Food Quiz

Our Favorite Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe


A bowl of macaroni and cheese on a blue cloth.
Our Favorite Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe


Mac and cheese – the timeless comfort food! Making it yourself is a snap and way better than getting a box from the store. What do you need?

  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Macaroni
  • And a few other ingredients

Keep reading to find out all the ingredients you need for this homemade mac and cheese recipe.


Macaroni is a dry durum wheat pasta product. It comes in many shapes – the most popular being elbows and shells. Elbows are usually used for classic mac and cheese, while shells are best for creamy sauce.

When buying macaroni, check for iron, calcium carbonate, or both on the nutrition label. Whole wheat and gluten free forms are also available.

Dry pasta sold in bulk has less moisture than boxed pasta. This affects cooking times. Adjust liquid amounts accordingly to avoid an oversaturated dish!


For superior texture and flavor in your homemade mac and cheese, use butter instead of margarine or any other substitute. It will give a richness and slight sweetness that margarine or oil can’t.

Melt the butter in a pan over low heat before adding milk and other ingredients. This way, each noodle will get a thin layer of butter. You can adjust the amount to your taste. Add more for a richer flavor or less for lighter fare.


Create a creamy roux with a mix of flour and butter. Equal amounts of all-purpose flour and unsalted butter should be heated until light golden. Cool slightly and use it as the base for homemade macaroni and cheese.

All-purpose flour can also be used to thicken; combine ¼ cup flour with one cup of liquid. Feel extra fancy? Substitute Cake or Pastry Flour. This adds a creamier texture without lumps.


Choosing the best milk is key for making a yummy mac and cheese. Go for whole milk for the most flavor, or try reduced fat or skim if you like. For vegan-friendly mac and cheese, plant-based milks like oat and almond will do. To make it even richer, add extra half and half cream too! That way, you’ll get the most luxurious mac and cheese.


Cheese: a flavorful, creamy essential for mac and cheese! Three main types to choose from: cheddar, American, and cream cheese.

  • Cheddar has a tangy flavor and can be white or yellow. It’s mild, so best combined with other cheeses.
  • American cheese is mild and melts smoothly, making a creamy sauce.
  • Cream cheese adds richness and body, so it doesn’t separate when cooked.

Each type tastes unique – experiment away!


Making classic homemade mac and cheese? Easy-peasy! You just need a few ingredients and some kitchen tools. The result? Delicious creamy, cheesy heaven! Let’s get to it! Here’s the directions: All you do is…

Boil the macaroni

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil on the stove. Grate 8 ounces of cheddar cheese. Once boiling, add 1 pound of elbow macaroni noodles. Stir occasionally as they cook (5 minutes or until al dente). Drain in a colander and rinse with cold running water. The macaroni is ready for your dish!

Melt the butter in a saucepan

Melt butter in a medium-sized saucepan on medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Put in flour. Whisk until paste is formed. Continue whisking and cooking until lightly browned and bubbling, approx. 3 min.

Gradually pour in milk. Whisk often to avoid lumps. Heat mixture, stirring regularly, until sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. This takes around 10 minutes.

Add the flour and stir until combined

In a large skillet, mix together butter and flour over medium heat. Stir constantly until you have a smooth, bubbly mixture. This is the roux that will thicken the sauce. Reduce heat to low, then add milk gradually. Keep stirring until creamy. Simmer on low for 4-5 mins, until the sauce thickens, and coats the back of a spoon without running off. Ready to use!

Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly

Once pasta finishes cooking and draining, put it back in the pot. Turn heat to medium-low. Slowly stir in 2 cups of milk. Keep stirring constantly for around 5 mins. Macaroni and Cheese is ready when sauce coats a spoon. Want it thicker? Stir over low heat for a few extra mins.

Add the cheese and stir until melted

Boil the milk. Then, reduce the heat. Put 3 cups of grated cheddar cheese into the milk. Stir until melted. This will take about 5 minutes. If it seems too thick, add milk one tablespoon at a time.

When the sauce is perfect, pour it into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Add the cooked macaroni and stir until combined

Cheese sauce is ready! Add the cooked macaroni. Stir up all ingredients until blended. Stir and check regularly to keep consistency even. When combined and heated, mmm – homemade macaroni and cheese is ready to serve! Enjoy!

Serving Suggestions

Serving mac and cheese? Yes, please! So many possibilities for yummy dishes. Main or side, it’s special. Let’s look at the best ways to serve our beloved homemade mac and cheese recipe. Yum!

Add diced ham or bacon for extra flavor

For a delicious twist on homemade mac & cheese, add diced ham or bacon. This will give a smoky, salty flavor, & extra nutrition. But be careful – too much meat & the cheese flavor is lost! When measuring ingredients, use ½ cup of diced meat.

For a unique flavor, try adding diced jalapenos or other mild peppers. The heat pairs well with a creamy cheese sauce. Measure out ¼ cup at a time to get the right level of spice.

Top with bread crumbs for a crunchy topping

For the yummiest mac and cheese, add a crunchy topping. We use panko bread crumbs. To make it, melt butter in a skillet. Stir in 1-1 1/2 cups of crumbs. Stir constantly until golden brown. Top your mac and cheese with the warm crumb mix. Bake for 20 mins at 350 degrees F.

Add Parmesan or cheddar cheese for extra flavor. Or even some diced bacon pieces for texture. Endless possibilities!

Add diced vegetables for extra nutrition

Dice up some veggies to boost the nutritional value of your mac and cheese! Sauteed kale brings Vitamin C and calcium. Bell peppers offer A & C. Mushrooms have B vitamins and selenium. Season lightly with salt, pepper, and garlic powder before adding. Carrots and squash may need steaming or pre-cooking. Think about replacing part of the cheese with cottage or ricotta for protein.

Frequently Asked Questions

What ingredients do I need to make mac and cheese?

You will need 16 ounces of macaroni, 2 tablespoons of butter, 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 2 cups of milk, 8 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg.

How long does it take to make mac and cheese?

It should take about 25 minutes to make mac and cheese. You will need to cook the macaroni for 8 minutes, then prepare the cheese sauce, and then bake the macaroni and cheese for 15-20 minutes.

Can I add additional ingredients to the mac and cheese?

Yes, you can add additional ingredients such as cooked bacon, diced tomatoes, cooked chicken, or other vegetables to the mac and cheese. You can also add different types of cheese to the dish for more flavor.
Ethan Walker
Ethan Walker

Hey there! I'm Ethan, an adventurous restaurant critic and culinary travel writer with a taste for global flavors. When not wine tasting or getting lost in historical fiction, I'm scouring the world for hidden gem eateries and authentic street food experiences. Join me on a thrilling journey to uncover culinary treasures!