Baked Macaroni and Cheese

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!

We love a classic mac and cheese side dish. This recipe pairs perfectly with our Easy Oven Baked Chicken Drumsticks and Oven Roasted Asparagus for a delicious Sunday supper.

spoonfull of baked macaroni and cheese

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!

Wooden spoon with a serving of baked mac and cheese.

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!

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a 9 x 12 casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Top with crushed pretzels, some Panko breadcrumbs and more cheese.

baked macaroni and cheese in a casserole dish after cooking

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!

wooden spoon serving baked macaroni and cheese from casserole dish

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!

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Dish filled with baked macaroni and cheese

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

If you want an incredibly creamy and cheesy baked macaroni and cheese recipe than this will be the only recipe you ever need! A tangy sharp cheddar cheese sauce coats al dente pasta, and then topped with a surprise pretzel crust!
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American

Ingredients
  

  • 12 ounces shell pasta or macaroni cooked short of al dente (3 minutes less than the box says)
  • 3 ½ cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese 
  • ½ cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 5 ounces (half of a can) condensed cheddar soup
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoon dijon mustard

For the topping:

  • ½ cup freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup of crushed pretzels
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp parsley

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a 9x13-inch casserole dish with non-stick spray.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in flour until smooth. Let cook 1 minute, then whisk in in the milk. Cook over medium heat until milk mixture thickens. Add all the seasonings and stir.
  • Turn off the heat and add 3 ½ cups of the 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, crushed pretzels, panko, and parsley. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.
Keyword baked mac and cheese

Baked Mac and cheese in a casserole dish with title text.

Amanda

Amanda blogs at Old House to New Home where she shares easy ways to eat, create, and decorate, all while raising two young girls! Amanda is a Spanish teacher, wife to a great husband, and mommy to the two most beautiful little girls! Amanda loves food, traveling, and transforming their 115 year old house into their home.

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Comments

    1. Yes that will drastically change the flavor. If you don’t have the mustard, leave it out or use a little ground mustard.

  1. I’ve tried many recipes that were flawed for all the reasons you stated in this post. This though…best recipe ever! Easy to follow and the cheese sauce is incredible. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  2. Delicious! My man is such a picky eater and he really liked it. From him, its a score. I LOVE the crushed pretzel/Pablo as the crunchy top. It gave the mac such a nice taste and crunch. I wonder if you’ve ever frozen the leftovers? There’s only 2 of us eating it and I was planning on freezing, but not sure if that’s a good idea.
    Thanks!

    1. To freeze mac and cheese, let it cool completely, then portion and wrap tightly in foil and into a ziploc bag. To reheat, bake according to the directions.