There's nothing like a warm, gooey bowl of delicious mac and cheese, am I right? Mac and cheese is a comfort food if there ever was one, but if you don't make it right, you'll end up with a less-than-comforting bowl of dried out, not-cheesy-at-all noodles. Worse yet, you might end up with a gritty, mealy mess. That doesn't mean you should turn to that familiar blue box whenever a craving arrives — homemade mac and cheese is the best, by far (and you've got this!). To make the creamiest mac and cheese ever, you just have to do a couple of things differently than you might do them now. In fact, it's probably a lot less complicated than you might think. Armed with these tricks and ideas and a little know-how, you'll be well on your way to the creamiest mac and cheese ever. But be careful who you tell — once word gets out that you've mastered this dish, you'll have more dinner guests than you can handle!
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, Dijon mustard, and Worchestershire sauce until well blended. Thoroughly drain the cooked macaroni and onion mixture. Add the shredded cheese, macaroni, and onion mixture to the sauce in the large bowl. Stir until all ingredients are combined. Sprinkling it with 1/2-1 teaspoon adds dimension to this Southern Baked Mac and Cheese. I’m telling you it makes all the difference unless you like bland food. Best Cheese for Baked Mac and Cheese. Don’t be scared when using cheese for this recipe. I used three types of cheeses to grace every noodle of this dish.
This one seems pretty obvious, but we're going to start with it anyway. To get creamy mac and cheese, you have to have a creamy sauce. Rather than making a more traditional béchamel with whole milk, up the ante with a partly or mostly cream base. According to Epicurious, using a combination of milk and cream instead of just milk, plus whisking your cheese into the base in three stages will make your sauce the creamiest it can be.
Like cream, yogurt can give your sauce a little bit of oomph. Swirl some in for added depth of flavor and creaminess. Make sure you choose a yogurt with some fat content to it, rather than the fat-free kind. Also make sure you're using one that's not flavored (plain is best) and one without any added sugar. You don't want your cheese sauce to be sweet.
Mascarpone is a creamy Italian cheese that's the perfect secret ingredient if you're looking for an extra-creamy mac and cheese. Like cream cheese, even just a dollop of mascarpone will elevate the creaminess quotient of your favorite dish. Add a little or add a lot for the creamiest mac and cheese ever.
Salting pasta water is like a giant myth meatball of misleading and untrue 'scientific' facts. Salt does not make water boil faster — at least not to the degree of cooking just your basic Wednesday night dinner. For a tasty mac and cheese, you need to salt the daylights out of the water; somewhere around a tablespoon per every two quarts. If that seems too scary and salty, just do it the easy way: When you add salt, add more than that. It's pretty likely you're not putting in enough. Another important step is to salt the water as it comes to a boil. Don't just toss the salt in as soon as you pour the water into the pot. A nice kosher or sea salt will do, just skip the iodized salt unless you love the taste of metal.
The salt flavors the pasta, which will give you a tastier pasta; it's still called mac and cheese, not cheese and mac, despite what some people told you. The firm, tasty pasta will hold the cheese better, and make the dish much better. An easy way to ruin mac and cheese is with a frumpy pasta — and that's what you're going to get if you skip the salt.
You might think you can just throw whatever cheeses you happen to have in the fridge into your mac and cheese, and, to a certain extent that's true. But if you're looking to make the creamiest mac and cheese you possibly can, you'll want to be a little more discerning. A cheese like Parmesan, for instance, isn't going to melt super well, meaning it's better for a topper than for your creamy cheese sauce. Cheddar and similar cheeses that melt well (Monterey Jack is a good one) will make your sauce the creamiest it can be.
Cooking your noodles in milk instead of water makes your resulting mac and cheese creamier. According to The Kitchn, cooking your noodles in milk instead of water makes the sauce creamy before you even add the cheese sauce. The starches in the noodles get released as you cook them, helping to thicken the mixture from the start. That will ultimately help with the resulting creaminess.
When you're considering which cheeses to use for your extra creamy mac and cheese, you might want to consider adding in some cottage cheese. It'll make the sauce extra creamy and extra cheesy without complicating the overall flavor profile too much. Again, you'll want some with a tiny bit of fat if possible for the creamiest, richest sauce, but if you can't swing cottage cheese with fat, the fat-free kind will work as well.
Though a roux is important for thickening up your cheese sauce, you want to make sure that you don't add too much of your flour and butter mixture because otherwise the sauce can get too thick, which negatively impacts the creaminess. Too much butter and flour (otherwise known as roux when cooked) will make your sauce more like glue than a creamy, rich sauce.
If you're looking for the smoothest, creamiest cheese sauce for the best macaroni and cheese ever, you'll want to use sharp white cheddar. This cheese, according to Martha Stewart Magazine, makes for the most luxurious sauce. Other kinds of cheeses can get gritty, stringy, or otherwise unappetizing, but not sharp white cheddar — that one stuns every time. Plus, the flavor is the perfect compliment to your otherwise rich, fatty dish. The sharpness of the cheese will cut through the butter and cream flavors to round things out.
