Best Mac and Cheese Casserole [VIDEO]

Catalina Castravet
By Catalina Castravet

Mac and Cheese Casserole is creamy, cheesy and very easy to make. This version of homemade baked Mac and Cheese Casserole is my most favorite and it’s a huge hit with kids and adults alike. 

Casserole recipes are a favorite around here. They are easy to make and usually make enough leftovers so we don’t have to worry about cooking dinner the next day again.

Also, they can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the freezer. When the time is ready, you can easily reheat them. Among our most popular once are Cheesy Crack Chicken CasseroleWhite Pizza Casserole, and Chicken Hash-brown Casserole.

Mac and Cheese Casserole Recipe

Best Mac and Cheese Casserole

This Mac and Cheese Casserole is all you need for a comforting and tasty meal. It is creamy and smooth, with strong cheesy flavors that will melt in your mouth. The bacon topping is the perfect finish for this dish since it adds some crunchiness to it and some additional flavor. The casserole is also made with three types of cheese: cream cheese, mozzarella, and sharp cheddar cheese.

The homemade sauce is rich and creamy thanks to the mix of sour cream, heavy cream, and cheese. I used the classic roux-based cheese sauce, where butter and flour are cooked together, and then the heavy cream and sour cream is added. As a result of this technique, you will have the creamiest and cheesiest casserole possible.

Due to mixing the ingredients together, and then adding pasta into it, the cheese proportionally and evenly integrates into this dish. Additionally, baking the casserole for 30 minutes after assembling it together, ensures you have a perfectly balanced and cheesy casserole. To make it even more amazing, I have added a buttery topping made of Ritz crackers!

Homemade Mac and Cheese Casserole

Recipe Tips:

  • Before baking the casserole, make sure the pasta is not overcooked. Preferably, the pasta has to be al dente, since it will cook some additional time in the oven.
  • Similarly, you do not have to cover the casserole with foil when baking. This way, the topping will get golden brown and crunchier.
  • Additionally, use quality cheese. If you want a truly creamy texture, it is best not to use pre-shredded cheese. Take the extra few minutes and shred your own cheese.
  • You don’t need to rinse the cooked pasta for this recipe especially if you will be using pre-shredded cheese. This way the starch from the pasta will thicken the sauce.
  • Feel free to swap cheeses for a combination of whatever you have on hand. Such cheeses as Asiago, Gouda, smoked Cheddar, Monterrey, will work just as well.

Do I have to bake my Mac and Cheese Casserole?

For this recipe, I went ahead and baked the casserole. However, if you are short of time, you can actually eat it right from the pan or just stick it under the broiler for a few minutes to brown the top. This will work just as well and is a great shortcut when you are running low on time.

Mac and Cheese Casserole

How do you make creamy Mac and Cheese Casserole?

  • Firstly, preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a casserole dish.
  • Next, cook pasta until just tender. Preferably al dente.
  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the flour. Stir to combine.
  • Then, add the milk, heavy cream with cornstarch and evaporated milk. Add seasoning.
  • Simmer and add the sour cream, cream cheese, cheddar, and mozzarella cheese.
  • Mix the sauce, then add the cooked pasta into it.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour into prepared dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

What should I serve with Mac and Cheese Casserole?

This dish is very versatile, and can be served as it is, or with various pairings. Some suggestions would be:

Mac and Cheese Casserole

What is the best cheese to use for Mac and Cheese Casserole?

This totally depends on your taste and preference. Any good quality melting cheese will perfectly work for this dish. A combination of cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan is what I usually use. Similarly, a sharp white cheddar cheese, Monterrey, or Asiago will produce a smooth, rich and creamy sauce.

HOW TO FREEZE THIS CASSEROLE:

  • To freeze, transfer the mixture to a buttered 9-by-13-inch freezer-to-oven baking dish.
  • Cover tightly with aluminum foil and wrap in plastic wrap.
  • Freeze for up to 6 months.
  • Bake, frozen and covered with foil, at 350°F, for 1 hour.

Save Recipe
5 from 7 reviews
Best Mac and Cheese Casserole
Author: Catalina Castravet Serves: 8 servings
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Total time: 1 hr

Ingredients

  • 1 pound  elbows macaroni  (cooked per box directions, aim for al dente)
  • 1 tablespoon  olive oil 

Cheese Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons  butter  (unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup  all-purpose flour 
  • 3 cups  milk 
  • 1 cup  heavy whipping cream  (or light cream)
  • 1 can  of 14 oz. evaporated milk 
  • 2 tablespoons  cornstarch 
  • 1/4 teaspoon  salt 
  • 1 teaspoon  garlic powder 
  • 1 teaspoon  onion powder 
  • 1 teaspoon  ground thyme  (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon  paprika  (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon  mustard powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon  red pepper flakes  (optional)
  • 1/2 cup  sour cream 
  • 4 oz.  cream cheese  (cubed and at room temperature)
  • 3 cups  cheddar cheese  (freshly grated or buy pre-shredded)
  • 1 cup  mozzarella cheese  (freshly grated or buy pre-shredded)

Buttery Cracker Topping:

  • 1 1/2 cups  cracker crumbs  (I used Ritz crackers)
  • 6  tablespoons  (unsalted butter melted)

Other Toppings:

  • 1 cup  mozzarella cheese  (shredded)
  • 1 cup  cheddar cheese  (shredded)
  • 10  bacon slices  (cooked)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with butter or with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  3. Cook pasta per box directions, aim for al dente. Drain, mix with olive oil and set aside.

