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Easiest Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Easiest Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

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There’s no reason to buy mac and cheese in a box with a recipe this easy

The sauce for this creamy mac and cheese uses just three ingredients.

It’s tempting to buy boxed mac and cheese at the grocery store, especially when the weather starts to get colder. It’s super creamy and delicious and so easy to make. However, homemade mac and cheese is just as easy to make. And, when you make mac and cheese at home you can control what goes into it; if you want to eat a little healthier you can use whole-wheat noodles or add some roasted vegetables, if you want to spice it up you can add fresh herbs to the cheese sauce. There are endless ways to customize homemade mac and cheese no matter your taste.

This recipe proves how easy homemade mac and cheese can be. Simply combine the cooked noodles with an easy three-ingredient cheese sauce, top with shredded Cheddar cheese, and then bake the mac and cheese in the oven until it’s warm, gooey, and golden. Does it get any better than that?

Click here for our easiest homemade mac and cheese recipe.

Click here for more of our best mac and cheese recipes.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

16 Easy Cheese Recipes For Beginners

Making cheese at home can be somewhat overwhelming at first. There are so many different types, styles, and variations of cheese to choose from, it's tough to decide where to begin. That's why it's important to have a breakdown of cheesemaking for beginners.

For new cheesemakers, it helps to pick cheeses that are forgiving when it comes to temperature variation and time discrepancies. Your first cheese might not look just like the picture, but it will almost always taste delicious and fresh, and in making it you will have learned a few fundamental processes involved in cheesemaking.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

If my kids had to choose a favorite food, it would definitely be macaroni and cheese! They would eat it for dinner every night if I let them. My oldest was an incredibly picky eater until very recently, and I swear there was a whole year of her life when she would only eat mac and cheese. No vegetables, no meat, just noodles and cheese. It was during that time period that I whipped up this easy stove top macaroni and cheese recipe. It doesn&rsquot take any more time than making it from the box, but it tastes way better!

Another bonus &ndash it&rsquos made from simple ingredients that I feel good about. (I like that I know exactly what&rsquos in it!) This macaroni and cheese recipe has been a staple at our house for years! It works wonderfully as a side dish, or an easy meal with a green salad on the side. My husband and I love it with shredded barbecue chicken or pulled pork on top, and my girls will eat it happily any time I make it. It&rsquos a lifesaver on those busy nights when I don&rsquot have much time to cook!

Tips for the Best Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese

  • Use block cheese and shred, do not buy the pre-shredded cheese. The pre-shredded cheese is great for so many things but not macaroni and cheese. It’s coated and won’t melt properly. You need to shred it yourself for the best result.
  • Cook your pasta to slightly less than al dente, about one minute shy is perfect. The reason is that this is baked mac and cheese so the pasta will continue to cook in the homemade cheese sauce in the oven. You don’t want soggy macaroni.
  • I used elbow pasta but really, any tubular past will work.
  • This mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux. The roux is super important to getting the creamiest cheese sauce of your life. Here is what you need to look for:
    • The roux (equal parts butter and flour) is whisked together until bubbly and golden.
    • Whisk in cold milk – not warm – to prevent the flour from clumping.
    • Cook the roux until you see bubbles on the surface and then continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes before adding the cheese.

    Easiest Mac and Cheese Recipe

    Food is a great comforter. There is just something about the connection between our taste buds and our brain that can do wonders. I don’t pretend to understand it, but the right foods can make us feel better when the rain has spoiled our parade, when the dog has eaten our homework, when no one likes us and we’re tempted to go eat worms.

    I grew up on mac and cheese from a box. And quite frankly, I still love it. About once a year I will buy a box and eat the whole thing myself. Not because I’m such a glutton, but because my family doesn’t care for boxed mac and cheese.

    The rest of the time I make homemade Mac and cheese. Whether’s it’s a fun Italian take like my Alfredo Mac and Cheese or made in the Instant Pot like this Easy Mac & Cheese in the Instant Pot recipe, homemade macaroni and cheese is a sure-fire winner.

