Classic Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Everyone has a certain way they like certain foods. For example, I like my steaks still moo-ing but my burgers blackened, and my mom and mother-in-law both agree that the blue M&Ms “just taste…different.” Until recently, though, no one was more stubborn than my husband and the way he liked his macaroni and cheese. For him, it had always been the Kraft blue box or bust, but I was determined to make a mac that would change his mind and convert him from to “just-add-cheese-product” to homemade.

The weird thing is, I remember making plenty of delicious, warm and gooey macaroni and cheese dishes prior to this one, but for Mark, THIS was the one that hit the spot. We both gobbled up every last morsel of macaroni and crispy crumb topping, and later had trouble packing up the leftovers without sneaking another spoonful or two!

When you make macaroni and cheese, you should make sure that the pasta is cooked al dente, or “firm to the tooth”, because the hot cheese sauce will continue to cook the pasta the rest of the way. If the pasta is already fully cooked, you’ll end up with overcooked pasta that doesn’t hold its shape.

I know we’re still in the middle of summer, but there’s nothing like a little warm comfort food to welcome the upcoming fall season (I can’t wait for cool weather already!).

I really hope you give this a try, because even if you’re a devotee to the Kraft blue box, this macaroni and cheese will make you weak in the knees!

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Classic Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Yield: Serves 4


1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon powdered mustard
3 cups milk
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large egg
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate large pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-quart casserole dish, or individual ramekins. Top with remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. If using ramekins, place them on a baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

22 Responses to “Classic Baked Macaroni & Cheese”

  1. #
    dining tables — January 10, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

    This is really delicious! Love the photo. I suddenly thought of making some right now.

  2. #
    Maryam — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    this looks delicious .. I will try it soon

  3. #
    Georgia — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    Yes! They were so cheap (I think $4 for 4).

  4. #
    large cooking pot — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    This is the great blog, I’m reading them for a while, thanks for the new posts!

  5. #
    TheCilantropist — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    This looks soooo delicious! And I think I have those same ramekins…from World Market? ;)

  6. #
    Jessica — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    I don’t eat mac n cheese, but my family likes it, and yes they are the “blue box” fans. Thanks for sharing this recipe; I much prefer home made to boxed anything, and I do believe this one will be a winner!

  7. #
    Jenn's Food Journey — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    If I could have only one meal for the rest of my life, mac & cheese would be it!!! YUM!

  8. #
    Deborah Hood — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    I was just thinking about making some Mac n cheese, this sounds perfect!

  9. #
    Flour Child — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    Oh god. That looks divine. It’s surprisingly hard to find a great macaroni and cheese recipe, but this looks really great.

  10. #
    Tonya @ What's On My Plate — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    I can’t imagine eating kraft dinner over homemade goodness! Glad you were able to turn him around :)

  11. #
    Dionne Baldwin — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    YUM! This looks SO delicious. Mac and cheese is a big fave around here, in fact I made it last week but it wasn’t this good I’m sure. I like the topping that would be the perfect finish!

  12. #
    Brownieville Girl — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    I actually had to ask a friend to bring a box of mac and cheese over from the States, just to see what all the fuss was about. I’d prefer yours any day!!!!!

  13. #
    newlywed — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    Oh, I love mac and cheese! The ramekin idea is great, for those of us lacking all self-control where gooey cheese and pasta is involved.

  14. #
    Betty @ Scrambled hen fruit — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    I’m still looking for one that my box loving son will eat- maybe this will be it!

  15. #
    Monet — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    Drooling! I love macaroni and cheese, but I always tend to get a mushy result. Now I know why…I need to cook my pasta al dente (thank you for the tip!) I’m glad you guys enjoyed this…I’m sure we will too.

  16. #
    Heidi's Recipes — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    Just watched an episode of “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” on Mac & Cheese and have been craving it something fierce. This is just the ticket! BTW, I’ve converted 3 out of 4 of my children to homemade from the box, hope this brings him over too!

  17. #
    Rachel — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    YUM! This looks so good! I am beyond ready for some cooler weather too!!

  18. #
    The Art of Being Perfect — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    This looks so comforting and delicious, perfect for this horrible rainy day x

  19. #
    Cristina — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    Mmm. This will make me weak in the knees. I heart pasta…I heart macaroni and cheese even more. I’m ready to try this in place of my blue Kraft box. Thanks for sharing!

  20. #
    Betty Ray — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    Yum!! And the topping looks so crunchy (those are the best parts).

  21. #
    Jennifurla — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    Looks great – I really need to find a gread mac recipe, I should try this one

  22. #
    Brenda — January 10, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

    You must have read my mind, I was thinking of making mac and cheese tomorrow night and needed a good recipe! I, too, am very much looking forward to the fall. Enough with this heat and humidity! This recipe looks great, thank you for sharing!

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