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Baked Mac and Cheese

A plate of food, with Casserole
This creamy, baked mac and cheese is made from scratch with a delicious sauce and tender noodles, topped with breadcrumbs in this simple, homemade dinner recipe.
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Table of Contents
  1. INGREDIENTS FOR BAKED MAC AND CHEESE
  2. HOW TO MAKE THIS BAKED MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE
  3. STORAGE
  4. MORE RECIPES YOU'LL LOVE
  5. JUMP TO RECIPE

There’s nothing simpler than mac and cheese but sometimes you want a bit of an upgrade. With this recipe, there’s all that creamy goodness you get with a classic recipe but there’s also a touch of crunch. Baked Mac and Cheese is the perfect way to make the simple pasta dish into something even more delicious.

Plus, there are so many other ways you can upgrade the classic mac ‘n’ cheese! Check out this idea for a chili mac for starters. Or if you want a recipe to pop in the crockpot while you are at work, this crockpot mac and cheese will be just what you need.

close up shot of baked mac and cheese

MORE MAC AND CHEESE RECIPES:
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese | Bacon Mac and Cheese


INGREDIENTS FOR BAKED MAC AND CHEESE

baked Mac and cheese raw ingredients that are labeled

You will need:

Mac and Cheese

  • 2 ½ cups large elbow macaroni
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 (12 ounce) cans evaporated milk
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 ½ cups mild cheddar cheese, shredded (freshly grated if possible)
  • 2 ½ cups white sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Topping

  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup herb panko bread crumbs

SUBSTITUTIONS AND ADDITIONS

Cheese: you can swap the cheddar cheese for something like mozzarella or even Monterrey Jack if you prefer. Or you can go for a stronger cheese but remember, this will make the cheesy sauce taste stronger.

Breadcrumbs: if you can’t find any herb flavored breadcrumbs, use normal panko breadcrumbs, and add dried mixed herbs. Mix the two then use as per the instructions.

Additions: you can also add some meat or fish to the recipe to make it a little more filling. Something like chicken, shrimp or mac and cheese with bacon are great ideas. You can also add extra nutrition by including something like broccoli.

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HOW TO MAKE THIS BAKED MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE

STEP ONE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.

STEP TWO: In a large 5 QT pot, cook the macaroni according to package directions but cook it 1 to 2 minutes UNDER. It will continue cooking as it bakes later. Drain the pasta and drizzle the olive oil over it and toss it to keep it from drying out while you prepare the sauce. Set aside.

Food on a table, with Cheese and Cook

STEP THREE: In the pot you just cooked the pasta in, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted add in the flour and whisk for a minute whisking constantly so to not to burn the flour.

STEP FOUR: Pour in the 2 cups of whole milk and whisk until all lumps are gone and mixture is smooth. About 1 minute

STEP FIVE: Over medium-high heat, add the 2 cans of evaporated milk, salt, and pepper. Whisk until mixture is smooth and starts to boil and to thicken, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir often so it doesn’t burn to bottom of pot.

STEP SIX: Stir cheeses together in a large bowl.

STEP SEVEN: Stir in 4 cups of cheese into the pot and stir until cheese is melted.

STEP EIGHT: Remove from heat and stir in the cooked macaroni shells.

STEP NINE: Pour into the prepared baking dish. It will look a bit soupy but it will thicken as it cooks.

STEP TEN: Sprinkle the remaining one cup of shredded cheese over the top of the mac and cheese.

STEP ELEVEN: In a small bowl mix together the Panko bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese.

A tray of food on a plate, with Cheese and Cook

STEP TWELVE: Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until cheese is bubbly and top is golden brown.

STEP THIRTEEN: Serve hot.

STORAGE

IN THE FRIDGE: You can store mac and cheese in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, but it can be best to do it before the breadcrumbs have been added. Otherwise, they tend to go a bit soggy. If you want to store, stop at step five and cool down the pasta. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge.

IN THE FREEZER: the same applies to freezing the recipe. Stop at step five and allow the pasta to cool. Store it in an airtight container in the freezer for 1 to 2 months. Lift out and allow to defrost. Reheat in the pan then resume the recipe to add the breadcrumbs and bake in the oven.

overhead shot of baked mac and cheese in a clear pan with a serving placed in a white bowl by a large spoon

You’ll love this baked version of this classic recipe. It still has the creamy sauce we all love but adds extra flavor and crunch with the breadcrumbs. That’s why it has become a Southern comfort food favorite!

