Mac and cheese + chicken fingers are hands down my favorite foods (okay pizza is also up there). Clearly, I have the pallet of like a Michelin star chef. Side story–I knew I had found the right caterer for our wedding when I told her about my love of mac and tenders and she was so down to plan an entire menu around it (our wedding menu consisted of fried chicken sliders, mini burgers, mac and cheese, salad with ranch, and funfetti cake obviously). Anyway, I’ve been making this mac and cheese recipe for 5+ years now and it never disappoints! I have to add the note though that the cheese you put into a mac and cheese can make or break it, seriously though! I always freshly grate my cheese (no shade if you do use pre-shredded cheese in the bag but trust me shredding your own will make it even better!). I’ll include a picture and name of the cheeses I used below.
This recipe is fairly simple…the baking time is minimal and only done to get the mac extra hot…and then no messing around with any crispy breadcrumbs because honestly we don’t want to ruin this ooey gooey cheesy goodness. ugh, I want this right now!!!
Best Mac & Cheese
Recipe adapted from Just a Dash
16 oz pasta cooked al dente & drained (I personally like penne or cavatappi for this recipe)
16 oz shredded cheddar cheese or 4 cups (I used Black Creek Extra Sharp Cheddar Aged 3 years & Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar Cheese, which technically is only 15 oz but it was plenty 🙂 and grated it from the block)
8 oz or 2 cups shredded smoked gouda cheese (I used Apple Smoked All Natural Gouda Cheese and grated it from the block) If you are like mr. cranky (aka nick) and don’t like gouda, sub a different cheese…i feel like parm would be great!
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups half & half
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat
- Once butter is melted, whisk in flour. Continue whisking for 3-5 minutes (don’t let it burn!)
- Slowly add in half and half and continuing whisking (still over medium heat). The mixture will eventually thicken up quite a bit (you want it to be the consistency of a runny gravy)
- Once mixture has reached desired consistency, remove 1/4 cup of sauce and stir it together with the beaten egg in a small bowl
- Add egg/sauce mixture back into the sauce and stir until combined.
- Add in dry mustard, pepper, cajun seasoning, and salt and stir to combine
- Add in cheeses to sauce mixture and stir until melted
- Pour cooked noodles into the sauce pan and stir until all noodles are coated (it will be saucy!!)
- Pour mac and cheese into a large non-greased 9×13 pan and pop into the oven for 15-20 minutes (just enough time to get the mac super hot!)