Baked Macaroni and Cheese

My one stipulation with mac and cheese is that the macaroni not be overcooked. There's nothing worse than mushy noodles inside your cheese sauce. Andrew has one stipulation too--no Velveeta. He also vastly prefers baked mac and cheese to stovetop. With that in mind, I decided to take our giant block of Cabot cheddar from Costco and make some baked mac and cheese from scratch last night--roux and all. It was a labor of love, but I was at least able to simplify the original recipe from Epicurious by not toasting the panko with butter and garlic. Now we have leftovers for days! Not that anyone is complaining.

Baked Mac and Cheese
(Recipe adapted from Epicurious)

  • 1 lb dried elbow macaroni (we used ridged jumbo elbows because that's all we had in the pantry!)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard or dijon mustard (can use 2 tsp mustard powder instead - we just didn't have it)
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 16 oz (about 6 cups) coarsely grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup) grated Parmesan or Pecorino
  • 2 cups panko
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 oz (about 1/2 cup) grated Parmesan or Pecorino

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F with oven rack in the middle of the oven. Butter or spray a 9x13 baking dish or casserole dish. 
  2. Set a large covered pot over high heat to boil. Cook dried macaroni in salted boiling water until just al dente. Drain and set aside. 
  3. In a large wide pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Sprinkle flour over butter and whisk until combined to make a roux. Cook, whisking constantly for about 4 minutes, or until roux is light golden. 
  4. Gradually pour in milk and cream, whisking constantly. Raise heat to medium-high and bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly. Reduce to a simmer, whisking occasionally, and cook until sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes more. 
  5. Add 2 tsp salt, white pepper, mustard, and smoked paprika. Add the cheddar and 1/2 cup Parmesan in three batches, whisking until each addition is completely melted before adding more. Remove from heat. 
  6. Add the drained macaroni to the cheese sauce. Pour into your baking dish. 
  7. Combine panko, garlic powder, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and remaining Parmesan in a small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the mac and cheese. Drizzle with oil. 
  8. Bake in oven until panko is golden brown, about 18-22 minutes. (You may want to place a baking sheet on the rack underneath to catch any drippings, though mine did not overflow.) Let cool 15 minutes before serving. 

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