The Only Mac and Cheese Recipe You’ll Ever Need

photo (28)Macaroni and cheese.  A classic.  I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it.  And yet until I was probably in high school, I had no idea that there was a way to make it that didn’t involve a blue box and processed cheese powder.

Upon making this discovery, I drew the logical conclusion: people make mac and cheese out of the box, because making it from scratch must be difficult and time consuming. Except, like so many things I thought I knew what I was 14, I was wrong.

Over the years, I’ve managed to perfect the world’s easiest macaroni and cheese recipe.  It literally takes less than 10 minutes–the same amount of time as the boxed stuff, or only slightly longer if you prefer your mac and cheese baked as a casserole.  Plus, my recipe is incredibly customizable – mix in any meats, vegetables, spices, or sauces you like.  Use any kind of cheese.  This recipe is basically idiot-proof.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb of elbow macaroni
  • 4tbsp butter, unsalted
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 cups shredded or crumbled cheese
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Start a pot of water boiling.  Once it’s boiling, cook pasta according to package directions.  If you’re planning on mixing in any meats, get those cooking now too – in the above picture, I added in ground turkey and chiles, but you could add sausage, ground beef, or even mushrooms for vegetarians.
  2. In a large saute pan, melt your butter over medium heat. Once the butter is all melted, add in your flour one tablespoon at a time and whisk vigorously – from this point on in this recipe, do not stop whisking.  Once all flour is added, keep whisking for 2-3 minutes or until you start to get a nice color on the roux.
  3. Add your milk, one cup at a time, and keep whisking.  As it warms and incorporates, it’ll start to get very viscous.  This is good. Just keep whisking, for another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add your cheeses.  I generally like to do some variety of cheddar blend, but you can really use whatever you like – you could even add a creamy roquefort or muenster if you like it on the more intense side.  Keep whisking.  Once the cheese melts, you should have a stringy, gooey, cheesy pot of deliciousness.  Don’t worry about it being too thick, the residual water from the pasta will thin it out a little.
  5. Around now, your pasta is probably done.  Drain it, then add to the saute pot with the cheese. If you’re adding any meats or other mix-ins, add them now too.
  6. Remove from heat and add your black pepper and nutmeg  – voila!  You have a tasty, creamy, delicious mac and cheese in the same amount of time that it takes to make the stuff out of the box.  If, instead, you prefer baked mac and cheese, transfer your mac and cheese to a baking dish, then sprinkle breadcrumbs and a little more shredded cheese on the top and stick in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

However you like it, this is just a ridiculously easy and fast macaroni and cheese recipe, and because almost everything is in a “4” (4 tbsp butter, 4 tbsp flour, 4 cups of cheese, etc.) it’s super easy to remember.  Let me know how you like it in the comments!

Whitney