A recipe for Baked Macaroni and Cheese! This creamy Mac and Cheese is packed with three different types of cheese and topped with golden Panko breadcrumbs.
There are so many wonderful styles of mac and cheese, but for family get-togethers and holidays I like to stick with this basic and comforting Baked Macaroni and Cheese. It is perfect for feeding a crowd with just a few steps.
Not quite tender pasta is coated in a creamy sauce packed with a combination of shredded Cheddar, Gruyere, and Parmesan cheese. The mixture is transferred to a baking dish, topped with Panko breadcrumbs for a little texture, and baked until golden and bubbly.
A Few Tips
I prepared the Baked Macaroni and Cheese with dried elbow macaroni. The tube shape is perfect for holding the cheese sauce. If desired, you can swap for another favorite medium-sized shape. Shells are a particular favorite with the kids.
Slowly whisk the chicken stock and milk into the roux (butter and flour mixture). Adding too much in the beginning will create lumps in the sauce.
Adjust the flavors to taste after mixing in all the cheese. The exact amount of salt may differ based on the salt content of the chicken stock.
I used a combination of Cheddar, Gruyere, and Parmesan based on personal taste. Adjust as desired, but keep in mind this may change texture and consistency of the sauce.
Make sure the sauce is not bubbling when adding the cheese. The pot should be removed from the heat source and just hot enough to melt the cheese. If the mixture is too hot, the cheese (especially the Cheddar) may separate into an oily mess. Gently place back over low heat only if needed to melt the cheese.
If possible, shred the cheese at home and avoid pre-shredded packages. This will help create a smoother and more creamy texture.
Cook the pasta until just al dente, barely tender. It will continue to soften a little more as it is mixed into the hot cheese sauce and baked until golden.
I like to add the golden Panko breadcrumbs on top for a bit of extra texture, but this is completely optional. You can simply omit or swap for additional shredded cheese.
Looking for more Macaroni and Cheese recipes?
This recipe was originally posted in January 2013 and updated November 2021.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
Adapted from Everyday Annie
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (60 grams) panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Macaroni and Cheese:
- 1 pound (450 grams) dried medium shape pasta elbows, rotini, fusilli, shells
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- 1/2 cup (65 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups (600 milliliters) chicken stock
- 3 1/2 cups (830 milliliters) milk
- 16 ounces (450 grams) sharp Cheddar cheese shredded
- 6 ounces (170 grams) Gruyere cheese shredded
- 4 ounces (113 grams) freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper to taste
To make the Panko topping:
- In a medium skillet, melt the 2 tablespoons (30 grams) butter for the topping over medium heat.
- Once melted, add the panko and constantly stir until golden.
- Stir in the 1/4 teaspoon salt and remove from heat. Set aside.
To prepare the Baked Macaroni and Cheese:
- Preheat oven to 375˚ F (190˚C) and lightly grease a 9×13 inch (23×33 centimeter) dish with butter.
- Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil.
- Add the pasta and cook until it begins to soften, but not yet tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the 1/2 cup (113 grams) butter in another pot over medium heat.
- Once melted, add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Stir in the flour and cook until lightly golden, about 1-2 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk, stirring often until the mixture is thickened.
- Remove the pot from heat and slowly whisk in the Cheddar, Gruyere, and Parmesan cheeses until melted and smooth.
- Season the sauce with the salt, paprika, and pepper to taste.
- Add the cooked pasta and gently toss to coat thoroughly.
- Pour the cheese coated pasta into the prepared baking dish. Top with panko mixture and bake in the preheated oven until the panko is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly, 30-45 minutes.
- Allow the Baked Macaroni and Cheese to rest at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before serving.