Macaroni and cheese.
Mac and cheese.
Cheesy mac.
Whatever you want to call it, this is comfort food at it’s finest.

And since I’ve been on a food bender since the 3rd week of November, I’m holding strong and continuing to over eat and indulge for another week. No one calls me a quitter. Of course, I’m only partially kidding. I do feel like I’ve been eating a lot of heavier foods that I don’t normally eat on a regular basis but tis the season, right? (Or so I tell my self.)

I seem to make a lot of “make ahead” type dishes for my clients. This casserole is perfect since it’s comforting and super hearty after a big day on the hill. Skiing burns so many calories and my clients aren’t afraid of indulging here and there- a perk to cooking for people on vacation!

There are hundreds of recipes for mac and cheese out there and trust me when I tell you I’ve tried most of them. While I like a pungent cheese or roasted tomatoes or maybe a little bacon in my mac- this is not that recipe. This is recipe for old fashioned, simple macaroni and cheese.
The secret? American cheese.
Don’t be scared- American cheese is simply cheddar or colby that is ground and emulsified with water. Which means when it melts, it wont clump or get grainy. This mac is great as is it can be made up to a day ahead and after baking in the oven for an hour you get a creamy piping hot middle with a top that is golden brown and crunchy.

Beware: this recipe is filling, caloric, heavy and definitely a major comfort food. Consume in small doses! Or eat with no abandon. I won’t tell.

Happy cooking!

Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Breadcrumb Crust

The ultimate in comfort food, this macaroni and cheese is perfect in it's simplicity. Great make ahead meal too!


  • 16 oz box elbow macaroni
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/4 lb american cheese, cubed (20 oz)
  • 1 generous teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • pinch cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


  1. Heat oven to 350°F degrees.
  2. Cook macaroni until very al dente so it doesn't over cook in the oven about 9 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan until sizzling; stir in flour. Cook, stirring often, for 3-5 minutes. Add milk; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens (5 to 7 minutes). Reduce heat to low; stir in cheese. Cook until cheese is melted (3 to 5 minutes).
  4. Add salt, pepper, mustard, and cayenne.
  5. Add cooked macaroni; mix well.
  6. Spoon macaroni into an ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish or the like.
  7. In small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and melted butter. Top the macaroni evenly with the bread crumb mixture.
  8. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through.
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11 Responses to Perfect Macaroni and Cheese

  1. Jess says:


    Now I have a great recipe to try out in my new Le Creuset bakeware I got for Christmas!

  2. Jess says:

    First dinner of 2011 and it’s perfect for kids and adults, easy and oh sooooo yummy! Definitely a keeper.

  3. Jill says:

    Wow – cheesy and yummy for all family members! We even added spinach for a healthier twist.

  4. Gina says:

    I’ve tried this recipe twice and loved it both times! The few other homemade mac&cheese recipes I’ve found online just…didn’t seem quite like the mac&cheese I was expecting. This one did not disappoint.

    Since I’m only baking for one, I halved everything. Didn’t use any cayenne or mustard as I don’t like either one, but otherwise I was totally faithful to your instructions. Well, the first time. On the advice of a friend, the second go around I threw in cubed chunks of cheese here & there so there would be pockets of pure melted awesome every once in a while.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Recipe looks good! I plan to make it this Thanksgiving.
    quick question..does the 5 tablespoons of butter get melted into a saucepan with the flour or does it get mixed with the parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs to top the macaroni?
    I just want to make sure I get it right.

  6. Anita Biagiotti says:

    I could not print out this recipe! It is written with a blue background? and
    is extremely printer unfriendly! I will have to copy it by hand.

    • Kelley says:

      To get rid of the blue background, just hit refresh. It should take care of it. I’m not sure why it happens but does sometimes. I don’t know why you can’t print it. There is a print button in the upper right hand corner.

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