Baked Mac and Cheese Casserole
One of my cousins was such a picky eater as a kid that during the holidays, he would refuse to eat anything other than mashed potatoes and mac and cheese. He still loves this recipe today because the roux makes the cheese sauce thicker than the kind you’d get out of the box, and the hint of cayenne pepper gives the dish a slightly smoky taste.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
- Yield: Serves 10 to 12 1x
- Category: Sides & Sauces
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus extra for the macaroni
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 cups whole milk (or 2 cups whole milk and 1 cup half-and-half)
- 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound processed cheese (such as Velveeta), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- Fresh sage leaves
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the elbow macaroni and salt and cook until al dente. Drain and reserve.
- In the same pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat and stir in the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and cayenne pepper until it is absorbed and light yellow bubbles form, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and bubbles form, about 4 minutes.
- Add the cream cheese cubes and whisk until no lumps remain. Then add the processed cheese and whisk until completely melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the cooled pasta and 1 cup of the cheddar cheese. Spoon into the baking dish and top with the remaining cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Garnish with sage. Serve.
Keywords: baked mac and cheese casserole, mac and cheese, casserole