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Baked Mac and Cheese

Baked Mac and Cheese - Everyone's favorite classic mac and cheese! Super simple, super easy and super quick. You'll never want the boxed stuff ever again!

Everyone’s favorite classic mac and cheese! Super simple, super easy and super quick. You’ll never want the boxed stuff ever again!

Baked Mac and Cheese - Everyone's favorite classic mac and cheese! Super simple, super easy and super quick. You'll never want the boxed stuff ever again!

Greetings from Chicago!

We did it. We finally moved to the Midwest after 20 years of living in California.

It almost feels a bit surreal as we cope with the 22 degree weather. I mean, it was 65 degrees when we left LA!

But honestly, it feels like home. Except home is filled with 17 unopened boxes filled with my kitchen stuff.

So I need to unpack as fast as possible so I can never leave my Chicago house and instead, nest inside with my new electric blanket and the coziest homemade mac and cheese ever.

Baked Mac and Cheese - Everyone's favorite classic mac and cheese! Super simple, super easy and super quick. You'll never want the boxed stuff ever again!

This is your classic mac and cheese – there are no surprises here and there’s no fuss at all. It’s simple, it’s quick, and it’s completely made from scratch.

It’s perfectly cheesy without being too gummy, and the crunchy tops are just to die for before you get into that creamy heaven underneath.

You can of course choose to bake these in individual ramekins to avoid any kind of sharing or you can dump the entire mixture into a 2-qt baking dish.

Either works. It’s just that sharing can be a bit difficult on this one.

Baked Mac and Cheese - Everyone's favorite classic mac and cheese! Super simple, super easy and super quick. You'll never want the boxed stuff ever again!

Baked Mac and Cheese

Everyone’s favorite classic mac and cheese! Super simple, super easy and super quick. You’ll never want the boxed stuff ever again!

15 minutes30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound elbow pasta
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk*
  • 12 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, about 3 cups, divided
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well.
  3. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Whisk in flour, paprika and onion powder until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  4. Gradually whisk in evaporated milk until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in 2 cups cheddar cheese and Parmesan. Stir in pasta; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Divide pasta mixture into 5 (10-ounce) or 6 (8-ounce) ramekins or ovenproof bowls.* Place onto a baking sheet; sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese.
  7. Place into oven and bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.
  8. Serve immediately, garnished with chives, if desired.

Notes:

*I do not recommend substituting milk as the sauce will break in the oven, and the consistency will vary quite a bit.

*If you do not have ramekins or ovenproof bowls, this can also be baked in a 2qt baking dish.

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108 comments

  1. Rated 5 out of 5

    I usually don’t care for homemade mac and cheese but i thought I’d give this a try. I actually cut the recipe in half as there is just the two of us. It fit in three ramekins. It was very good.

  2. Rated 4 out of 5

    It tasted good but the sauce was curdled. What did I do wrong?

  3. Best mac and cheese recipe I have ever tried, hands down. I used an extra mature cheddar and fusilli (didn’t have macaroni) and I added some english mustard powder. The mustard gives the cheese a strong kick. Absolutely delicious, thanks for sharing!

  4. Maybe I’m missing something here but isn’t there something wrong with the cheddar cheese measurements in the recipe? The ingredients say “ 12 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, about 3 cups”. One cup is 8oz so doesn’t 3 cups mean 24oz? Which is it – 12oz (meaning 1.5 cups) or 3 cups (meaning 24oz)? This is very confusing when two different units of measurement are in the directions 

    • For semi-hard cheeses like cheddar, 1 cup is equivalent to 4 ounces.

    • Ounces (abbreviated oz.) is confusing because the same term is used for units of measurements by both weight and volume, and 8 oz. of cheese (which is measured by weight when you purchase it) will not be the same amount as 8 oz. of cheese after it is grated measured by volume, i.e., cups. Generally, once cheese is grated, it is measured by volume. So measurements of volume and weight are not interchangeable. Hope this helps.

  5. Rated 5 out of 5

    This is truly amazing. I have never used evaporated milk in mac and cheese before, but I now will use nothing else!

  6. Rated 5 out of 5

    This is such a tasty recipe, and easy to make for the hungry.

  7. Rated 5 out of 5

    Delicious, made it just as the recipe and it was delicious!!!

  8. Rated 5 out of 5

    I have to say, I have made a lot of Mac and cheese recipes over the years. My recipe is pretty dang good! However, this recipe is so simple and so GOOD! Try it out – I add one more cup of cheese on top and add chopped jalapeños to the mix. Try it!!

  9. Rated 5 out of 5

    This recipe is delicious! My whole family loved it, will definitely make it again.

  10. Rated 5 out of 5

    Made this-it’s exactly the recipe I was looking for-perfect, thanks!

