If you want an incredibly creamy and cheesy Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe then this will be the only recipe you ever need! A tangy, sharp cheddar cheese sauce coats al dente pasta, that is then topped with a surprise pretzel crust which puts this baked mac and cheese recipe light years ahead of the rest!
BAKED MAC AND CHEESE RECIPE
Hi everyone! Amanda here from Old House to New Home, sharing the ultimate baked macaroni and cheese recipe. I am going to be completely honest and tell you that I have tried every single macaroni and cheese recipe in the book but they were never perfect. I wanted a macaroni and cheese where the cheese stayed creamy and you could taste the cheddar. I find so many baked macaroni and cheese recipes to be incredibly bland.
This recipe is anything but bland. The spices provide a lot of flavor, and my secret ingredient (dijon mustard) adds to the tanginess of the extra sharp cheddar. I borrowed an idea from a friend who adds a can of condensed cheddar cheese soup but I only use half of the can. To be honest, I don’t like the flavor of condensed soup in recipes, but the addition here ensures that your cheese sauce stays creamy the next day when reheated. I always thought that my mac and cheese always tasted so much better if fresh, but not anymore! I can enjoy the leftovers for days because this recipe stays just as creamy for days to come!
HOW TO MAKE BAKED MAC AND CHEESE
The pretzel crust is a fun addition to this already perfect baked macaroni and cheese recipe. The pretzels add great texture and saltiness and just make this recipe stand out from the others. I love pretzels used in recipes, and used them to make a delicious crust on these chicken tenders too!
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a 9 x 12 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- Then make the cheese sauce: Whisk melted butter and flour in a saucepan over medium heat until smooth to make the roux. Add milk and simmer until the mixture thickens, then stir in all of the seasonings.
- Turn off the heat and add most of the extra sharp cheddar and the Parmesan cheese, stirring until all of the cheese is melted into the sauce. Add half of a can of condensed cheddar soup and stir well. Pour the cheese mixture over the cooked pasta and stir well to coat, then add the pasta to the casserole dish.
- Top with crushed pretzels, some Panko breadcrumbs and more cheese.
HOW LONG DO YOU BAKE MAC AND CHEESE IN THE OVEN?
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and bake this mac and cheese for 15-18 minutes, or until the cheese sauce is bubbly and the topping is golden brown.
The bake time is really short on this recipe compared to other baked mac and cheese recipes, but trust me, you do not want to over bake this! The bake time is really just to brown the crust. This recipe is the perfect hybrid of creamy stovetop macaroni and cheese and crunchy-topped baked macaroni!
I am so glad that my quest to find the perfect baked macaroni and cheese recipe is over! I will never make another version, except of course my super popular macaroni and cheese bites, which are always a hit at parties! Or my Spicy Philly Cheesesteak Macaroni and Cheese as an extra special treat for my husband. I guess I’ve got a few mac and cheese recipes up my sleeve, so stay tuned for more!
Can’t get enough comfort food recipes?
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- 12 oz. shell pasta cooked short of al dente (3 minutes less than the box says)
- 3 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 4 tbsp. flour
- 1/2 can condensed cheddar soup
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp mustard powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
For the topping:
- 1/2 cup shredded extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese
- 1 cup of crushed pretzels
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp parsley
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a 9 by 12 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
- In a sauce pan, melt butter. Once melted, whisk in flour until smooth. Let cook 1 minute. Add in the milk. Cook over medium heat until milk mixture thickens. Add all the seasonings and stir.
- Turn off the heat and add 3 1/2 cups of the extra sharp cheddar and the parmesan cheese. Stir well until all melted. Add in the half can of condensed soup and stir well. Pour the cheese mixture over the cooked pasta and add the pasta to the casserole dish.
- Top with the cheddar, pretzels, panko, and parsley. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.