Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Your Family Will Crave

Forget the boxed mac n' cheese. In about an hour, you can have a bubbling pan of the best macaroni and cheese your family has ever tasted.

Updated December 15, 2023
baked macaroni and cheese

We've all had the macaroni and cheese in a blue box, and we'll give it its due — it's convenient and tastes okay (and heaven knows, we've made it for the kids ourselves on a busy weeknight). But a from-scratch homemade baked macaroni and cheese recipe oozing with gooey cheese and sprinkled with buttery, crispy breadcrumbs? Chef's kiss.

If boxed mac n' cheese is a kiddo favorite in your home, introduce them to a new taste sensation and bake them up a batch of this incredible macaroni and cheese. We promise. They'll love it.

Baked Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

Sure, there's a little extra lift when you make mac n' cheese homemade, but the melty cheese sauce and tender pasta are warm and comforting — and just so much better than boxed. This recipe makes 6-8 servings. 


  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked according to package instructions and drained
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter 
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups of whole or 2% milk
  • Pepper, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 12 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 
  2. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter and then add the flour, whisking as you go. Stir in the milk. When bubbling, add pepper, paprika, garlic salt, sugar, and dry mustard. Simmer for ten minutes. Remove from the heat.
  3. Beat the egg in a heat-safe bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of the hot milk mixture to the egg, whisking with a fork constantly. Do this two or three more times, adding one teaspoon at a time until you've added 3-4 teaspoons of the hot mixture to the eggs. 
  4. Add the egg mixture in a thin stream to the milk mixture, whisking constantly as you do.
  5. Gradually add the cheese, stirring constantly until the cheese is melted.
  6. Pour the mixture into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking pan or a shallow 1½-quart baking dish
  7. Add the macaroni to the baking pan. Gently toss with the mixture.
Quick Tip

Adding hot liquid to the egg and then adding it back into the hot liquid is called tempering. It prevents the egg from scrambling when you add it to the sauce. 

Topping Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup of plain breadcrumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped, fresh parsley


  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the bread crumbs. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the macaroni.
  3. Bake the dish, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes until the bread crumbs are golden brown. 
  4. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Mac n' Cheese Variations

What's great about homemade mac n' cheese is that you can vary it depending on what your family likes.

  • Instead of cheddar, use Colby or Monterey Jack cheese, or a combination of both.
  • Try smoked gouda in place of half of the cheddar.
  • For a spicy mac n' cheese, use pepper Jack in place of the cheddar.
  • If you want a milder cheese flavor, replace half of the sharp cheddar with mild. 
  • Replace half of the milk with sour cream or, for a richer flavor, use 1½ cups of milk and 1½ cups of heavy cream.
  • Add a half pound of cooked ground beef and chopped onions when you mix the cheese and sauce. 
  • Add ½ cup chopped ham or crumbled bacon.
  • Replace the breadcrumb mixture with French-fried onions or crushed potato chips. 
  • Stir in poached lobster pieces or crab pieces for a seafood mac.
  • Replace pasta elbows with shells, rotini, or farfalle.

Create a New Family Favorite

If your family has never had homemade mac n' cheese, they're in for a treat. Served hot and bubbly straight from your oven, it's irresistible. 

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Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Your Family Will Crave