How To Make Baked Macaroni And Cheese – Take 2


My usual baked mac and cheese is a version with eggs I learned in the Bahamas on my honeymoon. Since the first time I made that, I’ve never gone back and made the traditional style I used to do. Until now.

This is one of the first dishes I learned to do really well. And yes, it’s still just as good as I remember. As good as my other version? I don’t know. I’ll have to do them both someday so I can compare.

(Oh, and see below for an important announcement.)


1 pound elbow macaroni
1¼ pounds extra sharp cheddar
½ pound yellow American
¼ pound Swiss
See note below about amounts
fresh ground black pepper


The amounts of cheese you see above were not some exact recipe. I just asked the guy at the deli counter to give me slices about as thick as your finger: four cheddar, two American, one Swiss. That’s the rough proportions I was going for. The cheddar for the base, American for smooth meltiness, and Swiss for a little bite. (The cheddar was on the heavy side because the block was so much wider than the other cheeses.)

Slice all the cheese into cubes so it will melt faster.

Make a double boiler by bringing a half pan of water to a boil, turning the heat to low, and setting a large stainless bowl over it

Even if you already have a double boiler, do it this way. You’ll be able to mix everything in this one bowl and save on clean-up. (You might recognize this tip from the frozen chocolate truffle pie recipe.)

Add all the cheese and mix occasionally. You can speed up the process by covering the cheese with the lid from a large pot.

While the cheese is melting, cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package. Be sure to leave the noodles somewhat firm or they’ll fall apart when you mix them into the cheese.

Once all the cheese is melted and well incorporated, add a generous amount of fresh ground black pepper. You can leave it out if you’ve used especially sharp cheese, but it really helps most of the time.

Add the cooked and drained macaroni to the cheese and mix gently. You don’t want to mash the pasta.

Pour the mac and cheese mix into a baking dish and level out the top.

Bake at 350° until the top is bubbling and starting to brown on the edges.

It’s unanimous in my house: The browned edges are the best part.

This can be served as a side or as a main dish. This time it was the entrée, with a side of Ree’s steak bites.

And that’s it.

I’m going to be appearing on That’s Life with Robin Swoboda today at 10, making the frozen chocolate truffle pie. I’ll post a link tomorrow to the webcast of my segment. Thanks again to everyone who wrote to them asking to have me on.

Baked Macaroni And Cheese

Baked Macaroni And Cheese


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1¼ pounds extra sharp cheddar
  • ½ pound yellow American
  • ¼ pound Swiss
  • -- All weights approximate --
  • fresh ground black pepper


Cheddar should be the dominant flavor. More American will make the texture more creamy, more Swiss will add a sharper flavor.

Dice all cheeses into small cubes and combine in a double boiler. While the cheese is melting, cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package. Be sure to leave the noodles somewhat firm or they'll fall apart when you mix them into the cheese.

Drain the macaroni, and stir it into the cheese along with a generous helping of pepper. Pour into a baking dish and bake at 350° until the top is bubbling and starting to brown on the edges.


  1. There’s a meal that went over well with the small people in your house, I bet.

    Good luck!

  2. Kristin, it went over pretty well with the big people, too.

  3. That looks so frigging good. I’ve been dying for mac and cheese lately. I love that you served it with a side of steak bites. Heh.

  4. says:

    This looks beautiful! I’m not a huge fan of pasta unless it’s buckwheat or rice, but these pics are enough to make me want to eat my computer screen. YUM. Thanks, too for the link to the steak bites. That will be dinner tonight.

  5. A Knitting Junkie says:

    I have been on a search for the perfect old-fashioned bake mac’n’cheese recipe for years, and I think I just found it! Thank you, I can’t wait to try it.

  6. Bob, every time I ask my daughter what she wants for a side she says steak. So okay, no more fighting it. We had a side of steak.

    Renegade, I’m starting to use whole wheat in my breads, but so far I’m sticking to white for the pasta. It took so long to get used to the exact texture that will roll out best that I’m afraid to change it up. Which, of course, means that’s exactly what I need to do. [sigh]

    Junkie, try the other version I mentioned up there, too. This is more traditional, but the other one is definitely worth a try.

