prepare and freeze a week or two ahead?

    • I’m SO happy to hear it was a big hit on Thanksgiving! I haven’t tested freezing this recipe, but I believe other readers have successfully done so, so I think it would be just fine 🙂

  58. I was craving homemade mac and cheese the other day and came across your recipe. I used gruyere (never had this cheese before, but it is my new favourite!) and applewood smoked cheddar with smoked paprika. It was SO GOOD. My fiance brought the rest of it into work the next day and everyone is STILL asking when I am going to bring more. Delicious!!

  59. My family loves it!  Thank you so much for sharing this recipe my family loves it so much I’m going to make it for Christmas for a bigger crowd.  I followed your recipe to a T and it’s amazing

  60. Did you take the rind of the Gruyere before grating? 

  61. Hi, would love to try your recipe!
    I noticed on your recipe, calls for
    “2 1/2 half and half”
    Of what?

    Thanks

    • Here in the US, half and half is a dairy product that is half whole milk and half heavy cream. It’s found in the dairy section of grocery stores. If you don’t have half and half where you live, you can replace the 2.5 cups with 1.25 cups whole milk and 1.25 cups heavy cream.

  62. So I was in charge of mac n cheese this year at thanksgiving and I just want to thank you for posting this recipe. Yes there are a million Mac and cheese recipes on the Internet but this one was a life saver. I doubled the recipe and had NO leftovers. I used a block of Gruyere, a block of white sharp, a block of American cheddar sharp, and half a block of Colby cheese. And added Panko crumbs on top them broiled it for 10 minutes. This is the perfect baked Mac n cheese. So creamy. But also has the classic texture of a baked Mac n cheese without it being dry. I definitely recommend serving it fresh. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. Again, thank you. Saving this recipe for years to come. 

  63. I get some many compliments on this recipe that it is crazy good. I will never use another recipe. I love this!

  64. I’m a Mac n Cheese lover and this is the best recipe that I have tried so far! Creamy on the inside, crispy on the out and absolutely delicious!!!! I used evaporated milk instead of regular milk but kept to the recipe besides that. This will be my go to recipe now. 

  65. I was going to use a Brie cheese when making for creaminess. Any suggestions on other cheeses to use with Brie? Thanks!

  66. I made this for Friendsgiving and WOW! I will be making this for the rest of my life, everyone has demanded it. I followed the recipe exactly and this requires no tweaks at all. It’s perfect as is. I’ve been in search of a Mac and cheese recipe and this is IT!

  67. By far one of my favorite recipes I’ve made this Thanksgiving!

  68. This is a great recipe. I made mac-and-cheese for the very first time and shared it at my family’s Thanksgiving. These are folks who have a traditional recipe and are very particular. The mac was gone in about an hour and there were so many compliments! I love that the recipe is simple and doesn’t require a lot of ingredients but is also packed with the flavor of creamy-cheesy, salty, goodness. I am grateful you decided to put this on the internet as it is now a staple recipe for my family and me. Cheers!

  69. Hi!! Thank you for this recipe!! I’m making this for a friendsgiving and I asked my boyfriend to buy the ingredients for me but he bought shredded cheese LOL. Do you know how to combat the starch? Thanks in advanced!

    • You’re welcome! No worries, I’ve made this with pre-shredded cheese before… I like to set the cheese out a good 30 minutes so it can come up to room temperature, then when you’re adding the cheese to the sauce, add it slowly and make sure you stir often to get it to melt 🙂

  70. The best Mac&cheese recipe I have ever used, total hit at thanksgiving!!! Definitely using this again for every event. Also, thank you for proving the notes for ahead of time preparations, really helped me out.

  71. I did not change a thing and it was the best Mac and cheese recipe that I’ve ever made or eaten. Thank you so much this will be a staple recipe in my home. We LOVED it! 

  72. Our family Thanksgiving menu has been exactly the same for years and years. This time, I decided to spice things up a bit and make your Mac and Cheese. The family tried it and have decided it must be included on the menu from now on. It was wonderful. Thank you for sharing!

  73. This recipe is AMAZING. I used two cups whole milk and two cups heavy whipping cream. Combo of cheeses included extra sharp cheddar, Colby and Monterey. 
    I also didn’t grate the cheese for the layers, I just thin sliced it. And broiled at the very end. 
    The audacity of two of my guests to say it was too cheesy!!! What! Too cheesy Mac n Cheese…not possible!! 
    So so good. I just ate some leftovers for breakfast. 
    Delicious. Thank you for this recipe! 

  74. Delicious! I used a combo of cheddar, harvati and Gouda since it’s what I had on hand. Made it exactly as recipe described otherwise, with a butter and panko bread crumb topping. Everyone at thanksgiving loved it! I added the dish as a late addition since we had some extra people coming for dinner. Everyone loved it and was the only dish to get completely eaten. No leftovers! Guess I’ll have to make it again. Thanks for a great recipe!  

  75. I made this today and added lobster meat and it was awesome. It makes a lot so it’s great for a crowd. I added a Ritz cracker crumb topping to half and that was good also. Thanks for the recipe.

  76. This is the only mac n cheese recipe I use since trying it. I’ve made this at least half a dozen times now and it’s awesome. I never have half and half so use a substitute of butter and milk (easily found through google). I use colby jack only because it’s what I always have on hand. It does take a bit of time, but totally worth it. Making this again today for Thanksgiving. It pretty versatile, you can add any protein…and seasons well after plating also..I like to sprinkle Frank’s red hot buffalo powder on top. That, being said, it’s a winner just as it appears.
    Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

  77. We love this recipe!  It is tasty, creamy and crispy.  Everything you want in macaroni and cheese!  The only thing I added was about 2 teaspoons of dry mustard.  WONDERFULLY DELICIOUS!

  78. Of all of the mac and cheese recipes I have tried, this one is hands down the best. I use it for every holiday and all work potlucks and gave rave reviews everytime. We go with the gruyere and cheddar combo and my kids love it!

  79. I was very nervous about volunteering to make the Mac and cheese for thanksgiving this year… found this recipe on Pinterest!! Followed the super thorough instructions and I feel good about this dish! I taste tested and it’s delicious already… can’t wait to serve it to the family!! Thank you!

