The Best Macaroni & Cheese Recipe Ever

The best mac and cheese! Seriously. Creamy, cheesy, straightforward, ooey, gooey – this recipe will knock your socks off.


Total Time: 1 hour

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Ever - The best macaroni and cheese recipe ever. Seriously. Creamy, cheesy, straightforward, ooey, gooey - this macaroni and cheese will knock your socks off.

This recipe for classic baked macaroni and cheese is far and away the most popular on Kitchen Treaty. It’s super creamy – not dry like some homemade mac and cheese can get. It’s cheesy. Oh yes. Very cheesy. It’s rich, ooey, gooey, and, yeah – in my humble opinion – the best macaroni and cheese recipe ever. Seriously. This mac and cheese will knock your socks off. Then go put ’em back on and run a marathon, quick!

I say it’s the best macaroni and cheese recipe ever not because I have tried every single mac and cheese recipe in the world (though I have tried many) (and wouldn’t it be an incredibly noble cause to try every single one?!). It’s because whenever I take a glorious melty bite, I simply cannot imagine a better classic mac and cheese.

I can also say it’s the best macaroni and cheese recipe ever because this one is not really even my recipe. I tweaked it a tiny bit – basically made it even more fattening – but otherwise, it’s someone else’s. It’s from someone named Bev, who posted her recipe on Recipezaar (now and to whom I am eternally grateful.

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Ever - Seriously. Creamy, cheesy, straightforward, ooey, gooey - this macaroni and cheese will knock your socks off.

Macaroni and cheese is pretty much my all-time favorite food. Always has been. Cases in point:

  1. One of my first-ever memories is of sitting down in front of the TV with a bowl full of macaroni and cheese and watching Emergency! – and feeling pure bliss.
  2. Not long after that was when I realized that a single macaroni and cheese noodle was actually not called a “macaroni and chee.” Major epiphany.
  3. Every birthday, my wonderful Gran actually used to wrap up boxes of Kraft dinner for me. Best presents ever!

I should probably stop there. I have a sneaking suspicion I’m coming off like a total freak.

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Ever - Seriously. Creamy, cheesy, straightforward, ooey, gooey - this macaroni and cheese will knock your socks off.

So back to Bev. Bev posted a recipe that will forever be my go-to recipe for homemade mac and cheese. Before that, I had only experienced dry homemade mac and cheese. Goes into the oven wet, comes out dry. So annoying! But no more. I love you Bev!

Bev is probably totally creeped out now too.

Anyway, mac and cheese lovers, come hither – this is the real thing!

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Ever - Seriously. Creamy, cheesy, straightforward, ooey, gooey - this macaroni and cheese will knock your socks off.

The Best Macaroni & Cheese Recipe Ever

Yield: 4-6 servings

Prep Time: 30 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 1 hour

The best mac and cheese! Seriously. Creamy, cheesy, straightforward, ooey, gooey - this recipe will knock your socks off.


  • 8 oz. (1/2 pound or about 1 3/4 cups) macaroni or other medium tubular pasta (like penne or conchiglie)*
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 2 1/2 cups 2% milk
  • 3 cups (approx. 12 ounces) grated medium cheddar cheese**


  1. Boil the pasta until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cool water to stop the cooking, and return to the pan you boiled it in. Set aside. (Mix in a little butter to keep the noodles from sticking if it's going to be awhile before you make the sauce)
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. To a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the flour, salt, dry mustard, pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika. With a wooden spoon or whisk, stir constantly for three minutes.
  4. Add the milk in a thin stream, stirring constantly with a whisk. Continue to stir constantly until the sauce thickens, about 10-12 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of the cheese, stirring until melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and toss gently until all of the pasta is coated.
  6. Add half the pasta to a two-quart casserole dish (I like a tall 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish). Sprinkle on half the cheese. Add the rest of the pasta. Sprinkle on the rest of the cheese, then dust lightly with the smoked paprika.
  7. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the mac and cheese starts getting a slightly dry and a tiny bit brown on top. Serve, topping individual servings with cooked, chopped bacon if desired.

