This classic baked mac and cheese is a great side dish that goes with almost any family meal or special occasion dinner. Not only do kids enjoy it, but it’s also a nostalgic food that brings adults back to their childhood.
I recommend reading this entire post before you begin preparing the recipe. But if all you want is the list of ingredients with full directions, simply click on the jump-to-recipe button above or scroll to the very bottom of this post.
Now back to the subject of this delicious mac and cheese casserole.
Although boxed macaroni and cheese is super easy, making it from scratch is as well. And it tastes so much better because you add love to a list of delicious ingredients.
Enjoy it fresh out of the oven and then have leftover mac and cheese the next day. Homemade cheese and macaroni is always a favorite comfort food.
When you want a side dish casserole to serve company. mac and cheese is always a safe option.
Classic Baked Mac and Cheese Ingredients
All of the ingredients listed here are what I use. However, if you like something extra, please feel free to add it. After all, this is your baked homemade mac and cheese, so make it to suit your taste.
Here are the ingredients:
- Uncooked macaroni pasta, either regular or gluten-free
- Melted butter
- Mild flavored cooking oil
- Milk or cream
- Flour, either regular or gluten-free
- Shredded cheese, any kind you like
- Mustard, either yellow or dijon
- Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
For exact measurements of each ingredient and full directions, go to the recipe card at the bottom of the page. You can even print out the card by using the “print” button.
If you like spicy mac and cheese, add either cayenne or hot sauce to the cheese mixture. Or you can add slices of jalapeños, which is what I do on occasion.
Sometimes I use heavy cream or half-and-half to make a super rich and creamy version of this dish. Either way, you’ll love the delicious flavors as they come together to make the most wonderful comfort food.
Mac & cheese is a fun food to experiment with. If you’re adventurous in the kitchen, try adding different seasonings to a small amount of the recipe. You just might hit on something your family loves.
How to Make Classic Baked Mac and Cheese
Get your space ready by gathering all of the ingredients. Then preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 2-quart casserole pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Cook the macaroni in a medium saucepan according to the instructions, until it is chewy but still firm. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Pour the butter and cooking oil over it and stir well.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and milk or cream. I used almond milk, but occasionally, I’ll use either half-and-half or full-fat cream. It’s all good.
Add the flour and mustard. I used gluten-free all-purpose flour, but you can use any kind of flour you have on hand. I also used dijon mustard. Whisk the mixture again until it’s well mixed.
Stir most of the cheese into the mixture, leaving about 1/4 of it to sprinkle over the top later.
Heat the mixture until the cheese begins to melt. Stir while it melts to prevent it from clumping.
Pour the pasta and sauce into the casserole dish.
Make sure it’s evenly distributed so you don’t wind up with sections without the pasta.
Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the mixture. I used a combination of cheddar and mozzarella.
Bake for 30 minutes or until it’s bubbly and the top is golden brown.
You can also make this baked mac and cheese recipe without flour. It doesn’t stand up as well, but it should taste just as good.
How to Make Macaroni and Cheese the Main Dish
If you want your mac and cheese casserole to be the main dish, you can do so as-is. However, sometimes we enjoy adding meat to the casserole.
Macaroni and Cheese with Ham
There are so many ways to add ham to this delicious dish. One way is to simply cut the meat into bite-size pieces and mix it into the cooked pasta.
Another way is to get ham that you can shred and sprinkle it over the top, either under the cheese or mixed in with it. My granddaughters helped me make this delicious mac and cheese with ham.
Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken
I’ve also added leftover or canned chicken to mac and cheese. The chicken adds flavor, texture, and protein, making it a wonderful main dish.
More Delicious Add-Ons
You can add a variety of spices to make this dish even more flavorful. There are so many different types of mac n cheese dishes, all depending on what you add.
Occasionally, I add a pinch of either nutmeg or cinnamon. If you do that, do so sparingly, or the spice will overtake the flavor of the casserole.
Do you like pimento cheese? If so, pimentos are also good to add if you want a little more flavor and a lot more color.
Other add-ons are ham or bacon. Also add crushed chips or crispy fried onions to the top for more texture.
How to Thicken Mac and Cheese
If you like a thicker sauce, you can add more flour. Just be careful to add it in small amounts at a time, or you might wind up with a glumpy mess.
The same goes for cornstarch. Before you add it, make a slurry of cornstarch and water. You’ll have a bunch of cornstarch lumps if you just dump it in.
Trust me on this. I learned the hard way.
One thing I want to recommend is to not overthink this recipe. It’s an easy macaroni and cheese casserole that is absolutely delicious, even if you do something a little different.
How to Reheat Mac and Cheese
The best way to reheat this dish is to put it in a greased pan and cover it. Bake it in a 375 degree F oven for about 15 or 20 minutes, until it reaches the desired temperature.
I’ve also put the amount that I want to reheat in a saucepan, added a tablespoon or two of milk, covered it, and cooked it on medium-low heat for a few minutes.