Cheese Sauce:

  1. Place a large sauce pan over medium heat and once its hot add the butter. Stir and melt the butter, carefully not to burn it.
  2. Add the flour and whisk until fully combined with the melted butter.
  3. While still whisking, little by little add the milk, stirring to combine. Take your time and don't rush through this step.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk cream and cornstarch until fully combined and cornstarch is fully dissolved. Add the mixture to the pan. Stir to combine.
  5. Add the evaporated milk and stir to combine. Add onion powder, garlic powder, ground thyme, paprika, mustard, red pepper flakes and salt.

  6. Still over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.
  7. Stir in sour cream and cream cheese until fully combined. If the sauce is too thick you can add more milk or some chicken broth. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
  8. Reduce heat to low and add 3 cups of cheddar cheese and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese, freshly grated or pre-shredded. Stir to combine, until the cheese is fully melted.
  9. Remove pan from heat and add the cooked elbows macaroni. Stir to combine.
  10. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish.

Buttery Cracker Topping:

  1. In a medium bowl combine cracker crumbs with melted butter and stir using a fork until fully combined.

Other Toppings:

  1. Level the top with a spatula and sprinkle 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of cheddar cheese evenly over the surface of the casserole.
  2. Sprinkle the Buttery Cracker Topping evenly over the surface and top with chopped cooked bacon if using.

Bake:

  1. Bake the casserole uncovered in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Until the top is golden brown and bubbly.
  2. Remove from oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
  3. Serve topped with extra bacon and if desired chopped parsley.
Calories: 496 Carbohydrates: 21 Protein: 32 Fat: 31 Saturated Fat: 11 Cholesterol: 55 Sodium: 1094 Potassium: 344 Fiber: 1 Sugar: 7 Vitamin A: 945 Vitamin C: 0.2 Calcium: 681 Iron: 1.5
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Mac and Cheese Casserole

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Comments

Leave a reply

Lora | Savoring Italy

Your mac and cheese casserole looks so creamy and comforting!

Reply

thank you

Reply

Amanda

The bacon is an excellent touch!! I cannot wait to try!!

Reply

Dorothy at Shockinglydelish

Holy moly that is casserole full of goodness!! This may need to go on the holiday menu!

Reply

Chrissie Baker

This casserole is great for me and my family. So pretty! Good idea! Looks very tasty! I am going to make this! This recipe really impresses! I really like! Thank you.

Reply

Nancy

This casserole is so hearty and comfy. I love a good mack and cheese, but after using this recipe i was even more pleased. Its cheesy and creamy, and the bacon just gives it the perfect finish. Loved it!

Reply

Thank you for the feedback! I am happy that you liked it!

Reply

Can this be made a day ahead? What would reheating instructions be?

Reply

Toni | Boulder Locavore

This will quickly become a new favorite in our house!

Reply

Thank you for the feedback! I am happy that you liked it!

Reply

Paula

Yeah it it! It has bacon on it!

Reply

Karly

I'm pretty sure I could eat this for every meal! Thanks for sharing!

Reply

haha me too!

Reply

Anna

Yes to bacon in mac and cheese! So tasty!

Reply

ALWAYS :)

Reply

Amy

Hey! When do you add the dry spices?

Reply

After the evaporated milk.

Reply

Krista

Kids are going to love this! I love that bacon on top!

Reply

Jennifer

Great for Thanksgiving

Reply

yes!!!

Reply

Rebekka

If I double this for Thanksgiving do I double everything?

Reply

Yes, double everything please if you plan on making two different casseroles. If only a giant one, you have have to add more liquid to the sauce.

Reply

Mary Andrews

Made this for birthday celebration to go with hot wings. YUM. 

Reply

Gail

Not a fan of mozzarella.  Can you suggest a substitute?  

Reply

You can use such cheeses as Provolone, Swiss, Fontina. Or simply go with your favorite kind, as long as it melts well, you should be good to go. In reality, any cheeses work great for this recipe. Hope this helps!

Reply

Lisa

What is the serving size? I'm counting calories...

Reply

Deborah

If your counting calories, you probably shouldn’t eat this. . . Well maybe a Tablespoon 🧀🥓🧀🧀🧀🧀🥓🥓🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🥓🥓🥓🥓🥓🥓🥓🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🥓🥓🥓🥓🧀🧀

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