Aug
5
2013

How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese

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Appetizers and Sides

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese by Picky Palate

What makes the perfect mac and cheese in your opinion?  Good ol’ Kraft right out of the box? Homemade thick and cheesy on the stovetop? Baked with a crispy topping and lots of ingredients inside?  I think it’s a bit different for everyone, but let me tell you about my perfect mac and cheese.

I like a thick and creamy perfectly flavorful cheese sauce like my picture above shows.  If that sounds good to you, then you will LOVE this recipe too :)

Note, this is part 1 of 2 recipes; part 2 will be coming later this week.  This post shares the base recipe of part 2.  Some of you will enjoy the base recipe as it is the perfect pure mac and cheese with no added ingredients such as onions or chicken for example.

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese-1

Let’s start by cooking your pasta.  Make sure you do NOT overcook your pasta.  You want a nice bite to your pasta so there is texture to the dish.  I always cook it 1 minute less than the box says so there’s a little bite.  The pasta will also cook more in the cheese sauce.

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese-8

Once your pasta is cooked al dente, drain.

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese-9

Let the pasta sit aside for a few minutes while you prepare the roux.

Melting Butter

To make a simple and flavorful roux, start by melting a stick of butter in a medium saucepan.

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese-5

Whisk in the flour.

salt and pepper

Whisk in the salt and pepper.  A very important step is to continue stirring for a good 3-4 minutes until roux turns a bit darker in color.  It becomes richer and even more fabulous.

Milk

Slowly stir in the milk until mixture is thick and creamy.  This step will take a couple minutes over medium heat.

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese-13

Bring on the cheese!

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese-14

I prefer a finely shredded mild cheddar.  It melts quickly and has a perfect “cheddar” flavor.

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese-15

Yes!

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Time to transfer your cooked pasta back to a large dutch oven or pot.

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese-17

Pour that fabulous cheese sauce over your noodles.

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese-19

Almost there!

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese by Picky Palate

Doesn’t get much better than this.  Stay tuned to see what I added to this mac and cheese, coming later this week!

How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese

How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese by Picky Palate Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound dry small pasta, I used elbow
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cups milk, I used skim
  • 2 cups finely shredded mild cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. I recommend cooking the pasta a minute less than the directions.  Drain and set aside for a few minutes.
  2. To prepare roux, melt butter into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes until color of roux gets slightly darker. Slowly whisk in milk, stirring continuously until thickened, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in cheese until melted.
  3. Transfer cooked pasta to large dutch oven or pot over low heat. Pour cheese sauce over top, stirring to combine. This is a thick and creamy sauce. To thin the sauce, add a few tablespoons of milk at a time until at desired consistency.

Makes 6 Servings

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85 Responses | Comments RSS

  1. 51
    Trysha says:

    I add a pinch of nutmeg. Makes a difference and I really miss it when I forget to add it. and now i’m craving mac n cheese at 11o’clock at night.

  2. 52

    This mac n’ cheese look delicious! I’m typically not one to like pot versions of mac n’ cheese when I make it homemade, but I would be willing to give this one a go. The ooey gooey cheesiness makes my mouth water!

  3. 53

    I LIVED off of mac and cheese as a kid – it was my favorite meal and to this day – still totally is. Your roux and cheese sauce looks like heaven in cheese form Jenny! I can’t get over it!

  4. 54
    kenny says:

    I made this! OMG it is so good!!! I also added 1/2 stick cream cheese to the sauce… hehe… and… I may or may not have substituted 1 cup of milk with heavy cream :)

    IT IS IMPORTANT to cook the roux for a few minutes before adding the milk…. I made the mistake of not doing so (out of impatience), and was left with an EXTREMELY thick sauce, which I had to add more considerably more milk to thin-out. (Cooking the roux lessens the thickening power… required & beneficial in this scenario)

  5. 55

    This looks like the best mac & cheese! Now I’m craving this! Pinned! :)

  6. 56
    Julio says:

    This one is going into the recipe bookmark! I will be trying it this Thursday for our Pee Wee football tailgate.

    I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

  7. 57

    […] Recipe from Picky Palate […]

  8. 58
    JoAnna says:

    Made this with some chicken and mixed veggies for myself and the fiance tonight, so I halved the recipe. AMAZING! He told me not to lose this recipe, so I have it printed and stuck in our family cookbook. :)

  9. 59
    Lindsay says:

    Just made this and it was DELICIOUS!

  10. 60
    Heather says:

    I made this recipe tonight with meatloaf. My fiance, my 2 year old daughter and I finished off most of it in one sitting. So good!

  11. 61
    Stacy says:

    I may never make boxed Mac and cheese again. This is coming from a boxed Mac and cheese confectionist. Well done.

  12. 62
    Shaina says:

    We don’t eat nearly enough macaroni and cheese, and I can’t wait to see what you added to this.

  13. 63
    bellini says:

    I like my mac ‘n’ cheese slowly baked in the oven if only for the crunchy bread croutons on top that are a memory from childhood. However, I do love a creamy, luscious stove top version too. Decisions, decisions.

  14. 64
    Emily Burch says:

    Love the recipe!! I hope you don’t mind but I also shared it on my Pampered Chef business page, http://www.facebook.com/emilyspamperedkitchen. I did source your page to my customers/followers and say to come follow you. Thanks, Emily Burch

  15. 65
    Breeze says:

    Can’t wait to make this!
    Question: how much in terms of cups is equivalent to 3/4 lb of dry pasta? Thanks!

  16. 66
    Lauren says:

    It only took me four years to find the best mac and cheese recipe! Thank you so much for posting this! It’s perfect.

  17. 67
    Allie D says:

    Mine never got thick. Any recommendations? Followed the recipe exactly :(.

  18. 68
    BillyBob542 says:

    Crumble a pound of crispy bacon in there and it will be perfect :) thanks for sharing!

  19. 69
    Drucifer Green says:

    A+… By far the best Mac and Cheese I’ve ever eaten… I followed every direction and it was Amazing.

    THANKS FOR SHARING :)

    Dru.

  20. 70
    Braden says:

    -Braden

    Looks good but should you put butter?

    -braden.rosen@createthenext.com

  21. 71
    Lynda Cook says:

    OMG!!! all I can say is yummmm!!! thanks for sharing

  22. 72
    naaz says:

    can I use whole milk? thanks.

  23. 73
    nicky says:

    Made this today and is was sooooo good,definitely the best mac and cheese.

  24. 74
    Melanie says:

    This was the most amazing Mac and Cheese I’ve ever made this recipe beats all the ones I’ve tried :)

  25. 75
    Lavon says:

    This looks wonderful. The next step I would do is to bake it for 20 minutes with crumbled bacon on top @ 350. YUMMMY

  26. 76
    Jennifer M. says:

    I tried this recipe last night and I found it has too much flour. It looked so yummy – but the taste of flour was just too much – it probably needs at least 1/2 the amount.

  27. 77
    Shawna says:

    I have to say, it was the picture of your mac and cheese and all its ooey gooey creamyness that made me click on it in Pintrest. I will definately be trying this later this week.

  28. 78
    Mary Anne says:

    This is similar to the recipe I use (from the back of the Prince elbows box!), but then I put it in a casserole, top with half a sleeve of crushed Ritz Crackers and bake for about 30 minutes. SO yummy! Oh, and sometimes I add BACON, too, because, well, it’s bacon!

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Jenny Flake, Picky Palate

Welcome to Picky Palate, my online kitchen! You'll usually find me with a cookie in one hand and a salad in the other. It's all about the balance :) The recipes you'll see are my creations. The Picky Palate Cookbook is now available. Enjoy!



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