Mac and Cheese

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This Mac and Cheese Recipe is creamy, cheesy and delicious. The ultimate in comfort food, this pasta dish is made with a gooey homemade sauce of butter, milk and melted cheese. A light topping of breadcrumbs adds a fabulous crunch.

mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese recipe, mac and cheese recipe

This recipe includes directions on cooking a complete mac and cheese dish with an amazing homemade cheese sauce on the stovetop. Then, it also goes on to show how to bake the macaroni and cheese into a delicious casserole. Both versions are tasty and vegetarian.

About this recipe

Macaroni and cheese is known as a classic quick meal for kids. However, this is not the powdered cheese version you will find at the store. Instead, this recipe includes a homemade savory sauce that will make this dish popular with the whole family.

In our home this macaroni and cheese meal is up there with other popular American recipes, such as hash browns, pancakes, veggie burgers, baked beans, apple pie, and eggless waffles.

Making homemade mac and cheese is actually quite easy once you know how to prepare the perfect cheese sauce. Making the sauce is not difficult, but you do need to keep a few tips in mind to get a creamy, cheesy and smooth sauce.

Baking Mac and Cheese

  • Baking macaroni and cheese is optional. I always bake my mac and cheese further as it tastes so good. But if you don’t have an oven or the time, then just mix and serve.
  • Do top with breadcrumbs when baking as they add a lovely crispy and crunchy layer.
  • Feel free to add seasonings, herbs and spices of your choice. I keep it simple with crushed black pepper and a bit of ground nutmeg. A dash of mustard powder also perks up the flavor.
  • To add some fiber and extra nutrition to in the dish, simply mix in some steamed veggies. 
Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Mac and Cheese

Cooking pasta

1. Take 1 cup macaroni pasta or elbow macaroni (100 grams or 3.5 ounces).

elbow macaroni for mac and cheese

2. Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the package. I first heated 4 cups water, plus ½ teaspoon salt to a vigorous boil and then added the pasta.

pasta getting cooked

3. Cook the pasta until it is al dente or just cooked. It should not get too soft or mushy or break.

paste for mac and cheese recipe

4. Drain the pasta in a colander or strainer.

pasta for mac and cheese recipe

Making the breadcrumbs topping

Making the breadcrumb topping is only necessary if you plan on baking the mac and cheese. Skip the following steps if you do not plan to bake the macaroni and cheese.

5. While the pasta is cooking, grease a baking pan with some softened butter.

butter for mac and cheese recipe

6. Then in a microwave safe bowl, melt 1 teaspoon butter.

butter for mac and cheese recipe

7. Now add ⅓ cup breadcrumbs to the melted butter. If you do not have store-bought breadcrumbs, you can easily make your own. Simply take 3 to 4 slices of bread that are 2 to 3 days old, tear them apart and grind them in a dry grinder or mixer.

breadcrumbs for mac and cheese recipe

8. With a spoon, mix the breadcrumbs with the melted butter very well. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).

breadcrumbs for mac and cheese recipe

Making cheese sauce

9. Heat 3 tablespoons butter in a thick bottomed sauce pan on a low flame.

butter for mac and cheese recipe

10. The butter should heat up well. You should see the frothing effect on the butter before you add the flour.

butter for macaroni and cheese recipe

11. Then add 2 tablespoons all purpose flour.

flour for macaroni and cheese recipe

12. Using a wired whisk stir the flour quickly as soon as you add it.

flour for macaroni and cheese recipe

13. Keep on stirring so that lumps do not form.

stirring flour for macaroni and cheese recipe

14. The frequent stirring helps the flour to cook evenly.

stirring flour for macaroni and cheese recipe

15. You will see the flour frothing and bubbling up while stirring.

stirring flour for macaroni and cheese recipe

16. Sauté the flour until you get a nice aroma from it and the mixture is a pale golden color. Don’t brown the flour.

stirring flour for macaroni and cheese recipe

17. Keep the flame to the lowest and pour the milk in a gentle stream. Pour the milk with one hand and stir the sauce mixture with the other. The milk has to be chilled, so that lumps do not form. If you use hot, warm or room temperature milk, then lumps will form.

milk for mac and cheese recipe

18. Stir frequently while the milk warms and heats up.

milk for mac and cheese recipe

19. The sauce will begin to thicken, so continue to stir often.

sauce for mac and cheese recipe

20. When the sauce has thickened well, switch off the flame. A test is that the sauce should coat the back of a spoon (see example below). You now have a white sauce (bechamel sauce) and next you will be adding cheese to it to make it a cheese sauce.

sauce for mac and cheese recipe

21. Remove the saucepan from the heat and wait for a minute. Then add 150 grams (5.3 ounces) shredded cheese. I used a mix of cheddar, gouda and mozzarella. You can also use just cheddar cheese or your favorite cheese. Just note that the flavor and taste of the dish depends largely on the kind of cheese you use. Do shred your own cheese and do not buy packaged shredded cheese.

