Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (2024)


Author by Amanda Davis on Updated on

Homemade baked macaroni and cheese is pure comfort food, just like grandma used to make. This baked mac and cheese recipe is easy to make and uses a delicious homemade creamy cheese sauce and is topped with crunchy bread crumbs. I’ll show you how to make good old fashioned baked macaroni and cheese that’s a true classic!

We love our Crockpot macaroni and cheese and know you do too, so we thought we had better provide a baked version as well!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (1)

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Everyone remembers “momma’s” homemade, old fashioned baked macaroni and cheese. Topped with crunchy bread crumbs and filled with creamy, cheesy elbow macaroni noodles. Comfort food at its finest, mac and cheese is a family favorite that every loves.

Related – our Panera Mac and Cheese is the bomb!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (2)

We totally agree and decided it was time to share our grandma’s baked mac and cheese recipe. This recipe is easy to make and the results are positively amazing. We top ours with bread crumbs, but you can simply leave them off if you prefer. But it wouldn’t really be old fashioned mac and cheese without those crunchy little gems!

Ingredients for baked macaroni and cheese

  • Elbow macaroni – we are partial to Barilla brand but you can use your favorite.
  • Butter – salted or unsalted is fine, and yes you can substitute margarine if you like.
  • Flour – regular all purpose flour is best, unbleached or regular works.
  • Milk – we like to use whole milk as it really helps with the creamy texture, but you can use skim, 1% or 2% instead.
  • Heavy cream – I urge you not to substitute this if you can avoid it, it really helps to create a creamy mac and cheese!
  • Cheese – We think that the combination of extra sharp cheddar cheese and Colby Jack cheese tastes the best, but if you have favorites by all means, use them! We also grate our own cheese as the bagged shredded cheese has an anti-caking agent on it that can make your mac and cheese grainy.
  • Seasonings – we use salt and pepper to taste in our cheese sauce, and paprika to season the bread crumbs.
  • Panko bread crumbs – you can use regular bread crumbs, but they are usually much smaller, almost a dust. Panko are crunchier and bigger and just darn delicious.

Helpful kitchen tools:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (3)

How to make baked macaroni and cheese

There aren’t a lot of steps to this easy recipe.

  1. Preheat oven and spray the baking pan
  2. Cook elbow macaroni and add to baking dish
  3. Make the cheese sauce and pour over cooked macaroni
  4. Season the breadcrumbs sprinkle them over the macaroni mixture
  5. Bake in the oven

This casserole recipe uses pre-cooked elbow noodles, so get a pot of water boiling first. While the water is boiling, preheat your oven and spray your baking pan with cooking spray.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (4)

While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce. This is done by making a simple roux from butter and flour. After melting the butter you will whisk the flour in, then add in the milk and cream. The cheese is then added to the hot milk mixture and stirred until it melts.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (5)

When the elbow macaroni is done, drain off the water and add the drained pasta to your baking pan. Pour that scrumptious cheesy sauce over the macaroni noodles.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (6)

We season our breadcrumbs with paprika and then sprinkle them over the top of the cheese covered macaroni. If you lightly spray the bread crumbs with the cooking spray, it will help the crumbs stay crispy (thanks grammy!).

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (7)

All that’s left to do is to bake it for 20 minutes, or until the sides are bubbly. Mmmmmm.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (8)

Your bread crumb topping should be a lovely golden brown. If it’s not, you can turn the oven up to broil and pop the dish back in for a couple of minutes. But make sure you watch it, broiling takes only a minute or two and your crumbs could burn quickly!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (9)

See? I’m sorry, I know your stomach is growling now… so is mine! This baked macaroni and cheese recipe is a wonderful choice for potlucks and parties as it serves 8 people as a meal and even more as a side dish.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (10)

I hope you enjoy this delicious family recipe for easy baked macaroni and cheese. The homemade cheese sauce is the absolute best and creates a deliciously, creamy end result. Enjoy!

More Macaroni and Cheese Recipes

Oh we love, love, love different kinds of mac and cheese around here! Be sure to try my Instant Pot Mac and Cheese, it’s one of my favorites. And if you want a full fledged meal with meat, the Bacon Cheeseburger Pasta is just the thing. One of my favorite twists on macaroni and cheese is this Rotini, Peas and Cheese, and this super quick Stovetop Mac and Cheese is great for a quick lunch!

More Side Dish Recipes

  • Roasted Asparagus
  • Broccoli Casserole
  • Glazed Carrots
  • Twice Baked Potatoes
  • Crispy Roast Potatoes
  • Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts
  • Creamed Corn

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (11)

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Delicious and easy baked mac and cheese just like grandma used to make!

5 from 131 votes

IMPORTANT - There are often Frequently Asked Questions within the blog post that you may find helpful. Simply scroll back up to read them!

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Course: Dinner

Cuisine: American

Servings: 8 people

35 minutes mins

Calories: 729

Author: Amanda Formaro


  • 16 oz elbow macaroni cooked
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika


  • Preheat oven to 350. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Put cooked macaroni in 9x13 pan.

