The Ultimate Guide to Baked Mac and Cheese: The Ultimate Comfort Food
For many, baked mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. The warm, creamy, cheesy goodness of this classic dish can transport you back to childhood memories of family dinners and holidays.
What Makes a Great Baked Mac and Cheese?
At its core, baked mac and cheese is simple – macaroni noodles, a creamy cheese sauce, and a crispy breadcrumb topping – but there are a few key factors that can take it from good to great.First and foremost, the cheese sauce. It should be rich, smooth, and well-seasoned. Using a blend of cheeses, like cheddar, Gouda, and Parmesan, can add depth and complexity to the flavor.Second, the pasta. Choosing the right type of noodle is important, as different shapes can hold onto the cheese sauce differently. Elbow macaroni is the most common, but other shapes like cavatappi or penne can add a pleasing variety of textures.Finally, the topping. A homemade breadcrumb mixture with melted butter and Parmesan cheese can take your baked mac and cheese to the next level, adding a crispy layer of texture to contrast with the creamy cheese sauce.
Recipe for Perfect Baked Mac and Cheese
Here’s our take on the perfect baked mac and cheese recipe:
- 1 lb elbow macaroni
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 2 cups grated cheese (we recommend cheddar, Gouda, and Parmesan)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp melted butter
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish.
- Cook macaroni according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Gradually whisk in milk and cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
- Add grated cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
- Add cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish.
- Mix breadcrumbs, melted butter, and grated Parmesan cheese together in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture evenly over the top of the macaroni mixture.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until topping is golden brown and macaroni is hot and bubbly.
Baked mac and cheese may be a simple dish, but the perfect combination of pasta, cheese, and topping can make it a truly special meal. Give our recipe a try and taste the difference for yourself!
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