cheese for mac and cheese recipe

22. Again mix and stir so that the cheese melts.

cheese for mac and cheese recipe

23. The cheese needs to melt well in the hot white sauce (bechamel sauce). This is what will turn your white sauce into a smooth, creamy cheese sauce.

cheese sauce for mac and cheese recipe

24. Add ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon crushed black pepper and a pinch or two of grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder.

pepper for mac and cheese recipe

25. Add a very little salt. About 2 to 3 pinches or about ⅛ teaspoon. Cheese already has salt in it, so add accordingly. You can taste the sauce first and then add salt as per your taste preference.

salt for mac and cheese recipe

26. Stir again.

sauce for mac and cheese recipe

Mixing

27. Now add the pasta to the cheese sauce.

pasta for mac and cheese recipe

28. With a spoon stir and mix thoroughly so that the sauce coats the macaroni very well.

stir pasta for macaroni cheese recipe

29. The macaroni and cheese is done and ready to serve, however if you’d like to bake it before serving, proceed further.

macaroni and cheese recipe, mac and cheese recipe

Baking

30. Pour the prepared mac and cheese into the greased pan.

macaroni and cheese in pan

31. Top evenly with the breadcrumbs and melted butter mixture.

making macaroni and cheese recipe

32. Now sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons of the remaining shredded cheese on top.

cheese for mac and cheese recipe

33. Sprinkle some crushed black pepper on top of the cheese.

pepper for macaroni and cheese recipe

34. Bake in a preheated oven at 390 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius) for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese melts and the mac and cheese is bubbly and hot. Be sure to check while baking as oven temperatures vary.

baking macaroni and cheese recipe

35. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Then serve baked mac and cheese hot.

macaroni and cheese recipe, mac and cheese recipe
Tips

Expert Tips

  • Cook the entire sauce right from the beginning on a low flame.
  • Use a thick bottomed pan, so that the flour or milk does not scorch or burn.
  • Using chilled milk or cold milk for making the sauce does not lead to the formation of lumps.
  • Be sure to stir the sauce mixture often with a wired whisk or balloon whisk.
  • If the sauce becomes too thick, then drizzle some hot milk into it to thin it down.
  • When adding shredded cheese, keep the pan on your workplace and not on the stove top or burner.
  • Shred your cheese and do not use packaged shredded cheese as they have additional starch on them which can make the sauce gluey or clumpy. 
  • Cooking pasta is easy and once the sauce is done, all you need to do is mix together. Now you can eat the macaroni and cheese as is or bake it further.

More Tasty Pasta Recipes

This post is from the archives (April 2015) and has been republished and updated on 12 August 2020.

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mac and cheese recipe

Mac and Cheese (Stovetop & Baked)

4.87 from 23 votes
This mac and cheese recipe is creamy and cheesy with a light crunchy topping of breadcrumbs and gooey melted cheese. The recipe includes both stove top macaroni and cheese and baked mac and cheese. 
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 50 mins

Cuisine American, World
Course: Main Course
Diet: Vegetarian
Difficulty Level: Easy

Servings 3
Units

Ingredients

For cooking macaroni

  • 1 cup elbow macaroni or shell pasta – 100 grams or 3.5 ounces
  • 4 cups water or 1 litre + ½ teaspoon salt

For cheese sauce

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups cold milk or 500 ml cold milk
  • ½ teaspoon crushed black pepper or as required
  • 1 to 2 pinch grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder
  • 1.25 cups shredded cheese – mix of cheddar, mozzarella and gouda cheese or any cheese or 5.3 ounces or 150 grams
  • teaspoon salt or as required

For breadcrumb mixture

  • 1 teaspoon butter – melted
  • cup breadcrumbs

For topping

  • ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon crushed black pepper or as required
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons shredded cheese mix of cheddar, mozzarella and gouda cheese

Instructions

Cooking macaroni

  • Cook the elbow pasta as per the instructions on the package till they are al dente. I first heated the water and salt to a vigorous boil and then added the pasta.
  • Cook them till they are al dente or just cooked. They should not get too soft or mushy or break.
  • Drain them in a colander or strainer.
  • Now grease a baking pan with some softened butter. Skip this step if you do not plan to bake the mac n cheese.

Making breadcrumbs topping

  • In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter or you can melt the butter in a small pan. Then add the breadcrumbs.
  • With a spoon mix the breadrcumbs with the melted butter very well. Keep aside.

