Ultimate Mac and Cheese: The Best Recipe

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Ultimate Mac and Cheese

You can now make your own ultimate mac and cheese using our easy and delicious recipe. This recipe will walk you through the steps of making your own amazing mac and cheese right at home. I know many people have their favorite recipes, however, you should give ours a try and you just might discover a new favorite! 

Ultimate Mac And Cheese scoop out

What makes this mac and cheese “ultimate”?

What makes the ultimate mac & cheese? I guess you could say that the ultimate mac & cheese is based on personal opinion. This includes your personal likes and dislikes as well as your taste preferences. We believe that this recipe makes the ultimate mac and cheese because it is so rich, creamy, cheesy, and overall, very good. 

This mac and cheese recipe is great when fresh, but it can also taste good when it is reheated. Our recipe for mac and cheese is also easy to make, and any level home cook can make this following our step-by-step instructions. 

I recently made this mac and cheese, and my husband who is a mac and cheese connoisseur, stated that he believes this is the best homemade mac & cheese that he has ever had. To be the judge of that, you will have to give this recipe a try for yourself and tell us if you think it is the ultimate mac and cheese.

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese

The ultimate mac and cheese recipe makes a delicious creamy baked mac and cheese. There is a delicious cheese sauce that makes it so creamy and moist throughout the entire dish. This recipe also contains a delicious blend of cheeses to make the ultimate combination.

Ultimate Macaroni And Cheese Is Easy To Make At Home

You can make ultimate mac and cheese at home as it’s very easy to do. This recipe will walk you through the process of cooking your noodles, making your cheese sauce, and baking it to perfection. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of cooking something from scratch because this recipe is worth it, and you can definitely do it.

About this Macaroni and Cheese

Our recipe for macaroni and cheese combines your basic pasta with a few different types of cheese, and a special sauce to result in ultimate deliciousness. We are going to jump into the details later to cover what exactly you will need to buy in order to make this delicious dish. But first, let’s look at a rundown of this dish below.

Recipe Rundown…

Taste: when you make this ultimate mac & cheese recipe you will be rewarded with an amazing taste. It’s a combination of rich, creamy, and oh-so-good cheese.

Texture: The texture of the finished dish is smooth and creamy.

Ease: Our step-by-step instructions will provide you with the ease of making this recipe.

Appearance: Mouthwatering!

Pros: This recipe is great one fresh, enjoyed the next day, and can even be frozen if needed. It’s hard to go wrong with making this recipe for the ultimate mac and cheese.

Cons: if there is one con about this recipe, it would be that it is not as fast as making a box of Kraft mac & cheese from your pantry. However, it is far more delicious.

Would I Make This Again? Absolutely! 

What You Need

To make a recipe for ultimate mac & cheese you will need to gather the following ingredients:

Queso Fresco – Mexican style fresh white cheese
Havarti Cheese – creamy danish style cows’ milk cheese
Cheddar cheese
Colby Jack cheese
Mozzarella cheese
Dried pasta
Olive oil
Butter
Flour
Milk
Half and half
Evaporated milk
Salt
Pepper 

Ultimate Mac And Cheese scoop close up

Baked Mac and Cheese

Baked mac and cheese is the best because you can easily make it ahead of time then bake it right before you want to enjoy it. With this recipe, you need only a few simple ingredients that are outlined above.

What goes in Baked Mac and Cheese

The ingredients that go into baked macaroni and cheese are outlined above under what you will need. These will work much better than buying bags of shredded cheese from the store. Shredded cheese has a tendency to come out gritty instead of smooth and creamy.

How to make Baked Mac and Cheese

To make that baked mac & cheese you are going to start off by boiling your pasta in salted water. Boil until your pasta is al dente. Then in a separate pan, you’re going to make your cheese sauce and mix it together before baking.

Regarding Cheese

The kind of cheese you use will determine how your mac and cheese turns out. Therefore, cheese is of the utmost importance. Your cheese can literally determine if your dish will be a flop or if it will be amazing. 

