Old fashioned macaroni and cheese recipe – from scratch… the kind that doesn’t come from a box- has got to be the top comfort food in the United States. Who doesn’t love the ultimate mac and cheese with a rich cheese sauce, gooey chunks of cheese that hang on your fork, and crispy buttery crumb topping? Is your mouth watering yet?
Guess what? You can make this! It really is SO easy! This post has been updated from the original January 2016 version. Last update November 2018.
For this recipe you will need: elbow macaroni, butter, all purpose flour, mustard powder, milk, half and half cream, eggs, salt, pepper, cheddar cheese – medium and sharp), Swiss cheese, breadcrumbs, and a large casserole dish or 13×9-inch baking pan
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese Backstory
There is absolutely nothing that can boast its comfort food status better than a plate of old fashioned macaroni and cheese. The tender macaroni is not only is swathed in the rich, cheesy sauce but the macaroni soaks a little up while it’s baking.
My mother came from a family of seven. Each of the girls, and the sisters-in-law had a specialty that they brought to each family gathering. Being in Michigan the foods were likely to be jell-o salads, macaroni dishes, and such. Aunt Bernie was, I think, the hands down best cook in the family – her apple pandowdy was to die for! But Aunt Lou made far and away the most magical, cheesiest, most amazing baked macaroni and cheese recipe in the history of the known world.
The edges of the macaroni were just a little crunchy and when you pulled the spoon out of the dish long, steaming strands of cheese would clutch at the dish until you took your finger and pulled those gooey cheese threads away. The top was strewn with crispy, buttery, bread crumbs and black pepper so that every bite was a contrast between rich/creamy and crunchy/crispy.
I can taste it to this day. I swear there has never been anything like it and I sure can’t do it justice, either. She obviously had the touch.
Just out of curiosity, does your family have that same sort of thing with the cooks? What are their specialties?
Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese Casserole Cook’s Notes
This baked mac & cheese is full of old fashioned goodness, crispy, buttery bread crumbs, and those tell-tale strands of gooey cheese. The main things to remember are:
- The cheesiness comes from two kinds of cheese used in two different ways.
- I like to use Panko for the top because it stays crispier but homemade bread crumbs are fine, too.
- Mac & Cheese is versatile, you can add almost anything. I think that is one reason it became so popular.
You can actually put together this old fashioned macaroni and cheese casserole the night before, just be sure to leave off the crumbs until you are ready to bake. When you get home from work the next evening, or get home from sky diving, or whatever it is you do then add the crumbs and slide it into the oven for a half hour while you relax with a glass of wine and your favorite reality show.
That’s it. I promise you, you will love this stuff.
Oh, here’s a hint. As much as I hate to say this – overcook the macaroni just slightly. You don’t want it a la dente for this dish. When it is soft (but not so much that it’s mushy) then it absorbs the cheese sauce a bit more. There is something about all of the textures and flavors that is just downright delicious.
What Cheese Is Best for Macaroni?
I like to make the ultimate baked macaroni and cheese with a mixture of cheeses that almost always includes sharp Cheddar. Cheeses to try are:
- Pepper Jack
- Smoked Gouda
- Mild Cheddar
How to Make Roux for Mac and Cheese
Oh… by the way. This old fashioned macaroni and cheese recipe starts with a roux, a cooked combination of flour and butter. If this is not done right the entire recipe will be off. Undercooked and it will taste like raw flour – over cooked and it will taste scorched.
Some mac and cheese recipes don’t use roux – they depend on just cheese and cream. As far as I know there’s not a right or wrong – I know that my Aunt Lou was making this macaroni and cheese recipe as written since before World War 2. I think she snagged my uncle with it.
So here’s how you do it –
To Make Perfect Roux
- Starting with a low fire (or lowest heat on an electric) melt the butter in a heavy saucepan until it foams. Don’t let the butter brown.
- Add the flour all at once and stir constantly.
- Carefully watch the color of the butter and flour mixture. Don’t worry about it lumping up just keep it moving.
- When the mixture becomes a light golden brown slowly add warmed milk and cream, whisking constantly.
- The process takes about eight minutes at my house but don’t try to go by the clock. You have to go by the color.
More Comfort Food From Restless Chipotle
When the weather starts getting chilly I start craving comfort food. Here are some of my favorites –
- Chicken and Noodles
- King Ranch Casserole
- Cheesy Mexican Lasagne
- Shepherd’s Pie with Leftover Pot Roast
- Old Fashioned Stuffed Bell Peppers
If you are looking for a great vegan- gluten free mac and cheese check out this recipe from Minimalist Baker.
YOU MAY NEED…
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What’s new? A brand new store full of things to help you make the recipes, celebrate the days, and create the memories! Check out Restless Chipotle & Co. As always, thanks so much for being a part of Restless Chipotle!
This red casserole dish is pretty enough to put right on the table or take to a potluck!
Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
Creamy comfort food! Homemade macaroni and cheese is just about everyone’s favorite comfort food whether it’s a side dish or a main course. If you love this recipe please give it 5 stars.
- 1 16-ounce elbow macaroni 16 ounce, cooked and drained
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 8 tablespoons flour
- 2 teaspoons mustard powder you may want a little more or a little less depending on your tastes
- 2 cups milk warm not hot
- 2 cups half and half cream light, warm, not hot
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Fresh ground black pepper generously to taste
- 2 cups medium cheddar cheese about 1/2 pound, shredded
- 3 cups sharp cheddar This is about 3/4 pound…I use Tillamook, shredded
- 1 cup diced Swiss cheese about 1/4 pound
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cook the macaroni in salted water - drain and set aside.
In a large, heavy saucepan melt the butter until it foams.
Add the flour mixed with salt and pepper and whisk until blended. (This is a roux)
Cook until the roux is a very light golden brown, moving the mixture around the pan constantly so it doesn’t scorch
Mix milk and cream together.
Pour milk mixture in slowly, whisking constantly.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and cook while stirring until the mixture thickens – just a few minutes.
Remove from heat.
Stir in mustard powder.
Add about a 1/4 cup of the hot mixture to the beaten egg a tablespoon at a time, beating well so the egg doesn’t curdle.
Add the warm milk and egg mixture back into the mixture in the pan, whisking constantly.
Stir in 3 cups of the cheddar and 1 cup of the medium cheddar until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Fold in the cooked, drained macaroni and the diced Swiss cheese.
Spoon the macaroni mixture into a buttered 13 x 9 inch casserole dish.
Top with the remaining cheddar.
Melt the remaining 1/3 cup of butter in a high sided frying pan.
Add the breadcrumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until the crumbs are coated with butter and crispy.
Add the breadcrumbs to the top of the macaroni and cheese and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.
Let the casserole stand for five minutes before serving.
Part of Meal Plan Monday