World’s best Mac and Cheese recipe

(We were lucky enough to make this recipe on Saturday night, so let us just preface this post by saying, this may just be one of the tastiest things we’ve ever eaten~wht)

Editor’s Note: This is a Casserole-type mac and cheese. If you are looking for a saucy mac and cheese, keep on looking.

I love comfort foods. When I think of comfort food, one of the first things that comes to mind is good, old-fashioned macaroni and cheese. I mean, what isn’t comforting about pasta with a ton of cheese? Am I right? In my many years on this Earth, I have made it my quest to find the best recipe of macaroni and cheese possible-I have literally made over a hundred different recipes in my search. I finally found a really good one last year that I tweaked a bit and the end result is carbohydrate heaven. Enjoy!

Topping-

  • 1 1/2 c. panko bread crumbs (These are Japanese breadcrumbs, which are flakier than regular breadcrumbs. If you can’t find them with the other breadcrumbs, try the aisle that carries Asian food.)
  • 4 T. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • a few dashes of paprika

Melt butter over medium-high heat, add salt and paprika. Add panko and coat thoroughly with butter. Stirring frequently, heat until toasted, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Mac and Cheese-

  • 1lb. box of macaroni noodles (Feel free to use other noodles if you’re feeling fancy; shells, cavatappi and gemelli work well in this.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 12 oz. cans of evaporated milk (Do not use fat free evaporated milk, it will not give the same result and seriously, when you see how much cheese is in this, who are you kidding using fat free milk anyways?)
  • 2 tsp. powdered dry mustard
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. Tabasco
  • 16 oz shredded sharp cheddar
  • 8 oz. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 8 oz. finely chopped Velveeta
    (All 3 cheeses should be combined into one bowl and tossed evenly with each other)
  • 8 T. unsalted butter (note: see step 4 below)

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Combine cans of evaporated milk, eggs, mustard, salt, pepper, and Tabasco in a bowl and whisk together until ingredients are well-combined and eggs are completely beaten. Set aside. Be sure to do this before you boil the pasta because the eggs will need time to acclimate so they are not cold when being added to the pasta. You do not want the eggs to become scrambled eggs once added to hot pasta.

3. Boil pasta in salted water for the time given by the al dente instructions on the box.

4. Once pasta is cooked, drain and return to pot. Toss with unsalted butter until coated. If this is going to be eaten in one sitting, you can skip the butter. The butter helps seal the pasta and keep the leftovers from getting mushy from sitting in cheese sauce in your fridge, but if it’s being eaten in one sitting this is a non-issue. (And we really do recommend eating it in one sitting. This recipe is best fresh~wht)

5. Give evaporated milk mixture a few extra whisks and then add to pasta with half of cheese, stirring over medium to medium high heat until cheese is melted. Add remaining cheese and continue stirring until thoroughly melted.

6. Transfer to a large baking dish and top with toasted panko. Bake on top rack of oven for 20 to 25 minutes. If you use a disposable foil pan, place a cookie sheet underneath it while baking so the bottom doesn’t burn.

7. Try not to eat the entire pan.

The end result is a creamy, cheesy macaroni and cheese that is anything but bland. I usually only make this if I’m having company because it does produce quite a bit and it is like crack. I wasn’t kidding about trying not to eat the entire pan. Take a pan to your next family picnic and you will be worshipped!

Who else out there considers themselves a macaroni and cheese connoisseur?

Profile Photo
Written by krista

84 Comments

  1. Profile photo of Tyna Werner
    Tyna Werner

    Heh – just a little bit, Veronica! I had a nice helping of this delicious mac and cheese on Saturday night and – OMG – it is soo good! I love the little bit of hot from the Tabasco and fell in love with the panko crumbs – they were especially yummy. My favorite part of homemade mac and cheese is always the crunchy, crumbley top and these made it even better!

  2. Profile photo of Stef Andrews
    Stef Andrews

    Huh, you tasted the Tabsco, T? I didn’t notice it. This def. is the creamiest mac and cheese I’ve ever had. And yeah, that Panko topping is insane. This whole dish tastes like it should be illegal!
    Good stuff Krista, thanks for this.

  3. Profile photo of Stef Andrews
    Stef Andrews

    Nope, not the actual picture. I took a pic, but by that point of the evening, after a long day of socializing, it was a bit…blurry. But it’s as creamy as this. Krista is on a bit of a break right now, but when she comes back we’ll find out why the eggs.

