Top 4 Mac & Cheese Recipes

–by Bridgette Mabuto–

I may have already mentioned this, but I’m not a huge pasta person. I make an exception for Spicy Basil Noodles and mac and cheese. Mac and cheese! I get excited just thinking about it!

We all know that mac and cheese is a comfort food and no one does comfort food like we do down here in the Southern United States. But first, a history of mac and cheese and me.

Where I grew up in East Africa, we didn’t have the ingredients for macaroni and cheese. As in, we didn’t have macaroni noodles or the variety of cheeses needed for a proper mac and cheese. So, I didn’t grow up eating this delicious dish.

Fast forward to university, when my roommate took me to her home for Thanksgiving. Her family introduced me to the most amazing baked mac and cheese. And there was no going back for me. I now love macaroni and cheese. I would eat it for every single meal if I didn’t care slightly for my health.

So, if you’re a mac and cheese lover like me, or you’re just looking for a really amazing side dish, try out one of the recipes below.

You will not be disappointed.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese 

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You can’t go wrong with this classic dish.

Ingredients: 

4 Cups Milk (whole is best)

1 Stick (8 Tablespoons) Butter (Unsalted)

½ Cup Flour

½ Tablespoon of Salt, or to Taste

1 Pound Macaroni

3 Cups Aged Sharp Cheddar Cheese

1 Cup Romano Cheese

Directions:

Béchamel

Heat milk in pot until it simmers, then set aside.

In a saucepan, melt butter.

While constantly stirring, add flour to butter.

Brown the butter and flour mixture, then remove from heat.

Still stirring, add milk to the butter flour mixture until smooth.

Place saucepan on medium heat and stir until sauce thickens.

Add salt.

Optional: Add seasoning like pepper, paprika, or even garlic.

Cook macaroni according to the directions on the box until it’s just underdone.

Rinse with cold water.

Place béchamel back on stove at medium heat.

Stir in cheeses until smooth.

Add pasta and stir occasionally until pasta is cooked.

Serve.

Optional: Place in a skillet or baking dish, sprinkle with panko and extra cheese, then bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Slow Cooker Mac & Cheese 

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With a crockpot, delicious mac and cheese can be yours with very little effort.

I can be a lazy cook at times, which is why my crockpot is one of my favorite kitchen appliances (after my latte maker). This mac and cheese recipe is a necessity if I’m going out in the morning but expecting friends for lunch.

Or, more honestly, if I want to take an afternoon nap and still have something hot for dinner.

Ingredients 

1 Pound Macaroni

4½ Tablespoons Butter, Cut in Cubes

12 Ounces Evaporated Milk

1½ Cups Half and Half

3 Cups Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shredded

8 Ounces American Cheese (You can get this in a block from a deli), Cubed

Salt to Taste

Pepper to Taste

Directions

Cook macaroni to al dente. Drain.

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray.

Add macaroni to slow cooker and stir in butter.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.

Cover and cook for 2-3 hours on low.

Optional: 15 minutes before it’s done, sprinkle ½ cup extra cheddar cheese on top.

Death by Cheese aka 3-Cheese Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

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Baked mac and cheese adds an element of crispiness to an already tasty dish.

If you thought the recipes above were too much, you ain’t seen nothing yet. If you really like cheese, forget the basic two-cheese recipes above and try out this three-cheese recipe.

Because, really, the only thing better than two cheeses is three cheeses.

Ingredients

¾ Pound Penne

1½ Cups Heavy Cream

5 Ounces Feta

3 Ounces Sharp White Cheddar, Shredded

½ Cup Parmesan, Grated

2 Tablespoons Sour Cream

1 Egg Yolk

2 Garlic Cloves, Minced

3 Tablespoons Onion, Chopped

2 Tablespoons Flour

2 Teaspoons Fresh Thyme, Chopped

Salt and Pepper to Taste

Optional: Paprika

Directions 

Preheat Oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit.

Butter 10-inch Cast-Iron Skillet.

Cook macaroni to al dente and drain.

In a saucepan, mix cream, onion, and garlic and bring to a simmer.

Take ½ a cup of the cream mixture, add flour, and return to the rest of the cream.

Stir on heat until mixture thickens.

Stir in feta, cheddar, and ¼ cup parmesan cheese.

Stir until smooth.

Add sour cream, thyme, and any spices/herbs you want.

Take ½ cup cheese sauce and mix with egg yolk. Add back to the main cheese mix.

Mix pasta and cheese together.

Add mixture to skillet and cover with ¼ cup parmesan.

Bake for 25 minutes.

Optional: Sprinkle fresh thyme on top after it cooks.

Panera’s Copycat Mac & Cheese 

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Panera’s copycat mac and cheese.

I tend to prefer baked macaroni and cheeses, but when I’m in a pinch, I enjoy Panera Breads mac and cheese. It’s a bit creamier than I prefer, but still delicious and perfect for a wintry afternoon.

They posted this recipe up on their website for a little bit several years ago. I think it’s gone now, but have no fear: We have it here!

Ingredients 

16 Ounces Rigati

¼ Cup Butter

¼ Cup Flour

2 ½ Cups Milk

6 Slices White American Cheese

8 Ounces Sharp Vermont Cheddar

½ Tablespoon Dijon Mustard, or to Taste

1 Teaspoon Salt

¼ Teaspoon Hot Sauce of Choice

Directions 

Prepare pasta according to package.

Melt butter in saucepan over low heat.

Whisk in flour and stir for 1 minute.

Whisk in milk, stirring until it thickens.

Remove from heat.

Add the remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.

Stir in pasta and cook until warm.

And there you have it! Four macaroni and cheese recipes that will keep you warm and cheesed up for the rest of the winter!