Mac and cheese is such a great, comforting dish, fitting for a lousy, rainy day, AND for a beautiful, happy day. It works during winter and it’s superb during summer. Is there any occasion when it isn’t right? Not really, we think. The only counterargument is this: don’t get it ready made from the store. Learn how to make mac and cheese on your own, for the greatest results.
I scoff in the face of processed foods like ready-made mac and cheese when the results show that the texture is all wrong and the flavor is not that diverse and layered. Why settle for something inferior when you can have the real thing? Mac and cheese should be smooth, cheesy, with greatly cooked elbow macaroni (or other macaroni, if that’s what you really want), and with a crunchy outer layer coming from baking. How to make mac and cheese? Read on to find out.
19 steps to learn how to make mac and cheese
1. Gather your ingredients
You will need some elbow macaroni, let’s say a pound, and the same quantity of cheese, let’s say Cheddar because we’re going the classical way here! You will also need about two tablespoons of butter, two tablespoons of flour, some salt and 1.5-2 cups of milk.
2. Boil water
Fill a large pot with enough water to cover your macaroni. Bring the water to a boil.
3. Cook the macaroni
Add the macaroni to the boiling water and stir.
4. Reduce the heat on the macaroni
Bring the heat down to a medium setting.
5. Cook the macaroni
Let the macaroni cook until it’s al dente, about 8 minutes, or according to the instructions on the box.
6. Warm the milk
Add the milk to a saucepan and warm it up a little over medium heat.
7. Shred the cheese
Shred the cheese into small strips and set it aside in a bowl.
8. Drain macaroni
Once the macaroni is cooked through, drain it with a sieve and set it aside for the next step.
9. Melt the butter
Use a pan or a skillet to melt the butter.
10. Add the flour
Sprinkle the flour in the butter gradually, and stir until the mixture reaches a paste-like consistency.
11. Add the milk
Whisk the milk in the butter and flour paste and let everything cook until the sauce thickens. It should take about 3-4 minutes and the sauce should have the same thickness as heavy cream.
12. Preheat the oven
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
13. Add the cheese
Add the cheese to the sauce one handful at a time. Whisk so that the cheese melts into the sauce. Continue until you have melted all of the cheese in the sauce.
Sprinkle about a teaspoon of salt in the sauce. Taste and make sure it’s salty enough for you.
Stir the sauce until all the cheese has melted and the mixture is creamy. Then remove the sauce from heat.
16. Prepare baking dish
Ready your mac and cheese dish by greasing its interior walls.
17. Toss sauce with mac
Blend the sauce in the cooked pasta and add them to the baking dish.
18. Add the top layer (optional)
You can add some more grated cheese on top of the dish to create a crunchy outer layer just begging to be pierced by your fork. You can also sprinkle some breadcrumbs or panko, for an extra kick.
Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
Now that you know the basics, improve your mac and cheese with a single ingredient. Also, check out these 5 fresh ideas for better mac and cheese. And if cheese sauces are your everything, find out more about them right here.