Meat option

Add cooked and crumbled bacon to the top of individual servings (or the whole thing if your whole clan is carnivorous).

Please resist adding more pasta and cheese!

*Please resist the urge to add more pasta to stretch the recipe. You need a lot of sauce with that pasta because the pasta soaks so much and it otherwise cooks down. Over-dry mac and cheese is such a disappointment - don't do it! **Also resist the urge to add more cheese to the sauce. This can do weird things. Sprinkle more in between and on top if you must have more cheese.

Doubling this recipe

I (and many others) have doubled this recipe with success - no changes needed other than a bigger pan!

Make-ahead notes

When you make this recipe ahead of time, please know the result may be a tad more dry. Still delicious! But a little less saucy. I recommend assembling it up to the point of baking, refrigerating, then, before baking, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Then proceed with baking.
Adapted from the Bev's Macaroni and Cheese recipe on

More macaroni and cheese recipes:

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe Ever - Seriously. Creamy, cheesy, straightforward, ooey, gooey - this macaroni and cheese will knock your socks off.

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Karen Raye

Kare is a vegetarian home cook living among carnivores. She loves creating irresistible and flexible recipes that help multi-vore families like hers keep the peace - deliciously.

556 Responses to “The Best Macaroni & Cheese Recipe Ever”

  1. I went to the grocery to get all the ingredients for this recipe and came across some fairly priced chorizo! Wanting to add it to the Mac & Cheese. Would you suggest cook separately and all to the mix when assembling for the oven? would love some insight!

    • Hi Debbie, I have not tried chorizo in this recipe but I think adding it in like you were thinking – cooking separately then adding it to the cheese sauce/pasta before baking should be the way to go! 🙂

  2. I just had to leave a comment bc I just made this mac n cheese recipe for my bfs work potluck and OMG! The best recipe for oven baked mac and cheese! I will be making it again for my potluck! To those saying it came out horrible, you are definitely doing something wrong. THANK YOU KAREN! 

  3. This is A WONDERFUL Mac & Cheese Recipe, Thank you

  4. I made this last year for thanksgiving and it was sooo delicious. I’m planning on making it this year too! This weekend I’m doing some experimenting with the cheese. Trader Joe’s has this cheddar and gruyere hybrid cheese that’s delicious. I’m sure it’ll be amazing for this! 😀

  5. I made this one night a few years ago now, and my husband instantly proclaimed it “his favourite food ever.” I’ve since made it for neighbourhood get-togethers and potlucks. Never, ever, ever has it failed to get the response that is one of my three favourite compliments: “Can i have that recipe?” In fact, we’ve had to make a rule: we’re only allowed to have it once a month, and only in months that have an “r” in them. (To quote Sheldon from Big Bang Theory, ” Because what’s life without a bit of whimsy?”) Without this rule in place, my husband would request this weekly if not daily. As it is, he can barely get to the beginning of the month without getting excited…especially in August, which he keeps calling AR-gust. I share your recipe (via this website) often. on behalf of myself, my husband, my neighbours and my students, THANK YOU. *we add just a bit of Velveeta because it makes the sauce stable even if one “accidentally” adds too much cheese.

    • Wow, what a ringing endorsement! Thank you for the wonderful comment. I might just have to start calling August “AR-gust” – ha. So funny! So glad you all love the recipe. It is a definite keeper! 🙂

  6. I make this occasionally and I will be making it for Thanksgiving. Thank you for this amazing recipe. My wife and I can’t get enough of it! 

  7. Hi, I wanted to try to make this recipe ahead of time for thanksgiving and then bake the day of to avoid crowds at the stove. Is this going to affect the end quality? I’ve made the recipe several times before, just never ahead of time and refrigerated. Help!

    • Hi Jill, I’ve made it ahead of time and it has turned out. It’s just not quite as creamy. So as long as you’re okay with that, it should work out just fine!

  8. Hey I am wanting to try this recipe for Thanksgiving this year but I’m going to make it in a 3 qt. dish instead of 2. Would I need to change the recipe for this? I figured I would have to add more of each ingredient to convert the different size dishes but what about the baking time?

