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If you’re looking for a homemade version of your favorite boxed macaroni and cheese, you will not find it here. Quite frankly, boxed mac and cheese that you buy at the store and traditional homemade mac and cheese are two entirely different culinary experiences. I personally love both, and each has a place in my heart, but this recipe is for the traditional style that uses real cheese instead of processed cheese product.
If you’re looking to recreate the flavor of boxed mac and cheese at home, you’ll likely need a recipe that uses Velveeta, like this one from Spend with Pennies, which gives you that smooth American cheese sauce flavor while offering something a little more sophisticated and delicious than what comes in the box.
As for traditional homemade baked macaroni and cheese, there are A LOT of ways to make it. Many, however, start with a basic roux made of butter and flour. From there, the seasonings and types of cheese you can use to create your cheese sauce are seemingly endless.
Here is how my mom made baked macaroni and cheese and how I still make it today:
- 4 cups of macaroni or 5 cups of rotini (uncooked)
- 4 rounded tablespoons (T) or 8 level tablespoons (T) of butter
- 4 rounded tablespoons (T) or 8 level tablespoons (T) of flour
- 4 cups of milk
- 2 cups of shredded sharp or extra sharp cheddar cheese
- Ground black pepper
- Worcestershire sauce
- Cumin (optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- Grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Cook the pasta for 10 minutes in boiling water, then drain and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan.
- Stir in flour and cook until bubbly.
- Gradually add in the milk and stir until it starts to thicken.
- Add the shredded cheddar cheese to the sauce and keep stirring.
- Add the salt, ground pepper, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, bay leaf, and oregano to taste. If you need measurements, I suggest a teaspoon of each dry spice and 2 or 3 dashes of Worcestershire sauce to start. I personally like mine with a lot of oregano, so I add about 1 tablespoon. Truth be told, I don’t use the cumin when I make this dish, mostly because it’s not a spice I regularly keep on hand.
- Mix the pasta and cheese sauce in a 3-quart casserole dish or a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish.
- Generously top the pasta and cheese sauce mixture with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.
- Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes to brown and crisp the Romano or Parmesan cheese crust.
In the ingredients list, I’ve given you 2 different options for measuring the butter and flour. Traditionally, my mom used rounded measurements, which is not something you see in a lot of recipes today because level measurements are much more precise. The good news is that a recipe like this is forgiving. The main thing to remember when making a roux is that it should be equal parts fat and flour.
This recipe is just one way to make delicious macaroni and cheese from scratch with basic ingredients. There are recipe books dedicated to macaroni and cheese, and you will find a plethora of recipes online. Here are a few other recipes you might enjoy: