Best Ever Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

Best Ever Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

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As long as I can remember, Macaroni and Cheese has been a traditional summer side dish.

Beginning on Memorial Day and proudly showing up at most every consecutive American Holiday thereafter. A few years ago, I found an amazing Macaroni and Cheese recipe by Martha Stewart and now we have added what I consider the best macaroni and cheese we ever had to the mix.

I’m excited to share it with you too!

A quick history lesson: When Thomas Jefferson returned from a trip to Italy with a pasta machine in hand, he began to serve macaroni and cheese at his dinner parties.

Soon, pasta became a must-have on every table. So, a shout out to TJ, look what he started in America! Pasta has become a staple in practically every pantry across the country.

Enjoy this amazing dish! It is incredible and is just as tasty served piping hot or as a cold side at a picnic. You will thank Mr. Jefferson, Martha and me for it!

Perfect Summertime Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Martha Stewart Living, February 1999

• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
• 6 slices good white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces
• 5 1/2 cups milk
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons salt
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
• 4 1/2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 18 ounces)
• 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces) or 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese (about 5 ounces)**
• 1 pound elbow macaroni- I use Barilla

** Since I’m Italian, I opted to use grated Pecorino Romano cheese instead of the called for grated Gruyere cheese.


1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside.
Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.

2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

4. Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside.

5. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Baking the dish will completely cook the pasta.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse well under cold running water (removing the starch which interferes with smooth baking), and drain. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.

Recipe serves 12 If that’s too much (crazy talk in my household) you can simply divide this recipe in half for a smaller dish. Use a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.

we heartsters – do you have a mac & cheese recipe you pull out every summer when the picnic invites roll in? Share your secrets in the comments!

best homemade mac and cheese

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13 thoughts on “Best Ever Homemade Macaroni and Cheese”

  1. Jeez. My mouth is watering at the possibilites, yet I could never make this. A stick of butter, six and a half cups of cheese and six slices of white bread! If I could make myself take but one bite… Maybe I could reduce the recipe size to just a couple of small souffle cups? I’m about to look away…

  2. @sherrishera wrote exactly what I was thinking while reading this scrumptious recipe. It sounds like perfection but I could not trust myself with it!
    I’m going to save this recipe for a party, however.
    I love your history of mac and cheese, @irene!

  3. Confession time: I’ve never had baked Mac and Cheese, just the radioactive orange kind from the box. Obviously now I can only have gluten free Mac and Cheese, and GF pasta leaves quite a bit to be desired so I skip it. But that first picture is making me reconsider! It looks amazing!

  4. Oh man, this looks SO GOOD. I love how WHT always shows real photos of food, I’d MUCH rather see the real thing than a perfectly lit fork full of the finished product that gives you NO indication of how your dish is supposed to look…

    I’m lactose intolerant, but I think Gruyere is fairly low in lactose so this is definitely going in my recipe rotation!

  5. Irene—You are killing me. This recipe looks so darn good. Unfortunately, we are watching are carbs at my house. (Being on the healthy trail really stinks!) I cannot even remember the last time I had mac and cheese. (I know it sounds crazy but, I never make it at home.) However, I really want to now! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Yes my dear friends, this is a good recipe. Don’t’ forget, you can ½ this recipe easily. Also, I also know it freezes well too! I have my share of many kinds of macaroni and cheese, and none, I repeat none can hold a candle to this dish. I prefer this served hot to cold; it also heats up well in no time in the microwave oven. I also used only organic cheese, butter and milk. I’m wishing for a piece now!

  7. I absolutely adore macaroni and cheese. But I have never thought of it as a particularly summertime dish. It is perfect for anytime. But seriously I have typically seen it as a hearty cold weather type of dish. Perhaps I need to rethink this. What a great sounding recipe. I adore fancy pants mac’n’cheese. I must give this one a try.

  8. My mom and I have been using this recipe for a while, now. It is roughly 80 times tastier than it sounds. After you try it, no mac and cheese will ever seem delicious again.

  9. I love this recipe and would starve an entire week to eat the whole thing in one sitting …just kidding. But it really is that good. I made several batches for a homeless shelter and these men went crazy. Who knew doing good would not only feel good but taste good too!

  10. Oh my Jesus this has made me waaaaant some. I love Pecorino Romano cheese, it’s the best, really, tastes so sharp and delicious. However, I do like to indulge in the occasional Kraft Mac and Cheese ^^ Like right now!

  11. You are going to laugh, but this past Friday night, I made Kraft’s Mac and Cheese as a side for dinner and for old times sake! I grew up on the stuff for one, and honestly like the taste.. lol! But THIS is the real deal and you will just flip if you make it!

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