  9. Can this recipe be doubled to serve 12 or more – would milk cheese and flour be doubled?

  10. I’m back for the 3rd year in a row to grab this recipe (yes, I’ve saved copies other places but I like to check the source every so often). This is my go-to recipe for pot lucks and family dinners this time of year. No matter where I bring it it always gets demolished!. I’ve double, tripled and qudrupled the recipe.

    Thanks for this, Kare. Because of it my friends, family and co-workers all think I’m a real cook. lol

  11. I found this recipe to be way too cheesy, so I doubled the noodles the 2nd time I made it and it was perfect. Just the right amount of cheese, but not too much.

  12. I have been using this for the pass few years and it is always a hit. Tip, if you don’t want to bake this, use half or leave out the flower. Oh, and for you meat people, bacon is always a hit! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

  13. Hi just wondering if it works the same if you double the recipe? Does anything need to be adjusted or can you just double everything up? Thank you! Looking forward to making it for dinner tonight

  14. Took a risk and made this dish for Thanksgiving with my husband’s family – who are all great cooks. It was a huge success and everyone had seconds. Great recipe! Thank you for sharing. 

  15. Hi Karen! I’m in the process of making this tonight for a potluck, but am a little confused on the cheese amount. I feel slightly stupid asking this, but about how many ounces of cheese is 3 cups? I know ounces are different depending on what type of dry ingredient you are using, so I just don’t know exactly how much cheese to use. I bought a 32 ounce pack of cheddar just to be safe. I initially converted cups to liquid ounces (which is 8 ounces to 1 cup), but that seems like a bit much, especially since I’m tripling the recipe. Help? Thanks!

    • Hi there, no question is stupid! I should provide ounces in my recipe (and I will update it soon to reflect that; so I appreciate you pointing this out). 3 cups shredded should be just about 12 ounces of cheddar. Hope that helps!

  16. Doubled the sauce, added heaps of chopped spinach, bacon, chopped cauliflower and tomatoes (pregnant so adding veg to everything)= DELICIOUS! =This will be my go-to now, thanks a lot from NZ 🙂

  17. Lol….I know this is off subject but it looks like a baby chic on the fork of the picture. The mac looks good though. Hehe!

  18. Don’t do it. Worst mac& chews i’ve ever tasted & very expensive for the results. Almost tempted to throw out the rest but s little ketchup should help?

    • So sorry you feel that way! I’m confused about not only how it turned out to be the worst but also how it was so expensive? I find it’s a pretty inexpensive recipe. If you ever want to troubleshoot what might have gone wrong I’d be happy to help.

    • Girl you clearly did something wrong!  Because anyone who likes Mac & Cheese would have to love this.  Not to mention that out of all the other comments yours is the only negative one.  It’s not that different than any other homemade mac & cheese, just not dry!

  19. Any advice on reheating if I made it last night for an event today. Don’t want to dry it out please help

  20. Hi there! This recipe looks great, so thank you for helping with my decision as to what to make for Christmas lunch this year. That being said, I plan on doubling this recipe, so what pan would you suggest using? Would a 9×13 work?

    Thanks so much!

  21. I noticed you put the bacon on at the end after you baked it.  Could you add the bacon before baking so the cheese melted around it during the baking process?

  22. Was wondering if I could double the recipe for Christmas party?

  23. Hi! I make a large batch of Mac and Cheese for my family for Christmas Eve every year (approximately 25-30 people). I’m going to try your recipe this year but I have a couple questions (if by chance you happen to see this before tomorrow…!!! If not, I’ll wing it!)
    First question, would you quadruple it? making 2 pounds of macaroni? I always end up making WAY too much because it’s not the only thing on the menu….. Or do you think I should use 3 pounds?

    And knowing that, does everything else just multiply in the same way? (I know that with some recipes it seems that you don’t always multiply every ingredient the same….)
    Thanks for any help you can give me!

  24. Has anyone tried topping it with breadcrumbs? I have unseasoned Panko i’d like to use. I don’t want to mess up the recipe but I love the crunch.

