Mac and cheese is a classic dish and one of the best comfort foods out there, and it’s also one of the first things that many people learn to cook. However, at that time, the focus is on easy, rather than good, and it’s well worth learning how to make this dish as delicious as possible.
The best mac and cheese recipe should be stuffed with bubbling, crispy cheese. The sauce should be creamy and rich, with tender pasta in the middle and as much flavor as possible. It should not be too greasy, but should certainly be cheesy!
The Best Mac And Cheese Recipe Filling
So, how do you make a really good mac and cheese? There are lots of methods and everyone has their own favorite mac and cheese recipe creamy option, or mac and cheese recipe simple go-to. This recipe is a great mix of being easy and being super tasty.
You are going to need:➔ ½ cup of butter
➔ 4 cups of grated cheddar cheese
➔ 2 cups of Gruyere cheese
➔ ½ cup of flour
➔ ½ a minced onion
➔ 2 ½ cups of half and half
➔ 1 ½ cups of whole milk
➔ ½ teaspoon of paprika
➔ 1/3 teaspoon of black pepper
➔ 1 pound of macaroni pasta
Now, let’s look at how to make the best mac and cheese recipe. Note that if you want to make the mac and cheese recipe creamy, you can add some cream to it in place of some of the half and half or the milk. To make this mac and cheese recipe simple, leave out the onion.
Step 1) Boil your macaroni pasta for a minute less than instructed by the packaging, as it will continue to cook when you transfer it to the oven.
Step 2) Drain the pasta and cover it again.
Step 3) Preheat the oven to 320 degrees F and grease a baking dish to pour the macaroni into later.
Step 4) Grate both your cheeses and mix them together, and then divide the mixed cheeses into three groups. You want around three cups to add to your sauce, and then the remaining three cups should be divided equally between the inner layer and the topping (one and a half cups for each).
Step 5) Melt the butter and finely chop the onion and stir it into the butter. Allow it to cook for two minutes, until soft and translucent.
Step 6) Working slowly, sprinkle the flour into the mixture and keep stirring it in until it is absorbed. Allow it to cook for three minutes, stirring constantly.
Step 7) Take the pan off the heat and slowly add two cups of the milk, stirring all the while to combine. You do not want to end up with lumps in the mix, so make sure you squash any out as you add the liquid.
Step 8) Add the remaining milk and half and half (or cream if you want to make the mac and cheese recipe creamy) and stir until the sauce is completely smooth and there are no lumps.
Step 9) Return the sauce to the heat and allow it to thicken, stirring it constantly. It should become very thick as the flour expands.
Step 10) Stir in the paprika and pepper, and gradually add the cheese. Take the pan off the heat and keep stirring until the cheese has completely melted and the sauce is smooth.
Step 11) Pour the melted cheese sauce over the cooked pasta and stir well.
Step 12) Tip half of the pasta and melted cheese into your greased baking dish, and then top with one and a half cups of cheese, sprinkling it evenly over the surface.
Step 13) Add the other half of the pasta on top of this layer and top it with the remaining grated cheese.
Step 14) Transfer to the oven and then bake for fifteen minutes, or slightly longer. You want the top to turn golden with some dark spots where the cheese has been crisped.
Step 15) Serve piping hot!
This is the best way to keep a mac and cheese recipe simple, but there are so many twists that you can use to make the recipe different and experiment with new things. Remember, simple is not always better, so if you feel like being a bit adventurous, why not try some of the ideas below?
Mac And Cheese Recipe Sauce
Obviously, what matters in mac and cheese is the sauce, so let’s look at the mac and cheese recipe sauce and see what else can be done to make it interesting!
Firstly, if you prefer, you can use just whole milk for your recipe, rather than using half and half. It won’t be as rich, but it will be a bit healthier. If you would like a richer sauce, swap more of the milk for cream or half and half.
Another great way to make the mac and cheese recipe sauce more interesting is to add more spices. Things like bay leaves can give you a rich flavor that melds well with the cheese, so try cooking these into your butter before you add the flour, and removing them before you add the milk.
Oregano is another popular choice herb to add or try some chives. Remember, you can take the onion out of the above recipe if you prefer, but it gives the sauce more depth of flavor.
Some people like to add a stock cube to the sauce, and others like to include a bit of garlic to kick it. Chili can also be added, and you can vary what kinds of cheeses you use. Many people enjoy adding Parmesan, and the stringiness brought by mozzarella is also fun.
For a really interesting mac and cheese recipe sauce, try adding a blue cheese like Stilton, or swap some of the milk for plant milk like almond. Many people find that cashew nuts go well with cheese, although there are some environmental concerns surrounding the use of cashew nuts, so you might prefer to try something like soy or oat.
