Recipe - Baked Mac & Cheese

When I make Mac & Cheese I usually make stovetop because the baked version can be gummy, gritty and sometimes dry.  This version, however, changes all that.  It's from America's Test Kitchen and uses chicken stock {use vegetable stock if you'd prefer} in place of some of the milk.  This small change helps retain moisture while not making it overly rich.  It's delicious.

Baked Mac & Cheese
source:  very lightly adapted from a recipe by America's Test Kitchen

6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 teaspoon dry mustard, dissolved in 1 teaspoon water
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups Colby cheese, shredded
1 cup Fontina cheese, shredded {if you don't have, you can substitute with Gruyere or additional Colby}
2 cups Extra-Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt 2 Tablespoons of the butter and toss with breadcrumbs.  Set aside.

Cook elbow macaroni according to package instructions, cooking until just about al dente.  Drain and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 6 Tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Stir in the mustard mixture and cayenne, cooking for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  Stir in the flour, and cook until golden, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

Slowly whisk in the milk and broth.  Bring to a simmer.  Cook, whisking often, until mixture is slightly thickened, about 6 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in cheeses.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in the drained pasta, breaking up clumps until combined.

Pour into a 13x9" baking pan.  Sprinkle the top evenly with breadcrumbs.

Bake until golden brown and bubbly around the edges, 25-30 minutes.  Let cool 10 minutes before serving.


  1. I never had baked mac & cheese until as a teen I visited a wizened old lady in NY and she baked it for my mom & I. It was delicious! Sadly since I was too young to care, I never got her recipe. Thanks for sharing yours, as I find the same thing that this often comes out too dry. Wendy x

  2. I like that there's added moisture so it doesn't dry out in the oven. That's usually why I don't like baked pastas. But this one sounds like a winner!

  3. Thanks for sharing Staci! I'll have to try it out. Perhaps for a Lenten Friday night dinner! My dad is a real meat eater and finding things that work for him during Lent is always tough but he LOVES anything cheesy!

  4. This looks delicious! I make a macaroni and cheese with fontina, but it has four kinds of mushrooms, so I only make it on special occasions when my vegetarians are home. Mac n' cheese is the ultimate comfort food!

  5. This looks like the best Mac & Cheese... EVER!


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