MORE RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE

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A plate of food, with Casserole

Baked Mac and Cheese

5 from 13 votes
This creamy, baked mac and cheese is made from scratch with a delicious sauce and tender noodles, topped with breadcrumbs in this simple, homemade dinner recipe.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 10

Ingredients
  

Mac and Cheese

  • 2 1/2 cup large elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 cup whole milk
  • 2 12 ounce cans evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese shredded (freshly grated if possible)
  • 2 1/2 cup white sharp cheddar cheese shredded

Topping

  • 4 tbsp butter melted
  • 1 cup herb panko bread crumbs

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  • In a large 5 QT pot, cook the macaroni according to package directions but cook it 1 to 2 minutes UNDER. It will continue cooking as it bakes later. Drain the pasta and drizzle the olive oil over it and toss it to keep it from drying out while you prepare the sauce. Set aside.
  • In the pot you just cooked the pasta in, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted add in the flour and whisk for a minute whisking constantly so to not to burn the flour.
  • Pour in the 2 cups of whole milk and whisk until all lumps are gone and mixture is smooth. About 1 minute.
  • Over medium-high heat add the 2 cans of evaporated milk, salt, and pepper. Whisk until mixture is smooth and starts to boil and to thicken, about 8-10 minutes. Stir often so it doesn’t burn to bottom of pot.
  • Stir cheeses together in a large bowl.
  • Stir in 4 cups of cheese into the pot and stir until cheese is melted.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the cooked macaroni shells.
  • Pour into the prepared baking dish. It will look a bit soupy but it will thicken as it cooks.
  • Sprinkle the remaining one cup of shredded cheese over the top of the mac and cheese.
  • In a small bowl mix together the Panko bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until cheese is bubbly and top is golden brown.
  • Serve hot.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 501kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 88mg | Sodium: 847mg | Potassium: 216mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 927IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 485mg | Iron: 1mg
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Proudly Prepared by the Spaceships Kitchen

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    Comments

  1. Molly Kumar says

    5 stars
    That looks so delicious and creamy! We recently visited Vermont but didn’t get a chance to do much sightseeing but your post made me wanna go back again. The cheese looks so food and would be so nice to know where your ingredients are coming from.

  2. Bonnie says

    Is this recipe creamy and not gloopy, if you know what I mean? I have tried numerous mac & cheese recipes they don’t turn out creamy they turn out stringy and not appetizing.

  3. Jennifer says

    HELP!! I want to make this tonight but need to know what size cans evaporated milk this uses?
    I have 12 ounce cans.

    Thank you!

  4. Amy says

    9×13 is a lot for our family…can I split it into 2 9×9 and freeze one for another day before baking?

  5. Leigh says

    I really liked the recipe.
    The problem I had was in the end when we served it the cheese sorta separated . Why did that happen?
    Should I have mixed it better before putting it into the oven?

    • Layne Kangas says

      Hi, Leigh – cheese can separate if it’s overcooked, so that would be one guess. The milk and flour mixture helps keep everything together and creamy and helps prevent the cheese from separating so maybe something went a little amiss at that step? Hopefully, you don’t run into issues next time!

  6. Laurmark57 says

    5 stars
    This was a huge hit with my family!! The condensed milk gave it a type of sweetness that was addicting! Thank you!!

  7. Liz says

    5 stars
    I’m making this right now as I speak and I’m so excited! I will say, however, that I was surprised with the notes on the recipe said that the bake time was 5 minutes and the pinterest picture I clicked said “Ready in 20 minutes!”. Then lo and behold, the directions said 20-25. So, technically, this recipe really takes 35-45 minutes. Wish I had done a more thorough read through before I started. Not a huge deal, but thought I’d bring it to your attention just incase it was unintentional! Excited to try it though!

  8. Stacie Branham says

    Delicious and thanks for the great tips! I grated white cheddar and regular sharp cheddar. I only had almond milk so I reduced it to 1 cup because it’s thinner in consistency but it gave it a rich creamy finish. I did the butter and bread crumbs on top. My family devoured it ! Thanks so much

  9. Sara says

    Thank you for this recipe! It was delicious! Although I had to remove almost half the “liquid” before placing it in the oven. You say 2 cans of evaporated milk, my cans were 354ml each. How many millimeters were your cans? Also it unfortunately took much longer than 20 mins, like 45 mins or so with cooking the pasta and such. All in all, it was delish!

  10. Mara says

    5 stars
    Finally found a recipe I like for Mac n Cheese! The steps were pretty easy to follow. Overall my family and I liked it. We prefer more creamy so I’ll have to add more of something. What do you suggest? Thank you

  11. Katrina says

    STOP LOOKING! This is the best macaroni & cheese recipe EVER! I made this for the company Thanksgiving lunch & people were scraping the pan!

  12. Lucy says

    5 stars
    I actually had four cans of evaporated milk in the pantry. So I decided to try this recipe. It was a huge hit in my house! I also made a pan for neighbors who are battling COVID19. They all loved it too. Thank you for sharing!

  13. Jennifer says

    Is there a way to make this only a half of the pan size? This is always a hit in my house we just seem to always have to many leftovers 😂.

  14. lisa c says

    5 stars
    This was very good, owing, I believe to the use of evaporated milk along with regular milk, giving it extra richness, as well as the panko crumb topping. I did wing it a bit (using approximate quantities to sort of halve the recipe and using whatever cheese I had available), and everybody really liked it.

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