Baked Mac and Cheese is a staple of every household and finding the perfect recipe often can take several tries to find. But look no further, friends, this is a keeper.
Sometimes you want delicious mac and cheese with all the creamy cheesy sauce and no crunch. That’s when you make the Best Stovetop Mac and Cheese around. But when you are looking for the best baked mac and cheese, you need this recipe right here.
It’s decadent and cheesy with the perfect crunch from toasted breadcrumbs, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. First, we start with perfectly cooked pasta and a homemade roux.
A roux is a mixture of fat and flour used as the base for sauce. The best roux is made with butter and flour, which helps create a perfectly smooth and creamy texture that’ll leave you wanting more with each bite.
Once we make the base of our sauce, we add a nice sharp cheddar to give a little bite to the sauce and balance it with creamy mild colby jack and rich half-and-half to give a good depth of flavor to the sauce.
The best part of Baked Mac and Cheese always has to be a bite with the breadcrumbs and we don’t use just any old breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs tend to be crunchier. They are used in Japanese cuisine and have larger flakes than your traditional breadcrumbs. (You can usually find them in the Asian section of the grocery store.)
With the butter, they toast perfectly in the oven while remaining light and airy and not greasy at all. The result is a perfectly crispy breadcrumb.Print
- 8 cups water
- 8 oz. elbow macaroni
- 1 Tbsp. salt
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 4 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- 1 and ½ cups half and half
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- 8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 oz. shredded colby jack cheese
For the topping:
- ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- Chives, finely chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In a large pot, bring water and 1 tablespoon of the salt to boil. Add elbow macaroni and cook for 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat.
- Whisk in flour until incorporated and no clumps remain. Add in half and half slowly, while continually whisking. Mixture will thicken so keep whisking until smooth.
- Add in onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir until incorporated. Add cheeses a handful at a time and whisk until melted. Pour in pasta and stir to coat.
- Add mixture to a 4-quart casserole dish.
- In a small bowl, mix breadcrumbs and melted butter until well coated.
- Top pasta with breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, uncovered until bubbly. If breadcrumbs brown too quickly, top with aluminum foil.
- Top with chives and serve warm.