This baked macaroni and cheese is a comforting dinner or side dish. When baked, a chewy cheesy crust develops and the breadcrumb topping gets nice and crispy. The topping is a nice contrast to the creamy macaroni and cheese.
I’ve been trying a lot of macaroni and cheese recipes lately, but they’ve been stovetop mac and cheese recipes so I’ve been wanting to move on to baked macaroni and cheese.
I’ve been researching a lot of recipes and decided to try a recipe from Mama Sparkles which actually starts on the stovetop but then is finished in the oven, which I haven’t tried yet. The recipe is actually from her sister and I’m so glad I tried it because I loved it. Of course, I put my own little spin on it, too.
I mostly followed the recipe, except that I also added some breadcrumbs before baking to give it a little crust on top. I enjoyed this version as much as I enjoyed the creamy stovetop version. The baked cheese on top creates a slightly chewy crust and then you go underneath and find creamy pasta.
Tips for Making this Recipe
- When you boil the pasta, cook it until it’s al dente, which means it’s cooked through but still with a bit of a firm bite. Since the pasta will continue to cook in the oven, you don’t want it overcooked otherwise it will be too mushy,
- I used cavatappi pasta for this recipe, which is corkscrew-shaped pasta. You can also use elbow macaroni.
- You actually make the sauce on the stove first before adding the pasta. Then you pour it all into a baking dish so it can go in the oven.
- You don’t need to bake it for very long. Basically, you’re just sticking it under the broiler until a crust forms on top. I really enjoyed this part – the crust is chewy and a nice contrast to the creamy macaroni and cheese inside.
- I did add some breadcrumbs on top before I put it in the oven. I thought the crispy breadcrumbs would add a nice texture and I really like how it came out.
I’m so happy to have discovered this recipe and will definitely make it again, but I’ll keep exploring other recipes, too. I’ve learned there are many ways to make macaroni and cheese and there are so many delicious recipes to try. Here are more recipes you might like, too!
- Garlic Parmesan Macaroni and Cheese is one of the most popular recipes on my site.
- If you’re on keto you can have mac and cheese, too! You have to check out my Keto Macaroni and Cheese that is low carb, but you’d never guess.
- If you’re craving mac and cheese but don’t want to make a big batch you can make a single serving macaroni and cheese in the microwave to satisfy the craving.
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 cups cavatappi pasta or elbow macaroni
- 2-1/2 cups 2% milk
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 cups grated light cheddar cheese
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs my addition
- Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Meanwhile, position rack on top shelf in oven and preheat broiler to high. In a medium-size bowl, whisk milk with Dijon, salt and cayenne. Melt butter in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Mixture will be dry and very lumpy. Gradually add milk mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly between additions to beat out any lumps. Stir often until mixture comes to a boil, 3 to 6 minutes. Remove pan from heat and gradually stir in 1-1/2 cups cheese. Continue stirring until melted.
- When macaroni is cooked, drain well. Do not rinse. Stir into cheese sauce. Mixture will be very creamy and saucy.
- Pour into an 8-inch baking dish. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and then sprinkle breadcrumbs. Broil on top rack of preheated oven until cheese melts, about 5 minutes.
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.