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creamy baked mac and cheese
As we all know, kids love macaroni and cheese. If you also enjoy it and are looking for an adult version of a mac and cheese recipe, you came to the right place. The secret to homemade mac and cheese adult style is in the cheese and the spices you use.
In this recipe we use a combination of cheddar and gruyere cheese as well as cayenne pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Gruyere’s strong flavor really comes through making this a gourmet style baked mac and cheese. You will want to make this over and over again. This is definitely not your regular kiddie recipe.
HOW TO MAKE BAKED MAC AND CHEESE
In this recipe, we are using a cheesy bechamel sauce that has the perfect creamy consistency with just the right amount of spice. To start, we need to cook 2 cups of elbow pasta according to package instructions. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
While the pasta is cooking, we make the cheesy bechamel sauce:
- In a medium-sized saucepan, melt ¼ cup butter and add ¼ cup flour. Cook flour for about two minutes.
- Gradually whisk in 1 cup of milk and 1 ¼ cup of half and half.Make sure to use a whisk to dissolve all lumps.
- Add ⅛ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, ¼teaspoon onion powder, ¼ teaspoon garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook the sauce until thick, about 3 minutes
- At this time turn off the heat and add 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese and ½ cup of Gruyere cheese. Mix everything until the sauce is smooth and creamy.
- Drain the cooked pasta and mix it into the sauce.
- Pour half of the mac and cheese mixture into a greased 7 x 11 inch baking dish, top with ½ cup shredded cheddar and ¼ cup shredded Gruyere.
- Spoon the other half of the mac and cheese into the dish and top with remaining ½ cheddar and ¼ cup gruyere.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheeses are melted and bubby.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST HOMEMADE BAKED MAC AND CHEESE
1. Make sure to add salt to the pasta cooking water. We need the pasta to have some flavor.
2. Cook the pasta just until “al dente”, or with a little bit of a bite still to it. It will go into the oven so we don’t want to overcook it.
3. Don’t skip the part where you cook the flour with the butter. If you don’t give it a minute or two of cooking time, the bechamel will have an uncooked flour taste.
4. Use a whisk to mix in the liquids into the cooked flour and make sure to dissolve all the lumps that will form.
5. Whisk in your seasonings as well, powders tend to clump up.
6. The sauce should be thick, but not too thick. Remember it will thicken even more once it starts to cool down.
7. Do not use pre-shredded cheeses. They contain anti-caking agents that keep the cheese from sticking but also keep it from melting properly. This is a crucial step. Please shred your own cheese.
8. Serve mac and cheese immediately while piping hot. It will thicken quite a bit when cool.
CAN I MAKE BAKED MAC AND CHEESE AHEAD OF TIME?
You certainly can. Complete all steps but the baking. Let the assembled mac and cheese cool completely, cover with two layers of plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days. Let it come to room temperature before baking it. It may not taste as fresh as it does when baked and consumed the same day.
HOW TO REHEAT MAC AND CHEESE LEFTOVERS
You can store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge. I don’t recommend freezing homemade mac and cheese. It will never taste the same as freshly made. To reheat, add one tablespoon of milk for every cup of mac and cheese you want to reheat. Even if you store it correctly, it will lose a bit of moisture and become very thick.
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- 2 cups uncooked elbow pasta
- ¼ cup salted butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 ¼ cup half and half
- 2 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 cup freshly shredded gruyere cheese
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cook elbow pasta according to package instructions until “al dente” or just slightly undercooked (firm, not too soft).
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter inside a medium-sized saucepan. Add the flour and cook this mixture for about two minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the milk and half and half. Make sure to dissolve all lumps that may form in the sauce using a whisk. Add the cayenne pepper, onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 3 minutes or until thick.
- Remove the saucepan from heat and add one cup of shredded cheddar, and ½ cup of shredded gruyere. Mix until well combined.
- Drain the cooked pasta and mix it into the sauce until very well combined.
- Pour half of the mac and cheese into a greased baking dish and sprinkle ½ cup cheddar plus ¼ gruyere on top.
- Repeat with the other half of the mac and cheese and remaining cheeses. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheeses are melted and bubbly.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 655Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 27gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 137mgSodium: 782mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 1gSugar: 5gProtein: 31g