Baked Mac And Cheese Casserole Recipe - Tasting Table (2024)

Recipes Dish Type Pasta and Noodle Recipes

Baked Mac And Cheese Casserole Recipe - Tasting Table (1)

Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

ByMichelle McGlinn/

Who doesn't love ooey gooey, cheese-covered macaroni noodles, especially with a crispy breadcrumb topping? Mac and cheese is a classic side dish that has a seat at any holiday's table. While it's perfectly fine to make your mac and cheese on the stovetop, baking it in a casserole dish makes the cheese a little thicker, and crisps up a golden brown panko topping.

This baked mac and cheese recipe shared by developer Michelle McGlinn melts together mozzarella, fontina, and white cheddar cheese for an irresistibly delicious dish. The 3 rich cheeses are joined by fresh thyme and garlic, then topped with buttery breadcrumbs for a perfectly cozy casserole. This mac and cheese is easy to customize, too: add chorizo for a spicy kick, or shredded chicken for added protein. Mac and cheese is surprisingly easy to make, and comes together in just a few active minutes, leaving the rest of the work to the oven. It's the perfect side dish for any meal, and is sure to please guests of any age. Keep reading to find out this mac and cheese casserole recipe.

Ingredients needed to make baked mac and cheese casserole

Baked Mac And Cheese Casserole Recipe - Tasting Table (2)

Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

First things first, you need macaroni. It's not totally necessary to use elbow macaroni in mac and cheese, so if you have rotini or fusilli on hand, give those a try instead. You'll want to use around 8 ounces, or about half of a standard box of noodles.

For the sauce, you'll need butter, flour, milk, and a couple different cheeses. Any milk will work fine, but whole milk will give you the thickest and richest sauce. This recipe calls for mozzarella, white cheddar, and fontina — all deliciously melty and balanced in flavor. If you can't find fontina, try Gruyère — an equally melty cheese. If you'd prefer regular cheddar to white, just swap it for mild cheddar.

To finish the sauce, you'll just need garlic powder, fresh or dried thyme, salt, pepper, and panko breadcrumbs. Panko will be a little crunchier than standard, fine breadcrumbs, but you can swap them in a pinch.

Make the panko topping

Baked Mac And Cheese Casserole Recipe - Tasting Table (3)

Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Cook the pasta about a minute less than al dente, so that it cooks to perfection in the oven. You can make the panko topping after making the sauce, but it is easiest to throw together the topping before getting into the sauce. Just mix together 2 tablespoons of melted butter, a pinch of salt, and the panko breadcrumbs, until the panko is slightly moistened. We aren't looking for a super wet crumb, just enough to help it brown in the oven. Set aside.

Whisk together the sauce

Baked Mac And Cheese Casserole Recipe - Tasting Table (4)

Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Most macaroni sauces will start with a roux to help it thicken. To make the roux, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a pot, then whisk the flour into the melted butter, until smooth. The flour will try to clump together —just keep whisking until smooth. Don't allow the roux to burn, or the sauce will have a bitter taste.

Pour in the milk 1 cup at a time, whisking as you pour to avoid scalding, and break up any clumps. The milk will thicken slightly from the flour, but will still be thin after 3 minutes.Stir in the cheeses one at a time, melting each one down before adding the next. The fontina cubes will take the longest to melt, so add thethyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepperto taste while melting the fontina.

Add the pasta, bake, then serve

Baked Mac And Cheese Casserole Recipe - Tasting Table (5)

Michelle McGlinn/Tasting Table

Add the cooked and drained pasta to the sauce, then stir until the pasta is completely coated. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then carefully pour the mixture into a casserole dish. This will fit in most casserole dishes, but will best fit a 9-by-11-inch dish. Sprinkle your prepared panko mixture on top, then add a few thyme sprigs. Bake uncovered for around 30 minutes to crisp the panko, and thicken the sauce.

This mac and cheese is delicious on its own, or when paired with spicy chorizo or baked chicken. If serving this as a side dish, serve it alongside steaks, fried chicken, or pork chops. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container, and reheated in the microwave, though you might notice some dryness in the noodles. If you plan on having leftovers, add more milk to the sauce to ensure better reheating.

Baked Mac And Cheese Casserole Recipe

4.8 from 61 ratings

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Learn how to make this baked mac and cheese casserole recipe with 3 types of cheese, and a crispy panko topping.

