Buckle your seatbelt because this cream baked mac and cheese recipe is going to take you for a spin! It uses the optimal combination of cheeses to make the creamiest, cheesiest, most comforting macaroni and cheese you’ll ever have! Don’t believe me? Give this recipe a try. You won’t be disappointed… I promise!
Macaroni and cheese is the perfect family recipe because it’s a dish that’s loved by both children and adults. In fact, this recipe was a hit with our whole family. It uses three different kinds of cheese to create a rich, creamy sauce that’s velvety smooth until the last bite.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Yes, this recipe requires you to boil the pasta and perform some prep work before finally baking the mac and cheese inside a baking dish. Trust me, it’s all worth it!
Cheese for Mac and Cheese
Perhaps the most important ingredient(s) in macaroni and cheese is the cheese itself. The type of cheese you use in your recipe can either make or break your dish.
In order to bake up the creamiest, cheesiest version of mac and cheese, combining these kinds of cheeses makes the magic happen:
- Extra-sharp white cheddar blocks (2)
- Deli-style American cheese block
- Philadelphia cream cheese
- Boil the pasta until al-dente (undercooked and still firm – about 4 – 5 minutes)
- DO NOT use pre-shredded cheese. Buy your cheese in a block and shred it at home. The anti-caking agent in packaged shredded cheese from the supermarket prevents the cheese from melting smoothly.
- A food processor can help you quickly grate your cheese if you have the right attachment.
- Creamy cheeses work best like cheddar, American, gruyere, and Colby Jack. This recipe even uses cream cheese to produce the perfect texture.
- Use ingredients that have been warmed to room temperature like milk, butter, cheese, etc…
- Feel free to add extras to this recipe like bacon or crumbled crackers to the top of the dish before you bake it.
Storing Macaroni and Cheese
The final dish can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator. Add it to air-tight containers or cover the baking dish tightly with plastic wrap. Before storing it in the refrigerator, make sure it has cooled down to room temperature.
Can Macaroni and Cheese be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze your cooked macaroni and cheese. All you have to do is divide single-serve portions into airtight freezer safe containers.
To reheat, simply place the frozen mac and cheese onto a microwave-safe plate and microwave for 3-4 minutes on high. Check doneness by mixing with a spoon or fork and microwave on high for an additional 1-2 minutes until done.
Macaroni & Cheese Variations
- Macaroni & Cheese Crescent Bombs
- Baked Mac & Cheese with Potato Smiles
- Muffin Tin Mac & Cheese cups
- Bacon Mac & Cheese Bake
Creamy Homemade Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Pyrex Deep Dish 9" x13" pan (3 quart baking dish with deep walls)
- Food processor with grater attachment
- 6 quart stockpot
- large mixing bowl
- 1 pound macaroni cooked al dente
- 1 tsp. olive oil
- 1 stick unsalted butter softened
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups half & half
- 1 tsp. kosher salt divided, for cheese sauce flavor and pasta water.
- ½ tsp. black ground pepper
- ½ tsp. dry mustard powder
- 16 ounces New York style sharp cheddar shredded off the block
- 1 pound Deli-style American cheese block We used Cooper Cheese shredded off the block.
- 8 ounces cream cheese softened
- Boil pasta until al dente in salted water. I add 1/2 tsp. of salt to my water while boiling for flavor.
- Using a food processor, grate cheddar and American cheese and set aside.
- Over medium heat, melt butter in a large saucepan. Once melted, whisk in the flour and continue to whisk until combined. Slowly pour in 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of half and half while continuously whisking. Add the rest of the milk and whisk. Mixture should be thick and smooth and not bumpy; add spices.
- Once pasta is al dente, strain pasta, and mix with 1 tsp of oil. Add pasta to the Pyrex dish; and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Reduce stove temperature to lowest setting, and stir in the cream cheese. Whisk to combine. Mixture will thicken up even more.
- Add half of the shredded cheese to the thickened sauce, and whisk until combined, and lump-free.
- Pour creamy cheese sauce over the pasta and mixing pasta with a rubber spatula to coat all surfaces.
- Add remaining cheese and bake for 20 minutes at 350°F. until cheese is golden brown with tiny bubbles on top as seen in the image above.