  11. Rated 5 out of 5

    I don’t care for Mac and Cheese, didn’t grow up on it. BUT…OMG! This is so good! I mean seriously, think about it sitting in my fridge yummy good! Even reheated ( with a little smidge of milk added ) it’s amazing.

  12. Rated 5 out of 5

    I almost never leave reviews on recipes. But this one is incredible! I didn’t have the ramekins so I put all in one dish. I thought it was amazing. I ended up putting just a few tablespoons of breadcrumbs on top the second time, and it was great!

  13. Rated 5 out of 5

    Great recipe! Made it tonight with my daughter. It’s easy to read and follow.

  14. Rated 5 out of 5

    I made this just as the recipe is written and it turned out great! After reading some reviews saying that it made too much cheese sauce, I was a little nervous of that – but the extra cheese sauce soaked into the noodles within a few minutes. I prepped this the morning of our NYE party and then once it had cooled I added the shredded cheese topping and then just popped it into the oven for 30 minutes at the party so that we could enjoy it fresh out of the oven.

  15. Rated 5 out of 5

    I made a Gluten and dairy free version of your recipe using oat milk and gluten free all purpose flour and it was wonderful! So tasty ❤ (I sauteed onions, garlic and added a little bacon too!)

  16. Rated 5 out of 5

    This looks sooo good! Love the crunchy top. Homemade is always so much better. Especially when it comes to mac & cheese.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  17. I love this recipe! Served it for Thanksgiving and will serve it again tomorrow for our New Year’s Eve party. This time as a BBQ side. 
    Question; Has anyone prepped this a day ahead? If so, should I prep today, bake tomorrow? Or bake today and reheat 45min before serving?

  18. Rated 5 out of 5

    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a hit. Now I want to make it for Christmas but I want to try making it in muffin tins. Has anyone tried this?

  19. Rated 4 out of 5

    This recipe is DELICIOUS!! Only problem was that the cheese to pasta ratio was way off, I just added a whole pound of noodles and it was fixed!

  20. Rated 4 out of 5

    My kids loved this! Although I used a whole pound of pasta and the cheese sauce was still ample!!

  21. Rated 5 out of 5

    I made this and my boyfriend raved to his family that I cook with “soul” and I “stuck my foot in it”.  Needless to say this recipe is so simple and absolutely delish. 

  22. Does 1/2 lb of elbow macaroni mean 8oz? It just didn’t look like very much. If that is the case, a 16 oz box would feed around 12? Thanks for your time! Excited to make my first homemade Mac n cheese

  23. Very delicious! I’m so glad I chose your way with the canned milk. It came out very tasteful. My grandson age eight loved it so much. Thanks for sharing.

  24. Super tasty! I doubled the recipe and ended up with WAY too much cheese sauce. I’d recommend only increasing cheese sauce ingredients by half, rather than doubling. At least I have extra cheese sauce for something else. Lol.

  25. Recipe is awesome!! I did smoked paprika instead. Little less then half a tsp. Gave it a nice slight smokey taste. I also decided against the chives. Turned out great. My boyfriend loved it and he’s soooo picky. I added slightly more parm and cheddar too. Also topped it with some Italian Panko bread crumbs. 

  26. Rated 5 out of 5

    I made this last week. I followed the recipe to a T…. I’m going to attempt it again for Thanksgiving….. 

  27. Rated 4 out of 5

    I cant wait to make this! Has anyone done it with a panko bread crumb on top?

  28. Rated 5 out of 5

    Wow. this recipe will manifest the best mac & cheese you have ever tasted. It’s even better than your grandma’s.

  29. Rated 5 out of 5

    Looks so yummy! Have you tried making any portion of this in advance? 

  30. Rated 5 out of 5

    Has anybody tried mild cheddar instead of sharp cheddar?
    We
    Don’t generally like sharp cheese in this house

  31. Rated 5 out of 5

    it was delicious

  32. Rated 5 out of 5

    I just made the recipe last night for my sister and of course for me, and wow the mac & cheese recipe is amazing!! I had never used evaporated milk in a mac & cheese recipe before. The result is not only amazing, it’s delightful, thanks!!!! This recipe serves 5-6 yet, I am having 9 guest over for dinner, can you tell me, should I simply double the ingredients from 1/2 lb of elbow to 1 lb elbow,
    from 3 tablespoons unsalted butter to 6 tablespoons butter, etc etc……..Replacing 2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk to add 4 (12 oz) evaporated milk? Any advice, or directions would be deeply appreciated.

    • Rated 5 out of 5

      I need instructions for 8-12 people please asap.

      • Hi Macy,

        You can absolutely double everything (I did too!). You’ll need to heat the sauce longer for it to get thick. And maybe heat a bit longer in the oven. But you shouldn’t have any problems.

