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This is a simple, classic, and oh-so-tasty macaroni and cheese. Almost as easy as opening the box, but a hundred times better. This easiest macaroni and cheese recipe is comfort food in a casserole dish that you should give a try today.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese in a white casserole dish.
This Mac N Cheese is easy, creamy, and delicious!

🫕 What makes this recipe special?

Who doesn’t like a simple, classic Macaroni and Cheese? This is the super easy version of the traditional baked dish. Perfect for Thanksgiving, a holiday, or just a wonderful dinner.

This would be a great side for this Sous Vide Prime Rib with Horseradish sauce or maybe served alongside this cheesy mashed potatoes recipe. Maybe it would be a great weeknight dinner side to go along with this Spicy Italian Meatloaf? Whatever you are cooking for dinner, make sure to treat yourself a bit!

🧀 Ingredients

Macaroni and cheese are the prominent ingredients, but this homemade recipe has a bit more.

  • Macaroni
  • Whole milk
  • Sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • all-purpose flour
  • Salt and Pepper

See the recipe card for quantities.

🍲 Instructions

By following this recipe, you are basically making one of the 5 French mother sauces, or a bechamel sauce. Yeah, it sounds fancy, doesn’t it? It really isn’t all that fancy, but knowing how to make a bechamel sauce (along with the other mother sauces) can give you a lot of power in the kitchen outside of our easiest macaroni and cheese recipe.

Two steps for making macaroni and cheese.
First, cook your noodles. Second, make your sauce and then bake together with some more cheese on top.

Cook that macaroni and mix it with the sauce. From there, bake the dish with some extra cheese on top. 

🤷 Substitutions and variations

There are many different things you could try with this recipe.

  • Pasta – Macaroni is in the name, but I wouldn’t hesitate to substitute many of the smaller kinds of pasta. Shells, penne, or spirals could work great for this recipe. 
  • Cheese – I call for cheddar, but any melting cheese would work great for this. A hard Gruyere could work great, hard mozzarella, or swiss. 
  • Bread Crumbs – I do not call for bread crumbs, but many people like them on their baked macaroni and cheese. I do this sometimes too. Feel free to add breadcrumbs before putting in the oven.
  • Forget the Baking – Sometimes, I just go straight from the skillet to my plate. Mix all the ingredients in the plate and you have an easier macaroni and cheese.
  • Ground Burger – Add a pound of cooked ground burger to the dish before you throw it in the oven. A great twist on the meal!

📦 Storage

While this does not freeze well, it stores fairly well in the refrigerator for a few days. Just put in an airtight container and heat in the microwave or stovetop when ready to eat. 

🎓 Macaroni and Cheese History tidbit

Did you know that Macaroni and Cheese dates all the way back to the 13th century? Crazy, right? I wrote a whole article on the history of mac and cheese. Check it out!

❓ FAQ

Can you freeze macaroni and cheese?

You can, but cooked pasta does not stand up very well to being frozen. I suggest eating the dish rather than freezing. 

What is the best cheese for macaroni and cheese?

Cheddar works the best, but any hard, melting cheese works for macaroni and cheese. 

Completed mac and cheese recipe dish with a wooden spoon.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese is a perfect side dish or main course for a comfort dinner!

📝 Tips and tricks

  • If you want to make this recipe even faster, skip baking and eat it right after mixing the cooked pasta with the cheese roux.
  • Some cooked and crumbled burger goes great in this.

😋 Did you make this recipe?

That is awesome, and thank you so much for giving this macaroni and cheese recipe a try. If you could leave a rating in the comment area below, it would be greatly appreciated. This lets me know how I am doing and also helps others decide if they want to make this recipe. Most of all, thanks for visiting Ramshackle Pantry.

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picture of the easiest macaroni and cheese recipe

The easiest macaroni and cheese recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 2 reviews
  • Author: Ben Myhre
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 Minutes
  • Total Time: 1 Hour
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x
  • Category: Casserole
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
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Description

This easy, homemade macaroni and cheese recipe is sure to delight. All you need is a few ingredients you probably have at home and a little bit of time.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups dry macaroni
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup all purpose flour
  • 4 Tablespoons salted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. 
  2. Cook macaroni as directed on package
  3. While macaroni is cooking, in large saucepan melt butter on low
  4. When butter is fully melted, slowly start sprinkling flour in the pan and continuously mix. The idea is that the mixture of flour and butter will form almost a paste.
  5. Pour in just a little of the milk and whisk until smooth. Keep on repeating until all milk is blended in.
  6. Turn heat to medium-high and continuously stir. We want to get the sauce just to boiling and thicken.
  7. When the sauce starts to heat up, you will notice it start to thicken. Just continue to stir and once boiling, continue stirring for one minute.
  8. Remove from direct heat and slowly add 2 cups of the cheese to the bechamel while stirring.
  9. Once this is a smooth sauce, add cheese sauce and drained macaroni to a baking dish and mix together.
  10. Add remaining 2 cups of cheese to top of macaroni and cheese
  11. Put the dish into the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until top layer of cheese is golden brown.
  12. Serve!

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23 Comments

  1. I LOVE mac & cheese. I could seriously eat it every day! And there’s nothing quite like baked mac & cheese for a little more luxurious dish. This looks delicious

    1. I tell you what… I have been eating a lot of mac and cheese lately. At least 3-lbs-on-the-scale worth.

  2. I love a good, creamy macaroni and cheese, especially with a cheddar bechamel. Cold weather comfort food at its best! Might have to make this for dinner tonight now that I have a craving!

  3. I love how easy this mac and cheese recipe is, and the sauce sounds divine! I am totally a baked mac and cheese fan 🙂

  4. This looks so gooey and cheesy I just can’t stop looking at it! I love making a mac and cheese with bechamel. For the longest time, I struggled with making it, it was always lumpy. Until I discovered bechamel. Love this recipe!






  5. I looove macaroni cheese, and usually eat it straight from the pan like you. I tend to do a fatless white sauce out of laziness though – heat up the milk, then stir in a cornflour and milk paste when it’s boiling vigorously.

  6. This looks like pure heaven! I love homemade mac and cheese and love how easy this is!! I also love that it’s baked, the best mac and cheese recipes are baked!