Choose Your Cheeses

When you go to the store to pick out your cheeses, be sure to get blocks of cheese. You will need to grate the cheese once you get home. We have included our cheese picks in the recipe, however, you don’t have to use those specific ones. It is important that you choose blocks of cheese that are mostly creamy but also include things like cheddar to give you that amazing taste. 

Why?

Why use blocked cheese? You will get an overall better, and much more creamy texture when using blocked cheese that you shred on your own, rather than buying shredded cheese from the store. When the cheese comes already shredded it is coated in a cellulose mixture. Because of this coating on shredded cheese, it will make your mac and cheese have a gritty texture. 

Other Cheeses For Mac And Cheese

Some other types of cheeses that you could consider using to make mac and cheese include Gruyere, sharp cheddar cheese, and canned cheddar cheese. There are many other kinds that are also good, just keep in mind that they should be smooth cheeses to make great mac and cheese. 

Best Tools For Grating Cheese

Since chunks of cheese are the best to use when making homemade macaroni and cheese, you will need to grate the cheese once you get it home. To do this, you will need to use some kitchen grating tools. Some of the best tools to use include a box grater, a handheld grater, or even a food processor if yours has a grating function. 

Freshly Grated Cheese

When your cheese is freshly grated, you can set it aside until it is time to include it in the sauce. Be sure to set some aside to add on top of your baked mac and cheese, for the best looks and taste too! You will get the best results for your mac and cheese when you grate the cheese just before including it in the dish, rather than preparing it well in advance. 

This Recipe Starts With A Roux…What The Heck Is A Roux?

To begin making the sauce for this recipe, you will first start off by making a roux. A roux is a combination of flour and fat. By mixing these together, you have the start that your cheese sauce that is then built upon. 

A Classic Bechamel Sauce Makes The Dish Creamy

Next, your roux is made into a bechamel sauce. This is done by taking your mixture of melted butter and flour and adding milk to it. Starting your cheese sauce off like this as well will help to make your macaroni and cheese creamy and delicious.

Ultimate Macaroni And Cheese Is Very Creamy

By boiling your noodles separately, then making a cheese sauce with a base of melted butter, mixing it with flour, and adding your milk products to the sauce before melting your cheese into it helps your macaroni and cheese turn out very creamy. This step is a key to any good macaroni and cheese recipe. 

Any Small Pasta Will Work For Homemade Mac ‘n Cheese

When you go to make your ultimate mac and cheese you might question what type of pasta you should use. Honestly, any kind of pasta will work if it is dried. My favorite is the traditional elbow pasta, however, if you don’t have that on hand, any kind of small-sized pasta will work.

The Ultimate Macaroni & Cheese

Now that your appetite is wet for the taste of our ultimate macaroni and cheese recipe, let’s take a quick look at how this dish is made from scratch. Below you will find an overview of how to make this from scratch, as well as some basic cooking tips for your dish to turn out well. Below you will find detailed step-by-step instructions.

How to Make Mac and Cheese from Scratch

The basic process of making this macaroni and cheese recipe from scratch includes filling a pan with water until your noodles are more than covered. Please keep in mind that any extra liquid will be drained after the pasta has been cooked. Then add about a half teaspoon of salt to the mixture. Boil until your noodles are al dente. If you’re unsure when your noodles are done, try taking a bite out of one and see if there’s still any crunch left to it. When the pasta is cooked, drain the noodles, drizzle with olive oil, and set aside. 

In your pan, add butter and melt, then sprinkle in flour. Add your milk products and stir. Once the mixture begins to thicken, add some of your freshly grated cheese and stir until the cheese has melted in. Pour your cheese mixture into the pasta and stir to combine. Then prepare a casserole dish with cooking spray. Pour in half of your noodles. Sprinkle a layer of cheese, then pour the remaining noodle mixture in. Top with more shredded cheese before baking.

