Classic comfort food makes my heart sing. And it really doesn’t get more quintessentially classic comfort food than Baked Mac & Cheese. The silky cheese sauce on the pasta topped with a crunchy crispy top just brings you right home. It is one of those hearty dishes that make a great side with some BBQ or as a delightful #meatlessmondy meal. It also makes excellent lunch the next day.
For the cheese sauce, I like to use a medium or sharp cheddar so that you get a solid cheddar flavor. If you use a mild cheddar, you won’t get that pow of salty cheddar you want from a solid mac and cheese dish. To get an extra buttery crunchy top, I like to use a garlic croutons mixed with some French fried onions, so much flavor and crispiness. These are both things that I keep in my pantry all the time as they make great filler for meatballs or burgers as well as crunchy crusts for casseroles.
I love the extra something special you get to feel with you have your own individual baked mac and cheese. I love my set of Au Gratin dishes for recipes like this, they make the perfect portion size. If you do not have a set of bakeware like this, you could absolutely just use a 13×9 baking dish. Simply transfer the sauced pasta to the baking dish and level out. Sprinkle with cheese and crushed croutons mix, and bake for 40 minutes instead of 30 minutes.
The best thing about this side dish recipe is that it goes great with any protein – grilled chicken, or a baked pork chop. I served them up with some Citrus Steak Skewers – steak soaked in a citrus marinade and paired with zucchini, squash, and mushrooms. They went together so well.
Now Let’s Get Cookin’!
Baked Mac & Cheese
- 6 Oven Safe Baking Dishes individual size
- 1 lb Short Pasta rotini, elbow, etc.
- 4 tbsp Butter
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 4 tbsp Flour
- 1 cup Milk
- 1 cup Heavy Cream
- 1 tsp Ground Mustard
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Black Pepper
- 4 cups Cheddar Cheese shredded, divided
- 1 cup Garlic Croutons crushed
- 1 cup French Fried Onions crushed
- Start water boiling for pasta. Preheat oven to 350degF.
- In a sauce pan over medium high, add butter, garlic powder, and paprika. Once melted whisk in flour and let cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in milk, ground mustard, salt and pepper. Let cook 3 minutes.
- Add pasta to boiling water, cook for 3 minutes less than directed on package. Drain in colander and return to pan.
- In sauce pan, whisk in heavy cream and cook for 3 minutes. Then add 2 cups of shredded cheddar and stir until fully melted. Pour sauce of pasta and toss to combine.
- Combine crushed croutons and french fried onions.
- Divide sauced pasta evenly into 6 baking dishes. Sprinkle each with portion of cheese and crushed crouton mix. Place on baking sheet and put in oven for 30 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Estelle Forrest’s self-published first cookbook – Homemade on a Weeknight: A Family Cookbook – was created after a lot of playing around in the kitchen. You can purchase your own copy here:
Estelle self-published a second cookbook – Burgers on a Weeknight – recently. It has over 60 delicious burger creations! You can purchase your own copy here:
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