There’s something so cozy and comforting about the ooey-gooey goodness of mac and cheese. Many families have their unique recipes. But if you don’t have a traditional mac and cheese dish, or if you’re looking to up your mac and cheese game, you’ll love this baked version. Try this baked and layered, better than instant mac and cheese, and wow everyone from the kids to your friends.
Ingredients for Better Than Instant Mac and Cheese
Start by gathering the following ingredients:
- Dried elbow pasta, 1-pound
- Shredded medium sharp cheddar cheese, 4 cups
- Unsalted butter, 1/2 cup
- All-purpose flour, 1/2 cup
- Whole milk, 1 1/2 cups
- Half and half, 2 1/2 cups
- Shredded Gruyere cheese, 2 cups
- Salt, 1 tablespoon
- Black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon
- Paprika, 1/4 teaspoon
- Olive oil
Begin by preparing your oven, warming up to 325 degrees Fahrenheit, then grease a 9 x 13-inch pan and set aside. Boil your elbow pasta according to the package directions in salted water but for a minute less to make the noodles al dente. Drain the noodles, then drizzle with a small amount of olive oil to prevent sticking.
While your noodle water heats and boils, you can shred your cheeses. Toss both kinds together to mix. Divide the cheese mixture into 1 1/2 cups for the inner layer, 3 cups for the sauce, and 1 1/2 cups for the topping.
To make the sauce, start melting the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat to prevent burning. As the butter melts, sprinkle in the flour and use a whisk to combine. Continuously whisk while cooking for one minute. Next, pour around 2 cups of the milk and half and half, and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Then add the rest of the milk and half and half, still whisking until smooth. Keep the mixture on medium heat until it thickens and begins to have the consistency of a condensed soup.
Remove the thickened sauce and add the spices and half of the sauce division of cheese into the sauce. Stir until the cheese melts and combines, then add the remaining cheese and stir until melted and smooth.
Take a large mixing bowl and add the drained pasta and your cheese sauce and stir to combine. Add half of this mixture to your baking dish, then prepare your inner layer of cheese. On top of that, add the rest of the pasta and sauce mixture. Finally, top with the rest of the cheese blend.
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Now You’re Ready to Bake
Bake this delicious mac and cheese for 15 minutes until the cheesy topping is bubbling. Try to let it cool before you dig in. This mac and cheese dish is perfect on its own, but you can also customize it with bacon, your favorite spices, or other types of cheeses. Bon appétit!