How To Make A Roux
First time making a roux? No problem! Check out this super simple tutorial:
Congrats, youve made your roux! This will give your mac the thick and creamy texture youre looking for.
Baked Mac And Cheese Without Flour
Although this is a stovetop recipe, you can also make it baked mac and cheese. Here is how to make baked mac and cheese without flour:
To Bake Or Not To Bake:
You dont have to bake the mac and cheese in this recipe. Everything gets fully cooked and is essentially ready to eat after the cheese and noodles are added. However, I love the extra gooeyness that comes when the cheese is baked and I think baking it adds a level of sophistication you just dont get without.
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Special Equipment Used In This Recipe
- Box Grater remember, the best mac starts with freshly shredded cheese!
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Post has been updated in September 2019 with new photos and additional information.
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Can You Make Mac And Cheese Without Flour
Yes, you can cook insanely delicious mac and cheese without flour. Instead of making a roux, use more cheese to thicken the sauce to a luscious and creamy consistency.
This reduces the ingredient count, and there is zero chance of a floury aftertaste in your mac and cheese. Just ooey-gooey deliciousness all around!
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What Is A Roux
This classic stovetop mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux, which is a cooked mixture of flour and fat . The roux thickens the sauce and helps the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce instead of clumping up as it melts. While there are ways to make a cheese sauce without a roux, taking this extra step definitely creates the creamiest, dreamiest cheese sauce for your mac and cheese.
Variations On This Easy Cheese Sauce:
- Creamy Enchilada Sauce: Use Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese. Add 1 tablespoon of chili powder for an irresistible enchilada sauce.
- Nacho Cheese Sauce: Use Cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Pepper Jack cheese. Add 1/2 cup of salsa for an easy nacho cheese sauce perfect for chip dip!
- For Macaroni and Cheese: Double all ingredient amounts! I like cheddar for macaroni and cheese, but use whatever youd like!
- To make dip for Chicken Cordon Bleu Skewers: Use Swiss cheese and add 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard. Its irresistible!
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Do You Need To Bake Mac And Cheese
Creamy mac and cheese recipes that start with a roux-based sauce , do not need to be baked before serving. A creamy stovetop mac and cheese recipe is designed to go straight from the pot to the plate — no oven necessary. You could also serve this mac and cheese without baking — it will just be really saucy. By contrast, Southern-style mac and cheese recipes must be baked in order to cook the egg and help the dish set.
Making Mac And Cheese Ahead Of Time
- Make as directed , transfer to baking dish and cool completely. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate 1-2 days ahead.
- Before baking, let dish sit on counter for 30 minutes.
- Bake at recipe temperature for 25-35 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
As a caveat, this recipe, as with most mac and cheese recipes, loses some of its creaminess when made ahead. This dish has been tested when made right away, which yields the best results.
I would increase the amount of sauce slightly if you need to make this recipe ahead of time.
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Deep Dish Casserole Dish
You should prepare your deep dish casserole dish by smothering somebutter all over its base and sides. This is important because it will keep the pasta from sticking to the base and the sides while it cooks inside the oven.
If you do not have a deep dish casserole dish that can fit all of the ingredients, you could always set aside the excess ingredients and repeat the steps once you are done with the first batch.
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Find Tons Of Other Dreamy Cheesy Meals In Ree’s Bestselling Cookbooks
And stir together until its all melted. Go ahead and turn off the heat.
Now its time for seasoning! Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt If youre sensitive to salt, start really low and work your way upand remember that the cheese imparts quite a bit of salt to the mix.
BUTand this is importantbe careful not to UNDERSALT the mac & cheese. It really needs ample salt to put the flavor over the top.
*I also use paprika, cayenne pepper, even ground thyme every now and then. Play with different ground spices and see what you like best.
And finally, add plenty of black pepper, of the Black Dust variety. Honestly, I love freshly ground pepperbut not in homemade Mac & Cheese. For me, it has to be the powdery stuff.
Now THATs what Im talkin about.