Prep Time

5

minutes

Cook Time

40

minutes

Servings

4

Servings

Baked Mac And Cheese Casserole Recipe - Tasting Table (6)

Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups mozzarella, shredded
  • 1 cup sharp white cheddar, shredded
  • ¼ cup fontina cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • ½ tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, plus more for topping
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions —just under al dente.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the panko with 2 tablespoons melted butter, and a pinch of salt until moist. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat, melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour, and mix constantly until smooth and golden.
  4. Whisking constantly, add the milk 1 cup at a time, incorporating into the roux until smooth. Allow to thicken slightly, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the mozzarella, and stir until smooth. Add the cheddar, and stir until combined. Add the fontina, and allow to melt into the sauce, stirring frequently to avoid burning. If the sauce becomes too thick, add more milk.
  6. Stir in the thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the cooked macaroni, and combine until noodles are coated.
  7. Pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the panko blend generously on top, then add thyme sprigs. Place in the oven, and bake until panko is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, and serve immediately.

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Baked Mac And Cheese Casserole Recipe - Tasting Table (2024)

FAQs

Why is my baked mac and cheese not creamy? ›

Pro Tip: Don't use pre-shredded cheese. Many store-bought shredded cheese brands coat their cheese with an anti-caking agent than can make sauces grainy and less creamy. While it requires a bit of an arm workout, grating your own yields the best texture.

How does Gordon Ramsay make the best mac and cheese? ›

Preparation
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the pasta and milk. ...
  2. Once the pasta is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. ...
  3. Divide between serving bowls and top with the bread crumbs.
  4. Enjoy!
  5. All your favorite recipes, stored in one place.
May 4, 2023

Why add flour to baked mac and cheese? ›

Both the flour and the cheese help thicken the sauce.

Is evaporated milk better than heavy cream for mac and cheese? ›

It is better to use heavy cream for Mac and Cheese instead of milk, or better yet, use evaporated milk which has the thickness of heavy cream without all of the fat! Furthermore, it is more stable than heavy cream so your Macaroni and Cheese is less likely to curdle or separate.

Is evaporated milk better than milk for mac and cheese? ›

Why Evaporated Milk Makes Better Mac. That higher concentration of milk proteins means evaporated milk is more stable, so it's less likely to “break” or curdle.

What are the 3 best cheeses for mac and cheese? ›

Cheddar, Gruyère, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Fontina, and Gouda cheese are good options.

What is the most flavorful cheese for mac and cheese? ›

Choosing the best cheese for your mac and cheese
  • Gouda - aged gouda can spike your mac and cheese with deeper, pungent flavors, while a smoked Gouda has a meatiness that never disappoints.
  • Blue cheese can add real zing to any mac and cheese.
  • Feta features a tart and salty Mediterranean taste.

What can I add to macaroni and cheese to make it taste better? ›

8 Ways to Elevate Your Macaroni and Cheese Dinners
  1. Add extra cheese to your dish.
  2. Mix in some hot sauce and chicken to make buffalo chicken mac n' cheese.
  3. Add in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.
  4. Sprinkle some bacon bits or breadcrumbs on the top of your dish.
  5. Add spices and fresh herbs to your dish.
May 21, 2022

Why is my homemade mac and cheese bland? ›

If your mac and cheese tastes bland, it's either because it's under-seasoned, you didn't use flavorful cheese, or you didn't use enough cheese. Try adding a little more salt first, because that might fix it.

How do you keep mac and cheese creamy? ›

If you want a very creamy mac n' cheese, you can add Velveeta processed cheese or American cheese (from the deli) to your melted cheese base mixture. The American cheese provides the creaminess you are looking for, and when reheating the mac n' cheese add a little bit of milk.

Can you put too much cheese in mac and cheese? ›

Too much cheese will result in a dish that is heavy and greasy. Should I bake my mac and cheese covered or uncovered? Macaroni and cheese is generally baked uncovered so the topping browns and crisps.

Why isn't my mac and cheese sauce creamy? ›

Cook your noodles in milk instead of water

According to The Kitchn, cooking your noodles in milk instead of water makes the sauce creamy before you even add the cheese sauce. The starches in the noodles get released as you cook them, helping to thicken the mixture from the start.

Why is my homemade mac and cheese not smooth? ›

Details... By paying attention to the quality of ingredients, heat control, and technique, you can often achieve a smoother and creamier mac and cheese. Make sure you are using a good melting cheese, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Gruyère. Cheeses that are aged or overly processed can result in a grainy texture.

How do you keep mac and cheese creamy after baking? ›

Stir in about 2 Tbs. of milk per 1 cup of mac and cheese and reheat,” he says. The milk loosens up the pasta and helps create the creamy sauce as it's reheating. Heavy cream works well in this case too and adds an extra touch of richness to the mac and cheese.

How do you heat up mac and cheese to make it creamy again? ›

Add 1 tablespoon of milk per cup of mac and cheese and mix to incorprate as much as possible. *If you'd like to add more creaminess and flavor, substitute half-and-half or cream. 3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven at 350°F for 20-30 minutes, or until heated through.

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