Make the Best Mac and Cheese Ever With Top Tips From Home Cooks
Pictured above: Chef John's Macaroni and Cheese
Here are some of their top tips taken straight from the reviews, covering everything from making a smooth, lump-free cheese sauce to getting a crisp, golden crust on their baked mac and cheese casseroles. Read on to get their tips so you can make your best mac and cheese, too.
Making the White Sauce
- Add cold milk to hot roux while whisking to avoid lumps. Chef John has a catchphrase for this one: "Hot roux, cold milk, no lumps."
- "Keep a careful eye on the milk when boiling," says g0dluvsugly, "as milk boils fast and burns easily. Burnt milk will show up in the recipes flavor if overcooked."
Related: How to Make Roux
VIDEO: Try this recipe for Grandma's Southern Mac and Cheese made without roux.
Adding the Cheese
- After you've made the roux, stirred in the milk, and have allowed it to simmer and thicken, add the cheese. "Turn off the heat after you add the cheese," says Chef John, "saving a little bit for the top. I think a sharp Cheddar really is the best."
- Sarah Ripley likes to use more than one cheese — such as a mixture of marble Cheddar, colby, Monterey Jack and Parmesan — to give her sauce a little more nuanced flavor.
Preparing the Pasta
- Adjust the amount of pasta to create more or less creamy/cheesy mac-and-cheese. "I followed advice to use less pasta since we wanted it a little creamier," says linda2d.
- "Try using large shell pasta instead of macaroni, which hold more of the sauce in the pasta," says Tara.
- Make sure your mac and cheese mixture is wet and saucy in the pan, otherwise it might get dry when it bakes. Don't be afraid to add a splash of the pasta water to loosen things up.
Related: How to Cook Pasta
Making Mac and Cheese into a Meal
Baked Mac and Cheese
- "The secret to a perfect mac and cheese crust: a half cup of panko breadcrumbs," says Chef John. Mix up the panko with a tablespoon of butter, spread it over the mac and cheese, and put it in a 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) oven until the top caramelizes and browns. "You're going to get the best crust ever."
- "Sprinkle a layer of panko and parsley on the top of the pasta before baking for some added crunch and color," says patchberrie.
How to Make Easy Mac and Cheese for One
When you don't want to make a big batch of mac and cheese to feed a family, follow this Macaroni and Cheese For One recipe, and watch the video to see how it all comes together. You'll also get a tip for baking your mac and cheese to get a crispy golden crust.
Check out our complete collection of Macaroni and Cheese Recipes.