And guess what? You can just steam some fresh broccoli and spoon some of this over the top. Kids from all over the land will show up at your doorstep.
Did you know a single serving of broccoli is positively loaded with Vitamin C?
Now just dump in the drained, not-fully-cooked macaroni!
And stir the mixture together.
I use a little less than the full amount of cooked macaroni, because I love it extra creamy and coated. Just add it according to how you like it.
Now, you can either dish it up as it is right now, which makes for an ultra-creamy love fest
OR you can pour the macaroni into a buttered baking dish. This is a 2-quart dish, but a 9 x 13 pan would work just fine.
Kinda like this.
Different Ways Of Using A Cheese Sauce
Cheese sauce sets the base for so many unique dishes. There are so many ways you can use this sauce. Here are a few to note:
- Homemade mac n cheese: We love a creamy and cheesy sauce in our mac and cheese. It makes a simple mac and cheese into a super tasteful and comforting dish. Just mix the cooked pasta with the cheese sauce, and thats it.
- Casserole: Another dish that you can improve by using cheese sauce is a casserole. No matter which casserole recipe you are following, adding some cheese sauce to it will make it extra delicious.
- Dipping sauce: Cheese sauce is just perfect when you use it as a dipping sauce or a condiment with your main course. Its cheesiness and creaminess go well with crackers, tortilla chips, roasted vegetables, baked potatoes, french fries, and even steaks.
- Sandwiches: Most people love sandwiches and burgers loaded with cheesy goodness, and a cheese sauce serves the purpose unlike anything else. You can also enjoy cheese sauce on your sloppy joes or even a pizza!
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Choosing Wood For Smoked Macaroni And Cheese
When smoking macaroni and cheese, you should prefer using light woods such as maple wood, pecan wood, and cherry wood. These woods introduce a hint of fruity and flavorful smokiness to the dish without being overpowering. Woods like Hickory and Mesquite are not recommended for baking mac and cheese. You can use signature mixes from various brands if you want the mix of both sweetness and spiciness in your pasta.
The Best Cheeses For Baked Mac And Cheese
As I mentioned above, the secret to creamy baked mac and cheese is Velveeta cheese! This American cheese just melts smoother than other cheeses and gives the sauce that creamy mouthfeel that we’re all looking for. I’ve found that an equal ratio of cheddar cheese and Velveeta cheese yields the best of both worlds — a smooth, creamy mac and cheese with plenty of rich, sharp cheddar flavor.
If you like a combination of other cheeses, you can feel free to replace some of the cheddar with other good melting cheeses. Try Gruyere, Pepper Jack or Monterey Jack, gouda, smoked gouda, Swiss, or mozzarella. The options are endless, so pick your favorites!
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The Best Stovetop Mac And Cheese Recipe
I should probably say right now that this recipe is the real deal. Because on the special occasions when I indulge in creamy mac and cheese, Im not interested in healthy shortcuts. Gimme all the carbs + all the cheese, please. ?
Lets talk about this delicious recipe thats ready to go in about 20 minutes from start to finish and only requires one pot.
For most of my homemade mac and cheese making life, Ive always done the two-pot method one for cooking the pasta, and one for making the cheesy sauce which totally works! But dishes have always been the bane of my existence. AND when I started posting on Instagram about my macaroni and cheese recipe experimenting this month, I heard from many of you who recommended the one-pot method. Because apparently cooking the pasta in the sauce itself releases all of those starches into the saucewhich makes it extra creamyand also helps bind the sauce to the pasta even better. Also, the entire process only takes about 15 minutes to cook. And also, no need to wash the extra pan.
Sounded like a win-win-winwinwin to me.
Sure enough, after testing a few batches, Im now a total convert to the one-pot camp. Works like a cheesy charm! ?
Also, lets talk about your cheese options here.
Also, if you want an even creamier mac and cheese, youre welcome to use half cheddar, and half gouda or fontina . But 99% of the time, I keep things simple with straight cheddar and never regret it.
The skys basically the limit here.
Easy Baked Mac And Cheese Ingredients
This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a pan of our favorite baked mac and cheese. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.