Cooking Tips For Baked Mac And Cheese

Boiling the pasta. When boiling pasta be sure to include enough water, as well as a bit of salt. Boil until the noodles appear to be done, then take a bite out of one to make sure that they are no longer crunchy. 

Use room temp liquids. When you add liquids to the macaroni and cheese, it is best to use liquids that are at room temperature. To accomplish this, you can gather all your ingredients onto the counter, before you begin. Then by the time you add them, they will have warmed slightly. 

The cheeses. When you are looking to buy cheeses for this recipe, the best kinds are going to be blocked cheeses. You can use a variety of types if you wish, however, be sure they are blocks and not pre-shredded. See the below recipe for our suggested types of cheese to use.

Shred your own. Once you have your cheese picked out, take the blocks and shred them. You can use a box grater, or food processor to shred your cheese.

Pick your Topping. If you wish, you can add a topping to your macaroni and cheese. Some toppings include bacon bits or breadcrumbs. My favorite is to simply add additional shredded cheese on top.

Different Toppings

If you enjoy toppings on your mac and cheese, below are a few topping ideas for you. My favorite is simply to add extra shredded cheese to the top of my ultimate mac and cheese before baking to achieve the perfect touch. 

Topping Ideas:

Bacon
Diced ham
Crushed crackers
Breadcrumbs 
Extra shredded cheese

Different Baking Times

You can easily adjust the baking times for this recipe. We are giving you our suggested baking times below, however, if you prefer to cook lower and slower, that works as well. However, if you need it faster, you could also try to do a little broil for a few minutes to get the top crispier, faster. 

Making Ahead, Storage, and Freezing 

Can our recipe for ultimate mac and cheese be made ahead of time? What about storing and freezing it? In this section, we are going to take a look at the best ways to make your mac and cheese ahead of time, as well as the best ways to store and freeze it. 

Making Mac and Cheese Ahead of Time

If you need to make macaroni and cheese ahead of time, you can do that with this recipe. To make ahead of time, simply prepare as instructed above until the macaroni and cheese is ready to bake. Then wrap it securely in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. When ready to bake, allow your mac & cheese to sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes to warm to room temperature, then bake until warmed through and bubbly around the edges. 

One note on making your macaroni and cheese ahead of time is that it tends to dry out slightly when made in advance. If you are intentionally making macaroni and cheese ahead of time, you will want to increase the sauce, so that the macaroni and cheese does not become too dry. For best results, make and serve right away.

Storing Mac and Cheese

Any leftover macaroni and cheese should be wrapped in plastic wrap or placed into an airtight container before putting it into the refrigerator. Store in the refrigerator for three to four days. Please note that this recipe is best when fresh. 

Freezing Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese may be frozen if you wish. To freeze, prepare until the macaroni and cheese is ready to be baked. Then wrap securely in plastic wrap, and place into the freezer for up to three months. For best results, when making to freeze, add extra cheese sauce so that it does not become dry.

Special Equipment Used In This Recipe

To make this recipe, you will want to gather, a deep pot to boil your noodles in, another fairly deep pot to make your sauce, and a 9×13 casserole dish to make your mac and cheese in. You will also want to have on hand a box grater or another tool to grate your blocks of cheese. 

Variations of Mac And Cheese

There are a few different variations to our mac and cheese recipe if you wish. The first is to enjoy our ultimate mac and cheese as a stovetop version. Another is our recipe using five kinds of cheese, and still, another is now to achieve a crunchier topping to your mac and cheese. 

Stovetop

You can easily adjust our recipe for ultimate mac and cheese into a stovetop recipe. To do this, simply prepare as instructed, only add additional cheese that you would have layered, into your macaroni pot. Then serve right away instead of baking. It’s that easy! 

Five Cheese Variation:

To make this recipe using five different kinds of cheese, our favorites to use include Queso Fresco which is Mexican style fresh white cheese, Havarti Cheese a creamy danish style cows’ milk cheese, cheddar cheese, Colby Jack cheese, and mozzarella cheese. This cheese combination gives a nice mix of flavors, creaminess, and richness to your mac and cheese recipe. 

