Mac and cheese is great because it can be served for a quick lunch, but also at a fancy dinner. And bonus, this macaroni and cheese is all made in one pot!
I can’t stress enough how easy this mac and cheese is to make, and how delicious it tastes. Our macaroni and cheese is made in one pot in the oven and requires no flour and no work at the stove top. It’s also a huge hit with my kids.
Mac and Cheese Ingredients
- elbow macaroni – really any type of pasta will work for this mac and cheese recipe, but I’m partial elbows. They’re just so classic!
- cheddar cheese – I like to use a good sharp cheddar with lots of flavor. Make sure you purchase the cheese in a block and shred it yourself.
- mozzarella cheese – mozzarella cheese in macaroni and cheese might be a little surprising, but it mellows the flavor a little and adds that awesome cheese pull moment.
- nutmeg – nutmeg is not just for autumn – I know it sounds weird but trust me on this.
- paprika – not only does paprika taste great, but it helps give your macaroni and cheese that classic orangey yellow color.
- ground mustard – just enough to add some tang, we don’t want it tasting like a hot dog topping – although mac and cheese on hot dogs *is* delicious.
- salt & pepper – never skip the salt and pepper!
- heavy cream – well you didn’t expect creamy mac and cheese without the cream did you?
- optional: breadcrumbs and butter
What can you add to mac and cheese to make it better?
I like to add a combination of spices to our mac and cheese to make it better. These spices include paprika, nutmeg, mustard powder, salt, and pepper. If you like spicy foods, you could also add a dash of sriracha or tabasco sauce!
One of the biggest things I think makes our macaroni and cheese better is that we don’t use flour. Flour in mac and cheese makes it grainy and clumpy and I’ll never understand why folks use it. This mac and cheese is made without flour, so it’s creamy delicious perfection.
How do you make homemade mac and cheese?
Our homemade mac and cheese is made with elbow noodles, two types of cheese, heavy cream, and a combination of spices. It’s incredibly simple and incredibly delicious.
The most exciting thing about our homemade macaroni and cheese is the fact that it tastes super amazing. The second most exciting thing is that it’s made in one pot, with no muss and no fuss. You literally combine the ingredients together and throw it all in the oven. You don’t even have to cook the pasta ahead of time!
What is the best cheese to use for macaroni and cheese?
The best cheese for macaroni and cheese is a combination of sharp cheddar and mozzarella, tempered with some heavy cream. This makes a creamy but flavorful cheese sauce for the macaroni while still having that classic cheese pull moment when you grab the noodles with your fork.
It’s also very important to use block cheese that you shred yourself when making mac and cheese. This is because pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti caking agents which can inhibit the cheese from melting properly.
How do you bake macaroni and cheese?
Technically our mac and cheese is baked from the beginning – which is part of what makes this recipe so fantastic. It’s one pot, no stove top fuss, and ridiculously simple. You don’t even have to cook the noodles ahead of time. It all happens in the oven.
And even though this macaroni and cheese is made in the oven, it actually tastes just like classic stove top mac and cheese until you add the panko bread crumbs and broil it at the end. So, when I make this for my kids in the afternoon, I actually skip the second step and just serve it to them as regular creamy macaroni and cheese. If we have guests though, I totally do the breadcrumbs because, 1. it’s pretty, and 2. yummmmmm.
More Macaroni Recipes
- Best Macaroni Salad
- Easy Mac and Cheese
- Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
- Tortellini and Pesto Casserole
Mac and Cheese Making Tools
- Cheese Grater – Make sure you’re using block cheese for this macaroni and cheese recipe and grating it yourself! It will make a huge difference in texture and flavor!
- Enameled Dutch Oven – I love these pots so much! I have a set of this brand and also a set from QVC that I love!
- Stainless Steel Serving Spoon – Everyone needs a good serving spoon for their macaroni and cheese!
How to Make Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is one of those fantastic dishes that can be served for a quick lunch, but also at a fancy dinner. This macaroni and cheese all made in one pot is about to become a new family favorite!
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 ounces mozzarella shredded
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
Add everything except panko and butter to a lidded oven/broiler safe dish. (I used a 4 quart enameled cast iron), and stir well. Push everything down so it's all wet.
Bake COVERED at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and stir - if you want traditional mac and cheese, serve now! BUT if you want baked style, continue to the next step.
In a small bowl, stir together panko and melted butter then sprinkle over top of mac and cheese.
Return to lower/middle rack of oven UNcovered, and broil for 3 minutes until panko is golden brown.
- I used a 4 court enameled cast iron dutch oven: DUTCH OVEN
- It is important to use block cheese that you shred yourself, not pre-shredded cheese, to avoid the addition of caking agents in your mac and cheese. Caking agents will not allow the cheese to melt smoothly.