  80. Best mac and cheese ever! I add bacon crumbles and it is always a hit! I’ve made this recipe so many times in the past year or so, I could probably make it in my sleep!

  81. Incredible!!! The only change I made was adding some garlic powder (not paprika) and baked it with a Ritz cracker crust. Today is Thanksgiving and I cannot wait for everyone to taste it (I only sampled a bit… I promise :))

  82. This recipe is so yummy. This is the way my grandmother use to make it! I was so excited to find the recipe. I had been using a recipe that called for eggs but this will replace that recipe. Love it! Thank you for posting! Happy Thanksgiving! 

  83. I am making this for Thanksgiving and I’m very nervous! Taking it to the in-laws 😳 Wish me luck!

  84. I certainly agree that shredding your own cheese is by far the best way to go, but as long as the pre-shredded cheese is tossed in starch and NOT cellulose melting should not be an issue.

  85. I just made this last night and it’s SOO yummy! The only type of Gruyere I could find was apple smoked but it really worked out. I used the apple smoked Gruyere and mild cheddar cheese. I liked reading the comments to see what everyone else added so I thought I’d share my additions too. I added dijon, garlic powder and onion powder. I’m saving this recipe!

  86. Hi, I bought frozen lobster meat because I wanted to make lobster mac & cheese for Thanksgiving. This recipe looks really good, I was wondering if I could just put the thawed lobster in this recipe. Thanks in advance. And Happy Thankgiving.

  87. Can you use heavy cream instead of whole milk?

  88. How much cream cheese do you think I should add if I choose that as an option?

  89. Do I need to use the gruyer cheese and can I use sharp cheddar?

  90. I am making this mac and cheese recipe for the first time on Thanksgiving! Do you have to use unsalted butter??

  91. Dumb question, but could I possibly make this in a crockpot? Or make it on the stovetop as stated above and keep it in the crockpot on warm? I’m making it on Thanksgiving, and I didn’t account for other things in the oven 🤷‍♀️

    • I wouldn’t recommend fully making it in the crockpot, as crockpot mac and cheeses have to use different ingredients to keep things from separating, but I think it would be okay to make it on the stovetop and keep it warm in the crockpot like you mentioned. You might want to undercook the pasta a little bit, just so it doesn’t get mushy as it sits 🙂

  92. First time going to make this and my daughter loves all cheeses but her favorite is Smoked Gouda, now for the second cheese not sure what to use as she loves it all which cheese would compliment the smoked gouda?

  93. Hi! Can I bake this in a cast iron skillet? Not sure if the temp, time or consistency will vary if I do. Thank you 🙂

  94. Freeze before baking if you are trying to make it ahead of time….just like a lasagna… Great results

  95. Can I substitute the half and half for condensed milk?

  96. I love love LOVE this mac and cheese recipe! I’ve been using this recipe for the past year or so and it’s always been a hit. Such a hit that people beg me to make this and get legitimately upset when I don’t. The only variations that I’ve applied here are using smoked paprika instead of regular and I use a blend of monterey and colby jack instead of gruyere. Thanks for sharing this recipe and boosting my popularity with friends and family!

  97. Do you use a specific medium sharp cheddar? I’ve looked everywhere, but can’t seem to find it. I’ve found medium cheddar cheese and several variations of sharp, but no medium sharp cheddar.

  98. I’ll be making this on Thursday for Thanksgiving and was wondering if a 16oz. block of sharp cheddar and a 8 oz. block of monterey jack will be enough cheese? Thank you!!!

  99. How much do you suggest increasing the sauce by if preparing the day before?

    • In the recipe card, if you hover over the servings number, a toggle bar will show up. Slide the bar to adjust for how many servings you’ll need, and it will automatically calculate the ingredient amounts you’ll need. I would toggle it to about 9 or 10 servings, and use those amounts for everything, except keep the pasta amount the same

  100. How can I adapt the recipe if I am using 2 boxes of elbow pasta?

  101. Is the 1/2 Tablespoon of salt for the water to boil the pasta or do you actually included that much salt with the spices? Just surprising as cheese is already so salty.

    • It’s for seasoning, not the water. I know it seems like a lot, but I find it doesn’t make things abnormally salty. You can always start with a smaller amount and taste the cheese sauce and go from there.

  102. I have made this recipe for over a year now, probably 4 or 5 times. It is ALWAYS a hit. SOOO good. <3

  103. Best Mac and cheese recipe ever! It was my second time making it and now I’ve been asked to make it for thanksgiving for my husbands family who are super particular about their Mac n cheese. Thank you!! 

  104. Do you add the 1/2 T of salt in step 6 with the pepper and paprika? Thanks

  105. Hi! Do I add the milk and half and half together? Or one first, then the other next? Is it all mixing into the flour at the same time?

  106. This was the first time I’ve made homemade mac and cheese and I followed the recipe exactly. It tastes great, but it came out from the oven swimming in oil. I tried draining some out but it didn’t help much. Even after it sat out for half an hour or so, I put some on my plate and the oil was dripping. Did I do something wrong?

    • Unfortunately, some cheeses contain more oil than others, even from brand to brand. You could try using a different brand of cheese, or skip the cheese topping all together to reduce the amount of oil.

  107. Has anyone tried adding cream cheese in this as well? I’ve made this before and it was really good but I love Mac and cheese with cream cheese in it and was thinking about trying it 

  108. Can I use 4 cups of whole milk instead?

  109. How much would you increase the sauce by if making the day before baking it?

    • In the recipe card, if you hover over the servings number, a toggle bar will show up. Slide the bar to adjust for how many servings you’ll need, and it will automatically calculate the ingredient amounts you’ll need. I would toggle it to about 9 or 10 servings, and use those amounts for everything, except keep the pasta amount the same.

  110. I don’t think I’ve ever seen ‘medium’ sharp cheddar. Is sharp cheddar acceptable?  

  111. What Can be used In place of all purpose flour

  112. Hi! Can the cheese sauce be made the day before? 

    • I haven’t tested it, but I think that would be okay… when you reheat it, make sure you whisk it pretty well so it doesn’t separate, and you may want to add a splash of milk or half and half when reheating it.