For A Crunchier Topping And Firmer Consistency: 

To get a crunchier topping on your baked mac and cheese you can simply add extra shredded cheese to the top before baking it. My favorite to use is freshly grated Colby Jack, however, Cheddar would also be delicious. 

Ultimate Mac And Cheese dished up

Let’s Make It

Now that you know all the ins and outs, let’s make this delicious recipe for the ultimate mac and cheese! Check out the full recipe, plus step-by-step instructions below. 

Ultimate Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

(printable recipe at the bottom of the post)

Servings: 10-12 people

Preparation

Before you begin, gather all of your ingredients below, and let your liquids warm slightly before adding to your mixtures. Start with the pasta, then make the sauce. 

Ingredients

PASTA:

4 cups dried elbow pasta
Water to boil
½ tsp salt
Drizzle olive oil

SAUCE:

½ cup salted butter
½ cup all-purpose flour
12 oz evaporated milk
1 ½ cup milk (whole or 2% works great)
1 cup half and half
10 oz Queso Fresco, block cheese
8 oz Havarti cheese, block cheese
8 oz cheddar cheese, block
8 oz Mozzarella, block
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

TOPPING:

8 oz Colby Jack, block shredded

SEASONINGS (OPTIONAL):

Additional salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Step 1

Preheat oven to 325°F

Step 2

Fill a large pot most of the way with water, add salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add your pasta and cook until it is al dente. Once pasta is fully cooked, drain the water, and drizzle with olive oil. Stir to combine, so that the noodles won’t stick. Set the noodles aside. 

Step 3

Grate your Colby Jack cheese, set aside. Cut the rest of your cheese into small cubes. Grate ¼ of Queso Fresco, Havarti, and cheddar cheese. Set all your cheese aside. 

Step 4

In a large saucepan, melt your butter over medium heat. When butter is melted, sprinkle flour in, and whisk to combine. Cook mixture for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Slowly pour in your evaporated milk, milk, and half and half. Whisk to combine until the mixture becomes smooth. Your mixture should begin to thicken up as it cooks. 

Step 5

Begin to add your small chunks of cheese, in small portions. Stir until they are dissolved, then add more. Repeat until all except the shredded Colby Jack, and shredded ¼ of the queso, Havarti, and cheddar should remain. 

Step 6

Add your cheese sauce into your cooked and drained pasta. Stir to combine. Then pour half of the mac and cheese into a greased 9×13 casserole dish. Sprinkle your shredded queso, Havarti, and cheddar cheese. Also, sprinkle half of your Colby Jack cheese. Add remaining noodles and top with remaining shredded Colby Jack cheese. 

Step 7

Bake at 325°F for 15 to 25 minutes until the top of your mac and cheese has begun to turn a golden brown color, and the edges are beginning to bubble. Serve and enjoy while hot! 

Step-by-Step Photos

Chef Tips for the BEST Mac & Cheese!

Tip 1: No bloated overcooked pasta

When boiling your pasta, be careful to keep an eye on it, so that the pasta is just cooked. You will want to avoid overcooking the pasta or it will become bloated and yucky. 

Tip 2: To avoid lumps

When you make your sauce, be careful to whisk the mixture as you create it. This will help you to avoid having lumps in the cheese sauce. 

Tip 3: Plenty of sauce

The last tip is to be sure you have plenty of sauce for your pasta. If you are making the mac and cheese ahead of time, you may want to seriously consider making 1 ½ times the above recipe. This will help prevent your pasta from drying out. 

Nutrition Facts

We have estimated that the above recipe contains twelve servings. Therefore, our nutritional facts are based upon a serving size of 1/12 of the above recipe. We have estimated that the above recipe contains 545 calories per serving. We have also estimated that one serving contains 36.8g total fat, 116 mg cholesterol, 764 mg sodium, 25.2 g total carbohydrates and 29.1 g protein. 