    One of my favorites is this Mac and Cheese recipe that FishPapa and I have been making forever. In our newlywed days, we could easily eat the whole batch ourselves. Now, we restrain ourselves and share some with the kids.

    This Mac and Cheese recipe is very easy, very make-ahead, and it freezes well also. What more could you ask for?

    Best Stovetop Mac and Cheese

    How does this stovetop recipe by Gimme Some Oven differ from your standard store-bought boxed versions? The answer may surprise you, and it doesn't necessarily come down to the cheese. Sure, using freshly grated cheese is bound to elevate any dish, but shaved parmesan and cheddar aren't the only things that give this meal a certain bite. You’ll see that this regular mac and cheese recipe isn't so typical when you spy the garlic powder and ground mustard — and the fact that it’s a one-pot dish, so cleanup is pretty much not a concern.

    You’ll start with the semi-traditional step of creating a roux, and then you’ll add almost everything — the pasta, the spices, the milk and the water — and let it cook through. When the noodles are tender, you’ll stir in the cheese, and voila! Dinner is served in just about 15 minutes. If you're in the mood for something savory and a little salty, you can quickly fry up some bacon to add as a topping. After all, with the time you'll save by cooking in a single high-quality stock pot, you can create some tasty toppings or side dishes to accompany this easy recipe.

    FAQs about Homemade Mac and Cheese

    How do you store mac and cheese?

    Store the leftovers of this homemade mac and cheese recipe in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Since it thickens as it cools, you may need to add 1-2 TBS of milk when it's reheated it to restore its original creaminess.

    Can homemade mac and cheese be frozen?

    Yes, you can freeze this homemade mac and cheese, however I don't recommend it. Since this mac and cheese recipe is so easy to make, there's really no need to freeze it. If you're looking for a freezer-friendly mac and cheese recipe check out my baked mac and cheese!

    What main dish goes well with mac and cheese?

    If you're looking to serve this mac and cheese recipe as a side dish instead of the main event, here are some suggestions for other dishes that pair well with it:

    • meatloaf (recipe coming soon)
    • BBQ (hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, etc.)
    • large salad (like this burrata salad)!
    • fried chicken (classic)
    • This balsamic pot roast(one of our favorite main dishes)!
    • Serve it alongside this avocado chicken salad!
    • For a truly kid-friendly dinner, serve it with these healthy Sloppy Joes!

    Our Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipes

    There’s no wrong way to make macaroni and cheese. Whether you stir it to creamy perfection on the stovetop, bake it until golden-brown in the oven or zap a quick, one-bowl version in your microwave, it’s guaranteed to be the most crave-worthy dish at your dinner table!

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    5-Ingredient Instant Pot Mac and Cheese

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    No need for a flour-and-butter roux in this easy stovetop version of an old favorite: The cream cheese adds body and richness. If your mac and cheese gets a little stiff as it cools, just stir in some warm water to smooth it out &mdash it works like a charm.

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    Don&rsquot be fooled by this perfectly sliceable macaroni and cheese &mdash it&rsquos every bit as creamy and delicious as the kind you scoop into a bowl. Better yet, it&rsquos loaded up with 4 different cheeses: Cheddar, muenster, provolone and mozzarella.

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    One pound of white button mushrooms gives this stovetop mac and cheese from Katie Lee an earthy and delicious bite. When plating, serve with a slice of taleggio for an additional rich and creamy note.

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    "The mac and cheese is for the kids." Who are we kidding when we make that statement? Giada De Laurentiis knows that we adults like mac and cheese too. The bits of ham and melted mozzarella elevate this classic pasta dish.

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    You can't go wrong with Tyler Florence's macaroni and cheese. He uses cheddar and Parmesan to play up the classic flavors. Bake in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes for a perfect golden crust.

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    Whether you make this for brunch or a late-night snack, this bubbly dish is sure to be a real crowd-pleasurer. Simply spread warm mac and cheese in an ovenproof skillet, add in some eggs and dig right in!

