The perfect baked mac and cheese casserole! Rich and cheesy on the inside, crunchy homemade breadcrumbs on the outside and ready in 45 minutes. You’ll want to add this to your list of cozy winter favorites.
Posting this recipe is so overdue I’m almost mad at myself. Baked mac and cheese is my go-to in the depths of winter, and I’ve been making this for as long as I can remember.
Every time I make it and I take the first bite (directly out of the baking dish, of course) I go “UHMYGUHRDIT’SSOGUHD” <– me with a mouthful of hot cheesy pasta
If I had to pick one food to eat for the rest of my life, I would probably have to say mac and cheese – but specifically baked mac and cheese. You may also know it by its aliases “macaroni and cheese” or “mac ‘n cheese”.
You could feed it to me in pretty much any form and I’d be happy as a… person eating mac and cheese.
I know, you’re probably surprised that I would pick a sweet. My other top choice is ice cream, but then I start thinking about all the different kinds of ice cream and I get overwhelmed because there’s too many choices and I get FOMO over choosing the wrong one. What if I choose chocolate and miss out on fruit flavors?
What if I pick something loaded with chocolate covered ice cream cones and someday I decide I don’t like those? What if I’m not allowed to put cherries and whipped cream on top and I get bored without them?
These are serious concerns, people.
What kind of cheese should I use?
ALL THE CHEESE. You can’t use just one kind of cheese – it doesn’t have enough depth. I’m an enormous fan of a combination of cheddar and asiago. Asiago is a serious weakness of mine.
You could use another kind of melting cheese like Gruyere, Provolone or Monterey Jack.
You’re going to end up with a thick, rich cheese sauce that coats the macaroni to perfection. Perfection, I tell you.
Top with breadcrumbs
But for me, that’s not enough. I love having a slight crunch along with it, so homemade breadcrumbs are a must. But we’re not going to chop up pieces of bread, coat them all with butter and then bake them in the oven or brown them on the stovetop. That’s too much work.
Just toast them like you would for breakfast and put them in a food processor with a little melted butter and pulse.
That’s it! It’s the easiest way to make breadcrumbs when you’re putting them on a dish that’s going to be baked. But don’t do that if you’re just looking to make a stash of homemade breadcrumbs. All you’ll have is tiny mushy pieces of bread that will grow mold.
I’m 99% sure you don’t want that.
After you’ve made this recipe, please consider coming back to share your experience with others by leaving a comment below with a star rating!
Baked Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 3 slices whole wheat bread
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
- 2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 12- ounce can evaporated milk
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ cup onion, minced (or 1 Tablespoon onion powder)
- 1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 ½ pounds cheddar cheese, grated or shredded
- 8 ounces asiago cheese, grated or shredded
- 1 egg, room temperature and beaten
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Make macaroni al dente according to package directions. Drain and toss in 1 tablespoon butter. Set aside.
- Melt two tablespoons of butter. Toast the bread and then pulse the butter and bread together in a food processor until you have relatively small crumbs. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 6 tablespoons butter. Add flour and whisk constantly until combined and golden.
- Add the evaporated milk and milk and whisk constantly until combined and relatively smooth. Add onion and garlic and stir for a few minutes until they've softened. Add ground mustard and whisk to combine. Salt and pepper to taste, then bring to a simmer.
- Remove from heat, add cheddar and asiago cheeses and use a heat-resistant stirring spoon to combine until melted and smooth.
- Add beaten egg and stir to combine. Taste test and add salt and pepper as needed.
- Add macaroni to the pan and stir to complete coat and combine.
- Transfer to prepared baking dish and top with breadcrumbs.
- Cover dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and let broil for another 5 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden and toasted.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!