    • I’ve topped with breadcrumbs; Panko are the best! I like to combine them with a little melted butter or olive oil and some salt and pepper, then just sprinkle them on before baking.

  25. Making this for the second time! My picky eaters LOVE it! Thanks!!

  26. Made this for lunch today! Absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing such an easy recipe to make. I’m a student and have very limited cooking skills, supplies, and budget. I was able to make this for about $6-$7 and will get 3 or 4 meals out of it. I’m even looking forward to having the leftovers for the next few days. 

  27. Wonder how this would taste with almond flour and almond milk?

  28. I just want to say thank you! I first stumbled upon this recipe back in 2011 on your old website, and have been looking for it for a few years. Somehow I came upon a post on this site talking about the Hazel Bloom blog and I hoped and prayed it would be on here!!!!! This mac and cheese is the best I’ve ever had and I’m so glad to have found this recipe again.

  29. I have a few suggestions…

    1. Don’t rinse your pasta, the starch thickens the cheese sauce and helps the sauce stick to the pasta. Instead, just take it off the stove and drain it a minute earlier than you would have.

    2. Shred your own, good quality cheese. Don’t buy the pre-shredded packaged stuff.

    3. Heat the milk before adding it to your roux. Don’t boil it but get it nice and hot in the microwave or a sauce pan and add it in slowly.

  30. I’m thinking of making this tomorrow, but my two biggest complaints with Mac & Cheese are dryness and blandness. You seem to have the dryness covered, I’m just concerned about the cheesiness. Is medium cheddar strong enough to actually taste the cheese or should I go with a strong one?

  31. Hey, I’m not good at math so how would you tailor the sauce to 12 oz of pasta? They don’t sell 8 oz packages at my grocer

  32. OMG!  Always looking for the best mac and cheese recipe.  Sometimes they seem grainy, sometimes they’re too strong, too weak, too cheesy, too whatever.  Made this for bunco nite and when I say EVERYONE raved about it – I’m not kidding.  By far the best mac and cheese I’ve ever eaten. Perfection in my mouth.  And I’d like to compliment the recipe writer.  By letting me know approximately how long it would take for the sauce to thicken – it really helped.   Also, by mixing the spices with the butter it immediately thickened and I thought I did something wrong – but I waited the whole 3 minutes like it said, and it was amazing how it transformed.  If you seriously follow the directions, you will have the most delicious mac and cheese ever.  I doubled the recipe.  Perfect for a 9×13.  Who needs bacon?!?!?

  33. this hands down was the BEST most incredible made me look like a gourmet cook recipe ever!  it was so good he forgot about our earlier disagreement…i may have to infuse this into my webinars..!!! love THANK YOU~!

  34. Best Mac and Cheese we have had yet.

  35. I just made this for the first time. I actually 1.5x the salt when I saw it was supposed to be 1/2 a tsp and it still came out pretty bland. Probably will tweak next time – I also added 3oz more noodles and still had way too much sauce.

  36. Any chance you could tell me the sodium content facts please?

  37. I’ve made this three times now with one small addition that my husband RAVES about. Caramelized cauliflower right in with the pasta! I’d been working more veggies into his diet and with this he doesn’t mind one bit! 

    Also for those who are commenting that it’s not cheesy enough: taste your cheddar. I’ve made it with three different qualities of cheese and you can really taste the difference between a good aged cheddar and a brick of Kraft. Not that it has to be expensive. Some of the best cheese I’ve found was pretty cheap!

  38. I came across this recipe a year ago and it has become my family favorite. I carmalize onions before adding the ingredients for the sauce. It adds a little more flavor. 

  39. Does this have to have cheddar cheese, or can I use American cheese and get the same results?

  40. This is my go-to mac n cheese recipe. I use 1/3 pepperjack cheese and 2/3 cheddar. Just adds a nice kick without being spicy.

  41. Hi Kare… I just wanted to thank you for this delicious Mac recipe. I am making it for about the 10th time today because everyone here loves it so much. It is one of our most requested family faves! The best comfort food ever…

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