Try this staple recipe for the ultimate comforting side dish! Made with two types of cheese and a whole lot of spice, this is the Best Classic Mac and Cheese Recipe you’ll make all year!
The best traditional mac and cheese recipe
What’s cozy and cheesy and always a good meal idea? Macaroni and cheese, of course! And when it’s this good, it’s impossible to not have seconds.
Today, I’m showing you how to make the best classic mac and cheese recipe made with lots of butter and milk and two different kinds of cheese. To finish it off, we add a special breadcrumb layer that transforms the top of the dish into golden brown deliciousness!
Ingredients in this classic macaroni and cheese
Classic macaroni and cheese is made with a variety of cheeses. That’s the golden rule! For the best flavor, two different types are a must. This one uses a blend of cheddar and gruyere (5.5 cups of cheese total) for the ultimate creamy dish.
- Noodles: First up are the noodles. You’ll need 16 oz of elbow macaroni.
- Butter: Next, you will need some butter. You will need 1 tbsp and 1 stick, divided.
- Flour: Flour will help thicken up the macaroni and cheese. Use 1/2 cup.
- Milk: Next, achieve the right texture with the addition of 4 cups of whole milk.
- Cheddar cheese: Finally, the cheese! Use 3 cups of freshly shredded cheddar and 2.5 cups of freshly shredded gruyere.
- Salt & pepper: Add flavor with 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper.
- Spices: Follow the salt and pepper with 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1/2 tsp of ground mustard, 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika.
- Breadcrumbs: 3/4 cup of panko breadcrumbs will add a nice top layer to the mac and cheese.
- Butter: Near the end of the recipe, you will need 2 more tbsp of butter (melted).
- Salt: Last but not least, finish off the recipe with another 1/4 tsp of salt!
Kitchen tools you’ll need to prepare this recipe
Seven main kitchen tools are needed to make homemade mac and cheese, in addition to a variety of measuring cups. Find the complete list below:
- 9×13 casserole dish
- Large pot
- Large saucepan
- Stirring utensil
- Small mixing bowl
- Measuring cups: 1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp, 1 tsp, 1 tbsp, 1/2 cup, 3/4 cup, 1 cup
How to make the best traditional mac and cheese recipe
Boxed mac and cheese? Forget about it! After giving this recipe a go, you’ll never want to eat mac from the box again. Here’s how this spectacular homemade version is done!
To begin, preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 casserole dish.
Use a large pot to cook the macaroni according to the instructions. Once cooked, drain and add back to the pot with 1 tbsp of butter to prevent sticking.
Then, use a large saucepan to heat a stick of butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until everything is combined. Slowly add in the milk, whisking the entire time. Let this cook for about 8-10 minutes over medium heat or until it turns into a very thick mixture. Be sure to stir often.
Once the milk mixture has thickened greatly, turn off the heat and add the cheese. Stir it in and let it melt. Then, add all of the spices and stir until all of the cheese has melted and is very thick.
Pour the cheese mixture on top of the noodles and mix until well combined.
Pour into the greased 9×13 pan.
Next, use a small bowl to mix together the breadcrumbs, melted butter, and salt. Sprinkle this over the macaroni.
Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbly, and broil for 3-4 minutes at the end for an extra crispy brown crust. Be sure to keep an eye on it to prevent burning!
Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Spice up your mac and cheese with these mix-ins
Did you know that you can add mix-ins to your macaroni and cheese? It’s true! By adding a few extra ingredients, you can totally transform the flavor while still maintaining that great, cozy cheesiness. Here are some ideas!
- Shredded chicken for extra protein
- Bacon (because it deserves to be on the list twice)
If you liked this recipe, you’ll want to try these!
Cook up some delicious recipes that the entire family will enjoy with these casserole ideas. There are options for both breakfast and lunch/dinner! Find even more ideas here.
- Everything Bagel Breakfast Casserole
- Broccoli Cheddar Spaghetti Squash Casserole
- Buffalo Chicken Sweet Potato Casserole
- Easy Pizza Casserole Recipe
All recipes by Erin Morrissey and Photos by Sierra Inn
- 16oz elbow macaroni noodles
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 stick butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 3 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese
- 2.5 cups freshly shredded gruyere cheese
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350F and grease 9×13 casserole dish.
- In a large pot, cook macaroni according to instructions. Drain and then add back to pot with one tbsp butter to keep from sticking.
- In a large sauce pan, heat stick of butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until all combined. Slowly add in the milk, whisking the entire time. Let this cook for about 8-10 minutes over medium heat or until it turns into a very thick mixture. Be sure to stir often.
- Once the milk mixture has thickened greatly, turn off heat and add in cheese. Stir it in and let it melt. Add all the spices to the mixture, and stir until all the cheese has melted and is very thick.
- Pour the cheese mixture over top of the noodles and mix until well combined.
- Pour into greased 9×13 pan.
- In a small bowl, mix together panko, melted butter, and salt. Sprinkle over macaroni.
- Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Broil for 3-4 minutes at the end for an extra crispy brown crust, keep an eye on it!
- Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
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