  33. Rated 5 out of 5

    Damn Delicious has been the greatest teacher of all! I’m learning & loving everything new from you and it’s important for you to know just how thankful I am to have found Damn Delicious’ site!!!  Fast question about the mac & cheese. If I melt the butter, whisk in flour, then complete each step leading up to gradually whisk in evaporated milk…….remove from heat, stir in both cheese—then didn’t prepare it for baking, rather at this point, cooled sauce down totally, placing sauce into a very airtight storage container, put into the fridge over-night,  with next day removing sauce from fridge, bring to room temp, heat sauce in pot stove top, once heated add sauce to pasta, place entire mixture into a 2-qt baking dish to bake, would this idea work well or destroy the integrity of the recipe?

    • Rated 5 out of 5

      I cold smoked, with hickory, blocks of cheddar parmesan and Romano cheese last week to make this recipe as smoked Mac n cheese! Gonna make it tomorrow for Thanksgiving , will post my results

  34. Rated 5 out of 5

    Very good!

  35. Rated 4 out of 5

    Great traditional creamy comfort-food mac & cheese.  However, I would recommend reducing or eliminating the paprika in the sauce. It seems to overpower the sauce and gives it an odd/unexpected flavor.  I eliminated it in a second batch and it was delicious!

  36. I am about to make this mac and cheese however I notice the cheese goes from 12oz (1cup and a half )to 3 cups and I got 16oz thinking that would be plenty

  37. Rated 5 out of 5

    Full of flavour and really yummy! I used smoked paprika and topped off with a little crispy bacon before adding cheddar cheese.

  38. Rated 5 out of 5

    Hello,

    It’s getting to that time of the year to break out the pepto
    bismol and tums. I am glad to have found this as I will
    be cooking for thanksgiving and Christmas and want
    to make a easy but hearty meal!

  39. Rated 5 out of 5

    So good!Me and my kids are it with some bacon in the sauce! Delicious

  40. I have used this exact recipe, and it came out AMAZING! 

  41. Rated 4 out of 5

    Mac n cheese is a staple in our home. I made it and my boys enjoyed it although there was a ‘curdling’ consistency to the sauce mix. It was like I added ricotta or mashed cottage cheese when I didn’t. Maybe the flour wasn’t cooked enough with the butter mix? It was my first time making a homemade version but I will try again!

    • Same thing happened to mine. Did you figure out why that happened?

      • I’m not a moderator, but I have two guesses.

        1. Did you buy pre- shredded cheese instead of shedding your own? The cellulose powder in those prevent them from melting well. Always shred your own.

        2. Are you sure the four/ butter/ milk thickened before adding the cheese? Depending on your heat setting, this may take longer than the listed time.

        Sheri

      • Definitely pre-shredded cheese if you used it. Also, I only buy a premium brand block of cheddar cheese. The cheaper store brands can cause this curdling. Never had it happen when I shredded my own block of Tillamook cheese.

  42. Rated 5 out of 5

    I dint have condensed milk so I used half and half and it was delish!!

  43. I replaced the milk with water and a little olive oil and it was delicious  for the baked Mac and cheese

  44. Rated 5 out of 5

    I’ve been looking for the perfect from scratch mac and cheese recipe for a long time. I’ve tried lots of them, but they were always either too cheesy/greasy or to liquid or too dry.  I’m so happy to have come across this. It’s simply THE best! None of the previous recipes used evaporated milk and that’s what gives it the perfect amount of creaminess. I’m so happy the search for the best mac and cheese has come to an end, thank you very much!

  45. I just prepped this, substituting cream for the evap milk since I did not have that.
    Was really greasy. So would half and half be a better way?
    I soaked up some of the grease, it was better once stirred in with the pasta, and I added some creama which seemed to help with creaminess. We will see how it tastes.

  46. Just made this for a simple Saturday nite dinner, so tasty. I followed the recipe exactly but also added panko on top of the cheese!! Soooo tasty!

  47. Rated 5 out of 5

    This is BY FAR my favorite recipe for baked mac n chz! The evaporated milk and spices make a HUGE difference in the flavor and texture. And I love the minimal butter and flour requirements. I used pepper jack and horseradish cheeses on top of the cheddar and parm. Magnificent! Thanks for the recipe!

  48. Rated 5 out of 5

    This turned out fantastic. The noodles were soft, not mushy, and not broken down. The sauce had the right amount of saltiness and tang from the cheddar. My family enjoyed this a lot. It was so easy. No more boxed stuff for us!

  49. Can you use milk instead?

  50. Rated 5 out of 5

    Sooo delicious! I made it in a 2.75 qt casserole because I only have two small ramekins and that’s the closest size of casserole dish I have and it came out wonderfully 🙂

  51. Rated 5 out of 5

    Holy cow. The onion powder makes a huge difference. I followed the recipe pretty closely, but used corkscrew pasta because it’s what I had on hand. The flavor is just incredible! I made it in a big batch instead of ramekins and it was perfect. I’ll definitely be making this again.

