Baked Macaroni and Cheese

4.71 from 17 votes

This baked macaroni and cheese is the ultimate cheesy recipe complete with a crunchy panko topping. Perfect for cookouts, holidays, or any occasion, this side dish is sure to be a hit!

scooping mac and cheese from the baking dish
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This baked macaroni and cheese recipe is the best side dish!

If you need a big casserole to bring to Thanksgiving or a cookout, this baked macaroni is the perfect one to bring.

There is nothing more delicious than a big serving of cheesy creamy baked macaroni and cheese with a buttery crunchy bread crumb topping.

This macaroni recipe features two kinds of cheese, a homemade thick cheese sauce, and a crunchy topping that makes every bite delicious!

While I love a good serving of greek yogurt mac and cheese, this recipe is by no means a lightened up pasta dish. This mac and cheese recipe is pure comfort food.

scooping mac and cheese from the baking dish

Ingredients to make baked mac and cheese

  • elbow macaroni noodles
  • butter
  • all purpose flour
  • whole milk
  • white sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • yellow sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • salt
  • panko style bread crumbs
ingredients to make baked macaroni and cheese

How to make baked macaroni and cheese

Step 1: Cook the elbow macaroni noodles to 1 minute lower than al dente, then drain immediately. You do not want to over cook the pasta since it will also be baking in the oven.

cooked macaroni noodles in a strainer

Step 2: Make the cheese sauce while the macaroni noodles are cooking. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour and whisk 1-2 minutes constantly, until browned. Pour the milk in gradually, whisking until smooth.

Whisk the milk and roux until the sauce thickens, around 7-8 minutes.

Step 3: Remove the cheese sauce from the heat and stir in the salt and 3 cups of the cheese until smooth.

Mix the elbow macaroni into the cheese sauce until the noodles are all coated in cheese sauce.

Step 4: Grease a 9 by 13 baking dish and spread out half of the mac and cheese into the bottom of the dish.

Step 5: Top with 1 cup of the shredded cheese.

Add the last half of the pasta over the cheese, then top with the remaining cheese.

Cover the casserole with the panko bread crumb mixture.

Step 6: Bake the macaroni and cheese at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.

baked macaroni and cheese

What is the best cheese to use for macaroni and cheese?

You want good quality cheese when you are making macaroni and cheese from scratch. Do not skip grating it fresh for the best flavor. We like using a white sharp cheddar and a yellow sharp cheddar for this recipe.

freshly grated cheese on a cutting board

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baked macaroni and cheese
scooping mac and cheese from the baking dish

Macaroni and Cheese FAQs

How do I store leftover mac and cheese?

Leftover macaroni and cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

How do I reheat mac and cheese?

You can reheat individual portions of this macaroni and cheese in the microwave until heated through.

Can I use another type of cheese?

Yes! This would be delicious with different shredded cheeses like Gruyere, Parmesan, Monterey Jack, or Swiss cheese

Can I freeze this mac and cheese?

No, we do not recommend freezing mac and cheese. Once thawed the texture will become mushy and it will lose its creamy consistency.

forkful of mac and cheese
scooping mac and cheese from the baking dish
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scooping mac and cheese from the baking dish
4.71 from 17 votes

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

By: Joy Shull
This baked mac and cheese recipe is a classic comfort food side dish!
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 8 oz white sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar, freshly grated
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

For the Topping

  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions 

  • Cook the elbow macaroni for 1 minute less than al dente, then drain immediately
  • While the pasta is cooking, start on the cheese sauce. Melt the butter in a sauce pan. Add the flour and whisk 1-2 minutes constantly, until browned
  • Pour the milk in gradually, whisking until smooth
  • Continue whisking until the sauce thickens (7-8 minutes)
  • Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the salt and 3 cups of the cheese until smooth
  • Mix the cooked macaroni noodles into the cheese sauce
  • Grease a 9 by 13 baking dish
  • Pour half of the mac and cheese in and spread it out
  • Top with 1 cup of the shredded cheese
  • Add the last half of the pasta
  • Top with the remaining shredded cheese
  • Stir together the ingredients to make the panko topping: bread crumbs, melted butter, and salt.
  • Top the macaroni and cheese with the panko bread crumb mixture
  • Bake the macaroni and cheese at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly

Nutrition

Calories: 570kcal, Carbohydrates: 49g, Protein: 21g, Fat: 32g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 91mg, Sodium: 789mg, Potassium: 305mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 1001IU, Calcium: 466mg, Iron: 1mg
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baked macaroni and cheese

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