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The Best Homemade Mac and Cheese

Here you’ll discover secrets to the Best Homemade Mac and Cheese recipe. With Gruyere, Cheddar, and Bacon, this Mac and Cheese is comforting, creamy, and unparalleled in flavor.

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Creamy, Comforting Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

If there ever existed a unanimous comfort food, it’s the humble macaroni and cheese. It has everything going for it: descriptions include creamy, cheesy, and cozy. Whoever first thought of slathering pasta noodles with melty cheese sauce was pure genius.

Though my boys’ young palates have become surprisingly adaptable to all variations of ethnic menus, ranging from comfort grub to the occasional gourmet, they have their tried-and-true favorites. On the top of that list is creamy homemade mac and cheese.

Quintessential, absolutely. For kids only? Not this mac and cheese recipe, which is loaded with 3 cheeses and crispy bacon. The kids have to fight off the adults for their fair share of this unforgettably cozy dish…

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How to make creamy stovetop mac and cheese from scratch

The first secret lies in the types of cheese used. When it comes to the perfect mac and cheese recipe, you want a variety of cheeses that melt smoothly and that have rich, decadent flavors.

Secondly, it’s key to grate your own cheese, rather than buy the pre-shredded packages. The pre-shredded packages of cheese tend to contain other ingredients that prevent it from becoming as creamy and smooth.

Get good quality blocks of cheese and put ’em to the grate at home. You can use pre-shredded cheeses for recipes like Cheesy Tater Tot Casserole where the cheese is more of a topping. However, do grate your own cheese when it’s the main character in your dish and when you need the cheese to melt seamlessly into a velvety smooth texture.

Pro Tip: grate your cheeses ahead of time and store in wrapped parchment paper/container for up to a week in fridge.

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So, What cheeses are best for mac and cheese?

We’ve long been in cahoots with sharp white cheddar for mac and cheese. Sharp white cheddar provides an unbeatably creamy texture with that tangy rich flavor. It’s your tool for the best macaroni and cheese you’ve ever made.

Then there’s gruyere, which is rich, tangy, nutty, and full of flavor. It has a wonderful balance of slight sweetness and saltiness. It wins the vote for being a great melting cheese. There’s no parallel.

We can’t forget the all important parmesan. Get your favorite parmesan cheese block, and grate it yourself for best results. Feel free to have some extra parmesan on the side for serving, if you’d like. This macaroni and cheese recipe is really and truly all about the cheese.

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How to get the cheese sauce smooth and creamy

The secret to a smooth, non-grainy, thick sauce is a good butter/flour roux, which is a basic thickener. The flour and butter must be whisked like there’s no tomorrow, for 3-4 minutes or until there’s zero grainy-ness left. (If you’d like to keep this gluten-free, you can use gluten-free flour instead of regular flour.)

Once the roux is smooth as silk, simply add in the rest of the goodies, and we’re off to dreamy land. Once you bathe the macaroni noodles into the ridiculously luscious cheesy sauce, you’ll want to grab the biggest spoon in the kitchen and start noshing.

This mac and cheese recipe results in the ultimate comfort dish that smells awesome and tastes even better.

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What can i add to mac and cheese?

This white cheddar & gruyere based mac and cheese recipe is simply out of this world. Essentially, this means you don’t have to add a single thing to this already perfect dish at all.

That said, you can certainly sprinkle on some browned and crumbled bacon for good measure. As we obviously did here. Nothing shouts crowd pleaser like smoky crispy bacon on top.

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Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

5 from 6 reviews

This Creamy Mac ‘n Cheese is made super rich and creamy with sharp white cheddar and gruyere cheeses. Crispy bacon makes it undeniably marvelous. This dish is best enjoyed immediately. Typically not a problem 🙂

  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 8

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 4 TB salted butter
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried yellow mustard powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups good quality gruyere cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 1/4 cups good quality sharp white cheddar cheese, freshly grated
  • 2/3 cup good quality parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni noodles
  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, browned and crumbled

Instructions

  1. In a large microwavable bowl, heat milk in microwave until warm. Cover and set aside.
  2. Fill up a large pot with salted water. Bring to a boil.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter and add flour. Whisk briskly and constantly for about 4 minutes or until the roux is golden yellow and completely smooth (no longer grainy at all.) Add warm milk and whisk until thick and bubbly. Add salt, mustard, cayenne, black pepper, and cheeses. Stir until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside to keep warm.
  4. Add uncooked macaroni noodles to the large pot of boiling water. Cook until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain cooked macaroni in a colander and transfer drained noodles back into the empty large pot.
  5. Using a rubber spatula, transfer cheese sauce into the pot with cooked/drained macaroni and stir until well coated.
  6. Serve immediately with cooked/crumbled bacon.

Notes

Gluten-free flour can be used in lieu of regular flour for the butter-flour roux. Be sure to whisk roux until silky smooth without any grainy texture before adding in rest of ingredients. Gluten-free macaroni can be used in place of regular macaroni. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 364
  • Sugar: 4.7 g
  • Sodium: 916.1 mg
  • Fat: 27.8 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.6 g
  • Protein: 19.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 76.5 mg
  • Author: Chew Out Loud
  • Category: main
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian American

Keywords: macaroni and cheese

Cozy Comfort Foods:

1. Perfectly Creamy Mac ‘n Cheese. Here’s a baked version that reheats rather well, which is something rare in the mac ‘n cheese world. Delicious.

