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Homemade Baked Mac & Cheese

mac and cheese

Ah the classic mac and cheese dinner.  Is there a meal that is more comforting or beloved by families?  Not in my house!  No blue box here - this recipe is simple to throw together and absolutely loved by anyone who has tasted it.  

Now this is not the kind of meal you make every week.  It's the kind of meal you make when you just need complete comfort food.  (Ok, so maybe you need that weekly!?!?!?)  I have been making homemade mac and cheese for over 20 years now and this is my beyond tried and true favorite recipe that I want to share with the world.  All I can say is that you will be in gooey cheese heaven.  Serve with salad and crusty bread and you will definitely have a new family favorite. 

Note:  If you want to add in some different cheese, feel free to switch out some of the cheese in the sauce for your favorite, however, the sharp gives this an amazing flavor that is hard to beat.  I sometimes like to do 12oz sharp, 4oz shredded mozzarella or Italian blend if I have it on hand for extra melty gooeyness!  I've also subbed out 4oz gruyere.

  • 16oz of your favorite pasta, (penne, cellentani, the trio or rigatoni are our favs)
  • 1/2 cup butter, (1 stick)
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 cups milk
  • 16oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded 
  • 1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 8-10oz additional sharp shredded cheese for layer and topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x13 pan with non stick cooking spray.
  2. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil and cook your pasta in it for about 8 minutes,  (check your pasta package directions - I usually do it about 3 minutes less than it says to on the package - you don't want it all the way cooked because it is going to continue to cook in the oven.)
  3. While the pasta is cooking, in a large saucepan melt the butter and stir in the cornstarch.  (It will look like a thick yellow paste.)  Let it cook for a minute, then whisk in the milk, salt and pepper.  Keep whisking until the sauce starts to thicken.  
  4. Add the 16oz of shredded cheese and the brown mustard and whisk until it's all melted and smooth.
  5. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and then drain you pasta, return it to the big pot, pour the cheese sauce all over it and toss it all together.  Add in the 1/4 cup pasta water and toss again.  
  6. Pour HALF the cheesy pasta mixture into the pan.  Now here is the secret... sprinkle that half of the pasta mixture with 4oz of additional shredded cheese, then pour the remaining pasta mixture over the top and repeat with the other 4-6oz of shredded cheese, (I add enough to cover the top.)
  7. Bake at 350 on the middle rack for 15 minutes, then raise the temperature of the oven to 425 and let it bake another 7-10 minutes or until the cheese is nice and bubbly on top.  
  8. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then serve.
*Photos updated Jan, 2021

mac & cheese on a white plate

Mac & Cheese

Homemade Baked Mac & Cheese

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