There is nothing more perfect (in my 5 year old’s opinion) than macaroni and cheese. He would eat it with everything meal — including breakfast if I let him! It goes with everything — chicken, beef, fish, pancakes (he actually tried to convince me of that once!).
While my son loves mac and cheese from a box, he loves my homemade version even more. Making homemade mac & cheese is not as daunting of a task as you might think. It’s really quite simple. And, this recipe tastes sooo much better than the stuff from a box. Trust me on this. Years ago I found a recipe in the Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook that seemed to work perfectly for me. I’ve since adapted the recipe a bit to suit our tastes, and now it’s just right!
Compliments of It’s a Keeper
1/2 cup butter, divided
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 oz Velveeta (process cheese), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound pasta, cooked and drained
1 1/2 cups Panko
In a large pot, melt 1/4 cup of butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir for one minute until it starts to gets pasty. Whisk in the milk. Continue to cook over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, until the milk begins to thicken — about 5 minutes. Add cheese, salt and pepper and stir until cheese is melted. Add pasta and stir to combine. Pour macaroni and cheese into a lightly greased 9×13 pan. Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup of butter and combine with Panko. Stir until combined and spread on top of the prepared macaroni and cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly. Move pan to the oven’s top rack and broil until the Panko turns light brown.
Is It a Keeper?
Um, I think the title of this post says it all. This is our favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. I always use the whole grain pasta, either shells or elbows. We actually prefer the whole grain variety over regular pasta. And, it’s a little more healthier than traditional pasta.
You can also play around with the cheeses. You can snazz it up with fontina or swiss. You can add a kick with Monterey Jack. Or, you can keep it simple with various types of cheddar. Just keep your cheese to about 2 cups total. And, the trick to keeping the cheese really creamy and gooey, not grainy, is to make the cheese sauce over medium-low heat. Resist the temptation to turn up the heat to move things along. Just let the sauce hang out and thicken on its own. You won’t be sorry.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can add veggies or mushrooms. And, if you don’t have Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) you can use crushed Saltines.
Let’s face it, I just don’t have time to get it all together after a full day at work. So here’s the great part…you can make this ahead of time and then bake it off when you want it! I usually assemble mine on Sunday and then bake it during the week. This week, we having it with meatloaf and parmesan roasted green beans! Yum! I can’t wait for Tuesday!
What are your favorite mac and cheese add ins?
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