Baked macaroni and cheese
Updated: Jun 22, 2021
Macaroni and cheese is something I love in all forms - boxed, homemade, stove top, baked, buffalo chicken, I'm here for it all! Though I do love a boxed mac, baked mac and cheese has a special place in my heart and stomach. Once I discovered how easy it could be to make a delicious, creamy, and cheesy version at home, that has been my first choice. I find that this recipe typically makes about six servings, especially if paired with a protein, and because the sauce is extra creamy it does warm up quite well. You can also cut the recipe in half and either eat right from the stove top or bake in an 8x8 pan.
I recently discovered that adding a bit of minced garlic as I start to build my rioux (a mixture of butter and flour that helps to thicken your cheese sauce) adds an incredible flavor to my mac. If you're not a fan of garlic, you can lessen the amount or leave it out entirely. I am a huge garlic fan, so if you’re anything like me, I found that it adds a lot to the overall dish so I encourage you to try it out.
This recipe calls for three different types of cheese: Gruyere, Cheddar, and Gouda. This is by no means something you have to stick to, but this is my favorite combination to date. As long as you keep the quantity the same and it's a cheese that will shred well and that you enjoy the taste of, it's going to be great. You can also up the quantity by a few ounces if you’re looking for a little bit of a thicker sauce. I used to buy pre shredded cheese for this recipe and I do now grate my own cheese, but honestly both ways work. One of the reasons I grate my own cheese is because it gives me more flexibility in the quantity I buy and also the types of cheese, but I did not have an issue with pre shredded cheese melting, though I know some say that that can happen!
When picking your noodles, you want to choose something that will hold your sauce well. Below are my favorite pasta shapes for mac and cheese that will hold your cheese sauce best, and there are many others not listed that I'm sure would work great:
I used to make this dish exclusively with regular pasta, but have also tried it more recently using Banza (chickpea pasta) and it still tastes incredible. You really can use whatever your favorite shape or type of pasta is. Regardless of the type, I suggest that you under cook the noodles a minute or so less than you normally would since the dish does go into the oven.
You can also get creative with your toppings. What's pictured below is a mixture of melted butter and whole wheat breadcrumbs that I combined and sprinkled on top before baking, but you could toast up crumbled crackers with butter, use parmesan cheese - when it comes to toppings, I encourage you to try whatever your heart is calling for!
1 lb pasta
4 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 1/2 cups 2% milk
6 Oz Cheddar shredded
6 Oz Gouda shredded
3-4 Oz Gruyere shredded
Cook time: 30 to 40 minutes total
Cook pasta about one minute less than the box tells you. Drain and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
In a large pot over medium heat, whisk together your butter, flour, and minced garlic to form a rioux. You'll know your rioux is ready once your butter has melted and fully combined with your flour to form almost a paste like consistency.
Slowly whisk in your milk pouring in about a half cup at a time. Whisk together with each pour until the mixture is thickened and your milk is fully combined with your rioux. Give this part time, it wont take long but you'll know once it has thickened a bit so be patient.
Sprinkle in and melt your cheese until fully combined. Once your sauce has fully come together, add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine pasta into the cheese mixture and be sure to mix well so that your cheese mixture coats each noodle fully. You can stop and eat now OR to fully set this dish, pour your combined pasta and cheese mixture into a 13 x 9 pan. See the optional note below, because if you'd like to add a topping now is the time! Place into the oven for 15 minutes. Switch to broil for about 3-4 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove and let cool slightly before serving!
Optional: You can add breadcrumbs, crumbled and toasted crackers with butter, extra cheese, or really anything you’d like over the top of the Mac and cheese before placing into the oven! For breadcrumbs I do about 1/4 cup and mix them with melted butter then sprinkle over my mac (this adds about 23 carbs to the total recipe).
Carb and serving information
Type of pasta: Carbs per full batch / Carbs per 1 of 6 servings
With reg pasta: 391 / 65.2 per serving
With Banza (chickpea pasta): 311 / 52 per serving
Sauce only: 55 carbs per full batch
Topping: If you add the breadcrumb topping, that will add 23 carbs to the full batch, or about 3 carbs per serving (if split into 6).
Note: Carb information is calculated based on the specific ingredients I used to cook with to help guide my own insulin to carb ratio when dosing before I eat my home cooked recipes.