    Macaroni and Cheddar Cheese

    Rachael's baked mac and cheese utilizes a roux, or a gently cooked butter and flour mixture, as a shortcut to make this comforting dish in only 30 minutes.

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    Nancy Fuller combines shell pasta with a melty mixture of cheddar, Colby jack and cream cheese to infuse this stovetop mac and cheese with creamy goodness. For some surprise heat, add a heaping teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a dash of hot sauce and a 1/8 teaspoon of paprika.

    Ooey Gooey Mac and Cheese

    Melted cheese, tender pasta and creamy sauce never tasted so good &mdash this version is topped with crushed potatoes chips. Yum!

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    Not only is this recipe super yummy, but it&rsquos also a great way to get kids to eat their vegetables thanks to the cauliflower hidden inside. Follow Valerie's lead and top your baked mac and cheese with crushed sour-cream-and-cheddar potato chips for a crispy crunch with every forkful.

    Chili Mac and Cheese

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    Find Tons of Other Dreamy, Cheesy Meals in Ree's Bestselling Cookbooks 🧀

    And stir together until it&rsquos all melted. Go ahead and turn off the heat.

    Now it&rsquos time for seasoning! Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (I used Lawry&rsquos.) If you&rsquore sensitive to salt, start really low and work your way up&hellipand remember that the cheese imparts quite a bit of salt to the mix.

    BUT&mdashand this is important&mdashbe careful not the UNDERSALT the mac & cheese. It really needs ample salt to put the flavor over the top.

    *I also use paprika, cayenne pepper, even ground thyme every now and then. Play with different ground spices and see what you like best.

    And finally, add plenty of black pepper, of the Black Dust variety. Honestly, I love freshly ground pepper&hellipbut not in homemade Mac & Cheese. For me, it has to be the powdery stuff.

    Now THAT&rsquos what I&rsquom talkin&rsquo about.

    And guess what? You can just steam some fresh broccoli and spoon some of this over the top. Kids from all over the land will show up at your doorstep.

    Did you know a single serving of broccoli is positively loaded with Vitamin C?

    Now just dump in the drained, not-fully-cooked macaroni!

    And stir the mixture together.

    I use a little less than the full amount of cooked macaroni, because I love it extra creamy and coated. Just add it according to how you like it.

    Now, you can either dish it up as it is right now, which makes for an ultra-creamy love fest&hellip

    OR you can pour the macaroni into a buttered baking dish. This is a 2-quart dish, but a 9 x 13 pan would work just fine.

    Next, top the dish with the rest of the grated cheese.

    Now bake it for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and golden.

    The secret to good, baked mac & cheese is this crispy top, which hides a creamy, soft bottom.

    We&rsquove had a beautiful life together, haven&rsquot we? Thank you for allowing me to grow and develop.

    Kid-Friendly Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

    This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

    This kid-friendly baked mac and cheese recipe is easy to make and a tasty alternative to processed boxed macaroni and cheese. Even picky kids love it!

    Mac and cheese is a favorite food in our household, but I try to avoid the boxed kind. All those artificial ingredients&hellipyou know what I mean. I&rsquom okay with it once in a while, but not often.

    Of course, the kids love the boxed stuff and haven&rsquot been fans of the much better homemade baked mac n cheese. Believe me, I&rsquove tried a lot of different recipes. There are many good recipes out there &ndash that I like, but are they kid-friendly? That was the question.

    And then I found this recipe for Homemade Macaroni and Cheese in one of my cookbooks.

    I&rsquove adapted it slightly and this is the result: Kid-Friendly Baked Mac and Cheese.! My kids loved it they ate it up and asked for more. Now I&rsquod be lying if I said they&rsquod pick this over the boxed stuff (I swear they put addictive stuff in the boxed version), but I&rsquom happy I found a homemade recipe that works for my whole family.

    And since you can use whatever type of cheese you like (mix and match, make it different each time &ndash it&rsquos up to you) in this simple macaroni and cheese, it&rsquos versatile too, another plus in my book.

    My kids call this the best mac and cheese recipe ever and I have to agree.


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