Cooking Basics

Simple macaroni and cheese recipes

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macaroni and cheese
Bring the rich smell of homemade macaroni and cheese to your kitchen
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Forget the box! It's time to get real with macaroni and cheese recipes

On a chilly autumn or winter evening, there is nothing that smells quite as delicious as homemade macaroni and cheese. 

If you've been getting your mac n' cheese fix from a box, here are some simple macaroni and cheese recipes that will have you by-passing the box from now on. I'm starting with a classic baked version, then adding a quick stove top option and a kicked-up new twist on comfort food.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

This recipe comes from the Southern Foods section of The simple steps and creamy result make it a great choice for people who want a delicious dinner with minimal fuss.

Ingredients (for 4 servings, or 2 if you have teenagers):

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided


  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Cook macaroni in boiling salted water according to package directions; drain well and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.
  • Blend in flour, stirring constantly, until smooth and bubbly.
  • Gradually stir in milk and half-and-half.
  • Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture boils and thickens, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add paprika, pepper, and 2 cups of the cheese; stir until cheese is melted and sauce is smooth.
  • Combine sauce with the macaroni and add salt to taste.
  • Place in a buttered 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.
  • Garnish top with remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and dot with additional butter.
  • Bake 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Serve bubbling hot with a crisp salad, sliced apples and a cup of tomato soup for a healthy, satisfying meal


Easy Macaroni and Cheese in a Pot

Sometimes, there's just no time for baking.  Whether it's kids who need to get to soccer practice, a late meeting at work, or just one of those days, there are times when you need quick.

Fortunately, there's no need to use a boxed mix when you can make homemade macaroni and cheese in minutes.  With two pots, and a few simple ingredients, this is a hearty dinner you can have on the table in under 20 minutes.


  • 1 half pound pasta (I prefer the little sea shell ones because they hold the cheese sauce)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups milk (you can use 2% or 1% to cut calories, but skim really doesn't work well)
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (a good Vermont white cheddar works best, but any Cheddar will do in a pinch)


  • Cook pasta as directed on package.  Do not overcook.
  • In a heavy saucepan over medium, melt the butter
  • Sprinkle in the flour, stirring constantly
  • Add the salt and pepper, stir well
  • Pour in the milk in a slow, steady stream stirring constantly
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until milk mixture is hot and just starts to bubble. Do not boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium low, then stir in the grated cheese. 
  • Make sure the cheese is melted and blended into the sauce, then our over drained pasta and stir one more time

Kicked Up Macaroni and Cheese

This spicier twist on classic macaroni and cheese recipes comes from The poster warns that "This ain't your grandma's mac and cheese", and they're right. Chili powder and dried mustard give this recipe a bit of heat -- just perfect for dinner after skiing, building snowmen or raking autumn leaves,

  • 1 1/2 cups rotelle pasta
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 3 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
  • 1 cup shredded pepperjack cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  • In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter.
  • Whisk in flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  • A little at a time, whisk in milk, mustard, salt, pepper and hot sauce.
  • Bring to a gentle boil, stirring constantly.
  • Boil 1 minute, then remove from heat and whisk in pepper jack, Cheddar and Parmesan until smooth.
  • Stir in cooked pasta and pour into shallow 2 quart baking dish.
  • Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
  • Stir in bread crumbs and chili powder. Sprinkle over macaroni mixture.
  • Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve this tasty macaroni and cheese recipe with a cooling tomato, cucumber and avocado salad for a complete cold-weather dinner.

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