All too often, baked macaroni and cheese takes on more of a casserole feel than the creaminess you're looking for here. To prevent that, cook it entirely on your stovetop rather than finishing it in the oven. The sauce (hopefully) won't get overly thick and clumpy on the stovetop, meaning the end result will be creamy and silky smooth — just what you're after.
When making mac and cheese, you need to consider your desired ultimate outcome when choosing a noodle. You don't have to stick with macaroni every time just because that's the technical name of the dish. If you're going for the utmost creaminess, opt for a noodle that will hold a lot of sauce. Noodles with ridges are always a good choice: cavatappi, cavatell, rotini, and even penne are all good mac and cheese noodles.
Make sure you cook your noodles appropriately when making mac and cheese, especially if you want it to be the creamiest it can possibly be. You need to make sure that you cook the pasta you're using al dente, which is Italian for 'to the tooth,' because if you undercook it, your sauce can get gritty from the extra starch. You also may want to adjust the flour in the roux to accommodate how you're planning to cook your noodles. Using less flour in the roux might help to offset the undercooked noodles.
Looking for that salty, tangy bite to your mac and cheese but mozzarella isn't just breaking down the way you want? Try the cousin to mozzarella, burrata. The uncommon cheese is softer and silkier than mozzarella, almost oozing with deliciousness. Basically it looks like a standard mozzarella ball, but when you cut it open it's almost runny — like a poached egg, only instead of yolk it's just the tastiest mozzarella that isn't mozzarella you've ever had.
It usually carries a more hefty price tag than mozzarella, so rather than simply exchange your mac and cheese mozzarella with burrata, it's more economical to use both; just half your mozzarella amount and put burrata in its place. If you're looking for a white cheese mac and cheese, you simply cannot go wrong with burrata. Word to the wise: Once you crack opened a burrata, it goes dry pretty quickly, so if you use it, act fast and remember any leftover burrata needs to be gobbled up within 24 hours.
Are you just cracking open a box of Mac and Cheese? We don't judge, that's perfectly fine. But it's also perfectly fine to sort of help the box flavor a bit with some steps (or fun add-ins) that will make it taste a whole lot better. Here's a basic rule that is almost 100 percent accurate; the cheaper the price, the more butter you need. Kraft suggests 1/4 cup of butter (or margarine) — if you want this creamy you need more than that. It's not exactly healthy but that's the price you pay for creamy mac and cheese.
As for the milk, a standard box will require 1/4 cup of milk. Sub out half of that for cream. After you get the butter and cream mixed in, hit it with a shot of your favorite hot sauce, just to round out the cheesy flavor, and you'll have the best 99 cent box of mac and cheese you've ever tasted.
Instant macaroni and cheese might pass the college dorm test — and we all know there's a time and a place for that blue box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.
But we all learn eventually that nothing beats the real stuff. When it's done right, homemade mac and cheese has the potential to be truly transformative — the stuff dreams are made of. If you don't agree, then you haven't had the good stuff.
Luckily for all of us cheesy carb lovers, this meal is simple to whip up from scratch. Like most dishes you'll cook, half the battle is won (or lost!) when you're choosing your ingredients in the grocery aisles. Whether it's baked for an irresistibly crunchy top, or cooked on the stovetop for maximum creaminess, this perennial comfort food requires the right cheese in order to fulfill its dinnertime destiny. To help you get started on your mac game, here's a down-and-dirty guide to the major players at the market.
These are the best cheeses to use in your homemade mac and cheese.
Firm, rich, and relatively mellow, cheddar cheese gets its name from the English town where it originated. One of the most popular varieties of cheeses in the U.S., it is beloved for its melting powers and smooth flavor.
While this cow's milk cheese is an ideal choice for grilled cheese sandwiches and general snacking, cheddar has also made quite a name for itself as the go-to choice for traditional all-American mac and cheese. You simply can't go wrong.
Made from cow's milk, Gruyere borrows its name from a village in Switzerland. This hard cheese is prized for its complex flavor profile.
With subtle sweet notes that complement earthy, nutty ones, Gruyere easily adds depth of flavor to a variety of dishes. From gratin and fondue to burgers and grilled cheese, this winning Swiss cheese delivers the goods. It lends mac and cheese just the right touch of grownup sophistication.
Named after the Dutch city it hailed from, Gouda is a semi-soft cheese appreciated for its smooth, creamy texture and mild flavor.
While a majority of Gouda is made with cow's milk, some types are made from sheep's or goat's milk. Young Gouda is rich and mellow, while aged varieties possess a deeper, more pungent flavor. If you want to infuse robust, bacon-adjacent notes to your mac and cheese, try using smoked Gouda. You will not be disappointed.
An American cow's milk cheese with origins in Monterey, California, the aptly named Monterey Jack is easy to love. At once firm and creamy, it melts like a dream, making it the perfect choice for all your gooey cheese needs. Buttery in texture and very mild, like cheddar, Monterey Jack is an easy choice for mac and cheese that both children and adults can get on board with. For deliciously melty, smooth, velvety mac and cheese, we highly recommend you try some Jack.
