Baked Mac and Cheese
This oven baked mac and cheese recipe is a huge hit with my kids. I have to admit, it is the BEST mac and cheese I’ve ever tasted! Super easy to make too! Macaroni noodles are baked with butter, cheddar cheese, muenster cheese, and heavy whipping cream to create the ultimate comforting dish. Perfect for a simple, cozy weeknight dinner, yet elevated enough for the holidays!
Okay I was skeptical about this recipe but I just whipped it up and I don’t regret it!!! This is hands down the best recipe ever! My kids love it and I can’t wait to show it to their Dad! Thank you!!!— Cece
There are few things in life better than a good mac and cheese recipe! This one is not only perfectly cheesy and creamy, but it also passed the “picky kid” test. After one bite, Madelyn declared, “This is SO good!” I have to agree – this is decadent, deeply flavorful & delicious.
Perfect for any occasion, whether it be after a hectic day at work, or a festive dinner like Easter, Christmas or Thanksgiving! With only 6 ingredients, you guys will love this baked macaroni and cheese just as much as we do!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Delicious! It’s cheesy, creamy, and so tasty. The ultimate comfort food and quite possibly the best homemade mac & cheese!
- Versatile. This side pairs perfectly with so many main entrees! Serve alongside anything from chicken and steak to pork chops. And, of course, be sure this has a place on the table during the holidays. It goes great alongside this slow cooker ham!
- Family-friendly. This easy and tasty cheesy pasta recipe will be loved by everyone. Kids and adults can’t get enough!
- Easy to make. This is a simple and easy recipe that will be on the dinner table in 40 minutes. Other than grating the cheese, it’s pretty effortless.
You only need 6 ingredients to make this incredible macaroni and cheese recipe! Here’s the lineup:
- Macaroni noodles. We like classic elbow macaroni, but feel free to use any favorite short pasta. Gluten-free noodles work too!
- Butter. A bit of butter is melted in the bottom of the dish and then also layered with noodles and cheese.
- Cheddar cheese. A must when making mac and cheese!
- Muenster cheese. The combination of cheddar and muenster gives this dish the best flavor!
- Heavy whipping cream. For ultra decadence!
- Eggs. We use 3 eggs to hold all of the ingredients together.
How to make this recipe
This is one of the easiest baked macaroni and cheese recipes I’ve seen! Here’s a rundown of the steps, but you’ll find the full recipe at the bottom of the post.
- Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water about 1 minute less than the package instructions for al dente. After cooking, drain.
- Melt butter in the bottom of a large casserole dish in the preheating oven.
- Layer half of the cooked macaroni over the butter in the dish.
- Layer with half of the cheddar and muenster and then add a few pats of butter on top. Add the remaining noodles, cheese, and a few more pats of butter.
- Whisk the eggs in the whipping cream and pour it over the entire casserole.
- Bake at 375ºF for about 20-25 minutes. When fully cooked, it should be thick and not runny. Mine is typically cooked in 20 minutes.
- Serve. Taste and add salt & pepper as needed. You can even add a little hot sauce to cut the richness.
Tips for success
A few notes for the best baked mac & cheese!
- We do not recommend pre-shredded cheese, but instead shredding your own cheese from a block of cheese. It will melt much better and have more flavor.
- Heavy whipping cream will make for the richest, creamiest sauce. However, you can make this recipe with whole milk with good results.
- For best results, serve shortly after baking. The dish is nice and creamy straight from the oven, but as it sits and cools the fats will naturally harden and become less smooth.
Frequently asked questions
We like using a combination of at least two different cheeses for mac and cheese. Cheddar cheese is always included and then I add in another more mild cheese, like muenster. Medium or sharp cheddar is a popular choice because it has a great flavor, melts well and gives the dish that classic orange color. I would not recommend extra sharp or aged cheddar cheese because they will not melt as well as younger cheeses. Get creative and try using different cheese varieties that melt well. Here’s a list of cheeses that would work great: Colby, Monterey jack, pepper jack, Gruyere, Gouda, Havarti, Mozzarella, Fontina, American, White cheddar, Provolone
Feel free to use all sharp cheddar cheese, if you’d like. Also, remember some of the cheeses listed are very mild, so you’ll want to make sure and combine it with a more bold flavored cheese.
This cheesy noodle side dish is relatively high in calories, fat and sodium. We recommend enjoying macaroni and cheese from time to time and in moderation or as an occasional treat as part of a healthy diet.
The best non-dairy milk substitutes for mac and cheese include: plain oat milk, soy milk, non-dairy cream or whipping cream, cashew milk, goat milk and coconut milk. When using a dairy-free milk, the results may not be as rich and creamy, but it will still be delicious.
When serving during the holiday or for any festive gathering, we like to keep cooked macaroni and cheese warm in a crockpot. Spray the crockpot insert with nonstick cooking spray to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom.
If you want to shake things up and take this classic macaroni and cheese to the next level, try dressing up your dish with some other delicious ingredients!
- Breadcrumbs. Combine about 1 cup of bread crumbs and 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter in a bowl. Sprinkle over top of the pasta just before baking.
- Ritz crackers. Combine 1 cup of crushed Ritz crackers with 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter in a bowl. Sprinkle over top just before baking.
- Bacon bits. Cook about 4-5 slices of bacon. Cut the cooked bacon into small bits and stir into the macaroni noodles before layering the noodles into the baking dish.
I personally like to enjoy this as a side dish, but my kids often eat it as a main course! For the holidays, we serve it with a feast: dressing, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy, turkey and pie! Here are some entree and side dish suggestions to pair with this:
- Storing. Store this in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days (if it lasts that long!).
- Reheating. You can reheat it using the microwave to save time, but I would recommend heating it in the oven for about 20 minutes at 375ºF. This will help it get that creamy cheesiness back without drying out. If reheating in the microwave, stir in a little bit of milk or cream and microwave partially covered with a paper towel. Stir often as it reheats.
- Freezing. You can freeze baked mac and cheese, but recipes that contain a lot of dairy typically don’t do real well in the freezer. If you really want to freeze it, I recommend assembling the dish, baking it at 425ºF for just long enough to get a little browning on top, letting it cool completely, then wrapping it and freezing for up to about 2 months or so.
As you plan your holiday menu, this creamy mac and cheese is a must-have on the table! Enjoy for the holidays, but also work it into weekday dinners. This one is guaranteed to be a family favorite!
More favorite side dishes
This macaroni and cheese recipe has quickly become one of our favorites! Here are some of our other family-favorite side dish recipes that you’re sure to love:
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.
Baked Mac and Cheese
- 1 (16 oz.) package macaroni noodles
- 1/4 cup butter, divided
- 1 pound medium cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 pound muenster cheese, grated
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 3 eggs
- salt to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once water is boiling, add dry noodles and cook about 1 minute less than the package directs for al dente. After cooking, drain.
- Preheat oven to 375ºF and melt about 2 tablespoons butter in the bottom of a large casserole dish (about 3 quarts and 9×13″) in the preheating oven.
- Once butter is melted, remove casserole dish from oven and cover the bottom with one layer of macaroni (half of the macaroni). Then layer with half of the cheddar and muenster and then add a few pats of butter on top. Add the remaining noodles, cheese, and a few more pats of butter. Mix the eggs in the whipping cream and pour it over the entire casserole.
- Bake at 375ºF for about 20-25 minutes. When fully cooked, it should be thick and not runny. Mine is typically cooked in 20 minutes. Best when served hot straight out of the oven. Taste and add salt as preferred.