Every bite of this creamy Baked Mac and Cheese has over the top delicious gooey cheese and is topped with crisp and crunchy panko topping, you will forever be converted!
Course: Appetizer, Dinner, Side Dish
Keyword: Cheese, easy recipe
Author: Jennifer Fishkind
2 ½cupslarge elbow macaroni
2 ½cupsmild cheddar cheeseshredded (freshly grated if possible)
2 ½cupswhite sharp cheddar cheeseshredded
1cupherb panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Set aside.
In a large pan cook the macaroni according to package directions but cook it 1-2 minutes UNDER. It will continue cooking as it bakes later. Drain the pasta and drizzle the olive oil over it and toss it to keep it from drying out while you prepare the sauce. Set aside.
In the pan you just cooked the pasta in melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once butter is melted add in the flour and whisk for about 3 minutes whisking constantly being careful not to burn the flour.
Pour in the whole milk and whisk until all lumps are gone and mixture is smooth.
Add the 2 cans of evaporated milk, salt and pepper and whisk until mixture is smooth and starts to boil and to thicken.
Stir in 4 cups of the cheese and stir until cheese is melted.
Remove from heat and stir in the cooked macaroni shells.
Pour into the prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle the remaining one cup of shredded cheese over the top of the mac and cheese.
In a small bowl mix together the Panko bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbly and top is golden brown.
Pro Tips for Making Homemade Mac and Cheese
Block cheese! Don't buy the packaged shredded cheese. Take a few extra minutes and take a block of cheese and shred it. I promise it will be worth the time investment!
Can you skip baking the mac and cheese? Well, then it isn't really baked mac and cheese, but yes, you can. If you don't have time to throw it in the oven, I would skip the toppings. It is still super yummy and won't affect the overall taste, but take the extra few minutes and put the panko toppings on and throw it in the oven - you will thank me!
Add in's - Try these amazing add in's and throw them into your mac and cheese to up the make and cheese game: Crab, lobster, parmesan cheese, bacon, chicken, broccoli.
Try different combinations of shredded cheeses - some others that we really love are Monterey jack cheese, pepper jack cheese, mozzarella cheese, and gouda cheese.
I updated this recipe in November 2020. If you are looking for the old version of the recipe, please see below:
Ingredients1 pound Macaroni 3 cups water 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups evaporated milk 8 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese grated 8 ounces Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese gratedToppings1 cup panko bread crumbs 3 tablespoons butter melted 1 teaspoon garlic salt 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Add macaroni, water, and salt to a large skillet. Place over high heat and bring to a boil for about 5 minutes or until the water has cooked down. Stir consistently.
Add evaporated milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until the cheese has melted completely.
In a small bowl, mix topping ingredients until well combined. Generously sprinkle over macaroni.
Place dish under a low broiler for 5 minutes or until golden brown and serve immediately.