Whatever you decide to use in your recipe, don’t be afraid to experiment and try things. There are lots of twists on the classic mac and cheese option, so find one that appeals to you and give it a whirl!
Mac And Cheese Recipe For Crock Pot
If you have spent a long and wintry day at work, there’s nothing better than a comforting bowl of creamy, steamy mac and cheese, and with a mac and cheese recipe for crock pot, you can make that happen!
It only takes an hour and a half to cook, so it’s best to put it on when you get home from work, rather than before you leave.
It can then bubble away while you get other things in your household under control, and fortunately, it needs minimal attention during that time. This is a very easy mac and cheese recipe in crock pot, so it’s easy to handle while doing other things.
Simply pour boiling water over your pasta, drain it, and put it in the slow cooker. Next, grate 100 grams of mature cheddar, 20 grams of Parmesan, and 20 grams of Gruyere, and add it to the slow cooker as well.
Cut 50 grams of butter and 50 grams of cream cheese into cubes, and tip them into the slow cooker. Finally, add 600 milliliters of milk and stir well before putting the lid on.
Cook the dish on low for one hour, and then stir it again and put the lid back on. Leave it to cook for another thirty minutes, and stir again. Check that the macaroni has cooked, and add a little more milk if it’s looking dry, or leave the lid off if it’s looking wet.
Cook for ten more minutes, and then serve it bubbling hot. You can top it with extra cheese if you want. This is a great mac and cheese recipe crockpot style, and you can’t beat the simplicity!
Other Mac And Cheese Options To Try
If you’re a big fan of the Chick fil A mac and cheese recipe, you’re in luck because it isn’t too hard to recreate it at home! The trick lies in using the right cheeses. Try a blend of Parmesan, Romano, Colby Jack, and American cheese.
The American cheese makes a great, rich, but non-oily base, while the others will bring the dish flavor and complexity.
What about a mac and cheese recipe gluten free style? Fortunately, you’re in luck here too! As long as you can source some gluten free pasta and some gluten free flour (which is becoming increasingly easy), this is very simple to make.
Just swap your macaroni for any gluten free pasta you can find. Macaroni shapes are best of course, but any short pasta should work. Try shells or tubes if you can’t get hold of macaroni locally.
Then, all you have to do is switch the flour for a gluten free flour blend. If you can get a good one, you shouldn’t even notice the change. Overall, the recipe should taste almost exactly the same, so you don’t have to miss out on a favorite meal if you’ve recently been diagnosed with celiac disease!
In fact, gluten free macaroni is just as easy to make as regular macaroni, so this makes a fantastic go-to meal that you can depend on when life is busy and you want a simple, comforting option.
If you’re looking for a mac and cheese recipe stovetop option, that can also be done. This is a great way to make dinner because when you crack out a mac and cheese recipe on stove, you don’t have nearly as many dishes afterward – it is all done in a single pot, even the pasta, and the sauce!
You can achieve this by making the sauce thinner in the first place with water, and then adding the uncooked pasta to it before you add the cheese. Simply allow the pasta to bubble away in the white sauce until it is al dente and then take it off the heat and stir in a good helping of freshly grated cheese.
The only sad thing about cooking mac and cheese exclusively on the stove is that you don’t get that bubbly brown top. You can sprinkle some toasted breadcrumbs over the pasta to help give it a bit of crispiness, but otherwise, this is a perfect recipe!
Tips And Tricks
Let’s look at a few more tips for making the ultimate mac and cheese, whatever approach you choose to take!
Step 1) Always use a small pasta shape so that it will hold onto plenty of the cheesy sauce. Long, thin kinds of pasta do not work very well in mac and cheese.
Step 2) Add ingredients to your white sauce slowly. Whether it’s the milk or the cheese, dumping everything in at once tends to make it lumpy and unpleasant. Instead, you should tip a little at a time into the pan, while the pan is not on the heat.
Step 3) Use a blend of cheeses. Mac and cheese with just one cheese in there can be boring and flat. Add at least two for a proper rich flavor and satisfying texture. Don’t be afraid to experiment, either; everyone has favorites, so find the cheeses that work for you.
Step 4) Add some crunch. If you like a really crispy topping, sprinkle on breadcrumbs or toasted sesame seeds.
Step 5) Experiment with extra ingredients, like bacon, herbs, tomatoes, some caramelized onion, a bit of wilted spinach, etc. Sprigs of rosemary, dashes of brown sauce, and a little bit of brown sugar also make interesting additions. This will make the dish “yours” and perfect for you!
Mac and cheese recipes should be decadent and delicious, and hopefully, these recipes have helped you to find the ultimate dish you’ll enjoy. Try out all the ideas for different flavors and twists on the classic; you can’t go very wrong with mac and cheese!