  52. Rated 5 out of 5

    Hi.  I haven’t made but need to make mac & cheese for 30 adults as a side dish with bbq.  Would you be able to tell me how many batches I need to make or what your recipe serves?  Thanks,

  53. Rated 5 out of 5

    ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS! Im almost 50 years old and I have never been able to make Mac and Cheese. Here you come along with this super simple recipe worthy of an AWARD! THANK YOU

  54. Rated 5 out of 5

    Yummy! Yummy! This is the first baked mac and cheese I have made that we could actually eat! I made 4 side dish portions (for 2 people) and froze 3 of them. Can’t wait to have the others.

  55. Rated 5 out of 5

    My family loves this recipe!  We are gluten free so I used GF flour and GF elbow pasta.  So yummy!

  56. Rated 5 out of 5

    Super cheesy and delicious. The only thing I added was nutritional yeast but it was really good. I doubled the recipe for the next day. So glad I did.

  57. Rated 5 out of 5

    Hi there!  First thank you for all your great recipes. I’d like to  make this a day in advance to help with my prep for a big BBQ I’m hosting. Any advice on how to make this the day before- should I do all steps and just save the baking step for the next day?

    • What a great idea! But unfortunately, without having tried this myself, I cannot answer with certainty. But if you get a chance to try it, please let me know how it turns out! 🙂

      • Rated 5 out of 5

        When I make things like this ahead of time, I save the add the topping step for right before baking. I tried your recipe here today and did that by saving the extra cheese until ready to bake. It was very good. Next time I’m going to give the half and half a try instead of the evaporated milk to compare. This was a good base recipe to get away from the old Velveeta version though. Thanks!

    • Rated 4 out of 5

      I made this today for New Year’s day to go along with my pulled pork. I made this exactly as specified, only I took the advice of other bloggers and used a whole box of noodles and used smoked paprika for a more smoked flavor. It turned our really good. I was expecting it to be more cheesy, considering most of the reviews stated it was plenty cheesy even using entire box of noodles. I did not see there being more sauce or too much sauce. It was just right for entire box of noodles. I also used an extra cup of cheese in the milk mix… So maybe that asorbed more of the extra sauce. Thank you for posting. This recipe taste really homemade!

  58. Rated 4 out of 5

    Looks amazing! Just wondering when you substitute the evaporated milk is it with cooking cream or baking cream?

    • You can substitute half and half. While you won’t get the same slightly caramelized flavor that evaporated milk has, the creamy consistency of half and half mimics that of evaporated milk.

      • Mmmm! So damn delicious. I used extra sharp aged white cheddar, McCormick smoked paprika and one pound of the small elbow pasta instead. Also buy the real fresh parmesan in cold the section, may be little pricey but it’s worth. I’m definitely going to make this again and keep as a staple dish. This is a crowd pleaser

        • Hi Charmin, the recipe called for 1/2 elbow pasta, 2 cans (12 oz.) evaporated milk. When you used 1 full pound small elbow pasta did you need to increase the milk, or cheeses? Thank you!

  59. Rated 5 out of 5

    Prepared this for our family Easter  dinner and it was a smash hit!!  Love the cream sauce!  I improvised with milk and medium cheddar.  I love how easy this is and how decadent and delicious it tasted!  This ain’t your grandma’s Mac n cheese!  

  60. Rated 5 out of 5

    These look absolutely delicious! You have amazing food photography too :] Thank You So Much for this awesome sharing!

  61. Rated 5 out of 5

    Such a great recipe. I love the presentation in those little baking pots. My way of making Mac and Cheese is very similar to yours. The only thing I do differently is that I add some breadcrumbs on top. Thanks for sharing such great content!

  62. Rated 4 out of 5

    What is the nutritional value? I’m looking for the caloric count. Thank you

    • Nutritional information is provided only for select recipes at this time. However, if it is not available for a specific recipe, we recommend using free online resources at your discretion (you can Google “nutritional calculator”) to obtain such information. Hope that helps!

  63. Rated 5 out of 5

    Mac n cheese is my daughter’s favorite! We’re always looking for new recipes. She never seems to think they’re cheesy enough. Making this next week for sure!

    WELCOME TO CHICAGO!

    @Grace – I found a 3 pack of the bowls, with kids, for $7 at Target

  64. Help. I can’t get evaporated milk where I live. What can replace it.
    Thank you for your early reply

    Regards Judy

  65. Rated 4 out of 5

    Thanks for sharing this recipe, could you share where you get those ovenproof bowls? Thank you!