Baked Mac and Cheese

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Baked Mac and Cheese is the ultimate side dish for any meal made with three cheeses, this classic is perfect for the holidays and for summer cookouts!

We love a good summer side dish. This recipe pairs perfectly with our BBQ Pulled Chicken and Easy Cole Slaw for your best summer cookout ever.

Baked Mac and Cheese Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

We LOVE a good macaroni and cheese. This baked version is our favorite though hands down.

But really, it all comes back to this one. It’s easy, cheesy, creamy, and perfect for potlucks or bbqs or the holidays. This recipe can also be adapted so many ways you’ll want to make it every week.

How long do you bake mac and cheese:

Macaroni and Cheese is typically baked for 30 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees when using an egg to help set the milk and cheese mixture. If you aren’t using an egg, additional cook time will be needed, from 45 minutes to up to an hour.

Easy Baked Mac and Cheese

Frequently Asked Questions about Baked Mac and Cheese:

  • Do you Cover Baked Mac and Cheese with Foil? No, you don’t cover it with foil as it will steam the insides instead of giving it a baked texture.
  • What toppings can you put on baked mac and cheese? We love a good buttered panko or buttered ritz topping. Melt the butter in your skillet then toast the panko/ritz crackers in the melted butter until slightly toasted.
  • Can you skip adding the egg? Yes, if you would like you can certainly skip the egg, just either cook the milk mixture for an additional 5 minutes or bake the macaroni and cheese for an additional 15-20 minutes.
  • What are the best cheeses for Mac and Cheese? Sharp cheddar, jack cheese, pepper jack cheese, mozzarella and gouda are all top favorites. Adding a harder cheese like Parmesan as anything other than a topping will result in a grainier mac and cheese filling. Of course any processed cheeses like Velveeta or American cheese are popular options as well to create a more creamy filling.
  • Can you skip the powdered mustard? Can you substitute regular mustard? I wouldn’t do either. Skipping the powdered mustard removes a dimension of flavor that you know but may not be able to single out and adding prepared mustard would be too strong of a flavor.
  • Can you eat this Baked Mac and Cheese without baking it? If you want to enjoy this without baking, leave the egg out. I’d still at least cover it with the remaining cheddar cheese and broil it under the broiler for a couple of minutes to melt the cheddar. Also be prepared to cook the milk mixture an additional 6-8 minutes to account for the lack of baking.
  • Can I use pre-shredded cheese? I highly recommend against it for anything but the topping. Pre-shredded cheese has added ingredients in it which help to prevent the cheese from naturally sticking together. This also creates a less smooth and creamy texture to your macaroni and cheese.
  • Why do you rinse the pasta? I rinse the pasta in this recipe to remove the starchy coating that is in pasta water. We don’t need any help in thickening our cheese mixture. I also let the pasta cool because using hot pasta is like adding a sponge to your mixture. Freshly cooked pasta finished in sauce is generally so delicious because hot pasta likes to soak up any liquids it can.
  • Can you make Macaroni and Cheese in the slow cooker? Yes, yes  you can: Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese.
  • Can you make Mac and Cheese on the stovetop? Yes, yes you can: Super Creamy Macaroni and Cheese.
  • Does this Mac and Cheese taste like Boston Market’s? No, it doesn’t, but this one does! Boston Market Mac and Cheese (Copycat)

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Additional Flavor Mix-In Ideas for Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe:

  • Bacon: This wouldn’t be my site if I didn’t immediately offer bacon as an option.
  • Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese: I use either fresh (for more of a punch) or pickled jalapeños, bacon, and 8 ounces cream cheese cut into larger cubes and dotted on top.
  • Tex Mex Mac and Cheese: Swap the mozzarella for pepper jack. Add in a can of diced chilis (4 ounces) and roasted corn. Also add 1/2 teaspoon more cayenne powder, 2 teaspoons cumin and 2 teaspoons chili powder.
  • Italian Mac and Cheese: Add in 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil and minced garlic (3 cloves) to the butter mixture in the beginning. Swap the sharp cheddar for white cheddar cheese and top with shredded Parmesan cheese in addition to the white cheddar cheese.

Southern Baked Mac and Cheese


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Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

  • Yield: 12 Servings
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Course: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: American
Baked Mac and Cheese is the ultimate side dish for any meal made with three cheeses, this classic is perfect for the holidays and for summer cookouts!


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons powdered mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 6 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 ounces Monterey jack cheese
  • 4 ounces mozzarella
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar divided


Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Shred the cheeses, keeping 2 cups of the cheddar off to the side for the topping.*
  3. Cook the pasta two minutes shy of the instructions, rinse and let cool. (We don't want the extra starch of the water making the mac and cheese too thick)
  4. Add the butter to a large stockpot and melt on medium-low heat.
  5. Add the flour, mustard, cayenne and paprika and whisk together until fully combined, cook for an additional 15 seconds.
  6. Add the milk slowly while whisking to keep the mixture well combined.
  7. Add in the salt and pepper and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

  8. Turn off the heat.
  9. Remove 1 cup of the milk  mixture and let cool for a 3-5 minutes in the refrigerator in a larger glass measuring cup or bowl.

