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Best Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

This best baked mac and cheese recipe cooks perfectly every time with the perfect amount of creamy cheese. Great as a holiday side or weekday main dish. Kids and adults alike will devour it!
5 from 4 votes
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Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 395.36kcal
Author: Megan Porta


  • 16 oz elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups cheddar cheese shredded, reserve 1/2 cup for topping
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese shredded, or gruyere cheese, reserve 1/2 cup for topping
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and coat a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside. In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add pasta and cook 2 minutes shy of until al dente. Drain, rinse and add the cooked pasta to the prepared pan in a single layer.
  • In a large skillet or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until combined. Add milk and whisk until mixture is creamy and thickened, approximately 3 minutes. Add 2 cups cheddar, 2 cups Gruyere or mozzarella, salt, pepper and paprika to the pan and stir until cheese has melted.
  • Pour the cheese mixture over the top of the pasta in the pan. Mix it slightly with a spoon and top with reserved cheddar and Gruyere/mozzarella. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is very lightly golden brown around the edges. Serve immediately!


  • No need to stick with the types of cheeses mentioned in the recipe card, but try to stick as close to the amounts as possible. Great cheese options include: sharp cheddar, white cheddar, Parmesan, American, Velveeta, colby jack, monterey jack, mozzarella, Gruyere and provolone.
  • Shredding cheese just before adding it to the recipe is always the tastiest option.
  • This makes a large batch of mac and cheese! It will easily feed 8 hungry people as a main dish or 12 people as a side dish or party food. This is a great dish for pot lucks!
  • Add cooked ham or bacon pieces to add flavor and when serving as a main dish!
  • Add fresh, minced garlic (or 1 teaspoon of garlic powder) to the butter before adding the flour for an added punch of flavor.


Calories: 395.36kcal | Carbohydrates: 20.3g | Protein: 19.08g | Fat: 26.41g | Saturated Fat: 15.51g | Cholesterol: 79.89mg | Sodium: 681.28mg | Fiber: 0.9g | Sugar: 0.47g
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