  113. Can I just used 4 cups of half and half instead of adding the whole milk?

  114. I am definitely making this recipe this year! And wow no eggs 🥚!! This is a winner for me, I’ll report back the results.

     Thanks!

  115. how would you edit this recipe to feed 20-25 people? Making this as a side for thanksgiving and I have a lot of people coming. I just dont want my math to be off!

  116. Hi, have you tried making this in a Ninja Foodi or Instapot Duo Crisp? If so, I’d love to know of any modifications required.

    Thanks!

  117. Could i use evaporated milk instead of half and half / milk? If so, how much?

  118. This is my absolute favorite mac & cheese recipe-I’ve made it at least five times now. It’s very decadent and I have to say: I live in Maine where lobsters are in abundance, and this recipe makes the best lobster mac & cheese out there! Bravo to you for creating it😋

  119. t.wo Vidalias chopped and cooked 8 minutes in the microwave. They come out soft, yet add to the tang of sharp cheese when mixed in the sauce

  120. I have been testing out recipes for Thanksgiving and this is the third Mac and Cheese I have made in the past week, but I am done making any others because this is hands down the best!!  It’s so creamy and delicious.  I had to broil it for a couple minutes to get it to brown, but otherwise it’s perfect. 

  121. I made this the day before (and added extra sauce like suggested) for a work cook-off and won!! 

  122. Just WOW! I haven’t made Mac and cheese in 25 years. We’ve been craving it so I found your recipe in a sea of so many others. And I am so happy I picked yours. I upped the smoked paprika and added some freeze dried shallots and this dish was ambrosia. Thank you so much. 

  123. What cheese would you recommend in place of the Gruyere? I live in a small town and my grocery store options are slim. Thanks! 

  124. This came out perfect and oh so delicious!! The BEST Mac and cheese I’ve ever had, hands down. If I would like to make ahead, can I make the cheese sauce but store it separate from the pasta? Then the next day, warm the sauce, pour it on the pasta and add the cheese? I just don’t want the pasta soaking up the sauce and losing the creaminess.

    • I’m SO happy to hear that you love this recipe as much as we do! I’ve not tested making the sauce and storing it separately like that, but I’m sure it would work well. Just make sure to whisk the sauce really well as it reheats so it doesn’t separate, and you may find you need a splash of milk to loosen it up.

  125. My family loved this recipe. Even my picky husband loved it. I used salted butter then cut the salt in half. Thank you!

  126. Is salted butter okay to use instead of unsalted butter? I noticed that I grabbed the wrong kind. Im hoping that using it won’t ruin the whole dish.

  127. Made this tonight and it was delicious. I used swiss and medium cheddar. Shredded it in my food processor and used 2 cups milk 2 cups half and half. Added a touch of garlic powder to the sauce. Fantastic recipe. I am a homemade mac n cheese fail until now!

  128. Can you double the recipe? 

    • You sure can! You’ll need a pretty large pan though. When I’ve made this for a party, I’ve purchased one of those “giant lasagna pans” (that’s what mine are labeled as anyway) from the grocery store.

  129. This was my FIRST time ever making mac and cheese. I’ve been too terrified to try for fear of messing it up. I’ve searched several recipes but this is the only one I’ve attempted. It was worth the wait!! This mac is delish and the ONLY things I did diff were: used salted butter and added garlic salt & powder. The veryyyy slight garlic taste gave this the kick it needed! Next time I will experiment with cheese but this recipe is still perfect.

  130. This was so good, very cheesy and creamy. I used sharp cheddar, Gouda and havarti. It wasn’t as creamy reheated. Maybe I need to add milk?
    Could anyone explain to me how I could make this with chicken in it please? Has anyone tried it? 

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Sadly, no mac and cheese made with real cheese is going to be as creamy when reheated. Things separate and more sauce gets absorbed into the pasta. Please see the section in the post titled Storing Mac and Cheese. There’s a part about how to reheat it. To add chicken, just 1-2 cups of shredded or diced chicken to the recipe. I would increase the amount of sauce slightly though.

  131. I just made this and my family is seriously in heaven.  I have never made homemade mac & cheese before and it was so easy.  

  132. This was absolutely delicious. I made it exactly as the recipe says, refrigerated over night and cooked the next morning to take to a church meal. I got so many compliments. This will be a go to recipe for us now.

  133. This was very easy to make and everybody loved it! I brought this to my daugher’s sorority party for dad’s weekend at University of Illinois. All the Tri-Delt’s in her senior house loved it., loved it, loved it. They were even eating it for breakfast the next day. Will definitely make again and again.

    Ginger’s Mom

  134. Hello- so excited to try this for Thanksgiving this year. I have a gluten allergy so thinking to sub the flour with either cassava flour or arrowroot flour; any suggestions?

    Also, have you ever tried to sub the milk with almond or oat milk? Any suggestions?

    Thanks!

    Amanda 

    • Hi Amanda 🙂 Unfortunately, I have no experience with gluten-free recipes as no one here has a gluten allergy or celiac disease, so I can’t say for certain if those substitutions would work. I’ve only made and tested the recipe as written, and have never switched out the dairy, as we don’t have any dairy issues either.

    • I make it GF all the time! I use a gluten-free flour mix (Bob’s Red MIll) and Jovial elbow noodles. Even my gluten-free hating husband will eat it! It’s delicious. I haven’t tried subbing the milk though.

  135. Absolutely delicious!  I cut the recipe in half since it’s just my husband and me. I added a touch of ground mustard and some sriracha and it was fantastic. 

  136. I made this for a girls game night & it was amazing! I didn’t use the eggs & I used heavy cream & regular milk instead of the Half n half. I also used part cream cheese/part velveeta. It was super creamy & extra cheesy & PERFECT!

  137. This was the best Mac and cheese recipe I’ve used!!! Thanks so much! Followed recipe and turned out great this is a keeper!

  138. This is very good macaroni and cheese. I thought I was making the recipe by the book but when making it realized my cheddar was mild and not sharp so that was the only change. The next time I make it I am going to make sure I have sharp cheddar and will probably add bread crumbs on top. I also want to add more spice as I like things with a little more of a bite. I completely believe in working the recipe as written the first time and then changes afterwards. To me not doing so is the same as adding salt before even tasting a dish. It might be perfect already but I would never know!!