Perfectly Creamy Mac 'n Cheese

2. Easy Chili Mac with Sriracha. Kick up the boring old chili mac with this cheesy great version, and a bit of heat to boot! Skip the Sriracha if you don’t want the heat, but it’s pretty mild and kid friendly.

Chili Mac Easy Sriracha

3. The Best Pasta Sauce. The best, the best, I know… lots of bests out there. But if there is one pasta sauce I’m ever allowed to make again, this would be it. Super versatile and always crazy good.

Chunky Vegetable and Sausage Pasta Sauce

4. This One-Pan Skillet Lasagna has all my boys buzzing around the table, and it doesn’t take all afternoon to make. In fact, this comes together in about 30 minutes for me.

Easy Skillet Lasagna 3_edited-1

5. Cheesy Baked Tortellini Casserole. It’s like the ravioli version, but with little tortellini instead. Kiddos love this one, and we grownups won’t complain one iota. It’s an awesome weeknight meal that satisfies everyone.

Cheesy Baked Tortellini Casserole

Did you make this?

Leave a comment below and tag @chewoutloud on Instagram

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Recipe rating

29 comments

    • Amy H

    I love a good mac and cheese! I’ve never tried it with white cheddar and guyere though.

      • chewoutloud

      White cheddar and guyere are so so amazing in this dish 🙂 Thanks, Amy!

    • Myrah Duque

    YUMMMMMM! This recipe will definitely hit the right spot! Using Gruyere in your recipe was genius. Love it.

    • Lisa

    Now this is a decadent mac n cheese! Gruyere is a great addition to the dish.

    • Marysa

    I love that you used Gruyere in your recipe! This sounds absolutely delicious, and a nice twist on Mac and Cheese.

    • Jasemine Denise

    Oh my god, this is everything I’ve wanted in one! I really, really want to try it out!

    • Candy Rachelle

    This looks amazing! I’ve always wondered how to make macaroni creamy like that. Now I know how and will try it out after Thanksgiving! Thanks!

    Candy Rachelle
    Keeping Up With Candy
    http://www.keepingupwithcandy.com

    • Catherine

    This looks absolutely marvelous! So rich and creamy…this is comfort food at its finest!

    • Ashley R

    Bacon makes everything better. I am going to have to save this recipe.

    • Heather

    This mac and cheese recipe sounds SOO delicious! I can’t wait to try it out.

    • Stacie

    This is one sure-fire dish that we would get our grub on! Mac-n-cheese with bacon? HECK YES! This looks so delicious!

    • Monika

    I just saved it to my Pinterest. Coming up with ideas what to cook has been a struggle, so I started up this board and thanks to recipes like yours I’m not that lost anymore:)

    • Lashunta

    Cheese and bacon! YUMMY. I love Mac and Cheese and trying it with a different kind of. Cheese yes! I will make this after thanksgiving.

    • kumamonjeng

    This looks like a great recipe for the kids and I shall try this out this weekend and if it is good, I will do it again for Xmas.

    • Amber Killmon

    I’m drooling over here. This is such a delicious pile of ooey-gooey cheesy goodness

    • Sam

    Is there another cheese I could put in place of the gruyere? My grocery store doesn’t seem to carry it.

      • chewoutloud

      Sam, gruyere is the main cheese in this recipe, so I’m guessing that changing out the particular cheese will influence the melt-factor and the flavor. Here’s a link of possible subs I found for you, if it helps: https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-gruyere-cheese-995709 Otherwise, this recipe is awesome and doesn’t require gruyere 🙂

    • Karyn

    Can you make this ahead and then reheat in the oven?

      • chewoutloud

      Karyn, I haven’t yet tried reheating this (usually nothing leftover!)…my guess is it would probably just thicken up when it’s cold and you’d reheat and loosen it with additional milk. We like this recipe for make-ahead mac and cheese, which reheats surprisingly well: https://www.chewoutloud.com/2013/02/22/perfectly-creamy-mac-n-cheese/

    • Julie @ Lovely Little Kitchen

    I can’t stop looking at this mac and cheese! Looks amazing! Hope to make this VERY SOON!

      • chewoutloud

      Thank you, Julie! I love your stuff too

    • Julia Olsen

    Gosh, it looks delicious! It’s a must try for me! Yum!

    I’m cooking on youtube and I’ve just uploaded a recipe for homemade lasagna, hope you will check it out! Thank you! 🙂  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rb7BAtQ_WqA

    Thank you for an awesome recipe!

      • chewoutloud

      Thanks, Julia! Ooh, homemade lasagna is the best too 🙂 🙂

    • Liz

    Thank you – nice recipes.

    • Carol at Wild Goose Tea

    This recipe satisfies both the little girl in me and the adult. No doubt this is creamy creamy and cheesy cheesy. Wonderful!

      • chewoutloud

      Yes, Carol 🙂 Thanks for coming over!

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