This classic Old Fashioned Baked Macaroni & Cheese is made in just 30 minutes with a creamy pepper jack cheese sauce and crispy breadcrumb topping. It is oh so comforting and delicious!
Why This Recipe Works
Creamy & Dreamy: Honestly, this is really all you need in a macaroni and cheese recipe. It is perfectly creamy and cheesy with the combination of milk, cream cheese and pepper jack cheese. The smooth, creamy texture is so comforting. Plus, I make sure that the cheese to macaroni ratio is just right, so that you get delicious bites of perfectly balanced pasta and cheese every time!
Easy to Whip Up: I think every home cook wants to perfect a classic homemade macaroni and cheese but one thing that stops them is all of the effort. But this old fashioned baked macaroni and cheese is actually so easy! And it is totally worth the little bit of extra effort that it needs compared to making boxed macaroni and cheese.
So Yummy: This baked macaroni pasta thing is LIFE I tell ya. So much yum, so much delish, so much WOW this tastes so amazing I want to eat it for the rest of my life packed into one dish I can hardly stand it. You and the whole family will be impressed with your mac & cheese skills!
Here’s what you’ll need to made old fashioned baked macaroni and cheese!
- Macaroni Pasta– I like classic macaroni pasta, but any tube shaped pasta will work here!
- Butter– Butter is melted to cook your flour which will thicken your cheese sauce.
- Flour– Flour is added to thicken that cheesy, creamy sauce.
- Half & Half + Evaporated Milk– I used a combination of half & half and evaporated milk.
- Corn Starch– Before you add the corn starch, whisk it into the evaporated milk to dissolve it.
- Dijon Mustard– Dijon adds a bit of a spicy, acidic flavor which balances well with the dairy and cheese in this recipe.
- Cream Cheese– For a super cream mac & cheese, cream cheese is essential.
- Pepper Jack Cheese– Freshly shredded pepper jack cheese is my favorite cheese for macaroni and cheese, but you can use your favorite cheese if pepper jack is too spicy.
- Seasonings: Italian Seasoning and Salt & Pepper
- For the Topping: Panko Style Breadcrumbs, Italian Seasoning & Butter.
Here’s How You Make It
Step by Step Instructions
- Preheat your oven to 400 F and lightly grease a baking dish or casserole dish. Cook your pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Stir in flour.
- Slowly and gradually, pour in the half & half and stir until a sauce forms. Then, combine your cornstarch with the evaporated milk and add to the pan. Whisk to combine.
- Add dijon mustard, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, cream cheese and shredded pepper jack cheese and stir until everything is melted and combined.
- Stir the noodles in the sauce. Then transfer to the casserole or baking dish. Top with more shredded cheese.
- For the topping, melt butter in a pan on the stove. Add the breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning and stir until the breadcrumbs begin to brown. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the mac & cheese.
- Bake, uncovered, for about 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and serve!
- For even more cheesy goodness, sprinkle some parmesan on top with the shredded cheese! You can also combine different cheeses like some sharp cheddar, gouda, and Colby along with the pepper jack cheese!
- If you like a spicier mac & cheese, add canned jalapeños to the mix! Or sprinkle some cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes into your cheese sauce.
- You can top your old fashioned baked macaroni and cheese with different things like bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, or even drizzle some buffalo sauce on top!
- Use freshly shredded cheese! I know it is a pain, but freshly shredded cheese (instead of pre-shredded), is so much better for cheese sauces. Pre-shredded cheese has preservatives in it that make the cheese gritty when you melt it down. So definitely take the extra step to shred your own block of cheese.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can assemble your mac & cheese, cover it, and place it in the fridge for 1-2 days. Once you are ready, make your topping and bake the mac & cheese until bubbly and heated through.
You can also freeze your macaroni and cheese. Mac & cheese is the best when you eat it the same day that you make it, but you can freeze it and have it for later! Just don’t put the toppings on the pasta until you thaw it in the fridge over night and you are ready to bake it.
More Recipes You’ll Love
- Cauliflower Mac & Cheese
- Swedish Meatball Pasta
- Cajun Shrimp Alfredo Pasta
- One Pot Creamy Pesto Pasta
- Creamy Sausage Pasta
Old Fashioned Baked Macaroni & Cheese
- 12 ounces macaroni pasta
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups half & half - or milk
- 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk - or heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning blend
- salt and pepper to taste - (I used about ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper)
- 4 ounces cream cheese - softened
- 2 cups white cheddar cheese or yellow cheddar cheese - divided
- ⅔ cup panko style breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly grease a large casserole or baking dish. Next, Cook macaroni pasta according to package’s instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pan or skillet melt the 3 tablespoons butter. Stir in flour. Slowly and gradually whisk in milk until a sauce forms. Stir corn starch into evaporated milk until dissolved, then add to pan and whisk to combine.
- Add dijon mustard, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, cream cheese, and 1 1/2 cups pepperjack cheese and stir until cheeses are melted and combined with the sauce.
- Stir noodles into the sauce. Transfer to prepared casserole/baking dish. Sprinkle remaining pepperjack cheese over the top.
- Next make the topping. In a pan on the stove, melt butter. Add breadcrumbs and Italian seasoning and stir over medium-high heat until breadcrumbs begin to brown. Sprinkle over pasta.
- Bake, uncovered, for about 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and serve.
- Use a combination of both white and yellow cheddar or substitute pepper jack cheese sauce for a spicy kick (it’s so good and not too spicy!).