You can never go wrong with macaroni and cheese! We're about to blow. your. mind. with how easy and delicious this recipe is. It's the favorite side dish for every occasion, both at home and at your next potluck!
Macaroni and cheese is one of those dishes that literally goes with everything. Perfect for the holidays, parties, weekly dinners and more, you really can't go wrong with it! The boxed versions are good to have in a pinch, but homemade macaroni and cheese is definitely the way to go.
*Note: When you click the links in this post, we may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
True to our name, it's such an easy recipe to shelf cook because you should have everything that it calls for in your kitchen inventory! We have some great tips on taking it that extra mile (not that it needs it) and how to freeze it for a quick meal, too. So let's get on to the deets on our favorite side dish, ever!
OUR FAVORITE ADD-INS
You can never go wrong with plain macaroni and cheese! Pretty much any kid (or kid-at-heart) can verify that it's a staple you could have every day and never get tired of. But we wouldn't be ShelfCooking.com if we didn't give you some extra ideas to spice your mac and cheese up and stretch that food even further! Here are some of our favorite add-ins that go really well in macaroni and cheese:
- Hidden veggies, such as carrots, sweet potatoes or avocados
- Chopped veggies, such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, onions and even peas
- Cooked meat, including ground beef, shredded chicken, diced ham, turkey, hot dogs, sausage, bacon and more!
- Crushed crackers or bread crumbs
- Sauces, such as buffalo, barbecue, ranch and more!
You can take that macaroni and cheese from a side to the main dish by adding a few of these ideas to it! You won't hear us complaining, either.
HOW TO MAKE THIS HOMEMADE DISH
You ready for the creamiest, cheesiest macaroni and cheese recipe you've ever made? Feel free to double or triple this recipe to feed a crowd or have extras to freeze for later.
Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 ½ cups milk
- Additional add-ins, such as veggies or cooked meat
- 1 ½ cups cheddar cheese, or any other type you have
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 8-oz cooked and drained hot pasta
- Create a roux by melting the butter, whisking in the flour and allowing to thicken.
- Add milk slowly, about ⅓ cup at a time, and mix well between additions.
- Let the sauce get thick between additions until you have the desired amount.
- Add in any extras, if desired.
- Remove from heat and add in desired cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
- Add hot pasta and mix well. Enjoy!
HOW TO MAKE BAKED MACARONI AND CHEESE
If you have the time and want to make baked macaroni and cheese to make it super duper, extra special, then go for it! Cook your pasta to al dente since it'll keep cooking in the oven. While your cheese sauce is cooking, preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a casserole dish.
Once your macaroni and cheese is mixed, add half to the dish, top with shredded cheese and add the rest to the dish. Whip up a breaded topping made of bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, melted butter and paprika and sprinkle over the top. Bake about 30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and bubbly. You'll be amazed at how those few extra steps and time can take something already delicious and turn it into a party in your mouth!
CAN YOU FREEZE IT?
Yes! You know we love to freeze meals for those busy night that you may otherwise want to spend a fortune on take out. If you're freezing regular macaroni and cheese, simply put the desired amount into a freezer-safe container, getting as much air out as possible.
If you're wanting to freeze baked macaroni and cheese for an easy side dish, it's best to freeze it before you bake it. Make your dish like normal, but put it in an aluminum foil pan. Triple wrap it with foil, write down the details and cooking information on top and you've got a side that's ready to go when you are.
HOW TO REHEAT MACARONI AND CHEESE
You can reheat the leftovers it in the microwave, but it tends to dry out quickly in there, so you'll probably need to add a little milk. You can also reheat it on the stove! Add it to a pot, add some milk and extra cheese (and a little bit of butter never hurts!) and it'll be just as creamy as it was when you first made it.
OTHER WAYS TO USE THE CHEESE SAUCE
We love the cheese sauce so much, we've rounded up some other great ways to use it! Here are a few of our favorite delicious ways to use it up:
- Over veggies, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and green beans
- On nachos
- Dipping sauce for soft pretzels
- On loaded French fries
- Dipping sauce for chicken nuggets
- On a hot dog or burger
- Over an omelette
- On a baked potato
- Cheesy scalloped potatoes
Yum to the yum! The cheese sauce is the star to our favorite homemade macaroni and cheese and now you know just how amazing it is!
What's your favorite meal to eat with macaroni and cheese? Let us know in the comments!
Looking for more?
- Check out these clever kitchen organization hacks that you need to know now!
- Need a cream substitute? We've got 'em all!
- Meal planning tips for two plus meal ideas!