  139. I tried this recipe and it came out good. This is so easy and delicious Thank you for sharing.

  140. ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS ❤️ I used Sharp cheddar, and a Provolone/Swiss mixture, I ended up going with the Tillamook brand in the bags, I know the recipe recommends not to use the bag cheeses because they add something to help it from clumping in the bags so it may not melt well, but they were much cheaper at my local market and I have had great experiences with the Tillamook brand so I thought I’d give it a shot. It melted immediately when adding it to the sauce and turned out AMAZING! My 17 year old son is a Mac And Cheese fanatic so he was my best critic, he said it was by far the best Mac and cheese he’s ever had so I’m thrilled I found this recipe 😋 The only negative comment I noticed was a woman saying hers tasted like flour, I believe she didn’t follow the directions!! If you just look at the ingredients and toss everything together of course it will taste like flour, FOLLOW the instructions (it’s really not difficult) and you will be rewarded with an amazingly delicious Mac and cheese. I plan on using this recipe in the future from now on, no more boxed Mac and cheese in this family 😁 Thank you for posting this recipe 

  141. I added chicken and broccoli to this recipe and it’s the best Mac and cheese I ever had, thank you.

  142. My husband stalks me to make this all the time…Tastes Great!!!!Thank You!!!!

  143. could I put this in a crock pot? And put the crock in the over to get the top nice and crispy, then move crock to the crock pot base to keep it warm?

  144. Great recipe! My wife and kids loved it… I added some garlic powder, a little more black pepper, and paprika to the sauce, after I layered the last of the shredded cheese I added a few thin pieces of butter..dashed a little more garlic, baked it for 12 minutes and broiled it for 5 minutes!

  145. Amazing!!! I didn’t have time to shred all the cheese so I use the bags of Kraft triple cheddar cheese and some baby swiss. It was sooo good and creamy.

  146. I don’t usually write recipe reviews but this homemade mac and cheese recipe is EXCELLENT. Easy to make and tastes incredible! The only change I made was to use white pepper instead of black pepper. It came out of the oven looking picture-perfect! And it is so creamy and filling and delicious. Comfort food at its finest!!

  147. How much is a serving size and how many calories in a serving? I loved this Mac n cheese, but I log what I eat and I don’t know what to put!

    • I don’t measure serving sizes exactly, it’s just 1/8 to 1/10 of the dish. As for calories, those are listed in the dark grey part of the recipe card right above where it says recipe author. As I’m not a nutritionist, I don’t provide full nutritional information for my recipes (don’t want to inadvertently pass along incorrect information). Your best bet would be to copy the ingredients into your favorite online nutritional calculator.

  148. I added kielbasa, more spices, italian cheese instead of gruyere and bread crumbs on top! It was delicious and creamy!! Thank you!

  149. I added pulled pork and a ritz topping. Delicious!! Thanks for posting.

  150. The only deviation I did was add some nutmeg. It was delicious.

  151. How many does this serve??

  152. How many servings does this make?

  153. do you need to use so many different cheeses?

  154. I’m so excited to try this, can it be made with homemade pasta?? I have never tried Mac with homemade and not sure if it would be too soft

  155. Hi I wanted to ask what do you mean by 2 1/2 cups half and half in the ingredients as there is nothing written next to it and what does this mean in the instructions: Slowly pour in about 2 cups or so of the milk/half and half.

  156. Wow! So i just made this mac and cheese and let me tell you that this was to die for! 🤤 I haven’t been in the kitchen in so long, the recipe wasn’t that difficult for a 20 year old either ! 😂 So I am responsible for making mac and cheese for this year’s Thanksgiving and initially I was going to test a BUNCH of recipes, but I think I found the one seeing that my family were the taste testers and completely loved it! Even my dad was shocked! 

  157. I love to cook. I’m always looking for new recipes for my menu, which makes me always interested in my work. Today’s my lucky day, baked mac and cheese is great, just follow the instructions and everything is easy, I like that. Thanks for your sharing

  158. I have to say that I was worried thinking of all of the butter, cheeses, half & Half and whole milk going into this dish. We normally only drink 1% milk. However, if you’re looking for a creamy, cheesy, tasty homemade Mac & Cheese, this is your recipe, right here! It is definitely rich but the flavors are very nice! I did follow the recipe with the only detour being I used 1/4 tsp. of smoked paprika before I noticed that my halved recipe said to use .13 tsp. of paprika and I added a cup of shredded old cheddar to the gruyere and sharp white cheddar. Thank goodness I used my Starfrit cheese grater as it’s so much easier and faster when grating a lot of cheeses! I found it creamy and delicious and my hubby said it’s the best Mac & Cheese he’s ever had in his life!!! I definitely would recommend this recipe as long as you’re not on a low-fat diet!!!

  159. About to make this recipe, have you ever tried it with crushed ritz crackers on top? My daughter wants me to add that, bit I’m curious if it’ll dry everything else out

  160. can I omit the butter, flour and milks and use heavy whipping cream instead?

  161. I made this the night before for a family event. Doubled the recipe, used 4 different cheeses…not a speck left and EVERYONE wanted the recipe! Hands down the BEST and easiest mac and cheese ever! THANK YOU!!!

  162. Was my first time making homemade mac and cheese so I was a little nervous making it for my entire family, but it turned out sooo good! Everybody loved it. Didn’t change a thing!

  163. I’ve tried many mac and cheese recipes, but this has been by far the best so far. I absolutely love it! I’ll definitely be using this recipe again!

  164. Hello, I’m in the process of making this amazing Mac n cheese. But was wondering, can it not be baked? My daughters prefer it not. 

  165. Made it 2x-AMAZING. Suuuuuper creamy and cheesy. Delicious even without being baked. I’m sure you could cut the roux/cheese/milk in half and it would still be delicious. Give this recipe a try- you will NOT regret it. I use nutmeg and cayenne instead of paprika.

  166. I have made this several times now and each time it gets rave reviews!  This is my new go to recipe for Mac and Cheese!