- Elbow macaroni pasta: the “mac” that gives the dish its name! You can use other short pasta shapes such as rotini, penne, or medium shells, if you like.
- Butter: the base of the roux that thickens the bechamel sauce.
- All-purpose flour: thickens the sauce.
- Milk and half-and-half: to make the sauce creamy and rich. Do not substitute with skim milk or other lower-fat alternatives, since the flavor and texture of the sauce will not be as good.
- Worcestershire sauce: a touch of umami flavor that gives the dish depth.
- Velveeta cheese: for a smooth, creamy mouthfeel in the cheese sauce.
- Sharp cheddar cheese: gives the dish its sharp, rich, cheesy flavor. Use extra sharp cheddar or other types of flavorful cheese, if you like.
- Salt, dry mustard, black pepper, and nutmeg: for extra flavor.
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How To Make A Baked Mac And Cheese Recipe Easy
This homemade mac and cheese is an ideal side dish that you can prep ahead for special holidays like Thanksgiving or for large family suppers. Assemble it in advance and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days! You can also serve the mac and cheese as a main course for dinner. Throw in some shredded chicken or diced ham, add veggies like steamed broccoli or frozen peas, and you’ve got a delicious and satisfying meal in one pan. The simple, old-fashioned combination of pasta and cheese is always crowd-pleasing!
How To Make A Cheese Sauce
Making cheese sauce is super easy and quick. Here is what you have to do:
Step 1: First of all, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Step 2: Add all-purpose flour to the melted butter. You have to whisk constantly until you get a crumble or paste-like consistency. Make sure you adjust the heat to prevent the mixture from burning.
Step 3: Now, take the saucepan off the heat and slowly pour in the milk. You have to whisk to prevent lumps from forming constantly. Once everything is well combined, place the saucepan back on the heat and let it simmer until the mixture starts to thicken up.
Step 4: Now turn off the heat and add shredded cheese and your choice seasonings. Mix well until everything unifies, and you get a delicious, creamy, and cheesy sauce.
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Applewood Sausage Mac And Cheese
2 cups of macaroni, 1 cup of chopped sausages, 14 ounces of smoked applewood and cheddar smoke mix, 1 medium-sized chopped onion, 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 3 cups milk, 4 tablespoons of butter, 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 1 cup of shredded provolone cheese, 1 cup of panko bread crumbs.
- Boil the macaroni in a seasoned hot pot of boiling water until it is semi-cooked. Drain the water and set it aside.
- Stir fry the sausages and the onion in a large saucepan for about 5-minutes or until the onions turn golden brown. Remove from the pot and set aside. Drain the excess oil.
- In the same saucepan, add butter, flour, milk, shredded cheddar cheese, and provolone cheese. Cook for around 3 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Sprinkle some salt and pepper. Stir constantly to avoid making lumps.
- Turn off the flame and evenly mix the macaroni and the tossed sausages into the cheese sauce.
- Preheat the smoker to about 225 degrees Fahrenheit. Use only smoked applewood for this recipe.
- Pour the cooked mac and cheese onto a baking dish and garnish with some panko-butter mix on top of the pasta.
- Place the pasta in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until the top turns golden brown. Rest for 5 minutes before serving.
How To Make Homemade Roux For A Creamy Sauce
To make a simple and flavorful roux, start by melting a stick of butter in a medium saucepan.
Whisk in the salt and pepper. A very important step is to continue stirring for a good 2-3 minutes until roux turns a bit darker in color. It becomes richer and even more fabulous.
Slowly whisk in the milk until mixture is thick and creamy. This step will take a couple minutes over medium heat.
Stir in cheese until creamy and cheese is melted through. I prefer a finely shredded mild cheddar. It melts quickly and has a perfect cheddar flavor.
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How To Make Easy Cheese Sauce:
Its so simple! This is how to make it on the stovetop, which is my recommended method, but you can scroll down to the recipe card for more detailed directions as well as microwave directions. In the microwave, it likes to boil over, so use a big bowl and keep an eye on it!