  4. michael kaye

    Made the dish yesturday for thanksgiving. FIrst off, taste was a little sharp for my liking. That being said, here are my observations. I would only put about a 1/2 cups of Panko crumbs on the top maximum. Otherwise, it tastes like your eating bread crumbs. I personally like a wet macaroni and cheese. You can only get this taste if you dont bother baking it like the directions say. Once baked for 20 minutes the cheese coagulates with the macaroni and not the same thing. I wouldnt make this dish again. I had a wet macaroni and cheese at a restaurant that was creamy and didnt have as much cheese bite to it…so thats what im looking for, but I can see how some will like this. Good luck in your quest.

  5. lauren Franklin

    i just made this recipe for my boyfriend and he loves it and he is a huge!!! mac n cheese fan. i did not use velveeta because it was only sold in 32 ounces and i knew it would not get used at my house since i dont like the way it taste. and its still wonderful!!!

  6. Kay

    I am a mac and cheese-aholic, but just can’t seem to find the right recipe to make that is the “Yes! This is it!” recipe. This, however, could do it. I will definitely try it soon.

  7. virginia

    I made the Mac and cheese yesterday, and I would suggest not baking it. I tasted it befor I put it the oven, and it was the best ever. However after I baked it, it became too dry. I would also cut down on the Panko crumbs a little. Over all the taste and flavor were awesome.

  8. Profile photo of Krista
    Krista

    Happy to hear that mostly everyone is enjoying this recipe!
    Seth–this does seem to be popular at potlucks and get togethers. Three minutes is probably a new record, though :)
    For those of you who wish this ended up creamier after baking: I use a large, oval ceramic baking dish when I make this and it maintains quite a bit of creaminess while thoroughly heating everything together. If you’re using a metal pan, you’re probably conducting more heat through the dish and it probably cooks some of the moisture out? In any case, as long as you thoroughly heat this over the stove when you add the cheese—cooking it in the pot for a few minutes to make sure the eggs are no longer raw, you can probably skip the baking altogether if you want to. My hubby is just a fan of the baked version w/ the panko, so that’s how I do it.

  9. Rebecca

    Both my husband and I loved your recipe! Though my husband suggested passing on the topping next time, I thought it was delicious (1/2 topping next time …)! Thank you for sharing!

  10. Profile photo of Krista
    Krista

    I’m surprised you could weed out a Velveeta taste w/ all that sharp cheddar :)
    For anybody who doesn’t like a sharp, cheesy mac and cheese, this isn’t for you. I’ve noticed in New England that most restaurants think Macaroni and Cheese is elbow mac in a pool of unseasoned milk and butter and a little cheese melted on top. This is so not that kind. This is very rich and fairly creamy (if you use a ceramic baking dish) and you can definitely taste the sharpness of the cheddar. I can’t wait until it gets cooler b/c there’s nothing better than a cold day and a pan of this :)

  11. Jan

    OMG. This has to be the WORST mac and cheese recipe I have ever tried. I made it a day ahead for a potluck at work. I did add the butter, but it turned out solidified and simply tasteless. A few bites were taken but I threw out the rest. Not sure why everyone else is so thrilled with this………..

  12. JJ

    I made this for my boyfriends birthday yesterday. HOLY &#@!&% !!! AMAZING!!! Never again will I look for a mac and cheese recipe! I used fettuccine noodles and it was incredible! Thanks for sharing!!

  13. Kristin

    My family and I are always looking for a great homemade Mac and Cheese. We’ve tried numerous recipes and normally end up unhappy with the results. Well, I cooked this recipe last night. After the first mouthful I received the grunt. Yes, the grunt. In teenage boy dialect the grunt is a form of approval(I think, at least he didn’t get mad and leave the room or yell at someone, have teenage boys always been like this?). The rest of my family used much more commonly seen communication techniques, the smile, the head nod or the too much food in their mouth chewing head nod and lastly, the napkin swipe(ok that’s getting crazy, at least my husband used a napkin). Oh, there was even some verbal communications. Comments such as “mhhhagood”(apply caveman grunting to that), “this is a keeper” and “what’s that crunchy stuff on top? oh it’s a breading do you like it, hhhhhhhm”.

    My husband and I really enjoyed this recipe a lot. My younger two loved it. My oldest …, well let’s say that I know 4 out of 5 in my house were happy with it. In a year or so my oldest will ask for it again and grumble that I haven’t made it in forever which will be a very high endorsement.

    Thank you,
    Kristin :-)

  14. Kira Lech

    This is a fantastic recipe. I made it for my neighborhood’s Mac N’ Cheese cookoff and won first place! I personally loved its sharp flavor, but for mass appeal, I might suggest either substituting the sharp cheddar for mild cheddar,or you could substitute 8 oz of the sharp cheddar for 8 additional oz of Velveta. ***** all the way!

