Baked Mac & Cheese


What’s more comforting than homemade mac and cheese? Only a handful of dishes I consider in the comfort food category for myself.  I am a big fan of mac and cheese, homemade that is. Sure, I’ll take a nibble of my husband’s Kraft mac and cheese when he makes it, but it just doesn’t do it for me.  I haven’t made it in awhile because after two attempts at two different recipes (one Kraft one and the other a Paula Deen), neither came out all that tasty and the husband didn’t like them at all. Thus begun my search for a classic mac and cheese dish. My criteria were for it to have a breadcrumb/butter topping, need to be baked, just use cheddar, and have no other random ingredients like Ritz crackers, potato chips, bacon (recipes I’ve seen out there). Do you know finding a basic baked mac and cheese recipe was one of the hardest things I had to do?

After exhausting every food website I could think of, I turned my attention to my own bookshelf. Surely, I could find a recipe there. And folks, we had a winner! Ding ding ding!! I went with the recipe from one of my go-to books, The Joy of Cooking. It had all the components I wanted.

Variations….I used only cheddar cheese and I did not include the onion. I also doubled the recipe as you can see from the picture. Overall, this was pretty good. I think the baking part dried it out a little bit. Especially, day two, after being refrigerated and reheated again. I’d actually consider making this again and NOT baking it and not including the breadcrumb topping. The cheese sauce made on the stovetop was so incredibly delicious, I could eat that mixed in with the macaroni just like that.

Overall rating – 3.5 stars

Recipe link:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

4 to 6 main-course servings; 8 to 10 side-dish servings

An especially good rendition of a timeless classic (opposite). The sauce can be made ahead and blended with just-cooked noodles before baking, or the entire casserole can be assembled a day ahead of time.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 1½-quart deep baking dish.

Bring to a rolling boil in a medium saucepan:

6 cups water

1½ teaspoons salt

Add and cook just until tender:

2 cups elbow macaroni (8 ounces)

Drain and remove to a large bowl. Have ready:

2¼ cups grated sharp Cheddar or Colby cheese

Melt in a large saucepan over medium-low heat:

2 tablespoons butter

Whisk in and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes:

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Gradually whisk in:

2 cups whole or skim milk

Stir in:

½ medium onion, minced

1 bay leaf

¼ teaspoon sweet paprika

Simmer gently, stirring often, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in two-thirds of the cheese. Season with:

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Stir in the macaroni. Pour half of the mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with half of the remaining cheese. Top with the remaining macaroni and then the remaining cheese. Melt in a small skillet over medium heat:

1 tablespoon butter

Add and toss to coat:

½ cup fresh breadcrumbs

Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni. Bake until the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.


Prepare Baked Macaroni and Cheese, left, using skim milk instead of whole milk and substituting one 8-ounce package Neufchâtel cheese for the Cheddar cheese. Cut the Neufchâtel into 1-inch cubes and add it to the sauce all at once before seasoning with salt and ground black pepper to taste.


Copyright © 2000 by Simon & Schuster Inc., The Joy of Cooking Trust and The MRB Revocable Trust



  1. melissa said

    I actually have the joy of cooking baked mac n cheese on my list of recipes to try. I think I picked it up from home cook… or my friend halli, I don’t remember LOL. anyway, I’m glad you enjoyed it. it sounds and looks so good right now. I could us a bit o’ comfort food today.

  2. Nick said

    There’s nothing like baked mac n cheese with a crumb topping. I use skim milk, nonfat cheddar, nonfat cottage cheese and some nonfat american cheese as well. It comes out completely fat free and 100% delicious. Only problem with any mac n cheese for me is that I always make a huge batch and I’m friggin sick of it by the end….

    The Peanut Butter Boy

  3. foodiedani said

    Hey Melissa,

    It’s a solid recipe. I would say most are from that book. Never had a bad recipe yet.


    Aha! I couldn’t remembered where I saw mac and cheese recently and it was your blog! So thanks for the inspiration! You should try freezing some. I did and it was fine, once thawed out and reheated.


  4. michelle said

    dear god, i love baked mac and cheese.

    why only the cheddar? i love mine with a combo of cheeses (fontina is especially yummy with cheddar)

  5. foodiedani said


    I’m a cheddar whore.


  6. Jana said

    Hi! I’m very loyal to Martha Stewart’s Macaroni and Cheese recipe made with white cheddar and breadcrumb topping. It’s very basic but extremely delicious. I also have one really strong opinion about Macaroni and Cheese- I prefer the ones that start with the classic white sauce with cheese stirred in. I’ve tried a couple of southern versions where they start adding things like eggs and evaporated milk and those versions really taste funny to me. Although I will have the Velveeta kind out of the box once in awhile. When I need a quick fix:)

  7. foodiedani said

    Hi Jana,

    I’ve heard that MS’s recipe is very popular and good. I agree with you on the classic white sauce (or roux) to start out. It’s the way to go. I’ve seen a recipe where you add a can of cream of cheddar condesned soup. Not for me.


  8. Jj said

    Mmmm…love mac ‘n cheese with Cheddar! This recipes sounds so good and that topping makes a perfect finishing touch. Thanks!

  9. foodiedani said

    Hi Jj,

    I hope you try this out! Cheddar rocks!


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