  • In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, melt butter. When butter has melted whisk in flour and cook about 30 seconds, whisking continuously.

  • Slowly whisk in milk and heavy cream

  • Add in cheese and stir until melted and creamy.

  • Add salt and pepper to taste

  • Pour cheese mixture evenly over macaroni.

  • In a small bowl combine bread crumbs and paprika. Sprinkle over macaroni

  • Lightly Spray bread crumb topping with cooking spray oil, this will help it stay crispy

  • Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until the macaroni and cheese is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.

  • Serve warm!


Serving: 1portion | Calories: 729cal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 580mg | Potassium: 320mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1495IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 640mg | Iron: 1.6mg

Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Follow on Pinterest @AmandaFormaro or tag #AmandasCookin!

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Amanda Davis

Amanda Davis is the entrepreneurial mom of four grown children and four step children. She and her husband, Chef Antoine, love to cook together creating recipes for this blog. Amanda also make kid's crafts and creates decorative items for her home. She is a crafting expert and guru in the kitchen and has appeared online and in print publications many times over the years. She is also a craft book author five times over and product developer as well as the owner of You can find her on social media by using the buttons to the left!

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Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe (2024)


Why is my baked mac and cheese not creamy? ›

Pro Tip: Don't use pre-shredded cheese. Many store-bought shredded cheese brands coat their cheese with an anti-caking agent than can make sauces grainy and less creamy. While it requires a bit of an arm workout, grating your own yields the best texture.

How do you make baked mac and cheese moist again? ›

Pour about a tablespoon of milk per cup of mac and cheese into the dish and mix well. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place it in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until it's heated through.

Can you overcook baked mac and cheese? ›

Baking for too long

Baking mac and cheese adds extra cooking time, leading to overcooked pasta and a dried-out sauce.

Why use evaporated milk in mac n cheese? ›

Evaporated milk is a highly concentrated source of milk protein micelles—bundles of proteins that can act as powerful emulsifying agents—which help to keep the sauce creamy and smooth.

What is the best flavor to add to mac and cheese? ›

Black Pepper: Always a must! Nutmeg: This is also optional but trust me, a dash of it goes a long way to balance the tangy cheese flavor and all the fats. Cayenne Powder: A little sprinkle makes all the difference. It does not make this spicy – it just balances the flavors.

What does adding more milk to mac and cheese do? ›

Sauce too thick? Stir in a splash of milk and mix until the sauce has loosened up. (This is also a great trick for reheating mac and cheese - if you're microwaving leftovers and the sauce seems to have dried up, stir a splash of milk or half-and-half into the pasta to bring the sauce back to life!)

Why does my homemade mac and cheese taste bland? ›

If your mac and cheese tastes bland, it's either because it's under-seasoned, you didn't use flavorful cheese, or you didn't use enough cheese. Try adding a little more salt first, because that might fix it.

Why did my baked mac and cheese come out dry? ›

First rinse the cooked and drained pasta with lots of cold water. This will remove any excess starch that may be clinging to the pasta and this starch can sometimes affect the consistency of the cheese sauce. Leave the pasta to drain for 5 minutes or so before adding to your sauce.

How can I keep my mac and cheese creamy? ›

Add more milk if you haven't already. More milk leads to less dry mac and cheese. If that doesn't work and you've already tried, use a different type of cheese. Velveeta works well.

What to do if you put too much milk in baked mac and cheese? ›

Use cornstarch or all-purpose flour. You can thicken cheese sauce further by adding more flour or even using a couple of teaspoons of cornstarch. In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch or flour with a cup of water. The cold water will create a slurry.

What cheese is not good for mac and cheese? ›

As delicious as feta is in a salad or sprinkled over soup, this dry and crumbly cheese just isn't ideal for mac and cheese. Feta has a high moisture level and doesn't melt properly, so it would clump rather than give you a smooth sauce. This also goes for cheeses like queso fresco and paneer.

How do you know when baked mac and cheese is done? ›

Continue baking until the internal temperature reaches 160°F.

Can you put too much cheese in mac and cheese? ›

Can you put too much cheese in mac and cheese? Yes, adding more cheese than a recipe calls for will not improve the dish. Too much cheese will result in a dish that is heavy and greasy.

Why is my mac and cheese sauce not creamy? ›

Though a roux is important for thickening up your cheese sauce, you want to make sure that you don't add too much of your flour and butter mixture because otherwise the sauce can get too thick, which negatively impacts the creaminess.

Why is my homemade mac and cheese not smooth? ›

By paying attention to the quality of ingredients, heat control, and technique, you can often achieve a smoother and creamier mac and cheese. Make sure you are using a good melting cheese, such as cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Gruyère. Cheeses that are aged or overly processed can result in a grainy texture.

Why isn t my mac and cheese sauce smooth? ›

Why is my mac n cheese sauce grainy? The sauce can turn grainy if the cheese is added too quickly, the heat is too high, or if pre-shredded cheese with anti-caking agents is used.


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