  167. How many people can this recipe feed? (doing this for a school project)

  168. Recipe was DELICIOUS!
    1ST time I made it note for note. 5 STARS

    2nd time I used 2C sharp white, 2 cups gouda, 2 cups monterey jack. the creaminess was unbelievable!!!! I also added ground mustard and a dash of cayenne. I decided to cook the noodles less so that i could put it in the smoker for some time before baking. BEST decision EVER!

    Thank you SO much for taking the time to put this recipe together. An absolute hit!

  169. Do you have this recipe for the slow cooker??

  170. This is the best mac n cheese I’ve ever had. So creamy and cheesy. Big hit with the family.
    Alterations: I only had salted butter so I omitted adding any salt. Used a mix of cheddar, gouda, and gruyere. Also used penne pasta. Delicious!

  171. This looks absolutely delicious! Yummy!

  172. Tripling this recipe this month to make for our Fall Coed Baby Shower BBQ!! I’m trying to do the math for the cheeses, I’m looking at 12 cups of the cheddar and not sure which size brick that is. Costco has them in 2.5 lbs and 5lb bricks! I’ve never shredded this much cheese! Which should I get?! Same with the 6 cups of gruyere cheese I need and the store sells only 6oz bricks! HELP

  173. I just made this exactly as the recipe says and it is amazing!!  Absolutely delicious. My family loved it. So cheesy and creamy. 

  174. Love those crispy brown pieces of cheese on top!

  175. WOW!! This mac and cheese looks incredible!! My family would absolutely LOVE this!!

  176. Can’t wait to serve this again for dinner this week! It was such a hit; easily a new family favorite recipe

  177. This turned out to be the creamiest recipe I’ve tried, versus others that became curdled. Fresh grated cheese and warmed milk helped.

  178. Nothing beats an easy, cheesy, and creamy recipe like this one. I love family favorites like this and will be adding this to our menu soon.

  179. Simply delicious! A new go to for sure!

  180. I am NOT a cook and have never made baked mac & cheese, but this turned out wonderfully! I knew I’d have a lot of leftovers (meaning a lot of reheating) and I cannot stand mushy pasta, so I cooked the pasta for a couple of minutes less and it was perfect. I also added in 1/2 tsp ground mustard. Thank you for this great recipe!

  181. I don’t see on the recipe where you use the whole milk. I would assume that it is in sep 4. Thanks

  182. Would the amount of cheese be equivalent to a 32 ounce block of sharp cheddar and a 16 ounce block of gruyere before grating?

    • That might be a tad too much cheese, as the cups are measured after grating. That being said, this is a very forgiving recipe!

      • Not to be super nitpicky but I think mentioning that up in the ingredients list would be really helpful. I went to the grocery store and bought a ridiculous amount of cheese. I even skipped out on the gruyere which I really wanted because the cost of it was so high for 16 oz. I ended up getting a few different others. As I sat there staring at the blocks and adding up the dollars I wondered if there was a chance that it was being measured post shred versus pre shred, but I figured since you mentioned using blocks of cheese that you were referring to pre shred weight, where an 8 oz block would have been a cup and a 32 oz block would have been 4.

        I think it still turned out fine or at least it will when I try it out tomorrow. Finished assembling at 2 a.m. for a potluck tomorrow around noon. I made extra sauce and reserved just over a cups worth to pour on top before baking.

  183. I would like to add broccoli to this. How would I do that? Just put some raw florets in before baking?

  184. How many days in advance can you make this recipe with it still being good? Is three days in advance still okay? Thanks!

  185. Hi, how many cups of cheese would you need if you used shredded instead of grated? Thanks in advance 🙂

    • It would be the same amount 🙂

    • I bought the pre-shredded cheese once and I found that it doesn’t even melt and the leftover “cheese” never went moldy, after sitting in the fridge for about a month (because I suspected it wasn’t real cheese). I’ve since read that it is a fake cheese…

      https://www.kcet.org/food/pre-shredded-versus-freshly-grated-cheese-whats-the-difference

      “As a test case for this article, I compared a block of cheddar cheese with a bag of pre-shredded cheddar from the same company. The shredded cheese contained — in addition to the ingredients also listed on the block of cheese — potato starch, powdered cellulose, and natamycin.

      Potato starch is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s sold commercially for use as a thickener, and has desiccating and anti-clumping properties that help keep cheese shreds separate. Cellulose pops up in the ingredient lists of a lot of pre-packaged foods. The tasteless, ultra-fine powder is derived from wood pulp (really), and can be used to add dietary fiber, as a thickener, as a stabilizer, to improve mouthfeel or to prevent caking. In the case of shredded cheese, the two are often used in combination with one another because while cellulose is more effective, it also creates a visually unappealing coating. Potato starch is translucent, so cutting the cellulose with it allows manufacturers to use more without losing the color and look of their cheese.

      Natamycin is an anti-mold agent that is typically suspended in solution to a concentration of five to 10 parts per million, then sprayed on cheese shreds to coat them as thoroughly as possible. It’s tasteless, non-toxic, and naturally occurring, and has been used in commercial food production for a long time. It’s also non-water-soluble, so it can’t enter the human digestive tract. That means it doesn’t count as an antibiotic, although it is sometimes prescribed by doctors to treat eye infections.”

  186. Absolutely delicious. I used whipping cream instead of whole milk and seasoned my cheese sauce with Sazon. Thank you!

  187. THE BAKED MAC & CHEESE WAS MORE THAN A FAMILY FAVORITE. EVERYONE KEEPS ASKING US FOR THE RECIPE.
    A REAL FAMILY PLEASER.

  188. Love this recipe!!! I’ve made in 2 years in a row for my kid’s birthday party and kids and adults love it! I’ve used gluten free pasta and I’ve substituted some 1% milk when i dont have enough of the whole milk/ cream and it comes out great every time!

