The Creamiest Mac and Cheese

Cook Time 20 minsPrep Time
Preparation 10 minsCook Time
Total Time 30 mins Total Time
Serves 4     adjust servings

This classic macaroni and cheese is extra creamy and rich with a great cheddar flavor. 


    For the bechamel sauce

    • 1/3 cup unsalted butter
    • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder

    For the macaroni

    • 8 ounces (2 cups) sturdy macaroni noodles *see note
    • 1 1/2 cups sharp aged cheddar cheese *see note
    • 1/2 cup shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
    • Salt and pepper, to taste


    Cook the macaroni noodles in a large pot of salted water according to package directions, draining them a minute before the "al dente" cooking time.


    Heat the milk in the microwave or on the stove top until very hot but not boiling. 


    In a heavy bottomed sauce pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture turns a light brown color, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Slowly start pouring in the milk, whisking constantly. The mixture will look very thick at first and will thin out as you whisk in the remainder of the milk. Return the pot to the heat and cook the mixture, whisking continuously, another 3-5 minutes or until thickened. The sauce should coat the back of the spoon. If you put a little bit on a spoon and run your finger through it, the line from your finger should remain. Stir in the salt and ground mustard. 


    Return the remaining sauce to the stove. Over low heat, add the cheeses, stirring to melt. If you're unable to melt in all the cheese, add a bit more milk, a Tablespoon at a time, until the cheese is melted completely. Stir the sauce into the pasta until your desired level of creaminess is reached. I find I use all of the sauce sometimes and sometimes I have a little leftover. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed or simply serve hot with a sprinkle of parsley. 


    Recipe Notes

    I recommend using large elbows, cavatappi, wagon wheels, or gemelli pasta for this recipe. For the cheddar cheese, look for a good quality aged cheddar, preferably aged over 9 months. I recommend Tillamook. 


    For a milder, classic flavor, substitute 1/2 cup of the cheddar for 1/2 cup of yellow American cheese. 

    For a bit of a kick, try subbing the Pecorino Romano for hatch chile or pepper jack cheese. 

    You can also try Gruyere in place of the Pecorino Romano.

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