Mac and Cheese Recipes Made From Scratch

Everyone has different ideas of what dishes make the best comfort food. Some would say fried chicken while others lean toward chicken soup. Still, it’s tough to imagine anyone who doesn’t include a creamy plate of macaroni and cheese among their favorites. Something about the combination of noodles and a cheesy sauce just tastes irresistible. If your latest batch came from a box, these seven recipes will totally wow you with flavor.

1. Ultra-Gooey Stovetop Mac and Cheese

Source: iStock

Spiral mac and cheese | iStock.com

Making macaroni and cheese from scratch doesn’t necessarily have to mean spending a long time in the kitchen. Serious Eats proves it with this ooey, gooey recipe. Though American cheese isn’t exactly a posh ingredient, it melts into a super creamy sauce. And don’t worry, there’s still plenty of cheddar to give this recipe a more adult taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces American cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, but into 4 pieces

Directions: Place macaroni in a large saucepan and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover pan, remove from heat, and let stand until pasta is just al dente, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk evaporated milk, eggs, hot sauce, and mustard in a bowl to combine. Toss cheeses with cornstarch in a large bowl to combine.

Drain pasta and return to same pan. Set pan over low heat, add butter, and stir until melted. Add milk mixture and cheese mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until melted and smooth. Season with salt and additional hot sauce. Serve.

2. French Onion Mac N’ Cheese

Source: iStock

Mac and cheese | iStock.com

There’s no way to deny that making caramelized onions takes a while. Any time you find yourself making some for a recipe, cook a massive batch, then portion and freeze leftovers. With caramelized onions on hand, you’re already halfway to this macaroni dish inspired by French onion soup from Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts. It’s particularly great for entertaining because it’s easy, but still seems elegant.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pasta, cooked 2 minutes short of package directions
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup caramelized onions
  • ½ cup crumbled bacon
  • ½ cup croutons, crushed

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant. Add flour and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk in a steady stream. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in cheeses and mix until completely smooth. Remove cheese sauce from heat.

In a large bowl, combine pasta, bacon, onions, and sauce. Mix well to combine, then transfer to a large casserole dish. Sprinkle crumbled croutons over top and bake until bubbling and golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve.

3. Chorizo Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese, bell pepper

Creamy mac and cheese | iStock.com

If macaroni and cheese had a baby with tacos, this cheesy chorizo and noodle dish from Damn Delicious, which was adapted from Simply Recipes, would be the result. It’s filled with plenty of the zesty sausage, corn, black beans, spicy chiles, and two kinds of cheese. The crispy breadcrumb topping gives this dish a great crunch, but you can skip the baking part if you’re in a hurry.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces Mexican chorizo, casings removed
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, diced
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded jalapeño pepper-Jack cheese
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup canned black
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling, salted water. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add chorizo and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until fully cooked, about 2 minutes. Add red onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño. Continue to cook, stirring, until veggies begin to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Whisk in flour and cook for about 1 minute. Whisking constantly, add the milk in a steady stream. Cook until incorporated and beginning to thicken. Stir in cheeses and mix until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and add pasta, black beans, corn, and lime juice.

Transfer macaroni and cheese to prepared baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Let sit for 10 minutes, then serve.

4. Macaroni Quattro Formaggi with Prosciutto

white casserole of macaroni and cheese with ham

Macaroni casserole | iStock.com

Martha Stewart Living’s four-cheese macaroni with prosciutto is just about the fanciest rendition of the comfort food you can imagine. You layer the creamy pasta with sheets of prosciutto, ensuring every bite has plenty of the salty meat. Save this one for a potluck. You’ll be the most popular guy at the party.

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 5½ cups whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1½ cups grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1½ cups grated fontina cheese
  • 1½ cups crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 pound ziti or mostaccioli, uncooked
  • ½ pound thinly sliced prosciutto

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish and set aside. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk to coat onions, about 1 minute. While constantly whisking, pour in milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture bubbles and thickens. Remove from heat, stir in salt, pepper, cayenne, and cheeses. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta 2 to 3 minutes less than package directions. Outside should be cooked and inside should be underdone. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain well, then stir into cheese sauce.