  189. I am planning on making this for a Church gathering. First, if you make it ahead and refrigerate it, is it dry? I have tried that with another recipe, and the noodles absorbed the liquids and were huge, and the mac & cheese was dry. Second, if I make this recipe, and then a half of recipe more, will it still fit into the 9×13 pan? I need to make it for 15-18. Thanks

    • Hi Karen, to answer your second question, I don’t think it would fit into a 9×13. I would pick up a deep dish lasagna pan (the disposable ones) and use that, as I’ve doubled it in one of those before, so I know a 1.5x recipe would fit. To your first question, with any pasta recipe with a sauce, it will be drier when made ahead, just because the pasta will absorb the sauce. You could try to counteract that by making the sauce a little thinner than usual, so there will be more liquid, but whenever making mac and cheese ahead of time, you do lose some of that ultra creaminess.

  190. I’m making this for my family tomorrow. Can I make the sauce, cook the macaroni, put it all in the pan together and then cook it in the oven once I get to the event? Is that possible or should I just cook it tonight and warm it up tomorrow? 

  191. WOWZA! I made this for my family last week, it was delicious! I was testing out some new Mac and Cheese recipes for the holidays since I hadn’t quite found the perfect one. This will be my go to recipe from now on! 😉 Thank you for sharing! Yay!

  192. I added ground beef. It was amazing. Thank you for this great recipe!!

  193. Where did you buy your cheeses?

  194. Can you freeze this recipe and bake from frozen / thawed? I’m trying to make a bunch of frozen meals ahead before baby comes.

  195. oh my goodness so delicious!!!i used sharp cheddar, gouda, muenster, and colby ! yummmmmm

  196. Wow wow wow! This Mac N Cheese was amazing. I’ve always had trouble with sauces thickening and the cheeses fully melting but not this one. Absolutely delicious. We had some leftover pulled pork that we added and it kicked it up another notch, which we didn’t think was possible. I will definitely be storing this recipe away to make again. Thanks for posting for all to enjoy! 

  197. Amazing! The whole family devoured it! I used mild cheddar and marble jack. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe!

  198. Delicious! I modified by using only sharp cheddar and added granulated garlic, otherwise followed the directions to the letter. Dreamy creamy baked shells and cheese. Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe!

  199. What difference would it make if i do not add the all purpose flour? 

  200. This was the best macaroni and cheese that I’ve ever made, the plus Factor it was quite easy. I have a 16 year old son who is so picky with everything… one of his favorite things to eat is macaroni & cheese, trust me I have tried too many. No success, but this one when I took it out the oven along with other things that I cooked with it, he went straight for the mac & cheese left everything else alone👀 let’s just put it like this I had to ask him to please think of other people who had to eat. 3 Plates Full. Nailed it😋😍 5 Stars. Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe sincerely Regina

  201. FABULOUS!!! BEST EVER and i have tried many combinations. Love the mix of cheeses… so creamy and delicious. I finally found the perfect mac and cheese recipe.
    Gail

  202. Yummy and easy! I made it ahead and baked it for 35 minutes. Everyone loved it!

  203. This is the best Mac&cheese…. EVER! Brought it ad a side dish to a party & it was everyone’s favorite!

  204. Best Mac and cheese recipe ever!  I love substituting different cheeses. Easy and forgiving. 

  205. Mine turned out amazing! I used sharp cheddar, grueyer, and gouda…because I love gouda. Consistency was perfect! Keeping this one. 

  206. How many servings does this recipe provide?

  207. I used 1/4 cup less of flour, and it still tasted like a floury mess. 

  208. Made this today for my son’s Knights of Columbus picnic. My son said it was awesome & he heard rave reviews. This is definitely a keeper😊

  209. Can I use 1lb of any type of noodle? I ended up buying Cavatappi noodles bc my grocery store was out of almost all pasta!

  210. I love this! I used 2 boxes of chickpea pasta shells and the Costco Mexican mix of grated cheese. No one wanted to wait for it to bake, so ate it immediately. We were hungry and impatient. Still great!

  211. This has become our family favorite. Often requested for birthday dinner. I use mozz cheese instead or gruyere. Love it. Great heated up.

  212. Wow! That was so amazing!!

  213. This was the best Mac and Cheese I’ve ever made! My kids ate every bit of it over a 6 or 7 day period! There are only 3 of us so that says a lot for your recipe! I didn’t use gruyere because it was too expensive! I substituted Havarti!

  214. Hi there 🙂

    Not sure if this has been already asked so apologies in advance – I live in the UK and although I have measuring cups, do you know the rough metric measurements so I know how much to buy at shops etc?

    Thanks

  215. I’m making this for about fifty people this weekend, but when I did my test run, I was pretty disappointed because it wasn’t cheesy enough?? Does four cups mean four cups grated or 32 oz of cheese? I just want it to be perfect and maybe it’s my misunderstanding?? Please help

  216. I made this tonight with Sharpe cheddar and swiss gruyere baked for 20 mins @ 375 degrees. Broiled for 5 mins…made a nice crunchy top.
    Can’t say enough but this mac and cheese is the BOMB.

  217. I just made this for dinner tonight. But where I’m going to not have a broiler. Can I cook it broil the top and reheat it later in the oven?

  218. Hi (: I am planning on trying out this recipe tonight, it looks to be the best one I have found so far. However, my siblings are picky about “stinky” cheeses like Gruyere (but they like parmesan). Any suggestions on replacements for the gruyere? Thank you! 

    • You can use swiss as a replacement. As stated in other reviews…it’s a very forgiving recipe so using different cheeses doesn’t really mess it up. I do cook it much longer than stated…usually about 40 minutes. I find that 15 minutes isn’t nearly enough time. My family loves it!

  219. Can I freeze this recipe? It sounds amazing and I cannot wait to make!

    • I’ve never attempted to freeze this recipe, so I can’t say for certain that it’ll work out well.

    • I do meal prep and because I had made this before and it was amazing, I thought I’d see if would be good out of the freezer.

      I prepared it and baked it. Then I portioned it out into meal prep containers and froze them.

      Grab one out of the freezer, place a damp paper towel over it and microwave on high for 3 minutes, remove the paper towel, stir,  then heat on high for another 3 minutes and it’s perfect.

  220. This is an excellent mac and cheese, the only thing I did differently was to add 1tbs of Worcestershire sauce 1/2 tsp dried mustard and 1/2 tsp of garlic powder for some extra flavor and some panko crumbs. It came out delicious. The only mac and cheese honestly I ever found better was Lecellier Lobster Macaroni & Cheese with Mascarpone at Disney world which btw I can’t find a recipe for 🙁 ,but as far as classics go this is by far one of the best I have tried.

