Recipes » Side Dishes » Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

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5 from 2 votes
My classic, baked macaroni and cheese. This is warm, gooey, pure delicious comfort food for days that call for a good, warm hug from the oven.
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Classic Macaroni and Cheese - a basic that all cooks need in their recipe box! https://www.lanascooking.com/classic-macaroni-and-cheese

My classic, baked macaroni and cheese. This is warm, gooey, pure delicious comfort food for days that call for a good, warm hug from the oven.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese - a basic that all cooks need in their recipe box! https://www.lanascooking.com/classic-macaroni-and-cheese

There are just certain recipes that everyone needs to have in their recipe box, aren’t there? You know those recipes that are so basic that you can make them into hundreds of different things?

Like a basic tomato sauce, or a basic recipe for mashed potatoes, or even a basic vinaigrette. You can take those basics and create dozens of different recipes from each of them.

I think one of the most classic, home-style recipes that any cook should have is a good Classic Macaroni and Cheese. It’s always a hit with both children and adults, pairs well with most proteins and can you ever dress it up!

You can use this basic recipe and add in whatever you like. Cooked, diced ham is great. A cupful of frozen peas. Some fresh, blanched spinach. Or how about throwing in some sun-dried tomatoes and smoky bacon. Hmmm.

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Or change to a different cut of pasta, maybe some penne, and add in some shrimp or lobster. You can vary the cheese as well. Maybe your family prefers American. Go for that instead! Or maybe you’d like to try a combination of parmesan, asiago, and goat cheese.

I have an idea for making a bleu cheese and bacon mac and cheese that I can hardly wait to try. Now, that’s how you take a classic recipe and turn it on its ear.

Whatever you choose to do to take your mac and cheese over the top, here’s a good basic recipe to start with.

How to Make Classic Macaroni and Cheese

Cooked macaroni draining in a colander.

Begin by cooking 8 ounces of elbow macaroni according to the package directions. Drain it and set it aside for now.

Grated extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Grate 10 ounces of extra sharp cheddar cheese. Set that aside, too.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Photo collage showing how to cook the flour and butter.

In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour, whisking until smooth. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, for one minute.

Whisking milk into flour and butter.

Meanwhile, microwave the milk on high for 1 ½ minutes. Gradually whisk the warm milk into the butter and flour mixture. Cook the sauce while whisking for five minutes or until it becomes slightly thickened.

Adding seasonings, cheese, and macaroni into the cooked sauce.

Stir in the salt, black pepper, cayenne (if using), and 1 cup of the grated cheese. Mix well and then add the well-drained macaroni. Stir to combine.

Macaroni and cheese mixture in a baking dish.

Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased two-quart baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

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Baked macaroni and cheese in a baking dish.

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Classic Macaroni and Cheese - a basic that all cooks need in their recipe box! https://www.lanascooking.com/classic-macaroni-and-cheese

Classic Macaroni and Cheese

My classic, baked macaroni and cheese. This is warm, gooey, pure delicious comfort food for days that call for a good, warm hug from the oven.
5 from 2 votes
Print It Rate It
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 423kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni cooked
  • 10 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper optional

Instructions

  • Prepare the macaroni according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Grate the cheese and set it aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
  • Sprinkle in the flour, whisking until smooth.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.
  • Meanwhile, microwave the milk on high for 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Gradually whisk in the warm milk.
  • Whisk constantly for five minutes or until thickened.
  • Stir in the salt, black pepper, 1 cup of the grated cheese and cayenne (if using).
  • Stir in the well-drained macaroni.
  • Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased two-quart baking dish.
  • Top with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Notes

Optional add-ins:
  • One cup cooked, diced ham
  • One cup frozen green peas
  • Leftover, cooked broccoli
  • While the macaroni is cooking, add a package of fresh baby spinach for the last few minutes. Drain with the macaroni and add to the mixture.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 423kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 68mg | Sodium: 558mg | Potassium: 243mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 729IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 443mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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36 Comments

  1. Hi Lana! I’m on here again looking up the recipe, since my 8 year old has requested this! :) Your macaroni and cheese recipe is sooo good – our whole family loved it!!! I’ve tried your South GA biscuits, and I love them, too! It now looks like I’ll be attempting to make my son’s birthday cake for his April birthday :) … Do you have a really easy chocolate cake recipe, like a one layer cake? (I don’t bake much, lol)

    Thanks & stay safe!

    1. You can. Cover it tightly and place it in the refrigerator. Remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before baking so it can come to room temperature.

  2. i do mac. petite diced tomatoes cheddar and sour cream. bake at 375 for 30 min. yummy. from Boston Museum of arts cookbook-1970’s

  3. Hey Foodies, LanaAnn’s Pasta recipe has been selected by Knapkins to be in our Recipe Guessing Game. Can you guess the recipe?

  4. I do agree–mac and cheese is like the little black dress of cooking, right?! It’s always a crowd pleaser :)

  5. Very nice – i grew up with macroni and ketchup and not macoroni and cheese but enjoy a good one. I prefer stronger cheese like gryere or bluecheese but this recipe looks fabulous and i am sure you can just change the cheese.

    1. We actually had macaroni and tomatoes much more often than mac and cheese when I was growing up. It was a delicious concoction of macaroni, chopped tomatoes, onion and bacon. Yum. I should make some tonight :-)

  6. Yum! There’s nothing more comforting than mac and cheese on a chilly day. I make mine much the same, with the exception of white pepper instead of black. I too love the fact any old cheese can be used as I often have bits of assorted cheese ends needing to be used up.
    Have to confess I cheat and make my sauce in the micro though. Tried it after reading the hint in the paper a few years ago, and haven’t made it stove top since!

  7. I have bookmarked this recipe since I did not grow up eating mac n’ cheese. In fact, my first experience with it was in college when my roomate made the “blue box” version – which I thought was vile and thus assumed I did not like Mac n’cheese. It wasn’t until quite a few years later that I discovered mac and cheese was pretty awesome – I know enjoy it (and enjoy making it) but I definitely need a good basic recipe for my collection!