Mac and cheese is an easy and delicious treat to make for a large group. Got a potluck to go to? Whip out the mac and cheese. Got a massive family dinner coming up? Go to that mac and cheese. Feel like consuming a large amount of dairy and wheat by yourself? We got you covered.

Having said that, there are a few things you'll want to be aware of when preparing the dish. A bechamel sauce will guarantee that your mac and cheese is perfectly creamy, and knowing the right density for your pasta for when you bake it makes a world of difference for how your mac and cheese will turn out. There are many little tricks you can use for your dish to make it something special.

recipe book and boiling milk making some bechamel sauce

What You'll Need:

  • 5 tablespoons of butter
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 8 oz of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 cups of pecorino romano cheese.
  • 8 oz of macaroni noodles
  • 2 cups of breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons of chili flakes

How To Do It:

  • To start, you'll want to create what's called a "bechamel sauce". A bechamel sauce is a mother sauce used for a variety of cooking dishes and will be an invaluable ally in making the creamiest mac and cheese possible.Our wonderful bechamel sauce recipe is a great start for this. Once you've got this completed, just add in the shredded cheddar and pecorino romano and stir it until it's completely melted, then set the sauce aside.
  • Boil all of your pasta. You want to boil it until it's just a little before al dente (a little bit underdone). Once it's ready, strain it and rinse the pasta with cold water.
  • Put your saucepan with the bechamel sauce back on medium heat and put in your pasta, stirring the pasta into the sauce and cooking for 2-4 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the mac and cheese into a baking dish and put in the oven. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
  • When the timer goes off, take out the dish and cover the surface with the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in chili flakes for some extra kick.
  • Set another timer for 10 minutes and place the dish back in the oven. When the timer goes off, take it out, let it sit for a few minutes, and you're ready to eat!
creamy mac and cheese with rosemary in a dish
Igor Dutina/Shutterstock

Finishing Touches

Breadcrumbs are the simple but effective way to topping off your mac and cheese, but there are more diverse ways to make it even greater. You can add certain toppings to add some crunch, some spice, or some extra flavor without the risk of overdoing it and overpowering the flavor of the mac and cheese. Here are a few awesome toppings that will make your dish stand out amongst the rest:

  • Chopped green onions
  • Ketchup and hot sauce
  • Bacon Bits
  • Chives and black pepper
  • Panko and parmesan
creamy mac and cheese with bacon and green onions

Some Extra Touches For Your Mac And Cheese

Breadcrumbs are a simple but effective way to topping off your mac and cheese, but there are more diverse ways to really make it special. You can add certain toppings to add some crunch, some spice, or some extra flavor. Here are a few toppings that will make your dish stand out amongst the rest:

  • Chopped green onions
  • Ketchup and hot sauce
  • Bacon Bits
  • Chives and black pepper
  • Panko and parmesan

Tips & Tricks

That's about all there is to a simple but delicious mac and cheese, but you can do even more to make it a truly outstanding dish! A few things worth trying are:

  • Add some vegetables! Things like peas, diced carrots, and mushrooms go really well with a creamy mac and cheese, but almost any vegetable is worth trying. Just make sure you finely chop the vegetables and mix them in when you're heating the pasta with the sauce. This will start cooking them and they'll finish cooking in the oven. It will add extra flavor and texture to your dish and then you can even feel better for tossing some healthy vegetables in there!
  • Ham! The best meat to put in a mac and cheese is easily ham. A smoked ham will do wonders for you by giving your mac and cheese an extra level of flavor. You'll want to finely dice the meat so it cooks properly and blends in perfectly with every bite. If you feel like a saltier taste, toss in some chopped Italian pancetta.
  • Try different cheeses! Cheddar as a base cheese for your mac and cheese is the go-to but feel free to try mixing it up.Different cheeses can give you different flavors and texture. Italian cheeses like mozzarella and provolone give your mac and cheese a stringier texture and you can try experimenting with Tex-Mex brands and spicier cheeses like Monterey Jack to give your dish a spicy kick while maintaining the sharp flavor that cheddar cheese can bring.

Mac and cheese is a simple dish to make and it leaves lots of room for experimentation. Once you can make a solid bechamel sauce, there's no limit to what you can do to your dish. Try adding a variety of spices and meats or veggies to give texture and diversity to your mac and cheese. Don't worry about trying anything too 'out there'; it's almost impossible to ruin a good mac and cheese!

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