  221. Great!! I am ditching my current Mac and Cheese recipe for this one! This is SSOSOSOSOSOOOO yummy!

  222. Made this yesterday and it was a hit. It was very easy to make. I love the layering aspect of the recipe. My very fit and skinny friend had four huge servings! It was a hit all around!

  223. Wow is that cheesy…. i did the 5 cheese variation with the highest quality cheeses i could buy locally. It is so cheesy. I think the flavor of the gruyere is a bit overpowering, I kinda wish I replaced it with some other cheese, dunno what i would trade it out for, it does add a complexity so I dunno if it could be replaced.

  224. Could I use rice flour instead of regular flour?

  225. Can I bake this in a 13×9 foil dish?? if so, how long do I bake for and do I keep it at the same temperature? thanks!!

  226. OMG!!! I loved this recipe!! Thank you! I didn’t have Gruyere cheese so I used Gouda cheese instead, added bacon and green onions (and a few other spices- Jamaican style)… It came out great! My family and friends enjoyed it thoroughly. I have been instructed to make more often!! lol

  227. Best recipe. My Husband loved it.Thank you for sharing😊

  228. Hey there, do you think I could substitute Gruyere Cheese for Velveeta cheese? Couldn’t find it. (I can’t wait to try this recipe btw!)

  229. If I am making this the night before should I undercook the noodles a bit?

  230. What’s half&half?

  231. This was a crowd pleasing Mac and cheese. The only thing I changed was to place buttered breadcrumbs on top and baked! I followed instructions (to the letter, I usually don’t) and it was easy.  A little time consuming shredding the cheese but well worth the time. I fed 10 people and sent everyone home with leftovers! 

  232. Thank you for sharing this recipe 

  233. I am an experienced cook and I have made many Mac and cheese recipes. This is by far the easiest and best tasting Mac and cheese recipe I have ever made. The two cheeses were perfect. l won’t make another recipe, this is the best.

  234. Best Mac & Cheese EVER! I doubled the recipe so it would feed 5 for a lazy Sunday lunch. It was so rich, so cheesy and just so good! I did use the seasonings and I think this just added another dimension to the flavour. Thanks for another great recipe!

  235. OUTSTANDING! Will be a “go-to” forever!

  236. I’m looking for a mac and cheese recipe for my daughter’s birthday picnic. Would this hold up if it sat for 30 minutes before serving?

  237. Substituted mozzarella for gruyere, it is the best mac n cheese I’ve made at home!

  238. I followed the step of your recepi and it came out so good. Since my household is not a big fan of cheese and diary products, I only used four cups of medium cheddar cheese (no gruyere cheese), less butter, less flour, 2 cups of half-and-half and whole milk.

    I served steamed broccoli and grilled breast chicken as side dishes. Everybody love it. 🙂 I follow more for other recepi. Thanks, Chunky Chef.

  239. is it milk AND half&half or milk OR half&half??

  240. Loved the cheese combo. Very tasty. I will add a little pepper jack cheese or cayenne pepper for a little spunk next time but lots of folks prefer no ‘spunk’ and this is tasty without delivering the spunk
    .

  241. Can you add truffle oil to this? If so, do you know how much?

  242. Recipe was good (did the 5 cheese version). Tonight we are replacing the pasta with riced cauliflower for a low carb version. It is just as good. 

    • WAIT! Riced Cauliflower… ok how does that work? How much cauliflower did you use and did you have to adjust the recipe? I would love to try this with cauliflower.

      • I didn’t really measure just used almost a large bag of frozen cauliflower that I thawed in the microwave and squeezed out the excess water. Did not adjust anything 

  243. I NEVER comment on recipes, but this is THE MF (sorry, but expletives are necessary!) BEST mac and cheese I’ve ever had let alone made. I just found this recipe by accident and now I’ve sent it to all my friends who trust me. Follow this recipe to the letter and you won’t be sorry.

  244. First attempt at homemade Macaroni and Cheese, and made it for 4th of July, and it could not have turned out better. It was favorite of the whole meal for most. I had to use a different combination of cheeses because I couldn’t find Gruyere, but it was really a hit. It takes much longer than the box I grew up eating, but it was worth the work! Thank you for the post.

  245. It was good used Gouda and cheddar (not a good mix) the pasta was boiled for 8mins then baked at 350 for 15min

  246. Amazing recipe, family loves it and won`t eat any one else`s lol

  247. Absolutely trying this tonight…question though, if I wanted to add bacon 🥓 should I mix it into the cheese sauce or just put it on the top? Also, after I cook the bacon should it “rest” before hand or just throw it in greasy?

    • I would cook the bacon and let it sit on a paper towel lined plate so it soaks up the excess grease, and you can mix it in with the cheese sauce if you want. I usually add about half to the sauce, and half on top.

  248. How many servings does this recipe make?

  249. If I wanna double the recipe, should I double the ingredients and time?

  250. If I choose to add Panko breadcrumbs, do I add them after adding the last layer of shredded cheese on top or do I use the breadcrumbs as a substitute for the last layer of cheese? 

  251. Hands down the best mac n cheese recipe I’ve come across! This is now my go to recipe!

  252. Loved it it was so amazing

  253. This may sound silly (forgive me) but can you actually buy half and half at the supermarket ? This is my first time making this dish and Ive never heard of half and half before 🙂

  254. I made this today and it was absolutely DELICIOUS! Definitely my favorite dish! Plus, it actually takes a bit less time than I imagined, so it’s perfect!
    Here are the slight alterations I chose to do, however to don’t have to do them for the Mac and cheese to be delicious!
    -don’t put olive oil on the pasta. You don’t need it
    -you don’t need to salt the water for the pasta
    -putting bread crumbs on the top is delicious for a good crunch!

  255. This recipe looks delicious!  I am definitely going to try it. I have several types of cheese in my fridge including ‘swiss’ cheese.  Would you recommend adding Swiss cheese to the recipe?

    Thanks

    Theresa 

  256. Haven’t made this yet, but planning on it. I was wondering if I’m using a glass baking dish, would I lower the temperature or keep it at 325? Thanks!