  7. Mike Stockman says:

    This looks very good, and very cheesey (in a good way). But what’s the difference between this recipe and one that starts with a roux to make the cheese sauce? For example, I’ve used this recipe (caution: link contains a few naughty words!) several times and thought it was very good (and my son loved it), but I don’t know how it compares to yours. Any thoughts?

  8. Mike, I can’t be sure without a photo of their finished product, but I would expect that version to be creamier.

  9. Drew, your link in the first paragraph (to the other M&C version) isn't working. FYI.

    This looks yummy; how many servings do you think it has in it? That deli cheesage is a bit expensive, so I wanna know what kind of mileage I'll get out of it.

  10. Thor, thanks for the pointer on the link. Fixed now.

    How many servings? Well, that’s an 8-1/2″ x 11-1/2″ brownie dish, and it was filled nearly to the top. If I were serving it as a side dish, I’d probably slice into six or eight pieces. For kids, you could get even more.

  11. That is one cheesy looking mac and cheese…mmm…

  12. Kevin, I should call it “cheese and macaroni” but somebody probably already has that trademarked.

  13. MissFoxxy says:

    I will have to try your mac and cheese, I always start mine off with a bechemel sauce, with diced sweet onion and garlic then add 1/2 a wedge of Montery Jack cheese (I shredded this)
    1 wedge Gouda diced in 1/2″ cubes
    1 container of Mozerella balls (in water)
    1/2 a wedge of Blue Cheese or some other fun strong cheese like a goat cheese…

    mix all till melted, add to boiled pasta, put ina baking dish, top with italian bread crumbs and parmeasen cheese and bake for 30 minutes or so to get it nice and crusty 😉

  14. MissFoxxy, how about you post that over on the forum. I’d love to get a good collection of user-submitted variations going.

  15. For some reason, the American does melt better than almost any other cheese. It stays together (but not the Kraft singles kind –ptooey!). Looks like a great recipe!

  16. Cheesy, that’s because the American is already a combination of other kinds of cheese. Fact is, “American cheese” isn’t a kind of cheese so much as it’s a method of making it. It was designed to melt smoothly. And even if the Kraft singles worked, who would sit there and peel enough of them to make mac and cheese?

  17. I peeled Kraft singles… it didn't work D:

    Still tasted delicious, though!

  18. Kraft singles are legally cheese according to U.S. standards, but they're pretty far from anything known as cheese in the rest of the world. I'm not being snobbish here, I still eat American cheese all the time. But the texture is so different that it's really not a direct substitute in most dishes.

    I included some American cheese in this recipe because it melts more smoothly than other cheeses. But using all American cheese … yeah, like you found out, that won't work so well.

    • “But using all American cheese … yeah, like you found out, that won’t work so well.”

      I’ll have to disagree. Perhaps all american cheese in the recipe above won’t work, but i’ve had and have made a delicious all american cheese Mac & Cheese and it works and tastes scrumptious.

      • It probably depends a lot on the specific brand of American cheese. Since the term is defined by a manufacturing process rather than the specific ingredients, there can be a lot of variation in what “American cheese” might actually be.

  19. Can I do it without baking it?? And add spaghetti sauce instead??

  20. So can you make spaghetti? Sure, if that’s what you prefer.

  21. I love this recipe. I have yet to figure out how my mom makes her homemade macaroni and cheese, but I wanted to find my own way and I think I just have. I am hoping that my children and husband loves it as much as I will because I’m a pasta fanatic.

  22. If they don’t go for this one, try my other style baked mac and cheese. Man, I haven’t had that in a while. Time for another batch.

  23. Racquel says:

    Thank u!!! Made it 2day 4 Easter Dinner… had no idea how to do this (with the nice brown/firm edges lol) Turned out fab. u rock.

  24. Awesome! I honestly don’t know how people have the guts to try a new recipe for the first time on guests at a holiday meal. Good for you.

  25. Hermiony says:

    I simply oved it all the way…i think it’s mainly because of the fact that i love cheese haha is there any other dishes that you have made that include cheese?? :)

  26. Mrs jessie says:

    I tried it with cracker barrel extra sharp cheddar n velvet creamy cheese came out awesome

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