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Home Recipe The easiest homemade mac ‘n’ cheese

The easiest homemade mac ‘n’ cheese

Published on September 22 2020

There is no one right way to do mac n’ cheese, that’s for sure and when it comes to leftovers, well, the reinvention possibilities are practically endless with so many fun ways to revamp the day-old goodness into a whole other meal. 

Make a double batch of your favourite, easiest macaroni and cheese and let the leftovers have its way with into a pot, a pan, a casserole dish, and watch as the lowly macaroni noodle and cheese dish turns itself into tantalizing upgrades. Some of these dishes are so redefined that you might even fool the fam-jam into believing you made them fresh from scratch. 

Here, to start you off, is a classic but nonetheless creamy and delicious recipe to make your mac n cheese in case you don’t already have a favourite. This one will work well for next day meal makeovers.

Mac n Cheese recipe from The Chunky Chef

Easy mac n' cheese recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dried elbow pasta
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 4 cups grated medium sharp cheddar cheese divided (measured after grating)
  • 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese divided (measured after grating)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 3 qt baking dish (9x13").  Set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  When boiling, add dried pasta and cook 1 minute less than the package directs for al dente.  Drain and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil to keep from sticking.
  3. While water is coming up to a boil, grade cheeses and toss together to mix, then divide into three piles.  Approximately 3 cups for the sauce, 1 1/2 cups for the inner layer, and 1 1/2 cups for the topping.
  4. Melt butter in a large saucepan over MED heat.  Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine.  Mixture will look like very wet sand.  Cook for approximately 1 minute, whisking often.  Slowly pour in about 2 cups or so of the milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until smooth.  Slowly pour in the remaining milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until combined and smooth.
  5. Continue to heat over MED heat, whisking very often, until thickened to a very thick consistency.  It should almost be the consistency of a semi thinned out condensed soup.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in spices and 1 1/2 cups of the cheeses, stirring to melt and combine.  Stir in another 1 1/2 cups of cheese, and stir until completely melted and smooth.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, combine drained pasta with cheese sauce, stirring to combine fully.  Pour half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Top with 1 1/2 cups of grated cheeses, then top that with the remaining pasta mixture.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the last 1 1/2 cups of cheese and bake for 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and lightly golden brown.

Note: To make ahead, cool the pasta and cheese sauce once they have been mixed together, cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to bake. Up to two days. Bake until hot in the center and bubbling around the edges. 

Upgrade your mac n’ cheese

Save the leftovers and serve any which way your heart desires, your mood strikes and using of course food that you already have and want to use up: 

Make them spicy: Add a can of diced tomatoes with jalapeños and fry them into fritters. 

Make them beefy: Cook ground beef with onions and garlic, add in whatever chopped veggies you want to use up and then mix in the leftover mac and cheese. 

Make them cheesy (cheesier!): This one is super quick and easy. Take the solid block from the fridge, keeping it whole, load more fresh cheddar cheese on top of it and broil the heck out of it. The top gets crispy and gooey and the inside, mucho melty. The crispy edge makes it a whole new dish. 

Top them with breadcrumbs: Give your leftover mac n’ cheese a fresh new layer of cheese, sprinkle herbed breadcrumbs and bake.  

Bake them into a Mexican vegan casserole: Why not toss some black beans, salsa and corn into your mac and cheese and put it all together into a casserole and call it a night?

Make them into frittata muffins: Leftover mac and cheese plus 2 eggs and ¼ cup shredded cheese, mix together, fit it all into muffin tins and bake 15 mins for pillows of perfect joy.

Fried mac n cheese balls: Using the leftover macaroni and cheese, take chunks of about 2 tbsp., and roll into balls. Dredge with egg and milk whisk to combine. In a bowl, add panko, garlic salt, salt, and cooked chopped bacon (or leave out). Freeze for 30 minutes then bake. 

Don’t like to fry but love fried mac n’ cheese? You can do these in the air fryer as well. 

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