  15. celina

    Good, but too sharp. Mixed in chopped up bacon just before putting it in the baking dish which gave it an awesome flavor. No need to brown the panko, just heat butter up in oven for a minute or so then dump into panko, add paprika and some fresh ground black proper and mix thoroughly.

  16. Profile photo of Krista
    Krista

    It depends on what kind of pan you’re using. I wouldn’t refrigerate glass or ceramic and then bake b/c they can crack. If you stick to a metal pan and maybe pull it out to acclimate a little bit (20 min.) before baking, I would think it would still turn out well. If the pasta is cold before baking it, I think you might want to reduce the temp to 350 and then bake for at least 30-40 minutes to heat through (check center to make sure it’s heated throughout). I’ve never made this beforehand and then heated it, but I wouldn’t do the 400 degrees to bake when it’s cold because it’ll overcook the outside and leave the inside cold (400 is only good for baking this when it’s still hot from having the cheese melted). Hope that helps!

  17. Profile photo of Irene Woods
    Irene Woods

    Ok, so I got this recipe via an email. I’m always looking for a good Mac N Cheese recipe and I think that this is a keeper. I made some modifications with the cheese, I used monetary jack cheese instead of the velveeta (since I don’t like velveeta) and then I used 8 oz of Extra Sharp Cheddar and 8 oz Sharp Cheddar and kept everything else the same. I don’t think that it was too sharp at all and I usually don’t like sharp cheddar and I tend to buy the medium cheddar. My husband I and thought this was the best Mac N Cheese that we’ve tried. I had made Paula Deen’s Mac N Cheese one time and used medium cheddar and it did not taste good at all. Now I’ve had Paula’s other recipes, so I know that I should’ve used the sharp like it said. I am definitely going to make this again.

    Thanks!

  18. Lorraine ER

    I hope this isn’t a silly question but I am only just starting to cook & bake. I’ve tried a few Mac N Cheese recipes and they all seem too bland, so I’m excited to try this. Anyhow, what size and type of pan would you advise using to bake the pasta?
    Thank you in advance!

  19. Profile photo of Krista
    Krista

    Hey, Lorraine! Not a silly question–I’ve used many different pans to make this. I’ve used 9×13 (ish) foil pans for neighborhood parties–those require reducing the cooking time to about 10 minutes w/ a cookie sheet under them while baking. A metal 9 x13 (ish) cake pan–this seems to require a reduction in cooking to about 10-12 minutes. I typically use a ceramic oval baking dish that’s a little over a foot long and almost a foot across–it’s a weird shape I found at Ikea years ago. The ceramic seems to give me a creamier result than the metal pans, which I prefer. Hope that helps!
    Also, just an update for this recipe in general: I tried using pre-shredded sharp cheese instead of shredding a block by hand (how I usually make this) and the sauce ended up gritty, so I don’t know if I’d recommend a pre-shredded cheddar on this b/c hand-shredded cheddar cheese gave a much smoother result. I used a pre-shredded parm and had no problems with that cheese, though.

  20. john strickland

    Krista, I’m researching like over 100 Mac&Chz rec. Your’s is going to be the first one I make. I feel I must give u insight on the pre shredded cheese situation. These pre shredded cheeses come with a white coating to prevent them from sticking together. They’re meant to be used on top of salads in tacos ect. This same principle applies to semi sweet chocolate chips. They’re not made to melt all the way so your cc cookies look like cc cookies. Baker’s chocolate & powdered cocoa are to be used for puddings, cakes ect. I’m a chef this is how I know.

    1. Profile photo of Stef Andrews
      Stef Andrews

      John, does that coating have a flavor? Or maybe even worse, dilute existing flavor? I think that shredded cheese never has as much flavor as freshly shredded.

  21. john strickland

    Stef, I just know that it’s not meant to be melted. It’s much more expensive too. Just take the time & shred. I never paid attention to the flavor cuz I’ve never tried it. Krista tried & the results were not good.

  22. Kt10

    Seriously this is amazing…best I have ever made. I subbed coconut milk for evaporated milk since I had run out…still unreal and have been craving it every day since we had it!

  23. Annie

    This recipe rocks! I will be making again for a picnic this week and have decided to add sauteed chopped jalapeno to half of the recipe for some nice contrast of flavor. Yum-E!