Thinly slice about three slices of prosciutto to yield ¼ cup and set aside. Place half of remaining prosciutto in the bottom of prepared baking dish. Top with half of pasta, then remaining prosciutto, then remaining pasta. Sprinkle sliced prosciutto over top. Bake until browned and hot, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

5. Mushroom Mac and Cheese

close shot of macaroni and cheese with mushrooms

Mac and cheese with mushrooms | iStock.com

People either love or hate mushrooms. If you’re in favor of the fungi, Giada de Laurentiis’s Mushroom Mac and Cheese, featured on Food Network, is a must-make recipe. It’s also a great opportunity to play around with different mushroom varieties. Even though there are multiple components, you can minimize dishes by using a Dutch oven. These hefty pots work well on the stove and in the oven, so you can sprinkle the topping right into the pot before broiling.

Ingredients:

Topping:

  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pasta:

  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 10 ounces assorted mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster, trumpet, or button, sliced or torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, minced
  • 3 teaspoons white truffle oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1½ cups shredded Gruyère cheese
  • 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Combine all topping ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside. Cook pasta for 10 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain and set aside, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.

Meanwhile, heat a 3½-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, mushrooms, thyme, shallots, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown. Remove mushrooms to a plate and drizzle with 1 teaspoon truffle oil.

Preheat broiler to high. Reduce stove heat to medium. Add butter and flour to Dutch oven and stir with a wooden spoon to form a paste. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk, bring to a simmer, and cook, whisking occasionally, for 5 minutes. Whisk in cheeses.

Add pasta, reserved cooking liquid, mushrooms, ¾ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Fold to combine. Top with breadcrumb mixture and drizzle with remaining truffle oil and olive oil. Broil until golden and bubbling, about 8 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve.

6. Easy Beer Mac and Cheese

iced drink, beer, dark and stormy

Beer | iStock.com

Beer and cheese are natural partners, so combining them in a creamy casserole is genius. Taste how good it can be with this boozy macaroni and cheese from How Sweet It Is. The other great thing about cooking with beer, or wine for that matter, is you instantly have a beverage pairing for your dinner. Feel free to play around with different beers. Cheddar has enough flavor that it can stand up to some bolder choices.

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups uncooked whole-what elbow macaroni noodles
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 8 ounces milk
  • 8 ounces beer
  • 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 10 large basil leaves, chopped

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta 1 to 2 minutes shy of package directions. Drain.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. While whisking constantly, add milk and beer. Cook until beginning to thicken, whisking constantly. Add cheeses and stir to melt. Stir in pepper, paprika, and nutmeg.

Add noodles to a casserole dish, then pour in the cheese sauce. Mix to combine, top with breadcrumbs, and additional cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top is golden and casserole is bubbling. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and serve.

7. Stovetop BLT Mac and Cheese

individual serving of baked macaroni and cheese with tomatoes

Macaroni with tomatoes | iStock.com

The only thing better than macaroni and cheese with bacon is macaroni and cheese with bacon and tomatoes. Inspired by a BLT sandwich, Mountain Mama Cooks created an insanely delicious macaroni and cheese with bacon, arugula, and roasted tomatoes. This recipe calls for provolone and Asiago, but any combination of melting cheeses will work well.

You can easily make your own roasted cherry tomatoes by tossing the fruits with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roasting them in an oven set to 400 degrees Fahrenheit until they shrivel and begin to brown. If you’d rather take the faster route, pick up a jar of sun-dried tomatoes at the grocery store.

Ingredients:

  • 10 ounces fusilli or other short-cut pasta
  • 8 ounces thick-cut pepper bacon
  • ¼ cup diced shallots
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1½ cups shredded provolone cheese
  • ½ cup shredded Asiago cheese
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup roughly chopped fresh arugula
  • ¾ cup roasted or sun-dried tomatoes

Directions: Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, and set aside. Meanwhile cook bacon in a heavy skillet until fat has rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Crumble bacon and set aside.

Drain all but 2 tablespoons bacon grease from skillet and heat over medium. Add shallots and cook until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually stir in milk. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened, about 10 minutes. Add cheeses and stir until melted. Stir in mustard powder and season with salt and pepper.

Remove pot from heat and add arugula and noodles. Stir in most of tomatoes and bacon. Divide macaroni among 6 to 8 dishes. Garnish each serving with bacon and tomatoes. Serve.

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