A stack of blocks of various cheeses

The Family Recipes Series: The Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Customize the recipe to create your own cheesy masterpiece

By Laura Carson Miller

Can you say comfort food? 

Mac and cheese is easily at the top of the list for go-to feel good dishes that stand the test of time. Most everyone loves this creamy, dreamy side item that can also be a main course by adding animal protein if that’s your thing or veggies such as broccoli and trim-color peppers for your meatless Monday or your meatless everyday! 

My Motivation

My Mum, sister and nephew have all made this recipe for family dinners and I made it last month for our family Christmas lunch. I’ve since made it a second time for a dinner with our neighbor and I can vouch that it is indeed easy to make your own.

I’m sharing the recipe as it was given to me by my Mum and I will share the personal customizations I’ve tried so far in the notes below the recipe.

The Recipe 

The Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese 

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Butter a Pyrex loaf pan

Cook 1 cup elbow macaroni according to al dente package directions – drain thoroughly.

In a bowl beat:

1 egg 

1 1/2 cups milk 

Pinch of dry mustard 

Pinch of salt 

Sprinkling of pepper

Set aside. 

Grate 8oz Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese 

In your buttered dish, spread half the cooked macaroni. Spread a good layer of cheese. Top this with the rest of the macaroni. Sprinkle more cheese on top.

Beat the egg and milk mixture again to incorporate, then pour over the cheese and macaroni. Try to make sure all solids are covered and no macaroni is sticking out. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Notes: 

Pasta – Mum uses DeCecco pasta so that’s what I use. 

Cheese – Tillamook is our favorite cheese. I used 4 oz of freshly grated Tillamook extra sharp cheddar and about 5 oz of freshly grated Gayo Azul Gouda cheese for our Christmas lunch mac and cheese. I like a lot of cheese. It was a big hit! I baked this in a Pyrex loaf pan. 

For dinner with our neighbor I decided to up the cheese ante and used the extra sharp cheddar, gouda and some Stilton blue cheese. It was the same total of approximately 9 oz but with 3 different cheeses. The dish was very well received yet I could not taste the Stilton at all, which was a disappointment. I was shocked by this outcome as when I tasted of the cheese trio mixed together before adding it to the dish the flavor was definitely there. I used a round ceramic dish this time. 

It is very important that for the very best results in taste and texture you MUST grate the cheese prior to making the recipe. Do not use pre-shredded cheese which contains ingredients to keep the shreds from clumping together and can hinder a smooth melty outcome. You want to take the extra minute or two to grate the cheese and ensure the smooth melty outcome. Trust me. 

Baking – I like a light brown top on my mac and cheese and no breadcrumbs. If takes placing your dish under the broiler to get the gorgeous brown crusty top, do so. 

For my next trick with this recipe, I plan to leave out the pinch of dry mustard and add a squirt of Honey Mustard Sauce from the Honey Baked Ham store to the milk mixture for a bit of zing. I also am contemplating making the recipe with a small shot of Durkee’s Famous Sauce in the liquid. It was served in the Lincoln White House. I wonder what Abe put it on??

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