I posted a preview of this three-cheese baked mac and cheese on my Instagram and you guys went crazy for it! I don’t blame you because my weakness for food comes down to all things cheesy.
I’ve been making baked macaroni and cheese for a long time. When I first started making it, I followed a super traditional Fannie Farmer recipe that I found on Google. The feedback was always so amazing from my family that I was deemed the official baked mac and cheese maker for all the major holidays.
As the years went on, I became more confident and could tweak the recipe for more flavor. One thing that remained constant was making a cheese sauce and starting with a roux. No matter what tweaks I make, I think that’s the true differentiator in a really creamy and delicious baked mac and cheese.
Every major food blogger that I follow from the Kitchenista to Chef Resha starts their mac and cheese with a roux and an amazing cheese sauce. Now, the combination of cheeses is where you can get as creative as you want. There are endless combinations! I use to make my mac and cheese really gourmet and use all types of expensive cheeses I could barely pronounce because I thought that’s what would make it the best but honestly, you don’t have to do that every time.
Sometimes, you just want a nice side dish of baked mac and cheese to accompany your main entree. When it comes to a quick and no fuss baked mac and cheese, this recipe is it!
I love the combination of the white cheeddar cheese and the parmesean in the cream sauce. It’s creamy and decadent. Add the combination of the cavatappi noodles and you have pure magic. The cheese sauce get’s into all the nooks and crannies of the noodles and gives you a burst of creamy goodness with every bite. I can taste it now!
My husband and I enjoyed every inch of this 6 serving baked mac and cheese and didn’t regret one bite. It also warms up like a dream in the microwave for leftovers so you can enjoy it more than once.
I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I enjoyed making it! Check it out below.
- 16 oz of cavatappi noodles + salt to taste for water
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 2 tbsp of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of regular milk
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
- 1 tsp of garlic powder
- 1 tsp of onion powder
- 1 tsp of all-purpose seasoning (I used a rosemary herb sea salt)
- 1 tsp of paprika
- 1/2 cup of shredded or grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup of mozarella
- 1 cup of white cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup of mild or sharp cheddar cheese mixed with a handful of white cheddar cheese for the top of the mac and cheese
- Heat oven to 400 degree's.
- Cook noodles according to package instructions for al dente (ensure you salt the water like the sea).
- To a medium skillet on medium heat, melt butter until bubbling.
- Add flour one tbsp at a time whisking to dissolve in butter.
- Allow butter and flour to cook for about a minute to remove the raw flour flavor.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and slowly pour in the milk while whisking simultaneously. If you don't whisk while you pour you'll have huge lumps of flour in your sauce and you don't want that. Whisk, whisk, whisk!
- Once you add the milk to the skillet and it's well mixed with the roux, add in the heavy cream slowly while whisking.
- Bring the milk to a low simmer while whisking, ensuring you're getting all corners of the sauce.
- As the sauce simmers it will begin to thicken, after about 5 minutes.
- Once the sauce begins to thicken, turn the heat to low and season with nutmeg, garlic powder, onion powder, all-purpose seasoning, and paprika.
- Whisk the seasoning until well incorporated.
- Use a spoon to dip in the sauce and draw a line with your finger on the back of the spoon. If the line stays the sauce is thick enough to add the cheese and you can turn off the heat. If the line does not stay, continue to simmer for another minute or two until thicker.
- Turn off the heat and add cheese one handful at a time while whisking to dissolve the cheese into the sauce.
- After you've added two cups of cheese (or more to your desired preference) combine with the noodles and mix to incorporate.
- It might look like you have too much sauce for the noodles but remember that the noodles will absorb the sauce as it sits.
- Allow the sauce and the noodles to become friends in the baking dish then top with remaining cheese.
- Bake at 400 degrees's on the top rack of the oven about 30 minutes, keeping your eye on it for the last 5 minutes,
- Mac and cheese is done when the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbling.
- If after 30 minutes your cheese still needs to brown some more, crank the oven to a low broil and open the oven door slightly and allow the mac and cheese to get golden on top, this will take about 2 minutes. Don't take your eyes off the oven!
- Remove the mac and cheese from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before serving. This will allow the cheese sauce to cool and firm up a bit before serving.
If you like more sauce, feel free to add an additional cup of milk and cheese to the sauce.
This recipe has 6 servings! Double for more.
You can shred your cheese or use the pre-shredded, just make sure it's quality for optimal melting.
Prep time is really for shredding your cheese if you decide to do so.
Technically, I used 4 kinds of cheese when you include the sharp cheddar for the top but that's really optional, I just like the color pay off! Don't go crazy trying to use the sharp cheddar if you don't have it on hand. It won't impact the flavor.
P.S. Check out my last recipe here!