Named after a region in France and literally eaten by kings, soft-ripened Brie is buttery, runny, and creamy like you wouldn't believe. Its flavor ranges from mild to extremely nutty and tangy, depending on what you get your hands on at the store.
This creamy wonder is the right way to go if you're looking to make mac and cheese that's sure to impress. Luxurious and decadent, this rich cheese promises to instantly take your humble mac and cheese to the next level.
The sharper, more complex flavors of aged cheddar team up well with salty Parmesan cheese. This combo is amazing in grilled cheese sandwiches — and the same goes for mac and cheese.
Italian Parmesan's slightly fruity, subtly nutty notes and grittier texture pair beautifully with the smoother, creamier mouth feel of cheddar. Make this mac and cheese. Your stomach will thank you.
Whether it's used as the star attraction, or to complement other cheeses, nothing puts a 'what is that flavor?' zing into your homemade macaroni and cheese quite like goat cheese can.
Goat cheese (called 'chevre' when it's from France), comes in many varieties and can range from a creamy tanginess to a crumbly grassiness that is beloved by cheese lovers across the globe. Try melting it into a classic stovetop cheese sauce for a macaroni and cheese that can go straight to your plate, or into the oven for a bronzed crunch.
Hailed for its unique versatility as both a table cheese and a cooking cheese, fontina is a crowd-pleasing, melty cheese that will work beautifully in many macaroni and cheese recipes.
Fontina is a cow's milk cheese that has been crafted in Italy since 1477 but is also widely available in both Swedish and Danish styles which are recognizable by their red wax wrapping. Skip the pricier varieties that are more suitable for serving on a cheese board, and instead opt for a mid-priced fontina that is ideal for cooking. With a flavor that balances earthiness with a buttery mouthfeel, fontina is a cheese you'll definitely be reaching for again.
Havarti and cream havarti are cheeses that, like fontina, are also prized for their versatility as a slicing cheese and a cooking cheese. The semi-soft cow's milk cheese, cream havarti, was developed in the 19th century in Denmark and can often be found blended with herbs and spices like dill, caraway, or even jalapeno peppers.
Aged for three months, havarti's flavor can range from mild to strong and is often seen on dessert cheese plates. Its buttery meltiness makes havarti a welcome addition to a delicious homemade macaroni and cheese.
A true American invention, recipes for cream cheese filled American cookbooks and newspapers as far back as the 1700s. In 1872, an upstate New York dairy factory that was manufacturing the lighter French variety of cheese known as Neufchatel, decided to shake things up a bit by adding cream to the cow's milk cheese recipe. The rest is history.
Though many store-bought brands contain gums and stabilizers to preserve the stability of the fresh cream cheese, purely crafted artisan brands are available in specialty markets that will send you straight to cream cheese heaven. The USDA mandates that cream cheese be at least 33 percent fat, making it a fantastically creamy choice for your mac and cheese. Try blending its creaminess with a cheese of a bolder flavor for delicious results.
Cottage cheese is a fresh, unripened curd cheese that is valued for its high protein content and mild, sweet flavor. Often used as a lower-fat substitute for heavier cheeses in many recipes, cottage cheese's unique texture has also found a place in more decadent recipes.
Try the New York Times' recommendation for a mixture of cottage cheese and sharp cheddar for a classic elbow macaroni and cheese dish, or consider adding in some sour cream for a tangy kick.
The very name 'raclette' is used to describe the famous dish of gooey cheese, scraped onto a waiting mound of bread or potatoes, as well as the cheese itself.
Made with cow's milk from the grasslands of the French and Swiss Alps, raclette is similar in texture to Gruyere cheese, with a distinctive aroma. Like Gruyere, raclette does not separate when melted, making it a great cooking cheese and one that would lend a nutty and refined flavor to any mac and cheese recipe.
Sometimes called Gournay cheese, boursin is a French cream cheese that can readily be found in your supermarket's appetizer section. It's a buttery and easily spreadable cheese that's brilliant on bread, crackers, and crudite, and comes in a vast array of herb and spice infused flavors.
Highly meltable, boursin will add a pop of intense, complex flavor to your homemade macaroni and cheese recipe. Suffering sticker shock from your grocery store's boursin price tag? Try your hand at making it homemade: cream cheese, butter, and your choice of herbs and spices can be blended for a more economical version.
Mascarpone is an Italian double- or triple-cream soft cheese that is often the shining star of dessert dishes like Italian cheesecakes or tiramisu. Its high fat content, however (it's been likened to a cross between cream and butter), makes mascarpone an excellent choice for savory dishes as well.
Celebrity chef Michael Symon makes his mouth-watering mac and cheese with a blend of mascarpone, cheddar, and half and half. Over at The New York Times, Melissa Clark combines mascarpone with Brie and cream cheese for a mac and cheese with an undoubtedly velvety finish.