Baked Mac and Cheese

Baked macaroni and cheese

My darlings, this baked mac and cheese recipe holds a cherished spot in the heart of our family's culinary repertoire. Universally adored by both children and adults, it has served as the centerpiece of many a cozy family meal and the star of numerous holiday spreads. The enticing allure of this dish comes not just from its comforting, familiar flavors, but also from the loving memories that are stirred with each flavorful bite. Whether it's a chilly winter night or a balmy summer evening, the delight that this dish brings to the dining table is unmatched.

This mac and cheese owes its irresistible appeal to a combination of cheeses, thoughtfully selected for their unique contributions to the overall flavor profile. The cheeses are not just tossed in, but carefully layered within the dish, allowing for pockets of rich, gooey deliciousness in every bite. As if that wasn't enough, we also melt these cheeses into a luxuriously creamy sauce that lovingly envelops each morsel of pasta. The result is an explosion of cheesy goodness that keeps everyone reaching for more! Perfect as a soothing dinner on a quiet evening or as an indulgent side dish during the holidays, this baked mac and cheese promises to dazzle your taste buds and warm your heart. Its comforting embrace, carried forth in each creamy, cheesy forkful, is a testament to the power of home-cooked food to deliver love and happiness in its most delicious form.


  • 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 shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • Method

    • 1. Preheat your oven to 325 F (160 C) and grease a 3 qt baking dish (9x13"). Set it aside.

    • 2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When it's boiling, add your dried pasta and cook it 1 minute less than the package directs for al dente. Drain it and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking.

    • 3. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Cook for approximately 1 minute, whisking often.

    • 4. Slowly pour in about 2 cups or so of the half and half, while whisking constantly, until smooth. Slowly pour in the remaining half and half and the whole milk, while whisking constantly, until combined and smooth.

    • 5. Continue to heat over medium heat, whisking very often, until thickened to a very thick consistency. It should almost be the consistency of a semi thinned out condensed soup.

    • 6. Remove from the heat and 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.

    • 7. 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 shredded cheeses, then top that with the remaining pasta mixture.

    • 8. 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.

    Make it a Meal

    Macaroni and Cheese: A Classic Dish with a Twist

    Macaroni and cheese, the ultimate comfort food, has a rich history and a special place in the hearts of many. Whether enjoyed as a simple side dish or elevated to a gourmet creation, this cheesy delight has captured the taste buds of people worldwide. Let's delve into the fascinating history of macaroni and cheese, explore different variations, and share some creative ideas to spice up this beloved dish.

    Macaroni and cheese can trace its origins back to Europe, where a version of this dish was enjoyed as early as the 14th century. The Italians, renowned for their pasta-making skills, introduced macaroni to the rest of Europe during the Renaissance. It wasn't until the 18th century, however, that macaroni and cheese gained popularity in England, thanks to the influence of traveling French and Italian chefs.

    In the United States, macaroni and cheese emerged as a staple in the late 18th century, when Thomas Jefferson encountered the dish during his time in France and brought it back to his homeland. Jefferson's enthusiasm for macaroni and cheese led to its inclusion in a White House dinner in 1802, cementing its place as an American favorite.

    The traditional macaroni and cheese recipe consists of cooked elbow macaroni combined with a rich cheese sauce. Cheddar is the most commonly used cheese due to its smooth texture and sharp flavor, but variations with other cheeses like Gruyère, Monterey Jack, or even a combination of several cheeses can offer exciting twists. Baked versions, where the dish is topped with breadcrumbs and browned in the oven, add a delightful crispy texture.

    Spicing It Up:

    While the classic macaroni and cheese recipe remains beloved, there are countless ways to elevate and customize this timeless dish. Here are a few ideas to add some pizzazz to your mac and cheese:

    1. Add Protein: Boost the nutritional value by incorporating cooked bacon, diced ham, grilled chicken, or sautéed shrimp. These additions provide a delightful contrast to the creamy pasta.
    2. Experiment with Vegetables: Mix in sautéed spinach, roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, or steamed broccoli for a colorful and nutritious twist. Vegetables not only enhance the flavor but also add a refreshing balance to the richness of the cheese.
    3. Spice It Up: For a touch of heat, incorporate chopped jalapeños, cayenne pepper, or hot sauce into the cheese sauce. The subtle kick of spice can elevate the overall taste profile.
    4. Crispy Toppings: Experiment with crunchy toppings like toasted breadcrumbs, crushed potato chips, or even fried onions to add texture and depth to your macaroni and cheese.
    5. Herbaceous Delights: Enhance the flavor with fresh herbs such as parsley, basil, or chives. These herbs bring a vibrant, aromatic touch to the dish.
    6. International Flavors: Infuse your mac and cheese with international flavors by adding ingredients like curry powder, truffle oil, sun-dried tomatoes, or pesto. These additions offer exciting and unexpected taste combinations.

    Macaroni and cheese, a comfort food classic, has come a long way from its humble beginnings. With a rich history and endless possibilities for customization, this dish continues to captivate taste buds around the world. Whether enjoyed as a simple homemade meal or as a gourmet delicacy at a high-end restaurant, macaroni and cheese remains a timeless favorite that brings comfort and satisfaction to people of all ages.

    So, gather your ingredients, get creative, and embark on a macaroni and cheese adventure of your own!