I made baked macaroni and cheese for a client a few weeks back. I served them in individual ramekins and topped them with crispy and buttery Panko bread crumbs. As I was developing the recipe, I realized the mac and cheese would be just a good served as is, without additional baking or breadcrumbs. It’s so creamy, cheesy and easy that you’ll never be tempted to reach for the blue box of noodles and powdered cheese again. Whichever way you choose to serve this mac and cheese, you’re guests are sure to love it.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 box (1 pound) elbow macaroni
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 6 tbsp. all purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound (16 ounce block) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1/2 pound (8 ounce block) Monterey jack cheese, shredded
- 3 cups Panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
- Fill a large pot with water, add salt and place over medium-high heat.
- Bring to a boil and then add the macaroni. Stir and cook until al dente, approximately 8 – 10 minutes. Drain. Set aside.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When butter is melted add the flour and stir. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes.
- Whisk in milk; keep whisking until everything is evenly combined.
- Cook for 3 – 4 minutes over medium heat, stirring often, until slightly thickened.
- Add heavy cream, pepper, cheddar cheese and Monterey jack cheese. Cook until cheeses melt, stirring often, about 5 – 7 minutes.
- Add reserved macaroni and mix well to combine.
- At this point, it can be served as is. Just scoop into bowls and enjoy.
- Otherwise, pour macaroni into buttered individual ramekins or a buttered 13×9 casserole dish.
- Top macaroni with breadcrumbs and then sprinkle on Parmesan cheese.
- Finish by evenly topping with small pieces of butter.
- Place in oven and bake for 10 – 12 minutes until bread crumbs are golden brown.
- Remove from oven and let set for 5 minutes before serving.