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4.72 from 7 votes

Seriously the Best Baked Mac and Cheese

This is THE Baked Mac and Cheese recipe of your dreams. Ultra creamy, irresistibly cheesy, and so perfectly flavorful you will find yourself coming back for seconds… and thirds! Make it today, prep ahead, or freeze it for later, this mac and cheese will be ready for your next craving.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Calories: 693kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1 tsp garlic minced
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • cups chicken broth
  • cups whole milk
  • 11 oz colby jack cheese shredded
  • 5 oz mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt if needed

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray a 9x13 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add ½ tbsp of kosher salt. Cook the pasta according to package directions, cooking 2 minutes less than directed. Drain and rinse briefly with cold water. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, melt butter. Add onions, cooking until soft and translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic, dry mustard and cayenne and cook until fragrant, 30 seconds - 1 minute. Add flour, whisking constantly for 1 minute.
  • Slowly add the chicken broth and whole milk, whisking constantly, until flour mixture is completely incorporated. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring OFTEN, until slightly thickened, 15-20 minutes. Thickness Test: When you draw a finger through the sauce across the back of spoon, the sauce should hold the line with no drips.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat. Gradually whisk in the cheese, one type at a time, until fully melted. This may take a few minutes. Season with pepper and salt (if needed). Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce for 1-2 minutes until it is completely smooth.
  • Briefly rinse the noodles to help them separate. Pour noodles into the sauce, mixing until well combined. Pour pasta into the prepared pan and bake until hot and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Notes

Tips & Tricks
  • Shred your own cheese - really! Pre- shredded cheese is coated, so it doesn't melt the same, nor does it have the same flavor. 
  • Cook your pasta slightly under and rinse it with cold water immediately after draining. The cold rinse will stop the noodles from continuing to cook. This way they will finish cooking while baking without becoming bloated or soggy. 
  • Spray your pan lightly with non-stick spray to prevent the sauce from sticking. You can also line the pan with tinfoil and then lightly spray it. 
  • Use an immersion blender to make the finished sauce ultra smooth and creamy. This is my best secret! Sometimes cheese melts a little unevenly and the onions leave little flecks in the sauce... the immersion blender solves this problem perfectly every time.
Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions: 
Make mac and cheese fully and pour into prepared pan. Cover tightly with tinfoil and refrigerate for 1-3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If frozen, thaw overnight in the fridge. Bake straight from the fridge at 400°F until hot and bubbly, 40-45 minutes (if it begins to brown near the end of baking, cover with foil and continue baking until hot and bubbly). 
Other Cheese Options:
I don’t recommend substituting the sharp cheddar because it creates the main flavor profile. But you can substitute the other cheeses with jack, pepper jack, or any other good melting cheese. Just know that it may come out slightly different than our original cheese combo.
Storing in the Fridge:
Cover tightly or store in air-tight container. It lasts well for 3-5 days and maintains its sauciness well. 

Nutrition

Calories: 693kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 32g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 959mg | Potassium: 434mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1213IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 748mg | Iron: 2mg