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simple macaroni and cheese on white plate with salad; cast iron skillet in background

Macaroni and Cheese 

Basic Creamy Macaroni and Cheese is the best homemade mac and cheese recipe. Make this classic for a family-favorite dinner or as a foundation with unlimited variations.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 people
Calories 462 kcal


  • 8 oz elbow macaroni
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter divided
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cup milk 2% or whole milk
  • 2 slices white American cheese
  • 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 pinch fresh cracked pepper
  • ½ cup crushed buttery crackers
  • ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese


  • Heat oven to 350°F.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  • Cook the macaroni in the water to al dente according to package directions.
  • In the meantime, melt 2 Tablespoons butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth and bubbly. Cook 1 minute.
  • Add the milk and whisk constantly until smooth. Increase heat to high and cook, whisking constantly, until the milk starts to steam (~2 minutes). Remove from the heat.
  • Add the cheeses, mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir until cheese is almost melted (*see Notes). Add the drained macaroni. Transfer to greased 2-qt baking dish.
  • Melt remaining 1 Tablespoon butter and toss with the crushed crackers and parmesan. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs mixture over the macaroni.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 350°F for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and golden brown on top.


When adding the cheese to the sauce, stir until the cheese is mostly melted, but the mixture does not need to be completely smooth. Visible bits of cheese are a perfectly good thing.


Calories: 462kcal (23%) | Carbohydrates: 40g (13%) | Protein: 18g (36%) | Fat: 23g (35%) | Saturated Fat: 14g (88%) | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 65mg (22%) | Sodium: 541mg (24%) | Potassium: 264mg (8%) | Fiber: 2g (8%) | Sugar: 5g (6%)

Calorie count is purely an estimate calculated using an online application to serve as a guide and not to be taken as accurate nutritional information. Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Keyword basic macaroni and cheese, homemade creamy mac and cheese, simple macaroni and cheese
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