The total time depends on how much you’re reheating. Just keep checking on it until it reaches your desired temperature.
You can reheat it in the microwave, but be extra careful. Microwaving pasta can cause it to become rubbery and unappetizing.
Favorite Side Dishes
Once you serve this delicious side dish to your family, they’ll request it often. It’s comfort food at its finest, and it goes with so many things.
On the outside, you have a nice, golden crust. Once you dip your spoon into it, you’ll know that this is the creamiest mac and cheese recipe ever.
Other side dishes we enjoy are this southern-style potato salad that my mother used to make and these delicious roasted Brussels sprouts.
When mac and cheese is a side dish (yes, I know this is controversial), it’s delicious with any style of meatloaf. I also enjoy serving it with ham or pork chops.
Check out more delicious foods to serve with mac and cheese. You’re bound to find something you’ll love.
Yummy Pasta Recipes
If you’re a pasta fan like we are, you’ll love some of these delicious pasta dishes. It’s nice that there are quite a few varieties in both regular and gluten-free versions.
This creamy macaroni salad is perfect for get-togethers. When I go to potlucks or picnics, I bring it because so many people like it.
Or if you prefer less creaminess, you might prefer this zesty rotini salad. The tartness will wake up your taste buds in such a delightful way.
This Italian zucchini casserole is another favorite pasta dish around here. I like the fact that it’s a one-dish meal, so I don’t have to worry about extensive cleanup after dinner.
More Delicious Recipes
As my grandmother used to say, I’ve been cookin’ up a storm lately. It’s fun to follow recipes and change them up to suit our taste.
One of our favorite breakfast cereals is this yummy cinnamon raisin granola. I add a few nuts to it, but you don’t have to.
If you like dressing on your salads, try this delicious honey mustard dressing. It’s also good for dipping veggies and chicken.
Speaking of chicken, I make flavorful and crispy chicken strips without flour. If you’ve never tried these, I highly recommend putting them on your list. They are so good!
When you’re in the mood for a delicious dinner, but you don’t have much time to cook or clean, consider making a one-pan meal. This pork sausage and rice skillet dinner is one of our favorites!
Another delicious comfort dish is smothered potatoes and sausage. The flavors come together to form a yummy meal that is likely to become a family favorite!
What to Serve with Classic Baked Mac and Cheese
This delicious baked side dish is good with so many other foods. We eat it with chicken, pork, beef, and seafood.
We especially enjoy it with these crispy air fryer chicken thighs. It provides a delicious balance of creamy and crunchy.
It’s also a good side dish that pairs well with this slow cooker pork tenderloin. Add a salad or green vegetable, and you have a wonderful, nutritious, and colorful meal.
This southern meatloaf from Julia’s Simply Southern is delicious with mac and cheese. Make enough to enjoy leftovers the next day.
We also love it with these grilled pork chops that are crispy, moist, and packed with flavor. It’s such a flavorful, comforting meal!
If you’d like to skip the meat, mac and cheese works as the main dish with a side of this delicious broccoli slaw.
Go here for more delicious foods that go with mac and cheese: More recipes.
Classic Baked Mac and Cheese Casserole
This delicious classic baked mac and cheese casserole is the ultimate comfort food.
- 2 cups of uncooked macaroni pasta (regular or gluten-free)
- 3 tablespoons of butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon of mild flavored cooking oil (avocado, canola, or coconut)
- 1 cup of cream or milk (any kind you prefer)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of flour (regular or gluten-free)
- 4 cups of shredded cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella, or whatever you prefer—mix and match if you like)
- 1 teaspoon of prepared mustard (yellow or dijon)
- Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a medium saucepan, cook the macaroni until it is chewy but still firm. Drain and return to the pot.
- Drizzle the melted butter and cooking oil over it and stir.
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg. Whisk the cream or milk into the egg.
- Add the flour and mustard. Whisk again until well mixed.
- Stir 3 cups of shredded cheese into the mixture and pour it over the pasta. If you want to add salt and pepper, do it now. Stir until mixed.
- Simmer on low heat until the cheese melts, stirring often.
- After the cheese melts, pour the pasta with sauce into the casserole dish.
- Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the pasta mixture.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Pyrex Bakeware 2-Quart Oblong Baking/Serving Dish, Clear, 2.6
IPOW 3-Piece Ceramic Baking Dish, Value Three Pack Thick Porcelain Rectangular Oven to Table Bakeware Cookware Set Casserole Dishes Lasagna Pans for Cooking & Serving, Dishwasher Safe, Aquamarine
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Ceramic Bakeware-2 Quart Medium Rectangular Baker, Red
Nutrition InformationYield 8 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 460Total Fat 37gSaturated Fat 21gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 127mgSodium 480mgCarbohydrates 14gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 18g
The nutrition information is a product of online calculators. I try to provide true and accurate information, but these numbers are estimates.
See this recipe shared at Meal Plan Monday and Weekend Potluck.