Homemade macaroni and cheese is an American staple in most households, ours included. Though we are lovers of the basic box of kraft macaroni and cheese for those moments when we do not want to cook anything, there is also nothing better than homemade mac and cheese, and this recipe makes it easy. Hopefully, becoming your new family favorite. A great side dish for the holiday or a perfect comfort classic when it becomes the main event.
This recipe doesn't use heavy cream, half and half, whole milk, or beaten egg. The base of this creamy macaroni sauce is chicken stock (yes, you can sub veggie stock) and evaporated milk. You can make this creamy sauce with pantry staples and some cheese.
I have been making this saucy cheese recipe for 20+ years. If you want to save time, use pre-shredded cheese, but if you have time, freshly shred the cheese so you can skip all the anti-caking agents. You can use almost any combination of cheeses, but I find that sharp yellow cheddar cheese or sharp white cheddar cheese with a little pepper jack and some parmesan cheeses are a perfect cheese combination. If you don't like spice to your dishes, feel free to substitute the pepper jack with Monterey Jack cheese. You will want to add some good melting cheese to the different cheeses to bring it all together for a perfect cheesy mac dish.
You can use any pasta, but you want to pick one that can hold up to being baked in the cheese sauce. My favorites for this creamy cheese sauce would be elbow macaroni, rotini, fusilli, cavatappi, gemilli, penne, or any other style of short pasta. Be sure when cooking your pasta that you cook for two minutes less than the package directions and that you cook the pasta in heavily salted water. You want it to be on the edge of al dente, as the pasta will continue to cook in the creamy cheese sauce.
You can skip baking this macaroni and cheese casserole dish and enjoy it from the stovetop, but I find the extra step for a perfect creamy baked macaroni is well worth your time and effort. Give this mac and cheese a try. I am pretty sure it will become a part of your favorite recipes.
- Elbow pasta noodles
- Evaporated milk
- Vegetable or chicken broth
- White pepper
- Sharp cheddar
- Pepper Jack
See recipe card for quantities.
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Remove from heat and drain one minute before package directions state. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan melt butter and add flour to make the roux.
- Slowly whisk in warmed evaporated milk and broth mixture until well combined.
- Turn off heat.
- Add the cheeses.
- Add the noodles.
- Then decide if we are baking this bitch or just eating it from the pot.
- Preheat oven to 375˚
- Mix panko and oil. Spread in an even layer over macaroni and cheese.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
- Elbow macaroni - use any small pasta that can hold the sauce.
- Cheese - use a sharp or medium cheddar as the base cheese. Sub the pepper jack for more cheddar or your preferred cheese. You can sub the Parmesan for any hard flavorful cheese.
- Gluten-Free - if you need a gluten free version of this recipe you can check out my recipe here: https://www.thewholerevolution.com/recipes/macaroni-and-cheese-gluten-free-and-grain-free
- Spicy - switch the pepper jack and sharp cheddar in this recipe. You could also add a can of chopped hatch chiles.
- Deluxe - take the time to top and bake the macaroni and cheese to upgrade this dish. You could also you high quality sharp cheese to really make this dish hit.
See this spicy version of this recipe on my website! (placeholder for in-content link)
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months. To defrost, place in microwave or put in 350˚ oven for 1 hour.
If the macaroni and cheese seems a little to saucy just let it sit and it will soak up all that cheesy goodness, or bake it for the perfect pan of mac and cheese.
Make sure you cook the pasta for one minute less than package directions states. So just under al dente. It will continue to cook in the sauce or oven if you decide to bake this dish.
I love a mixture of sharp cheese with a gooey cheese, like pepper jack, Monetery jack, fontina, quesadilla cheese and havarti.
Use evaporated milk. DO NOT use condensed milk as it has added sugar and is sweet. If you don't have evaporate milk you can sub with plain milk or unsweetened dairy alternative.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
These are my favorite dishes to serve with [this recipe]:
The Best Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 Stovetop, oven
- 16 oz elbow pasta noodles
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard sub dry mustard or mustard powder
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 cup pepper jack cheese shredded
- 1 cup parmesan shredded
- 1 cup bread or panko crumbs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper sub cayenne pepper for more heat
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and add the salt and pasta. Use the cooking time on the package, but decrease it by 2 minutes. For example: if it says to cook it for 9 - 11 minutes, you will cook it for 7 - 9 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375˚
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until combined; lowering the heat to medium-low. Cook the flour and butter, occasionally whisking, for at least two minutes, do not let the flour burn. While the flour and butter cook, add the evaporated milk and broth to a microwave-safe bowl. Place in a microwave and heat for 4 minutes until hot but not boiling.
- After the roux (flour and butter mixture) has cooked, slowly whisk in your warm evaporated milk and broth, then add the dijon and white pepper, whisking until well combined. Turn off the heat. Add the shredded cheddar and whisk until slightly melted, then add the pepper jack and parmesan cheese and mix.
- Carefully add your pasta to the cheese sauce and combine. You can enjoy this dish as a stovetop mac and cheese or add one more step to take it up a notch, turning it into the ultimate comfort food.
- Prepare your baking dish with olive oil and pour cheesy noodles into the dish. Spread the topping over evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Bake at 375˚ for 20 minutes until you reach bubbly perfection, and the bread crumbs have toasted. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.