Baked Mac and Cheese: A recipe with no surprises and only goodness. The crunchy top with creamy, cheesy heaven beneath it, waiting for you.
All good recipes can step aside, ‘coz its time for Baked Mac n Cheese to enter the stage. Mac and cheese are like the shows stopper of a modeling show. Or like the Cherry blossom during the Spring. It is something that we have eyes on from the beginning.
Some of my tips to make Best Baked Mac and Cheese in this world
I know you’ve made it a lot of times. But, making this also needs some special care. Sometimes the easiest recipes turn out to be the trickiest ones. Well, there is nothing to worry about. This is not something that should make you shy away from making your favorite Mac and Cheese.
- Try to make the sauce as much as you can. The more the cheese sauce the better it is. In fact, if you are planning to store it in the fridge then having a lot of this cheese sauce is going to turn out a boon for you.
- Always prefer shredding your own cheese. This has two specific reasons. a) When we get the packed shredded cheese that has got cellulose (anti-caking agent) and that is not good for us and it won’t even melt the way you want B) Its fun to grate your own cheese. Isn’t it? Work on some of your muscles coz your about to be digging in some cheesy, creamy, tasty delight in no time.
- Stirring constantly is the key to a good, creamy Mac and Cheese. As soon as Milk hits the pan, you should keep stirring constantly.
- Do not overcook your elbow, Macaroni Pasta. Cook, it one-minute shy of the time mentioned on the package. After all, who wants a Mac that is soggy?
- The First step of this recipe is creating a perfect roux. To make the roux you need an equal quantity of flour (starch) and butter (fat). And, then cook it completely until you see it bubbling on the top. Once you see the bubbles on the top, cook for another 2 minutes before you add your cheese. (Yes! This is important) Cook until the cheese sauce coats the spatula or spoon. And you are able to draw a clean line across the spoon.
- Always use cold milk. No, warm milk is gonna make your flour clump and you will have lumps.
- To make it a little crunchy, once your baking is done. Broil for an additional 2-minutes.
Check out the video and learn how to make Mac and Cheese
What Kind of Cheese Should I use?
I have used Mozzarella Cheese and Monterey Jack. This is what I love. But you can use anything you want. Cheddar and Gruyere is an excellent combination. But Mozzarella gives that cheesiness which I prefer.
Is it Possible to Make Mac and Cheese Ahead of time?
Of Course, Yes! You can always prepare everything. Complete the layering and then pop it in the freezer for about 3-5 days. But, once you are ready to eat, let it come down to room temperature and then pop it in the oven.
What Happens when we store cooked Mac and Cheese?
Like all foodies, I don't like saving my food for later. But sometimes there is too much and we have no choice but to keep it in the fridge. But when you are making Mac and Cheese, it is always recommended that you don't keep it in the fridge. Why? Because the creaminess of the sauce will be gone when you are about to eat it the next time.
What are Some Other Variations of this Recipe
- Garlic Powder - Just add some Garlic Powder while making your cheese sauce. It will pair excellently with the cheese.
- Bacon - If you want a cheesy top with some crunch in the middle then adding some cooked bacon slices will be an excellent option.
- Onion Powder - You can also add some Onion powder while preparing the cheese sauce. Besides, bringing in a little sweetness it will also make it taste better.
- Cayenne Pepper - A Pinch of Cayenne Pepper along with smoked paprika would bring in a gorgeous taste in your Mac and Cheese.
- Chicken - You can also add some small cubes of cooked chicken while making Mac and cheese to give this a meaty texture.
Baked Mac and Cheese
- 1 lb Elbow Macaroni arount 16oz or 500g
- 1½ tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 tablespoon Salted Butter
- 6 tablespoon All-Purpose Flour
- 3 Cup Half and Half/Milk cold
- 4 Cup Mozzarella Cheese shredded
- 2 Cup Monterey Jack Cheese shredded
- 1½ teaspoon Salt or as per taste
- 1 teaspoon Grounded Black Pepper or as per taste
- 1½ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoon Butter melted
- ½ teaspoon Smoked Paprika
- ½ teaspoon Freshly grounded Black Pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F or 180 degrees C.
- Cook pasta in a bowl containing saltwater, one minute less than it is mentioned on the package. Once, its done, drain it and keep it in a large bowl.
- In a deep saucepan, melt butter at medium heat. Add flour and whisk constantly. Stir for about 2 minutes until golden brown.
- Add milk to your cheese sauce and keep stirring constantly. Don't let any lump form in the sauce.
- Season the sauce with Salt and Pepper as per your taste. Once the sauce starts bubbling (after about 5-6 minutes of constant stirring) whisk for another 2 minutes. Until the sauce coats, the back of the spoon or spatula and you can draw a clean line across your spoon.
- Turn off the heat. Add your cheese and whisk it in.
- Add this cheese sauce to your cooked pasta. Mix it well.
- Pour half of the mixture on a baking tray. Top with some Mozzarella Cheese and Monterey Jack Cheese. Add another layer of mixture and top with some more cheese.
- In an another medium sized bowl mix panko breadcrumbs with melted butter, smoked paprika and black pepper. Sprinkle on the top.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes until its bubbly on the sides and golden brown on the top. Broil for 2 minutes for that extra crunch on the top.
- Serve with some Parseley on the top.
- You can replace Mozzarella and Monterey Jack cheese with Cheddar and Gruyere.
- You can also add some Parmesan Cheese with panko breadcrumb topping.