Today we are making the best ever macaroni and cheese. Seriously. This is the best mac and cheese you will ever eat. I didn’t always love cheese. In fact, it’s kind of been a life-long frenemy. I know. I know. But hear me out.
I have always liked some cheese. Like macaroni and cheese. From the box with the powdered cheese – NOT the shells with the package of rubber cheese. IDK why, but powder beats rubber. And I liked grilled cheese. And, of course, nachos. But I was never one to sit down to say, a cheese platter.
But now I’m adulting and that means learning to enjoy all kinds of cheeses and wine. And it means growing up a bit and making real mac and cheese instead of the boxed powdered kind (which I will always still love). Thus, I worked and worked on a recipe for the best ever macaroni and cheese.
I tried versions this recipe repeatedly in the quest to create the best ever macaroni and cheese. In fact, Lane might never want to eat mac and cheese ever again. But it was all worth it to create the perfect ratio of sauce to noodles, the right combo of cheeses, and a balance between creaminess, fat, and crunch.
Because at first glance it doesn’t seem like there is all that much to a mac and cheese recipe – its mostly just cheese and noodles. But the truth is, this dish is a classic and a favorite for a reason. On a random side note, Richard doesn’t like mac and cheese 🤷🏻♀️. I mean, what toddler doesn’t like mac and cheese? Seriously?
Alright, recipe notes:
- First of all – you can absolutely make this mac and cheese ahead of time. You can keep in the fridge, unbaked, for up to 3 days. You can keep it in the fridge, baked, for up to 5 days. And, you can store it in the freezer, tightly covered and unbaked, for up to 2 months.
- You can also get your cheeses all shredded up ahead of time – other than shredding the cheese there is really very little prep work that goes in to this.
- We are going to make something that is almost like a béchamel sauce, but not quite. The thing that is going to set our sauce apart from a béchamel is the addition of Greek yogurt. Trust me – it gives this best ever macaroni and cheese a bit of a tang that is so perfect.
- You don’t have to use shell pasta, but it was the type we liked the best. It scooped up lots of sauce in the shells and was the perfect sauce delivery system. We used the medium sized shells – the small shells just didn’t cut it. Whatever kind of pasta you use, make sure its got lots of little nooks and crannies in it (i.e. not spaghetti or fettuccine, etc) to hold the sauce.
Best Ever Macaroni and Cheese
- 12 oz medium sized shell noodles
- ½ c butter
- ½ c flour
- ⅓ c Greek yogurt
- 4 c milk
- 2 c shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 c shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 c shredded asiago cheese
- 1 t hot sauce more if desired
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 T butter melted
- 1 c panko breadcrumbs
- 1 T garic powder
- Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Cook the noodles according to the directions on the pacakge in salted boiling water, making sure to cook them to al dente – they will soften up more in the oven and you don't want them to be mushy. Set the noodles aside.
- While the noodles are cooking, in a large saucepan melt the butter over medium heat – don't let it brown. Once the butter is melted stir in the flour with a wooden spoon.
- Once the flour is incorporated, stir in the Greek yogurt until well combined. Grab a whisk, and slowly whisk in the milk. Once the sauce is smooth, lower heat to low and stir in the cheeses, the hot sauce, and the salt and pepper to taste. Continue stirring until all the cheese has melted.
- Stir pasta in to cheese sauce. Remove from heat and pour in to the 9×13 pan.
- In a small bowl stir together the melted butter, breadcrumbs, and garlic powder. Top the macaroni cheese with the breadcrumbs, spreading them out evenly. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes to 45 minutes. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so and then enjoy!
- NOTE: If you make this ahead and refrigerate, allow the macaroni and cheese to sit out at room temperature for about 15 to 20 minutes prior to baking. You may need to bake it an extra 10 or 15 minutes to get it hot all the way through.
- NOTE: If you freeze this ahead of time, allow it thaw overnight in the fridge and then follow the directions for macaroni and cheese that has been refrigerated prior to baking (see above). You may need to bake it an extra 20 minutes or so, to get it hot all the way through.
If this is what it means to be an adult, its not so bad…
Share in the comments below: Powdered cheese or a package of rubbery cheese for boxed mac and cheese? If you have kiddos, do any of them not like foods that other kids *usually* enjoy? Favorite mac and cheese add ins?
If you make this best ever macaroni and cheese…
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