Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese is a family favorite for dinner, parties and holidays! This super creamy macaroni and cheese can be made ahead of time, too!

Don’t you just love make ahead casseroles like mac & cheese??? Also check out our Perfect Baked Ziti Recipe or this easy Stove Top Mac & Cheese recipe, a 15 minute meal!

Macaroni and cheese in a black baking dish

Oven Baked Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

One bite is all you need to know that this Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe is the winner. Our kids actually don’t love homemade mac & cheese, because they’re so used to that boxed stuff. And no disrespect, that boxed stuff is pretty beloved to me.

But when you want an ooey, gooey, creamy, perfectly flavored Baked Mac & Cheese recipe, this one is IT.

Not only does this macaroni and cheese get tossed in the most delicious homemade cheese sauce, but it’s topped with TWO layers of shredded cheese just to bring home that super duper cheesiness. Just one bite, my friends, and then you can report back to me.

How Do You Make Baked Macaroni and Cheese?

Making homemade macaroni and cheese is really pretty easy to do. Of course, start off by boiling the pasta. In this case we used elbow macaroni but you can use any short tube pasta, really.

Shells, cavatappi, orecchiette or any “mini” pasta that they sell these days. I’ve seen mini rigatoni, mini farfalle, mini penne and so on. Elbow macaroni is the classic shape, and the one that most people are familiar with so we usually stick with that.

Macaroni in a pot with homemade cheese sauce

Start the cheese sauce by making a roux with butter and flour. Season the roux and then whisk in milk and cream. You can use half and half, too but I mean…this isn’t a light recipe so why not go big?

Add a few cups of good quality shredded cheese like sharp cheddar and gruyere. Do shred your own cheese for this macaroni and cheese recipe, it will make for a much smoother sauce! The pre-shredded cheeses have their place but it’s not for this baked pasta recipe.

Macaroni and cheese casserole in a baking dish before baking

Once your macaroni and cheese has been assembled, it’s really almost time to eat! All you need is 15 minutes in the oven for the macaroni to warm up and for the cheese to melt. Essentially, everything here is “cooked” so the oven time is quick.

Also, make sure to not over cook the macaroni and cheese because if you do the cheese )since we’re using real cheese here) will break apart and become oily. A little bit of oil is going to happen, again, real cheese here, but you don’t want an oily mess.

So stick to the 350 degree temperature and just for bake for 15 minutes. You’ll end up with a cheesy, gooey, comforting baked macaroni and cheese!

Baked Macaroni and Cheese with a scoop out of the dish

Can You Make This Recipe Ahead Of Time?

Definitely! My suggestion is to make the recipe up until you bake it. Make sure it’s cooled completely and then cover tightly with foil and then refrigerate. Bring the casserole up to room temperature for about 30 minutes and then bake.

Don’t skip the step of removing the mac & cheese from the refrigerator before baking. Like we mentioned before, you don’t want the cheese to break and if your casserole starts cold that means more time in the oven.

Macaroni and cheese casserole in a baking dish

What Sides Go Best With Macaroni and Cheese?

The great thing about a casserole like this Baked Macaroni & Cheese is that it can be served as the main course AND a side dish! We have done both, a main for dinner time and a side for holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Macaroni and Cheese on a spoon

Can You Use Different Kinds Of Cheese?

Absolutely! We like the sharp flavor of cheddar and the nutty flavor of gruyere, but if those flavors don’t work for you, you definitely switch it up! Try to use at least one sharp flavor combined with a more mellow flavor so that the casserole doesn’t turn out bland.

  • Mozzarella
  • Colby
  • Muenster
  • White cheddar
  • Monterey jack (or pepper jack to spice it up!)
  • Gouda

Looking For More Casserole Recipes?

Macaroni and Cheese on a spoon

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  • Author: Dan
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

This Baked Macaroni and Cheese is SO creamy and delicious! Make ahead of time for holidays, parties, game days or just for dinner!



  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions and drained
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 3 cups shredded gruyere cheese
  • 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ x 13″ inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray or butter and set aside.
  2. Mix the shredded cheeses together in a bowl. Start the sauce by adding the butter to a skillet, waiting until the butter is completely melted, then whisking in the flour to make a roux. Season the roux with salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Slowly add the milk to the roux, whisking as you pour so that lumps don’t form. Add the milk a little at a time, then once the sauce is smooth, slowly start pouring in the cream using the same whisking process until the sauce is smooth.
  4. Season the sauce with the garlic powder, paprika and cayenne if using. Add 1 cup of the cheese mixture into the sauce and whisk until it’s melted and smooth. Repeat with 2 more cups of cheese (3 cups total in the sauce) until the sauce is smooth. Taste for seasonings and remove from the heat.
  5. Add the cooked macaroni to a large bowl. Pour the sauce in the bowl and stir to combine with the pasta. Pour half of the pasta into the prepared baking dish and smooth out to an even layer. Add 2 cups of the cheese to the top of the pasta, followed by the remaining pasta on top.
  6. Top the macaroni with the remaining 1 cup of cheese and bake for 15 minutes until the center is warm and the cheese is melted. Don’t overcook the macaroni and cheese as the cheese can break and become oily.

Variations To This Recipe:

      Before baking add…

  • 2 cups of shredded, cooked chicken
  • 2 cans of drained, canned tuna fish along with 1 1/2 cups of peas
  • 2 cups diced, cooked ham along with 1 1/2 cups of peas
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli (alone or with chicken or ham or tuna)
  • Cooked, crumbled bacon
  • Optional topping: 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs or crushed Ritz crackers that have been toasted in a skillet with 4 tablespoons of butter
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top / Oven
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: mantitlement, casserole recipe, baked pasta recipe, baked macaroni and cheese, macaroni and cheese recipe, pasta recipe, holiday recipes, game day food, make ahead recipes

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