  257. Can you use shredded cheese instead of grated?

  258. This is wonderful. I will definitely make it again.

  259. Can you cook this in crock pot?

  260. Excellent creamy and oh, so cheesy of a dish!
    My family loved it. I know I will be making this again and again.

  261. I love how you use gif for the photos, interesting to see. I like to have baked mac and cheese on rainy night. Will give this recipe a try with bacon topping. Thanks so much.

  262. I’ve mad crock pot Mac & Cheese, I’ve made baked Mac & Cheese… every time they just came out okay… this recipe though, I loved this! This is what I was looking for in a Mac & Cheese dish. Even my little one loved it. The only change I made was was the Guyere cheese. I couldn’t find it in our stores so I substituted it with smoked Gouda and it was amazing! This is definitely my go to baked Mac recipe from now on! Delicious!

    • I’ve seen several people say they couldn’t find Gruyere. I know that Krogers has the biggest selection of cheese. Try there if you haven’t yet. 😊

      • Hi, I searched multiple stores and eventually found it buried right near the DELI with other fancy cheeses, not in the actual cheese section🙃
        Hope that helps someone!

  263. This is the first time I’ve ever made mac & cheese and I’m so glad I came across this recipe. It was fabulous! I used cheddar cheese, mozzarella & smoked Gouda with some Old Bay seasoning. Yummerzzz!!!!

  264. I forgot to pick up half and half at the store today. Would using all whole milk still work without changing the consistency or flavor? 

  265. Followed the recipe exactly. I was a little worried that it would be too soupy, but it bakes up creamy and perfect, not soupy at all. My husband and I both agree that it was the best mac and cheese we’ve ever had. This is also a perfect dish to bring to parties, potlucks, etc. Absolutely amazing!

  266. A really delicious Mac and cheese recipe! I think layering the noodles and cheese is the key. Genius! I had to change it up with the cheese because I didn’t have all of the ones from the recipe. I used 12 oz cheddar, 8 oz Monterey Jack, 4 oz queso fresco and 4 oz cream cheese. I melted the cream cheese into the butter mixture. I also put a little cayenne pepper in with the spices. I made this for a family party and it was a big hit. I will definitely make this again! Thank you!

  267. Amazing. 5 stars

  268. Made it today, the 4 year old I had lunch with gave it a thumbs up and said “This is good, I don’t want to eat kid macaroni and cheese anymore. Only this kind!” She ended up eating her bowl then half her Nana’s. I was too lazy to weight the cheese so I think I may have used about a cup too much Cheddar. But it was DELICIOUS and I’ll still manage to choke the rest down.

    #1stworldproblems

  269. I have tried many mac and cheese recipes and this one hit the mark. The entire family loved it. My roux was runny; therefore I added more flour (approx. 1-2 T) to thicken it up and cooked it until it turned a golden brown color. I used mild cheddar, Gruyere, and Colby-jack cheese. I also added dry mustard, onion and garlic powder. Next time will try the Habanero cheddar as mentioned in another reply below.

  270. Sooooo amazing!! I used Gouda in stead of the Gruyere and it turned out phenomenal! Thank you so much! 

    • I loooove Gouda cheese and was wanting to use that instead so I’m glad I found your comment saying it turned out awesome! Did you still use the medium sharp cheddar as well?

  271. My family LOVED this recipe! This will now be my “go to” macaroni and cheese recipe. Thank you so much for sharing.

  272. Super good, for anyone who wants to keep the richness of the Gruyere, but add some kick. Boar’s Head makes an amazing Chipotle smoked Gouda. The spice and bit of smokiness is really good in Mac & Cheese. Note, there’s NOTHING wrong with this recipe. I’d eat it as written multiple times a week. If you like heat another good swap’s Habenero Cheddar. Depending on where you live it might not be easy to find, but it’s gooooodness. Going to go shopping tonight to get the stuff to make it with Habanero Cheddar and Chipotle smoked Gouda.

  273. Added Cotija! Delish.

  274. Made this for Easter 2019. Going to make it again for Memorial Day BBQ. It is heaven on earth!

  275. The color looks so yummy. I like cheese, so will try this recipe soon. Thanks for the post.

  276. My daughter just made this for the first time and said it was the best homemade macaroni and cheese she has ever made!

  277. I loved the recipe. I made this for my high school Culinary Arts class. I made the 5 cheese variation and baked it at 350 F for 20 minutes and it was so tasty. I never have even thought of the idea of layering the mac and cheese like lasagna and it proved to be a success!

  278. Can this be frozen then baked a week later?

  279. Hello, I recently made this and it turned out great. Be FOREWARNED it is riiiiiicccccchhhhh! I did modify the mixture more to what my family is used to for Macaroni and Cheese.

    So what did I do?
    – Omitted buttering the dish. There is no need given the amount of fat in the dish.
    – Omitted 1/2 cup of half and half (oh don’t worry, I bring the fat back).
    – Omitted the Paprika
    – Omitted the added salt. Again between the salt in the pasta water and the salt naturally in the cheese, you do not need extra salt. Your choice on that though.

    So what did I add?
    – Added 1/2 cup of sour cream to replace the 1/2 cup of half and half removed.
    – Added 1/2 tsp. of dried mustard (Colemans).
    – Added 1/2 tsp. of onion powder.
    – Added 1/2 cup of Parmesan, divided. I put 1/4 cup in the cheese sauce mixture and 1/4 cup was sprinkled on the top as the last step before baking.

    Other changes:
    – Used 1 eight ounce block each of Extra Sharp Cheddar, COJACK, and Swiss cheeses.
    – Made it Gluten Free by using Bob’s Red MIll One 4 One flour and Barilla’s GF Elbows. Both of which worked well. The Barilla only has 12 oz of pasta vice a pound of conventional pasta, but it works perfectly fine.

  280. This is absolutely delicious and rich. Such a comfort food. I added chunks of ham to mine.
    Thank you.

  281. Yum! Simply Yum!! 

  282. I have made this for a year now and my friends call it comfort “crack!!  Also use Cougar Gold and it’s amaaazing!   Thank you chunky ached for this fantastic fool proof recipe!