Macaroni and cheese is easy to make, does not require special equipment, and is an excellent go-to meal for busy weeknights. It is a great dinner-time favorite that you can make with your kids. They can add the cheese to the bechamel (white sauce that is the base for the cheese sauce), stir the sauce, or pat bread crumbs on top of the mac and cheese before it bakes.
So, ditch the box and make a warm and creamy dish of macaroni and cheese from scratch!
Tips For Making Great Macaroni and Cheese:
A New Twist On Mac and Cheese
With a few simple ingredients, it is easy to add flavor and flare to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. Create a decadent dish of macaroni and cheese by stirring chunks of poached lobster tail, barbequed beef or pork, sauteed mushrooms, or spinach that has been wilted in garlic and olive oil into your prepared mac and cheese.
Add depth to your mac and cheese by stirring pumpkin puree or a puree of your favorite roasted root vegetables into your bechamel or top your dish of macaroni and cheese with crispy bacon. Try something new and whip up a rich and flavorful macaroni and cheese souffle or quiche.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Does your mac and cheese recipe call for baking? Undercook your pasta by a few minutes so that it does not become mushy as it bakes. Instead of topping your baked macaroni and cheese with breadcrumbs, try using crushed crackers, corn flakes, or potato chips. Be sure to butter the dish you will be baking it in so that none of your macaroni and cheese deliciousness sticks to the pan.
A Beautiful Bechamel
Creating the perfect bechamel, or white sauce that serves as the base of your cheese sauce, is simple when you follow the right steps. For a basic bechamel: melt 3 Tbsp of butter with 3 Tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk in 3 Tbsp of flour and allow it to cook until it achieves a light blonde color, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in 1 ½ cups of milk and reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the sauce to cook until it thickens and becomes bubbly, about 5 minutes. Add in salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg to taste. Take the saucepan off the heat and add the cheese, stirring to melt. Once cheese has fully melted, your sauce is complete. For a deeper flavor, try using buttermilk instead of milk in your bechamel.
Selecting the right blend of cheeses is crucial to the success of your macaroni and cheese. Choose cheeses that will become creamy, not oily, as they melt. For a super-creamy mac and cheese, use a processed cheese, such as American or Velveeta. Adding a blend of cheeses will give your mac and cheese a fuller flavor. Do not go overboard with the amount of cheese you add. Too much cheese can make your macaroni and cheese have a gummy and hardened texture.
The other major consideration for macaroni and cheese is the pasta! Think outside of the elbow macaroni box. Use any short cut of pasta to make your macaroni and cheese. Do not rinse the pasta once it is cooked. If you do, the sauce will not stick to the noodles.
Use salted water to cook your pasta for optimum flavor. Fresh pasta will turn your mac and cheese into a delicate treat. Use up leftover bits of dried pasta at the end of the box. Throw small tortellinis or raviolis into your mac and cheese pasta blend to give it richness and a delicious depth of flavor.
Fun Flavors for Mac and Cheese
Want to make a fun recipe of macaroni and cheese for your kids, try Ballpark Mac and Cheese. Simply add 1 Tbsp of prepared mustard and 2 Tbsp of ketchup to your bechamel. Then, add cut up hot dogs to your macaroni noodles just before stirring in the bechamel.
Try turning your favorite meal or sandwich into a dish of macaroni and cheese. For Chicken Enchilada Mac, start by adding taco sauce to your bechamel. Stir pulled pieces of chicken poached with garlic and onion into your macaroni and cheese. Top with crushed tortilla chips.
Pizza macaroni and cheese is quick and easy to make too, simply fold in pepperoni, sausage, or mushrooms and chopped sun-dried tomatoes to your prepared macaroni and cheese.
Leave No Macaroni and Cheese Behind
Do you find yourself with leftover macaroni and cheese? Try making fried macaroni and cheese balls or macaroni and cheese pizza! To prepare Fried Mac and Cheese Balls start by forming cold mac and cheese into 2-inch balls and freeze on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet overnight. Dip the balls into an egg wash and then coat in bread crumbs. Put the balls in the freezer until you are ready to fry them. Deep fry the balls in oil that has been heated to 350 degrees. Balls are done when they are heated through to the center and have developed a golden brown color.
Mac and Cheese Pizza is also a great dish for using up mac and cheese leftovers. Roll out your prepared crust. Brush it with garlic butter and bake it half-way. Remove your crust from oven and spoon on room temperature macaroni and cheese. Top the mac and cheese with extra shredded cheese and return it to oven. Bake your pizza for the remaining time. When the crust is fully cooked, remove the pizza from the oven, slice, and enjoy!
Allergy-Free Macaroni and Cheese
It is easy to create a delicious macaroni and cheese for those who suffer from food allergies as well. If you have a gluten allergy, thicken the bechamel with cornstarch instead of flour and pour your cheese sauce over prepared gluten-free pasta. If you have a dairy allergy, replace the dairy products in your mac and cheese recipe with dairy-free alternatives like those made with soy, rice, or almonds.
Boost the nutrition of your macaroni and cheese by: using low-fat dairy products, whole-grain pasta, and adding frozen or fresh vegetables to your macaroni and cheese.
Mac and Cheese Recipes:
Under the Broiler:
In A Crockpot: