This Creamiest Mac and Cheese recipe will bring back childhood memories of the best form of comfort food. It reminds me of one of my old go-to frozen or boxed meals and this is a real treat now that I am gluten-free.
Homemade mac and cheese isn’t hard to make, it just takes a little time to assemble the different parts, but the results are worth the work! The hardest part is shredding the cheese – this is one place where having a food processor is invaluable. I had the cheese shredded in just a couple minutes by using the machine to do the heavy lifting.
This recipe makes a casserole with a lot of sauce which helps keep it creamy and saucy while it bakes and rests. Remember that the pasta will continue to absorb liquid from the sauce, so having a little extra is a good thing.
Even with orange cheddar, this sauce comes out fairly pale. If your kids are suspicious of any mac and cheese that doesn’t look like what comes out of the box, you can add some yellow food coloring if no one is sensitive to it.
This reminds me a bit of the Stouffer’s dinners I used to keep in the freezer for crazy days when I didn’t want to cook dinner for myself. It has a similar texture, but is cheesier.
Clean-up can be challenging with the cheese sauce, so be sure to rinse and soak the pot and bowl as soon as the casserole is in the oven. To make it easier to clean, I use a non-stick pan to make the sauce.
If you like a touch of heat in your mac and cheese, feel free to add some hot sauce or red pepper flakes.
I hope you enjoy this Creamiest Mac and Cheese as much as we did. Have a terrific weekend!
How to make The Creamiest Mac and Cheese
- Cook the pasta to al dente; drain
- Make a white sauce with butter, flour, and half and half
- Whisk in the shredded and chopped cheeses
- Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni
- Pour the cheese and pasta into a baking pan
- Bake for 18 minutes and enjoy!
Do I have to use the cheeses listed in the ingredients?
You can use any blend that you and your family like, but if you are looking for a classic, very “cheddary” casserole, using a combination of cheddar and American cheeses is a winner.
Whenever you are making a white sauce, always whisk constantly. You don’t want the sauce to stick to the bottom of the pan as it cooks. It helps keep the sauce smooth and silky.
Key Ingredients for this Recipe
- Elbow macaroni (gluten-free if needed)
- Flour or gluten-free flour blend
- Half and half
- Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- American cheese, chopped
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe
- 3-quart saucepan (for the pasta)
- 4-quart saucepan (for the cheese sauce)
- Food processor (to shred the cheese)
- Large mixing bowl
- Whisk (use a silicone whisk if using a non-stick pan)
Other Mac & Cheese Recipes You May Enjoy:
I used Barilla brand macaroni for this recipe. It cooks easily, stands up to the cheese sauce, and holds its shape without becoming mushy. You can also use your favorite gluten-free pasta.
- 1 lb elbow macaroni (gluten-free if needed)
- 1 stick (8 tbsp; 113 g) butter, cut into chunks
- 1/3 cup flour (or gluten-free flour blend)
- 5 cups (1 qt + 1 cup) half and half
- 16 oz sharp cheddar, shredded (about 3 cups)
- 8 oz mild cheddar, shredded (about 2 cups)
- 8 oz sliced American cheese, about 9 slices, chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan.
- Cook the macaroni in salted water until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and transfer to a very large mixing bowl; set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Sprinkle with the flour blend and whisk until combined with no lumps. Cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes; do not let it brown. Slowly whisk in the half and half until the mixture is smooth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly (this will take about 4 to 5 minutes). Then cook at a low boil, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheeses, a handful at a time, whisking until thoroughly melted before adding more. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.
- Stir the cheese sauce into the cooked pasta, and pour into the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the top lightly with paprika if desired. Place in the oven and bake for 18 minutes or until bubbling around the edges. Remove from the oven and serve.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 540Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 964mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 28g
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