Notes:

Please note that for the above recipe we used 2% milk, however, whole milk may also be used if you wish. 

Looking for Something Else?

Baked Mac And Cheese Recipe 

To make the best baked mac and cheese simply follow the recipe above. If desired, you may change up the types of cheese included. However, if you do, be sure to include cheese that can melt well, as well as cheeses that have a good flavor to them. 

Stove-top Mac & Cheese

Stove top mac and cheese can also be easily made using the recipe above. Simply prepare as instructed. Then, instead of layering the mac and cheese with additional cheese, mix most of it in, then sprinkle a little bit on top of each serving. Serve without baking, and enjoy. 

Ultimate Mac and Cheese For 2

To make the ultimate mac and cheese for two people, you will want to cut the above recipe portions back. Below is our suggested recipe for two. 

1 cup pasta
Water to boil
1/8 tsp salt
Olive oil drizzle
1/8 cup butter
1/8 cup flour
3 oz evaporated milk
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup half and half
2 ½ oz queso fresco
2 oz Havarti 
2 oz cheddar cheese
2 oz Mozzarella
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 oz Colby Jack 

Otherwise, prepare as stated in the recipe above. Next, check out the most common frequently asked questions about the ultimate mac and cheese. 

Just For You

FAQs

Can Mac & Cheese be made in advance? 

Yes, it can. However, if you do this, you will want to make more cheese sauce so that it does not dry out. 

Can Mac & Cheese be frozen?

Yes, mac and cheese can be frozen. Prepare as instructed above, but stop before baking. Then wrap securely in plastic wrap before placing into the freezer for up to three months. 

Can I keep leftovers in the refrigerator?

Yes, leftovers for this recipe may be kept in the fridge in an airtight container, or wrapped in plastic wrap. Please note that this mac and cheese is best when fresh, and may slightly dry out when eaten at a later date.

Best Pasta For Mac and Cheese?

My favorite pasta to use for mac and cheese is elbow macaroni noodles. However, any small pasta may be used for this recipe. 

Best Cheese For Mac and Cheese?

Our favorites are outlined in the recipe, however, you may also use sharp cheddar, gouda, or even cheese sauce if you wish. The best cheese for mac and cheese is block cheese that is freshly grated. 

No Cream?

This recipe does not require any cream. Instead, this recipe calls for a cheese sauce that is made from scratch and tastes even better than mac and cheese made with cream. 

Can you make Mac and Cheese ahead of time? 

Yes, when you make mac and cheese ahead of time be sure to increase the cheese sauce called for. Otherwise, prepare as instructed above. 

How long can Mac and Cheese stay in the fridge?

For best results, you will want to store your mac and cheese in the fridge no more than three days. 

Add ins?

There are all kinds of things you can add to macaroni and cheese. Some of my favorite add-ins include bacon, ham slices, or even hot dogs. Whom you are serving the dish to will also play a factor in what kind of ingredients you add to your mac and cheese. 

What to Serve with Mac & Cheese

Mac and cheese is often considered a main dish, however, it can also be a side dish. If you are serving your mac and cheese as a main dish, you can simply pair it with a fruit, vegetable, or salad. If you are serving your mac and cheese as a side dish, you can simply serve it with a meat of your choice. 

Homemade Mac ‘N Cheese It The Ultimate Comfort Food

Homemade mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food! No matter what the occasion or what your age, mac and cheese is usually a favorite for most people. It is just so good, and warm, and creamy that this food is very difficult to beat. Our recipe for homemade mac and cheese will help you make the most delicious version of this amazing comfort food. 

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

We believe that this recipe for the ultimate mac and cheese makes the best macaroni and cheese. You however will have to judge for yourself. Give this recipe a try, with our step-by-step instructions above, and let us know what you think! 

Ultimate Creamy Baked Mac And Cheese

Making your own homemade ultimate mac and cheese bake is so rich and creamy, but also very easy with our step-by-step instructions that can walk any home cook through the process. Give this recipe a try, and discover your new favorite! 

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