Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Baked macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food! Perfect for an outdoor BBQ, a cozy weekend in, or family dinner on Sunday night. Made with a creamy, rich béchamel sauce, Gouda, white cheddar cheese, all topped with a pretzel crust.Jump to Recipe
We’ve been living outside lately…trying to soak up all the nice weather before it gets blistering hot. With that comes lots of grilling – burgers, corn on the cob, veggies, ribs, and more. What’s a better side dish for outdoor summer BBQs than mac and cheese?!
The Base of a Delicious Macaroni & Cheese
The base to any macaroni and cheese is a classic French mother sauce called béchamel. It’s one of the most basic sauces to master. So with some practice, you’ll be making delicious homemade mac and cheese in no time!
A properly made mac and cheese sauce is rich and creamy, and doesn’t contain any lumps or graininess. In order to achieve this, we’re going to make a béchamel sauce and add some cheese. Here are the ingredients you’ll need for the sauce:
- Unsalted butter
- All purpose flour
- Whole milk
- Gouda cheese
- Sharp white cheddar cheese
To make a béchamel sauce, we’ll need to first melt butter in a saucepan. Once melted (make sure the butter doesn’t brown), add in the flour and whisk together for 1 minute. We want to make sure the butter and flour are incorporated, and the raw flour taste can cook off. Make sure the flour doesn’t take on additional color.
From there, add in cold milk, and continue to whisk until the milk is steaming, but not boiling. Make sure to remove the saucepan from the heat. Then, slowly add in the cheese. It takes some patience, but nothing about this process is hard – I promise!
Homemade Macaroni & Cheese Tricks
Homemade macaroni & cheese is so rewarding! It takes some love and a little bit of work…but it’s SO worth it! To make your life a little bit easier, here are some tricks for the best mac and cheese:
- Be sure you don’t over cook your pasta. You’ll just want to bring it to al dente (still slightly stiff in the middle). The pasta will finish cooking in the oven. Overdone pasta will turn mushy when it absorbs the cheese sauce.
- In order to avoid gritty macaroni and cheese, you’ll want to make sure you are adding in cold milk to your hot roux (flour and butter mixture). Also equally as important, make sure you are continuously whisking the béchamel sauce throughout the whole cooking process.
- Keep a careful eye on the milk, and make sure it doesn’t start to boil. Milk boils really quickly compared to other liquids. To avoid a burnt, overcooked flavor, keep an eye on the milk the whole time.
- Remember to remove the saucepan from the heat before adding cheese. We want the cheese to melt nice and slow.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 lb fusilli (use a gluten free alternative if necessary)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup flour (use a gluten free alternative if necessary)
- 3 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 cups gouda freshly grated
- 2 cups sharp white cheddar freshly grated
- 2 1/2 cups pretzels (use a gluten free alternative if necessary)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- Cook the fusilli according to package directions until al dente. Drain completely.
- Meanwhile, in a heavy bottom saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Once completely melted, add in flour and whisk for 1 minute. Turn heat to medium, and add in the milk, while continuing to whisk. Allow milk to heat, but not boil (about 7 minutes).
- Once the milk is very hot (steaming, but not boiling), remove pot from heat. Slowly add in the cheese one handful at a time, continuing to stir. Add in cooked fusilli and stir together.
- Transfer mac & cheese to a greased 9 x 13" pan.
- Pulse the pretzels and spices in a food processor until they are a fine powder. Add in 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter until well combined. Sprinkle on top of mac & cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.