Side Dishes

March 16, 2022

The Best Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

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.

The Best Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe is a great one because you can enjoy this dish as a Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese or a perfectly Baked Mac & Cheese, with a few extra steps. When you are looking for the ultimate comfort food, don't not search further, you have arrived.

Prep:
30
min
cook:
20
min
total:
50
min
Ingredients
Pasta:

16 oz elbow pasta noodles
1 tablespoon salt

Sauce:

6 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 can evaporated milk
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon dijon mustard (sub dry mustard or mustard powder)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 cup parmesan, shredded

Optional Topping:

1 cup bread or panko crumbs
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper (sub cayenne pepper for more heat)

Instructions

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.


Optional step:
Topping: 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.




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