Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese

Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food loved by both adults and children because who doesn’t love carbs and cheese?!

This recipe involves Gruyere Cheese on top of a sharp Cheddar cheese sauce. Both of these cheeses melt really well, contributing to the extra creamy and cheesy flavor. This baked Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese is topped with a layer of Parmesan infused Panko crumbs giving it the perfect texture.

There are so many packaged Mac and Cheese options that are so quick to make but I am convinced that absolutely none of them can compare to this homemade recipe because by following this recipe, you are using two real cheeses that both have a great rich flavor and melt really well to give you the creamy mac and cheese that you are looking for.

Here is how to make Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese:

  • boil elbow macaroni
  • make cheesy sauce (butter, milk, flour, cheddar cheese, salt, pepper, mustard)
  • mix in the cheese sauce with the elbow macaroni
  • Add in the Gruyere cheese to the macaroni
  • pour the cheesy macaroni into a baking dish
  • make Parmesan Panko topping and top the mac and cheese
  • bake for 25-30 minutes
  • enjoy the irresistibly creamy mac and cheese

Can I use different cheeses?

Yes! You can make this recipe your own. Not all cheese is made the same so for best results, use cheeses that melt well. Both Gruyere cheese and sharp cheddar cheeses are very strong and flavorful, giving this Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese an explosion of cheesy flavor. They also melt incredibly well giving them a smooth creamy texture. It’s also best to shred your own cheese for optimal flavor. I find that pre shredded cheese ofter dries out slightly and looses some of it’s flavor and moisture. Not only that but pre-shredded is coated so it does not melt as well as a block of cheese that you would shred yourself. 

Other cheeses to use for homemade creamy mac and cheese are:

  • Monterey Jack
  • Gouda 
  • Muenster
  • Parmesean
  • Havarti
  • all kinds of sharp cheddar

How to make the the mac and cheese topping:

I love this topping because it’s so easy to make and gives the homemade baked mac and cheese an extra layer of texture to balance out the perfectly smooth and creamy baked mac and cheese. Start with mixing the Panko bread crumbs with the Parmesan cheese as well as the salt and pepper. You can use either seasoned bread crumbs or you can season your own. Next, drizzle over your melted butter to the bread crumb mixture and mix well until it looks like wet sand. That is all my friends! A couple of simple and you are ready to spread the bread crumbs over the your mac and cheese.

Make ahead instructions:

No matter how much you reheat refrigerated mac and cheese, it will not be as creamy as just made mac and cheese. For best results, serve this homemade baked mac and cheese right away! However, that’s not always possible, especially if you are making this ahead of time. If you don’t plan on serving right away, make more cheesy sauce!

Storing and reheating instructions:

Store leftovers in a tight lid container, in the refrigerator. To reheat your homemade baked mac and cheese, pour a splash of milk, then microwave until heated to your preference. Don’t go overboard with the milk though! I would start with about 1/2 of a tablespoon at a time and add more if needed.

Tips for best tasting Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese:

  1. Add the shredded sharp cheddar cheese to your sauce but add the shredded Gruyere only after your sauce is already mixed in with the macaroni. 
  2. Use whole milk. You need fat for a flavorful and creamy cheese sauce. I decided not to use heavy cream as many recipes call suggest because there is plenty of butter in this recipe that balances out the flavor and creamy texture. 
  3. Don’t skip the salt, pepper, and mustard! They will make difference in the taste of your homemade baked mac and cheese.

Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese Ingredients:

Makes 10-12 servings.

  • 16 oz elbow macaroni, cooked per package instructions
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 3 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese,  shredded

Crumb topping:

  • 1 1/4 cups seasoned Panko crumbs
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. 
  2. Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions. Remove from heat, drain well, and set aside in a large bowl to cool while preparing the cheese sauce.
  3. Melt butter in a large saucepan.
  4. Whisk in flour over low-medium heat until the mixture is a thick and creamy and there is no more flour lumps in the mixture.
  5. Gradually whisk whole milk in the butter and flour roux. Continue to whisk on low heat for 3-4 minutes until the mixture is slightly thick.
  6. Add the sharp cheddar shredded cheese and whisk until it is melted and smooth. At this point, you should have a thick and smooth cheese sauce.
  7. Add in salt, pepper, and mustard to cheesy sauce.
  8. Stir in the cooled macaroni and mix until cheese is completely incorporated. Then, add the shredded Gruyere cheese and mix again.
  9. Pour the mac and cheese into a large 9×13 greased baking dish.
  10. In a small bowl, combine Panko crumbs, melted butter, and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top and bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
  11. Serve while still warm.

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