  24. toya

    WOW, After failing to get the secret recipes of friends who made the best macaroni I’ve ever tasted, I started to search ALL OVER for the best mac and cheese recipe. I’ve made several and they all taste the same and just didn’t have that punch or kick that I was looking for. I tried recipes that were given 5 stars, and had exotic cheeses and they were all over rated. I’m not a mac&cheese fan, and usually don’t take the time to comment unless something is 4stars or better. I give this 5

  25. D from The Shady Porch

    Krista,
    I fixed this recipe for my family and they LOVED it! We thought it was perfectly creamy albeit very rich. I have joined a blog challenge in search of the ultimate mac-n-cheese recipe and I hoped to spotlight yours. Please check out the challenge link below and let me know if you mind. Of course, I will link to your post and give you the kudos for the recipe!! Thanks and Yum-o, Danette
    http://momscrazycooking.blogspot.com/p/crazy-cooking-challenge.html

  26. Samantha Lehmann

    WOW! I served this at the feast day last week and the ladies fell over! They went crazy! After I confessed what was in it – they said they needed to go to confession for all the fat and cheese – but I am all in, go big or go home gal! BEST EVER KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OVER MAC AND CHEESE! My kids eat the whole pan even with the tabasco – I went with 1/4 tspn to start but went up to the 1/2 tspn and WOW! My hubby said it’s even better than his mother’s…. I sent it to the entire parish ;) You need to write a comfort food cookbook, not tell me (so I can eventually fit in my pants), and sell millions.

    1. Profile photo of Krista
      Krista

      Happy to hear everyone loved it! This is definitely a crowd pleaser. This is also definitely not a health food! I usually only make it when we have company and I’m happy to report that company is coming over on Saturday! The hubby and I did a detox (no sugar, flour, dairy, gluten, or eggs) for the last 3 weeks and I’m looking forward to having all that cheese and pasta this weekend. I’m going to serve it to some house guests with some pulled pork sandwiches topped with cole slaw. I should have some happy people on my hands :)

      As for the comfort food cookbook—you flatter me, lady :) I’m all for selling millions and thus, making millions. God, but I love comfort food *sigh*.

      I am going to try making this in a crockpot and skip the bread crumb topping as I’m not sure when my guests are going to arrive. I think if I reduce the egg to one and then add a little more evaporated milk, it’ll stay warm without drying out or getting too thick. I’ll report how that turns out.

  27. D

    YUMMY! My family loved your recipe. I just wanted to send you a little note letting you know that I featured you and your recipe today on my blog! We are searching for the ULTIMATE Macaroni & Cheese recipe and I choose to use this recipe! Thanks so much for posting & sharing this. I hope you stop by and read all about it.

  28. Kim B.

    Hi Krista! I popped over from The Shady Porch to tell you how much my family LOVED your recipe!! I have been tweaking my mac & cheese to no avail so was thrilled when your recipe was a MAJOR hit with the family :) I LOVED how easy it is to prepare too. We also LOVED the panko crumbs on top & that extra crunchiness TOTALLY added to the yummy goodness :) Thank you for a GREAT recipe followed by smiles at the dinner table!

  29. Profile photo of Krista
    Krista

    No clue. I usually make a big pan, turn my back and it’s gone. I took it to a block party once and all 25 people there had some. Let’s say at least 2 dozen servings. Probably more than that, but people tend to pile it on their plates. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful :)

  30. Jessika

    I too have made it my mission since graduating college to find the BEST macaroni and cheese recipe. I haven’t tried 100 recipes, but I have tried at least 20 different recipes and this is BY FAR the best I have had. I have sworn off all other macaroni and cheese recipes after making this one. It was delicious! Thanks for sharing.

  31. Val

    I just made this, and found the flavor was a bit strong (I used extra sharp instead of sharp maybe that was my problem) and it also wasn’t that creamy. I think I’ll cook it less next time and forget the eggs. I also had too many breadcrumbs and it was very crumby, so I’ll eliminate a lot of those or maybe leave them out completely since I’m not a fan of crunchy on my mac n cheese. Overall very good though!

  32. Profile photo of Krista
    Krista

    I have noticed that in the years I’ve been making this and in 4 different homes with 4 different ovens, the cook time varies quite a bit. My current oven is as hot as the sun, so I only bake for about 10 minutes, which is half the cook time I have typically used. As for the egg— I have found that without the egg, while this is creamy when you first serve it, future reheating makes the cheese separate in the sauce, leaving it almost gritty. Hope that helps!
    If you don’t plan on using breadcrumbs and want creamy, I recommend cooking this on a stovetop until heated through and skip the oven altogether :)

    1. Profile photo of Krista
      Krista

      I think I mentioned this in earlier comments, but the Velveeta is key for texture, especially in reheating. If you use only cheddar, I find that I get some separation/grittiness in the cheese when this is reheated. The Velveeta keeps it creamy, but you don’t really taste it, just the cheddar. As for how many this feeds, I think I mentioned this previously, as well, but I’ve served this at block parties and this yields about a couple dozen servings when used as a side dish.

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