This homemade baked mac and cheese recipe is perfect for parties or potlucks. A mixture of Parmesan, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses baked to perfection with a light golden top make this homemade mac and cheese a total winner!
The cold, winter months are upon us and there’s nothing better than some good comfort food. Next time you’re asked to bring a dish to a potluck, bring this delicious Baked Macaroni and Cheese. This Homemade Mac and Cheese will be a total hit at any party or holiday gathering. It’s such a universal party recipe no one will be able to deny!
What’s great about this Mac and Cheese Recipe is that it’s easy to make, feeds a large crowd, and is way better tasting than the box. Forget the store-bought Mac and Cheese and make this Baked Macaroni and Cheese your new signature party dish!
This Baked Macaroni and Cheese is also great to serve at kids birthday parties. I mean, what kid doesn’t LOVE Mac and Cheese right?! Set up a small buffet station for your party guests and this Baked Macaroni and Cheese will be gone in no time. Everyone will be getting up for a second and third serving of this delicious Homemade Mac and Cheese.
So now that you’ve decided that this Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe is your new signature party dish, let’s show you how to make this easy party recipe.
How to Make Easy Baked Mac and Cheese
Making homemade mac and cheese is super simple. Once you make this easy homemade mac and cheese, there is no way you’re ever going back to the box … trust me! This baked macaroni and cheese makes the ultimate side dish for holiday gatherings, parties, dinners, potlucks, or picnics and barbecues. You definitely won’t go wrong with this mac and cheese recipe. Both kids and adults will love this Baked Mac and Cheese! Pair this mac and cheese with chicken, sausage and peppers, meatballs, etc. This mac and cheese makes for a great side dish and pairs well with a ton of other party recipes.
How to Make Cheese Sauce
Making the cheese sauce for your baked mac and cheese is super simple. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add about 1 cup of the milk and mix to dissolve the paste into the milk. Then add remaining milk and mix until it’s lump free. Then mix in your salt and seasonings. Cook, whisking regularly for 5 to 8 minutes until thickened to a cream consistency. Now your on your way to the best baked mac and cheese!
Next, you’re going to remove from the stove, add cheese and stir. The cheese doesn’t need to melt.
Now for the fun part! Pour the sauce into the pot with the macaroni and stir quickly.
Next, pour your macaroni into a baking dish. Begin to sprinkle the mac and cheese with the breadcrumb topping. This baked macaroni and cheese is going to be perfect right out of the oven! There’s seriously nothing better than homemade mac and cheese!
Next, place your mac and cheese in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the top is a light golden brown, as seen below. Look at how perfect the top of this baked mac and cheese looks! Then, sprinkle with fresh parsley and you’re ready to serve!
Tips for the best baked mac and cheese
1. Panko breadcrumbs are larger pieces than normal breadcrumbs which creates a really nice extra crunchy topping.
2. The main cheese should be a flavored cheese. My favorites are: Parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Colby, or provolone. You can actually use any cheese you want, just make sure that it’s a melting cheese (e.g. don’t use feta, cream cheese, processed cheeses. I like to use mozzarella for the second cheese in this mac and cheese recipe. It melts really well into the sauce, has a nice stretch, and isn’t as oily as other cheeses.
3. Tossing the cooked pasta with butter provides a light coating that helps prevent it from bloating while baking in the sauce. Another good idea is to have the pasta cool before mixing it in with the sauce. You could also make the sauce while the pasta is cooking.
4. MAKE AHEAD: Mac and Cheese is best made fresh, but if you need to make this recipe ahead of time, I recommend cooking the pasta and then tossing it in butter. Then let cool. Make the cheese sauce per recipe, then cool with LID ON (important, to avoid evaporation). Make the topping. Store all components separately in the fridge until required. Mix sauce and pasta, top with topping then bake per recipe.
- 8oz. elbow pasta
- 1tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups warmed milk
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
- 3 cups cheddar cheese
- 1 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
- 3/4 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
- Pasta: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add macaroni and cook per packet directions.
- Drain, return pasta to pot, add butter and toss until melted. Set aside to cool while making the sauce.
- Topping: Mix together topping. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
- Add about 1 cup of the milk and mix with a whisk to dissolve the paste into the milk. Then add remaining milk and mix until lump free.
- Mix in salt and seasonings.
- Cook, whisking regularly, for 5 to 8 minutes until thickened to a cream consistency.
- Remove from stove, add cheese and stir - cheese doesn't need to melt.
- Adjust salt to taste.
- Pour sauce into pot with macaroni. Stir quickly, then pour back into the baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumb topping.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until top is light golden.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley. Serve and enjoy!