You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t like macaroni and cheese; whether they’re loyal to the boxed version made with milk and orange powdered cheese or the roux-based, oven-baked, cracker-topped version, everyone has a favorite. Which macaroni and cheese recipe is the best? The most authentic? Does it really matter? We have 25 amazing adaptations for you to choose from, ranging from the most basic scratch-made version to ones that are loaded with lobster and border on gourmet. No matter what type of macaroni and cheese you crave, we’ve got 25 ooey, gooey recipes ready to come to the rescue.
It might seem incredibly obvious, but in order to make amazing macaroni and cheese, you only need two things: perfectly cooked pasta, and a creamy, cheesy sauce. It’s a formula that is surprisingly easy to get wrong; one of the common problems with macaroni and cheese is that, between the boiling and oven-baking, the pasta can become mushy and over-cooked. If you’re making macaroni and cheese from scratch, be sure to follow the cooking instructions on the box of pasta, cooking the pasta for the lowest recommended amount of time so that it is still al dente in the center.
Once you’ve got your pasta ready, you’ll need a rich and creamy cheese sauce. There are a number of ways to make one, but one of the most reliable is to start your sauce with a roux. A roux is a simple mix made of equal parts flour and fat (like butter, oil, or rendered animal fat), is used to thicken sauces. You have to watch your roux and stir it constantly so that it doesn’t burn, but taking a few minutes to do this will make the base of your cheese sauce rich and velvety.
These two easy tips will get you perfectly cooked pasta and a creamy cheese sauce, but after that, mac and cheese perfection is up to you — get creative with add-ins like bacon, blue cheese, or roasted cauliflower, then top your baked pasta with anything from a drizzle of truffle oil to panko breadcrumbs and shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano. Or, try one of these delicious recipes.
Baked Mac and Cheese Casserole
(Credit: Alexandra Rowley)
This one-dish oven-baked pasta is an easy way to feed your family a warm and comforting meal on a busy night. Made with a blend of four cheeses and just a handful of other ingredients, this mac and cheese casserole is sure to become one of your favorites. Click here for the recipe.
Carroty Mac and Cheese
There’s nothing wrong with sneaking a few vegetables into this creamy and decadent dish! This version uses grated carrots that are cooked for a few minutes along with the macaroni — they blend perfectly into the texture of the finished dish. Click here for the recipe.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.