  10. Add the egg to the cooled milk and whisk it well until fully combined.
  11. Turn the heat on the pot back on to medium-low.
  12. Slowly pour the egg and milk mixture into the rest of the milk while whisking very well.**
  13. Add in the Monterey jack, mozzarella and 1 cup of the sharp cheddar and whisk until combined.
  14. Add the cooled macaroni back into the pot and toss with the cheese sauce.
  15. Pour into a 9x13 baking dish and top with the remaining 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese.
  16. Bake for 30 minutes, uncovered.

Recipe Notes

* I use blocks of cheese for my mac and cheese because shredded cheese is coated in a powder that prevents the cheese from sticking to each other. This also results in cheese that may not melt as fully and result in as creamy of a texture as we'd like.

** Removing the cup of milk, cooling, then adding in the egg allows for us to temper the egg which prevents it from immediately scrambling in the hot milk mixture.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 12 Servings, Amount per serving: 485 calories, Serving Size: 1 , Calories: 485g

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Baked Mac and Cheese
Easy Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

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  1. I’ve tried similar recipes and the cheese always separates and becomes oily and gritty regardless of I take the chz off the heat or not. Any suggestions?

    1. The trick to not having that happen is shredding your own cheese. Packaged shredded cheese has ingredients added which doesn’t really allow it to stick and becomes gritty instead of smooth. Hope this helps!

    1. Is this a serious comment? Aside from the headers in each section, there is literally one word that’s in all caps. Even if the whole thing was written in caps, how does that impact the recipes? This genuinely confuses me.

      Sabrina, you can type however you want, I will still make your recipes, because they are DELICIOUS! ( <– see what I did there? :-P)

  2. Yum! I need to try this recipe soon! Thank you for providing the extra information for the recipe. I often wonder about covering/not covering, omissions etc with most recipes and you answered them all for me already 🙂 Thank you!

  3. This is a really good recipe, especially for those that love cheesy goodness. I added a pinch more mustard and cayenne pepper. The flavor and consistency is perfect, although a little rich but to be expected using three cheeses.

    Rating: 5
  4. I tried this and ended up with a crazy amount of the sauce. I ended up leaving most out. What did I do wrong? I put the 6 cups of milk and it was just way too much!

    1. Hey Tamara let’s troubleshoot. Did you use the same amount of pasta and the same size pan? I’ve tested it three times with the 6 cups and didn’t have an issue, but if you followed the directions closely and had a problem, maybe we should decrease to 4 cups milk.

  5. I am looking for a mac & cheese recipe that freezes well with hopefully the same results as baked fresh. Does this recipe qualify?

    1. I wouldn’t recommend it. The pasta will continue soaking up the liquid as it freezes and it’ll become dry. If you’re going to try, you’ll have to increase the liquid in it before freezing. Good luck!

    1. I haven’t tried it yet but I wouldn’t think it would make a difference. I’d love to know how it turns out if you decide to try!

  6. I have to make a vegetarian casserole for 20 people for my daughter’s dance team tomorrow night. I think I am going to try this and just double the recipe!

  7. Question: when I use a bechamel I always cook the flour, butter, and milk mixture for at least 15 minutes or until it thickens. Your recipe calls for 5 minutes. At this point, should the mixture be thickened or do we just stay with the 5 minutes and go from there?

  8. I am literally making this right now! One modification im going to try is saving that beautiful pasta water and let it boil down slightly and substitute 1/2 c to 1c of the milf and flour with it. My hope is that it acts just like a thickener too. Thanks for the delicious recipe!

  9. First time making this recipe and I doubled it! Well most things. I used only 6 cups of milk for the bechamel and subbed 6oz of the sharp cheddar for extra sharp (because I like a saltier Mac). It turned out delicious! I will say, if you aren’t familiar with the consistency of a bechamel (the butter, flour,spices, milk mixture) it should thicken and if it doesnt within the 5 minute time frame turn the heat up a little or cook it longer. I ended up cooking mine for about 15 minutes on medium heat whisking constantly until it was thick and creamy.

    Overall this is a great traditional tasting mac and cheese, I have no doubts it will charm the bbq crowd I am bringing it to! I think next time I will add maple bacon to it! Yum!

  10. Made this and it was amazing ! Very creamy and perfect. .Didnt have mozzarella so threw in some Parmesan and it was still great. Thanks for a great recipe.Saving this one for sure.?

    Rating: 5
    1. I made this last night for my family and it was way too spicy! Any ideas for how to tame the spice after cooking?

      1. Oh, no, the cayenne overpowered it for you? I’m so sorry to hear that. I try to play it pretty safe with heat levels but I know people have different tolerances for spice. Reheat it with some cream or whole milk and cheese and stir until its the right consistency. A tiny bit of sugar will also help (work in pinch quantities, you don’t want it to taste sweet, just less heat). My apologies for the trouble.

  11. I also followed to a T and it’s way too liquidy. I had to drain a good amount of sauce . Hoping it will thicken after it cools.