This easy homemade Baked Mac and Cheese recipe is the ultimate classic comfort food. We're talking decadent creamy macaroni with the most incredible cheese sauce. Total soul-food and always a crowd favorite!
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Keyword: baked macaroni and cheese, mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese
Boil the pasta: Boil the macaroni according to the package instructions, then drain it and set aside.
Make a roux: While the pasta cooks, add the butter to a large skillet that's oven proof or a Dutch oven and melt over medium heat. Once the butter has melted whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the mixture is lightly browned. This will remove the raw taste of the flour. Whisk in the salt and pepper.
Add milk to the roux: Add the milk and whisk to remove lumps. You can add it all at once or a bit at a time whisking rigorously until smooth.
Add cheese and Worcestershire sauce: Add the provolone cheese and half of the cheddar cheese and whisk until smooth. Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir well. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Cook sauce: Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce starts to thicken and bubble, should take about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
Add macaroni: Add the cooked macaroni to the skillet and stir it until combined. Top with remaining cheddar cheese and sprinkle smoked paprika over the cheese.
Bake: Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 15 minutes until the top starts to brown and sauce gets bubbly.
Serve: Serve while warm.
Crunchy Topping option: Combine together 1 cup breadcrumbs such as Panko, with 3 tbsp melted butter and ¼ tsp salt. Sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese and bake as instructed. If using this crunchy topping add all 4 cups of cheddar cheese to the sauce.
Don'tover bake: If you over bake you'll end up with mushy macaroni. You want to bake it only until the cheese on top melts and you see the sauce bubbling and it starts to get golden around the edge. Only bake for the recommended time.
Leftovers: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
To freeze, complete everything up until and including step 7, cover it with plastic wrap then aluminum foil. Thaw it and then on the day you want to serve it, bake as instructed.