Deliciously Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

Whether it is time for lunch or dinner, a side dish that can be paired with your meal is always an essential piece of the dinner table tableau. Plus, once you have this deliciously creamy baked mac and cheese recipe from Food 52 in your back pocket, you’ll never find yourself without a reliable side dish at your disposal.

Because this recipe has you baking the mac and cheese, it makes it simple to prepare the ingredients alongside the remainder of your meal, mix them together in your preferred casserole dish, and cook in your oven at whatever time aligns with your main course. Though, the freshly-grated cheeses included in this recipe serve to make this dish upstage your primary protein if you’re not too careful.

This recipe only calls for about 15 minutes of prep time, which can easily be done as you prep or cook your other ingredients. The cooking time is stated as being 30 minutes with the resulting dish suited to serve 4-6 people, but you can always multiply the ingredients so as to whip up a larger batch. In fact, if you’re a fan of cheesy leftovers, that might just be a great idea.

Baked Mac and Cheese Ingredients:

5 cups of whole milk

10 tablespoons of unsalted butter

½ cup of all-purpose flour

1 additional tablespoon of all-purpose flour

3 ounces of aged provolone, grated

4 ½ ounces of asiago fresco, grated

4 ½ ounces of fontina, grated

¾ pound of fresh mozzarella, grated

1 pound of cavatappi pasta

Kosher salt, to taste

Directions for Baked Mac and Cheese:

                          1. You’ll begin this recipe by setting a large pot of water on your stove to boil and then cook your pasta. Set the pot to high heat, add a small dash of salt, and cover it almost completely so as to let the water reach its boiling point.
  1. Set another large pot on another burner, but set this one to medium heat. Melt your butter in the pot and add in your flour, whisking it for 1 to 2 minutes. While whisking constantly, add in your milk and you will begin to notice a paste form. Continue adding your milk until all 5 cups are used, and be sure to whisk the pot throughout the process until it’s completely smooth with no lumps. Simmer the pot until your milk, butter, and flour sauce begins to thicken to the consistency of a thin gravy.
  2. While your sauce is busy thickening, reduce your heating element from medium to low. Add in your grated fontina, provolone, and asiago cheeses. Stir them into the sauce until all of the grated cheeses have melted completely. At this point, taste the sauce and adjust the salt accordingly. Be sure to keep your pot on the lowest-possible heat so as to only warm the sauce, and preheat your oven to 450°F.
  3. At this point, your pasta water should be boiling. The salt you’ve added before should make the pasta water taste like a highly-seasoned soup broth. Cook your pasta for half the time that’s suggested on the box. You’repurposefully undercooking the pasta so that it will finish cooking in the oven with the cheeses.
  4. After it’s properly undercooked, drain your pasta and add it to your cheese sauce. Stir the noodles into the sauce thoroughly, and carefully transfer your mixture to a large, shallow baking dish. It’s preferred that your baking dish have more surface area so as to allow for more small crispy bits that truly elevate the texture.
  5. Sprinkle your fresh mozzarella cheese on top of your pasta and bake it for 10 to 15 minutes, until you begin to see the sauce bubbling up around your noodles. Then, broil your mac and cheese for 1 to three minutes until your mozzarella is brown and crispy.
  6. Remove it from the oven, let it cool slightly, and serve immediately.

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This Ain’t Your Mama’s Mac and Cheese

Thanks to Serious Eats for giving us 17 new ideas to “think outside the box” when it comes to everyone’s favorite cheesy noodle dish – mac and cheese. Sure, the boxed stuff will work in a pinch and it definitely has a nostalgic feel at times, but with options like this, gone are the days of feeling trapped with the humdrum of powdered or liquid cheese over noodles.  And everyone loves options, right?  We’re sharing our favorites below with you – let’s get to it!

Ultra-Gooey Stovetop Mac and Cheese

This recipe is the best homemade recipe if you’re looking for something close to the box style mac and cheese you grew up with.  The key to getting that gooey texture is to use cornstarch, evaporated milk, and eggs. American cheese helps too, but you could always experiment with a more flavorful melty cheese – we’re thinking cheddar, pepper jack, fontina, young Swiss, Gruyere, Muenster, young provolone, and/or young Gouda.

Bacon-Jalapeño Stovetop Mac and Cheese

If you love bacon and spicy food like we do, this mac and cheese is here to make your day… or night.  Make sure to cook your smoky, meaty bacon in fresh pickled jalapenos and save those brown bits.  Leftover bacon fat can substitute some of the butter in the recipe to add an even smokier flavor.  Once served, top with any leftover bacon/jalapeno goodness.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn’t love buffalo chicken wings?  Anyone?  Now, imagine that same delicious buffalo flavor combined into melty, creamy mac and cheese.  This dish seems really versatile too – comfort food but also game day food. Good as a side dish or a main course, and it keeps well so you can save some for lunches for the week!  Don’t forget the blue cheese panko topping.

Green Chili Chicken Macaroni and Cheese

Warning! This one could get spicy.  We’re talking chilies three ways – chopped canned green chilies (or freshly roasted ones for the adventurous), salsa verde, and spicy pepper jack instead of the usual cheddar.  Throw in a store-bought rotisserie chicken if you don’t feel like cooking one at home, and head south of the border for this hot take on your favorite cheesy pasta.

Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese

We’ve all had cheeseburger dip, whether at a family gathering or a company potluck. It’s basically beef, cheese and Ro-Tel cooked up together in a slow cooker.  But what would happen if we added noodles?  This macaroni recipe answers that question.  If you’re looking for a little more heat, try using spicy Ro-Tel, or diced green chiles/pickled jalapenos.

Fully Loaded Pizza Macaroni and Cheese

You could just substitute the everyday cheeses used in mac and cheese with mozzarella and some parmesan, but if you’re going for pizza mac and cheese, why stop there?  For the “fully loaded” effect, let’s load this one up with sausage, pepperoni, black olives, tomatoes, basil, and peppers.  With all the pizza toppings out there, the combinations really are endless.

Cornbread-Coated Pulled Pork Mac and Cheese Wedges

Have a ton of leftover pulled pork and mac and cheese? This recipe solves that exact problem. It’s so simple too – sandwich pulled pork and mac and cheese together, then fry them up in cornbread batter to open up a whole new world of flavor.  You’re going to want to serve this one with any extra barbecue sauce you have on the side.

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