One of the great things about this macaroni and cheese recipe is that it's so easy to remember; make it once and you'll have no problem making it again without a recipe in front of you. Almost everything is measured in twos: 2 cups macaroni, 2 cups cheese, 2 cups milk and 2 tablespoons flour and butter. The result is a cheesy, rich mac and cheese that kids and adults will love.
I'm not going to lie, using whole cream makes this macaroni and cheese incredibly creamy and delicious, but it's still pretty great if you use whole or 2% milk. If you like, add more flavor to the noodles by throwing in a handful of diced ham or prosciutto, peas, or broccoli. You can also use a blend of cheeses instead of just cheddar. Some cheeses to try are gruyere, manchego, fontina, and cantal.
- 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups milk (2%, whole milk, or whole cream)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- optional: 1/2 cup grated cheese, breadcrumbs or crumbled crackers for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add macaroni noodles and boil for 5 minutes. Drain.
- In a 2-quart baking pan, mix together grated cheddar cheese and noodles.
- In a deep skillet or pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour so that a paste forms, then slowly start whisking in the milk. Whisk constantly until the flour is smoothly blended in. Bring the milk to a boil, then simmer rapidly for 1 minute to thicken.
- Pour the thickened milk into the noodles. Mix well. If adding a topping of cheese, breadcrumbs, etc to the top of the macaroni and cheese, sprinkle it on top of the noodles.
- Bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Let the mac and cheese cool for at least ten minutes before serving.
How to Thicken Milk
This recipe for macaroni and cheese is thickened by using roux (pronounced "roo"), a mixture of equal parts fat and flour that is used for thickening sauces and soups. The fat used to make roux is traditionally clarified butter, but regular butter can be used too. Animal fat, such as rendered bacon and chicken fat, can be used as well. This step-by-step, visual tutorial shows how to successfully make a roux for mac and cheese and other recipes.