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.
Mac and Cheese

The BEST Homemade Mac and Cheese

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. See my Bacon Mac and Cheese Recipe too!

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 🙂

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Mac and Cheese

How to Make The Perfect Mac and Cheese

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.

Mac and Cheese

Once your pasta is cooked al dente, drain.

Mac and Cheese

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

Mac and Cheese

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

Mac and Cheese recipe

Whisk in the flour.

Mac and Cheese recipe

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.

Mac and Cheese

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

Mac and Cheese recipe

Bring on the cheese!

Mac and Cheese recipe

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

Mac and Cheese Sauce

Mac and Cheese recipe

Yes!

Mac and Cheese recipe

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

Mac and Cheese recipe

Pour that fabulous cheese sauce over your noodles.

Mac and Cheese recipe

Almost there!

Mac and Cheese recipe

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 Flake
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Equipment

  • Stove or Dutch Oven

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

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.

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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mac and cheese recipe

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110 Responses
  1. Yep, you’re right- it’s perfect! I think people would be amazed how easy it is to make a homemade mac and cheese like this with virtually little more effort put forth than making the box version.

  2. Larissa

    This is almost the same way that I make it. I only use 3 tblsp butter and 3 tblsp flour with 2 cups of milk, though. Sometimes I use an 8 oz brick of cheddar, sometimes I add more…depends on my mood. Also, when I have it, a pinch or two of ground mustard kicks up the flavor without tasting mustardy. I may have to try this with your proportions just to see. I may make this tonight!
    Can’t wait to see what you add next time!

  3. I’ll save you a pot to wash! Pour the macaroni right into the pan you used for the sauce. Just make sure it’s large enough to start. We make ours in much the same way but use half Monterey Jack and half Muenster. Love it!

  4. Carol

    I have been making this exact recipe for many years (married 47 years now). I learned to make it in high school cooking class and it is always a hit. I personally find mac & cheese a comfort food for those times when stressed or during cold winter days.

  5. In Ireland NO ONE eats mac and cheese :O I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe a few months back and ever since it’s what my boyfriend always asks me to make for dinner! 🙂 It’s so delicious and I can’t wait to try out this recipe as you use less cheese and no egg! 🙂 My tummy’s rumbling looking at the great photos! 🙂 x

  6. Larissa

    OK, so I made mac and cheese last night your way. OMG! It was the best ever, hands down. My son said so, too. I guess the extra butter put it over the top. 🙂 Thanks, Jenny!!

  7. Dalila G.

    Mac & Cheese is always a big hit in our house. One more mac & cheese recipe is always accepted with joy! This is one recipe that does have the hubby very happy, thanks for sharing and really liking your step-by-step……neat!!
    Looking forward to part two.

  8. I just made this for lunch! I have portion control issues with mac & cheese (and everything else that isn’t veggies) so I only made half of the sauce because I didn’t really want to eat half a stick of butter in one sitting (and I knew I’d eat at least half the pot…) So I did half the sauce and 9 ounces of pasta and it was still perfectly creamy and saucy! And I love how simple it was. Thanks so much for the recipe. 🙂 LOVE it!

  9. Theresa Smahlik

    This is awesome! I am so happy you posted this. For the last month I’ve been searching for the perfect easiest Mac and cheese recipe for my daughters 4th birthday party. It’s an under the sea theme and I wanted to use pasta shells. I’m for sure using this recipe! Now I need to figure out how much to make.
    Thanks for all the great recipes!!

  10. Brandib

    You had me until I saw you buy pre-shredded cheese. You’re supposed to grate your own! Aside from that, it looks lovely. Yum

  11. I’ve already seen this comment by someone else, but you definitely don’t need an entire stick of butter and half a cup of flour to thicken two cups of liquid enough to make a sauce for mac and cheese (or gravy or anything else thickened by a roux” 🙂 So if you want to reduce the fat because of calories or because you just don’t have it, it would be fine. I also would never personally use pre-shredded cheese. They put cellulose on the shreds to stop it from sticking together and I hate that. I think it makes things taste weird, but I don’t want to eat wood even if it tasted fine. I love putting spinach and artichokes in my mac and cheese. Or hamburger mac and cheese with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and lettuce on top. Yum! Oh yeah, saw someone else mention ground mustard too…I do that too. Definitely makes a difference. Love the blog!

  12. kenny

    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)

  13. JoAnna

    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. 🙂

  14. 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.

  15. Drucifer Green

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

    THANKS FOR SHARING 🙂

    Dru.

  16. Jennifer M.

    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.

  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.

  18. 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!

  19. 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!

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  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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! 🙂

  24. 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! 🙂

  25. 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!!!

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  27. Smd

    I tried to make this Mac and cheese recipe tonight and it flopped big time. My cheese sauce separated even though I followed the directions. I couldn’t get it to come back together and had to throw the entire thing away. Waste of ingredients and time. I wouldn’t recommend making this ever.

  28. 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

  29. 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!!!

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