My homemade baked mac and cheese recipe is the perfect comfort food recipe to make for your family tonight. A perfect combination of al dente pasta, mozzarella, cheddar, and a unique blend of spices make this simple dish something to talk about. You’ll love how easy it is, and especially that it is kid-friendly.
Want to use different cheeses? Check out my million dollar macaroni and cheese with parmesan front and center instead of traditional cheddar.
Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
I love a good homemade baked mac and cheese. It is such a perfect comfort food recipe! When I want something warm and comforting, but don’t want to make a big meal, this is my go-to recipe. It doesn’t hurt that my whole family loves it! Loaded with all the cheesy goodness you expect, and a hint of heat from the chili flakes, it’s absolutely delicious.
Another fun pasta version is this butternut mac and cheese recipe loaded with healthy vegetables!
Can I Use Other Pasta Shapes for This Recipe?
I love using shells for this recipe for homemade baked mac and cheese because they hold onto the sauce so well. Of course, traditional recipes use elbow macaroni, but you could use any sturdy pasta you prefer. Rigatoni, penne, or even fusilli are all options I keep in the pantry that would work well for this baked recipe.
Does This Mac and Cheese Have to be Baked?
You do not have to bake this recipe if you don’t have time for that extra step. While baking gives the pasta a bit more cook time and allows the cheese to melt and turn golden brown, it is not necessary for a delicious meal. This homemade mac and cheese recipe can be served straight out of the saucepan and still be absolutely delicious.
What Should I Serve This Mac and Cheese With?
I love this recipe as a meal all by itself, but I know not everyone wants just creamy pasta and cheese for dinner. If you have a “meat and potatoes” family, then you might want a protein to go alongside your baked mac and cheese.
In that case, you should check out my recipes for a glazed bbq meatloaf recipe or this recipe for how to roast a chicken in a slow cooker. Other great options include a traditional beef pot roast, fried chicken, or these slow cooker mozzarella meatballs.
For those who want to keep the meal vegetarian, you can add a side of these roasted mushrooms with garlic and thyme or some roasted cauliflower instead. The possibilities for this mac and cheese are truly endless as it fits into almost any meal!
- Shell pasta
- Olive oil
- Garlic cloves
- Red onion
- Chili flakes
How to Make Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese
Begin this recipe by gathering and measuring your ingredients. You can also use this time to go ahead and diced or mince your onions so they are ready when you get to that step.
Next, you will want to preheat your oven to 200ºC or 400ºF and spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
While your oven is preheating, you will cook the pasta according to the package directions. You want the pasta to be al dente with just a little “bite” to it.
While the pasta is cooking, you will begin making your sauce. To do this, you will heat the oil in a large saucepan and saute your onion until tender and translucent. Add in the spices and butter and stir until melted.
Add in the liquids gradually while whisking the sauce so it is smooth and has no lumps. Let this mixture cook on low heat for a few more minutes until it begins to thicken, then add salt and pepper along with cheese. Stir until cheese melts.
Pour your pasta into the pan with the sauce, and mix well before pouring into the sprayed baking dish.
Top with more cheese, and bake as directed.
- 300 gm or 10oz shell pasta
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 red onion, minced
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp chili flakes (red pepper flakes)
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika
- 2/3 cup mozzarella
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- Optional: 1/3-1/2 cup additional cheese to top the pasta before baking
- Begin by gathering your ingredients together. Measure, mince, and dice as needed, then set aside;
- Next, you will want to preheat your oven to 200ºC or 400ºF and spray a baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Cook the pasta to just tender with a bit of "bite", drain, and set aside;
- While you cook the pasta, you can begin preparing your sauce. In a large saucepan, you will heat the oil and saute your onions. You want them tender and translucent. When they reach that point, add in the spices and butter then stir until all melted;
- Slowly stir in the liquid ingredients while whisking the sauce so no lumps form. Allow the mixture to cook on low for a few minutes, to allow it to thicken;
- Mix in salt and pepper, and the cheese withholding some to top the casserole before putting into the oven;
- Stir until the cheese melts, then pour the pasta into the pan with the sauce and mix well before pouring into the prepared baking dish;
- Top with more cheese and bake as directed.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 22828 Total Fat: 166g Saturated Fat: 42g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 79g Cholesterol: 84mg Sodium: 533mg Carbohydrates: 4390g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 256g Sugar: 81g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 838g