When the world turns topsy-turvy, and life gets stressful, a bowl of Homemade Baked Mac and Cheese can make the world seem better. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s the creamy, gooey, melty cheese or the crispy top, or the just-made-for-you, hot from the oven comfort. In any case, this is a recipe you’ll want to keep, save and try!
Preheat oven to 375°F and butter/non-stick spray a baking dish. Set aside.
Cook macaroni according to package instructions.
Prepare the sauce: Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan or skillet. Add the flour, whisking constantly until light brown, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth and thickens. Stir in the salt, pepper, mustard, and cayenne, if using and remove from the heat. Stir in grated cheese and continue to stir until the cheese is melted.
Bake: Add drained and cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 5 minutes to crisp the top.
GARNISH: I always like to add a bit of green to anything I make. Most often I sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on the baked mac and cheese just before serving. But sometimes I like to add a crispy breadcrumb topping that bakes with the mac and cheese. Here’s how I do it.
BUTTERED BREADCRUMB TOPPING: Toasting 2-3 slices of white bread. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and pulse the toast in a food processor, Combine the breadcrumbs and melted butter. Before putting the mac and cheese in the oven, top with breadcrumbs, bake as directed.