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!
Our Favorite Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe
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 mac and cheese just as much as we do!
Ingredients for Baked Mac and Cheese
You only need 6 ingredients to make this incredible macaroni and cheese recipe! Here’s the lineup:
- Macaroni noodles. We like classic elbow noodles, 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 makes the best macaroni and cheese!
- Heavy whipping cream. For ultra decadence!
- Eggs. We use 3 eggs to hold all of the ingredients together.
What’s the best cheese for mac and cheese?
You can definitely use your favorites! I like using a combination of at least two different cheeses for mac and cheese. Cheddar cheese is always included in my mac and cheese recipe 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 mac and cheese that classic orange color.
I would not recommend extra sharp or aged cheddar cheese for mac and 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:
- Monterey jack
- White cheddar
Feel free to use all sharp cheddar, 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.
How to Make Baked Mac and Cheese
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 boiling water about 1 minute less than the package directs 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.
- 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.
A few notes for the best baked mac and cheese!
- I recommend shredding your own cheese from a block of cheese. It will melt much better.
- 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.
If you want to shake things up and take this classic macaroni and cheese to the next level, try dressing up your mac and cheese with some other delicious ingredients!
- Breadcrumbs. Combine about 1 cup of breadcrumbs and 2-3 tablespoons of melted butter in a bowl. Sprinkle over top of the macaroni and cheese 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 of the macaroni and cheese 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.
What to Serve With Baked Mac and Cheese
I personally like to enjoy this baked mac and cheese 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 go with your mac and cheese.
- Easy Meatloaf
- Roasted Broccoli
- Perfect Baked Chicken
- Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
- Pulled Chicken
- Slow Cooker Ham
- Best Deviled Eggs
Storing. Store this mac and cheese 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 the mac and cheese 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 mac and cheese, baking it at 425ºF for just long enough to get a little browning on top, letting it cool completely, then wrapping it and freezing.
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 this easy macaroni and cheese recipe 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 baked mac and cheese 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.