Best Macaroni & Cheese Recipe
I just love macaroni & cheese. I love it so much; I use every excuse in the book to make it.
Family visiting? Yep! I’ll make my mac & cheese!
BBQ this weekend? Yep! I’ll make my mac & cheese!
The cheese levels in my blood are running low? Yep! I’ll make my mac & cheese!
Are you picking up what I’m putting down, here?
Can’t you just imagine how amazing this tastes and how “wow’d” your family and guests will be when you put this gorgeousness down on the table?
10 ingredients is all it takes; 4 of which are cheeses!
Be still my heart…
Start by boiling some water for your pasta. Add kosher salt once it starts to boil and throw in your elbows (pastas that is!)
I’m hearing Giada’s voice in my head while I’m typing this out. I just love the way she says pasta, don’t you?
Cook according to package directions for al dente/firm pasta. You want it to still have a little bite to it so the cheese sauce doesn’t sog it up.
While your pasta is cooking, shred your cheeses into a bowl. I shredded mine the night before I was planning to make my mac, just to save some time.
One big happy family.
If you’re going to customize, you can switch up the Gouda for Gruyere or Jarlsberg.
I will tell you that the Parrano Gouda is my secret ingredient. It’s milder than a Gruyere, nuttier than a Jarlsberg and melts beautifully into the other 3, but any Gouda will work. If you can’t decide, ask the deli manager to slice you a piece of each and have a nibble. Go with what your mouth tells you!
Drain your pasta into a colander, but do not rinse. Just let it hang out next to you while you make some magic.
Melt some butter in the same pot.
Add cream (or whichever milk you plan to use) and evaporated milk.
Add cheeses in handfuls, allowing each addition to melt.
Patience, grasshopper… Too much too fast and it will just clump up on you.
Once it’s all melted, sprinkle in crushed red pepper and dry mustard. Stir to combine, and then add the cooked macaroni back to the pot.
Gently stir to ensure all elbows are covered in ooooey-goooooey cheese sauce. If you happened to buy too much cheese (like I always “accidentally” do) shred it up and add it to the top.
Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes or just until the cheese on top begins to bubble and melt. If you like the browned, crispy cheese around the edges thing, leave it in a little longer.
I seriously didn’t have the patience to even plate it long enough to photograph it! I just served myself up an overflowing spoonful, and ate it faster than you can blink.
My 2nd helping was doused in hot sauce (Cholula or Frank’s Red Hot are my fav’s for this mac & cheese) ~ eaten just as fast.
Don’t judge! Just let me know how quickly this flies off your table!
- 16 oz. dry pasta, macaroni elbows are my favorite, but shells work well too
- 6 oz Gouda, shredded (can use Parrano, smoked, or regular)
- 6 oz. Muenster, shredded (+2 oz. for topping)
- 6 oz. extra sharp cheddar, shredded (+ 2 oz. for topping)
- 8 oz. Velveeta, cubed
- ½ stick butter (4 tbsp)
- 2 cups heavy cream, whole milk or half & half (the higher fat content, the richer the sauce will be)
- 12 oz evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste (optional - can use a dash of cayenne or a few drops of hot sauce, if preferred)
- up to ¼ cup extra milk to thin cheese sauce if it gets too thick (can be 2%, whole or more cream)
- Preheat oven to 350. In a large cast iron, or other oven safe, Dutch oven, cook macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- While macaroni is cooking (or the night before) shred Gouda, Muenster & cheddar into a bowl. Add cubed Velveeta and set aside.
- Melt butter over medium heat in the same large, oven safe pot. Add dry mustard and red pepper flakes, then stir in cream and evaporated milk and allow liquids to warm thru.
- Add Velveeta and shredded cheeses in handfuls, allowing each addition to melt before adding more.
- If your family can handle the heat, ¼ teaspoon of cayenne will up the heat factor, or you can increase red pepper flakes to ½ teaspoon. If you’ve got little kiddos or can’t tolerate too much spice, stick to ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes, or omit all together.
- Add the cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce, stir gently to combine. Top with extra shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 minutes or until bubbling around the edges and as browned as you like your cheese. About 20 minutes total if you like extra crispy cheesy edges, but not too long so you don't dry out your cheese sauce.