Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25-30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound (16 ounces) elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Optional Toppings:

  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • Paprika

Instructions

Cook the pasta:

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Add the macaroni and cook according to package directions for al dente (slightly firm).
  • Drain the pasta and set aside.

Make the cheese sauce:

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk. Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from heat. Stir in the salt, pepper, and nutmeg (if using).
  • Add the cheddar cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, and Parmesan cheese. Stir until the cheese melts and the sauce is smooth.

Combine pasta and sauce:

  • Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and toss to coat evenly.

Baking (optional):

  • Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • Lightly grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
  • Pour the mac and cheese into the prepared baking dish.
  • If desired, combine breadcrumbs, melted butter and a sprinkle of paprika in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the mac and cheese.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Serve:

  • Let the mac and cheese rest for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Tips and customizations:

  • Cheese Choices: Experiment with different cheese combinations; try sharp cheddar, Gruyère, Colby Jack, or fontina.
  • Extra Creamy: Add cream cheese, half-and-half, or heavy cream for a richer sauce.
  • Flavor Boosters: Stir in Dijon mustard, hot sauce, or garlic powder for added depth of flavor.
  • Crunchy Toppings: Top with crumbled bacon, toasted breadcrumbs, or chopped nuts.
  • Vegetable Add-Ins: Mix in pre-cooked broccoli florets, cooked peas, or diced bell peppers.

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