How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese

4.75 from 4 votes

 Sharing the Best Mac and Cheese recipe today! My Perfect Mac and Cheese is incredibly creamy, cheesy, and delicious comfort dish that you will fall in love with.

best mac and cheese recipe

The BEST Mac and Cheese Recipe

Can’t wait for you guys to try my homemade mac and cheese!  How To Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese Recipe…..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 🙂

See my Bacon Mac and Cheese Recipe too! Be sure to follow Picky Palate on Instagram for daily recipe inspiration!

 

best mac and cheese recipe

Ingredients For Homemade Mac and Cheese

*See bottom of post for entire recipe in recipe card.

  • small dry pasta
  • salted butter
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • all-purpose flour
  • 2% milk
  • shredded cheddar cheese of your choice. I use mild for my family.

How to Make Mac and Cheese

  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.

How To Make Homemade Roux

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

best mac and cheese recipe

Whisk in the salt and pepper. A very important step is to continue stirring for a good 2-3 minutes until roux turns a bit darker in color. It becomes richer and even more fabulous.

best mac and cheese recipe

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

best mac and cheese recipe

Stir in cheese until creamy and cheese is melted through. I prefer a finely shredded mild cheddar. It melts quickly and has a perfect “cheddar” flavor.

best mac and cheese recipe

Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Add cooked pasta back to cheese sauce stirring to combine. If needed, add splashes of milk to thin sauce. Add additional salt and pepper as needed.

More Options

At this point of stovetop mac and cheese, you can choose to transfer to a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, top with more cheese and other toppings of choice, bake for 20-25 minutes for a baked mac and cheese. This is another fantastic option. Adding buttered bread crumbs and bacon is another winning option before baking to add a nice crunch. Try adding cooked beef or chicken for more dinner options too.

best mac and cheese recipe

How To Serve Mac and Cheese

Serve mac and cheese as a main dish with a side salad or as an appetizer with your favorite protein.

4.75 from 4 votes

How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese

This recipe makes The Perfect Mac and Cheese every time! It's an incredibly creamy, cheesy, and delicious comfort dish that you will fall in love with.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 451kcal
Author: Jenny
Print Pin Rate

Equipment

  • Stove or Dutch Oven
  • saucepan

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
  • 2-2 1/2 cups milk I use 2%
  • 2 cups finely shredded mild cheddar cheese

Instructions

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 451kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 661mg | Potassium: 282mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 510IU | Calcium: 375mg | Iron: 1.5mg
Keywords: best homemade mac and cheese, best mac and cheese recipe, best macaroni and cheese recipe, homemade mac and cheese, homemade mac and cheese recipe, how to make mac and cheese

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112 Responses
  1. Tessa

    Undercook the pasta by two minutes, add 1/2 to 3/4 cup extra cold milk and then pour off half the sauce in a freezer-safe container to freeze. Stir the sauce in the pasta and the put in a microwave-safe dish and refrigerate, plastic wrap, cling film or Press and Seal pushed against the surface. Heat up the covered left-overs very gradually in the microwave – 30 seconds at 40% power at a time or so and then stir. If you try to microwave at high, the sauce will break.

  2. eatfrysmith

    This is SUCH a quick and easy mac & cheese recipe, I love it! I sometimes like to add spinach and call it “Green Mac” 🙂

  3. Makayla

    Looks delicious!! Everytime I make a cheese sauce it doesnt turn out,the cheese doesnt properly melt so it separates from the sauce. What am I doing wrong? I use butter, flour, milk, medium cheddar cheese(from the block). Sometimes I add 1/2 c chicken broth. But every single time I have a yucky sauce!! Someone help me!!!

  4. Batrice

    This receipe is very easy to make and right on point. I have now used it twice cutting the measurements in half and prefer my macaroni and cheese this way and so does my husband. Thank you

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  8. April

    Super delish!!! Made this tonight with crab meat and Ritz crackers for the top. Tossed in the oven till golden brown!!! Can’t wait to dig in!!! Thank you!!!

  9. Lin

    This was too thick!!! I would probably recommend 1/4 cup of flour instead since my whole family said it was too thick as well. Otherwise it was a good and easy recipe to follow! 🙂

  10. Lin

    This was too thick!!! I would probably recommend 1/4 cup of flour instead since my whole family said it was too thick as well. Otherwise it was a good and easy recipe! 🙂

  11. Sandra

    This is similar to a recipe I have used for many years and is the grandkids favorite. I just use a little variation on the amount of ingredients. It works well as long as you do not let the sauce boil. I, too, use brick cheese and not pre-shredded cheese. So much better than the boxed stuff. We often mix frozen peas (rinsed) into the finished mac and cheese. I also like it because it uses “regular” ingredients and makes up in a hurry. No trips to the store for special/expensive ingredients.

  12. Robin

    I’ve made this type of mac and cheese for years!! I have changed it up some. I use seasoned flour instead of regular. Really makes it a lot better tasting!! Plus I bake it at 350 degrees for about 20 – 30 minutes or until the top is bubbly and a little brown.

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  15. MacCheesePractice

    Thank you!!!!!!!!! Went one step further and put mac cheese in casserole dish topped with 1/2 cup of shredded sharp cheddar and baked until melted. Perfection. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  16. Mary Anne

    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!

  17. Shawna

    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.

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