By Jen Harwell
Cheeses Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Photo by Lissa

If there's one dish I've mastered, it's macaroni and cheese. These basic steps make the perfect macaroni and cheese, every single time. This same technique will work with Baked Homemade Macaroni and Cheese, Chef John's Macaroni and Cheese, and Cheese's Baked Macaroni and Cheese.

Start with a roux.

An easy rule of thumb? Equal parts fat (butter is better) and flour. Melt the butter on medium heat until you hear it sizzle, then add the flour. Cook it on medium for up to 4 minutes to cook the starch out of the flour.

Add your spices to the roux.

Some spices and herbs are oil soluble. The flavors develop better in hot butter than if you add it to the cream sauce later.

Use cold milk.

Hot roux + cold milk = no lumps. Whisk the milk in quickly, and allow it to slowly come up to a simmer.

Start Cooking.

Bring your white sauce it up to a simmer on medium heat, and let it simmer on medium-low for about 8 minutes. While your white sauce is simmering, grate your cheese.

Cheese is good.

Turn off the heat, and slowly add the grated cheese slowly to the sauce. (Make sure and save some for the top!)

Noodles are necessary.

Boil your pasta in salted water. Make sure it's drained well, and combine it with the cheese sauce in the casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top!

You're golden.

Bake the macaroni for 20 minutes. The pasta is already cooked, so you just need to bake a beautiful golden crust on top.

Want more Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipes? Get them here.