Making cheese sauce

  • Heat butter in a thick bottomed sauce pan on a low flame. Also preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • The butter should heat up well. Then add the all purpose flour.
  • Using a wired whisk stir the flour quickly as soon as you add it.
  • Keep on stirring so that no lumps are formed.
  • The frequent stirring helps the flour to cook evenly.
  • You will see the flour frothing and bubbling up while stirring.
  • Saute the flour till you get a nice cooked aroma from the flour and a pale golden color. Don’t brown the flour.
  • Keep the flame to the lowest and then pour the milk in a gentle stream. Pour the milk with one hand and stir the sauce mixture with the other. The milk has to be chilled, so that lumps are not formed. If you use hot or warm milk or milk at room temperature, lumps can be formed.
  • Do stir frequently while the milk warms and heats up. The sauce would begin to thicken, so do stir often.
  • When the sauce has thickened well and coats the back of a spoon, switch off the flame.
  • Keep the saucepan down and wait for a minute. Then add the shredded cheese. I used an equal mix of cheddar, gouda and mozzarella cheese. You can also use just cheddar cheese or processed cheese or your favorite cheese.
  • Again mix and stir so that the cheese melts.
  • The cheese has to melt well in the hot bechamel sauce or white sauce. So now what you have is a cheese sauce.
  • Add the crushed black pepper and a pinch or two of grated nutmeg or nutmeg powder. You can also add a bit of mustard powder.
  • Add very little salt. About 2 to 3 pinches. Stir again.

Mixing

  • Now add the pasta in the cheese sauce.
  • With a spoon stir and mix very well.
  • The mac and cheese is done. If you want you can serve it at this step or proceed further to bake it.

Baking

  • Pour the macaroni and cheese in the prepared baking pan.
  • Top evenly with the breadcrumb and the melted butter mixture.
  • Now sprinkle the shredded cheese on top.
  • Sprinkle some crushed black pepper.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius (390 degrees Fahrenheit) for 15 to 20 or till cheese melts. Do keep a check while baking as oven temperatures vary.
  • Wait for 5 minutes and then serve baked mac and cheese hot.

Video

Notes

For the perfect cheese sauce:
  1. Firstly cook the entire sauce right from the beginning on a low flame.
  2. Make the cheese sauce in a thick bottomed pan, so that the flour or milk does not scorch or burn.
  3. Use chilled milk or cold milk for making the sauce so that lumps are not formed.
  4. Be sure to stir the sauce mixture often with a wired whisk or balloon whisk.
  5. If the sauce becomes too thick, then drizzle some hot milk into it to thin it down.
  6. When adding shredded cheese, keep the pan on your workplace and not on the stove top or burner.
  7. Shred your cheese and do not use packaged shredded cheese as they have additional starch on them which can make the sauce gluey or clumpy.
 
Type of Pasta: 
You could use pasta types like shell pasta, farfalle, rotini and even penne in the dish. 
Type of Cheese:
The cheese that can be added are cheddar (sharp or white), Monterey jack, gruyere, parmesan, gouda and mozzarella. You can even choose your favorite mix from the above listed cheese. 

Nutrition Info Approximate values

Nutrition Facts
Mac and Cheese (Stovetop & Baked)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 672 Calories from Fat 333
% Daily Value*
Fat 37g57%
Saturated Fat 23g144%
Cholesterol 107mg36%
Sodium 621mg27%
Potassium 391mg11%
Carbohydrates 56g19%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 11g12%
Protein 27g54%
Vitamin A 1194IU24%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 2mg10%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin B12 1µg17%
Vitamin D 3µg20%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 4µg4%
Calcium 618mg62%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 48µg12%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 63mg16%
Phosphorus 529mg53%
Zinc 3mg20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Dassana Amit

Meet Dassana

Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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Comments are closed.

64 Comments

  1. Hi, thanks for this beautiful recipe. Could you please tell me if there are any alternative to breadcrumbs? As I plan to do it today and there are no bread at home.

    Thanks

    1. Thanks. You can skip breadcrumbs. They add some crispiness to the mac and cheese but can be skipped easily.

  2. Hi thank you so much for the recipe
    When I added shredded mozzarella cheese the milk curdled 🙁
    Can you please tell me what the mistake could have been ?
    I waited for one minute before adding
    The cheese was around 20 days old but after using it a little i had kept it in the freezer I defreezed it for sometime then grated it and added.5 stars

    1. welcome. if the cheese has gone rancid, then the milk can curdle. otherwise, with fresh cheese, milk does not curdle. i have made bechamel sauce many times with both cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese and a mix of both. but never has the milk curdled. defrosting cheese is fine and it was added when the milk sauce temperature had reduced after a minute. so i think, it is the quality and rancidity of cheese that has caused this curdling issue. hope this helps.

  3. Hi thanks a lot for the recipe I had been searching for this for a very long time and am excited to try it out!

    One question can I replace all purpose flour with wheat flour?5 stars

    1. thanks a lot, enrica for your kind wishes. thanks for the rating too. all the best to you.

  4. Awesome… as always. Tried Mac and Cheese for the first time. The only site I came to while searching for the recipe.
    Thank You so much.5 stars

    1. thank you aarohi for the feedback and rating on mac and cheese. glad to read it. welcome and happy cooking.

  5. The best white/cheese sauce recipe ever!!!!!! The most perfect and precise tips to make it a disaster proof recipe. I have never been so elated with the outcome of a sauce I have always messed up in the past. I can’t thank you enough!5 stars

    1. glad to know suparna. i know making cheese sauce can be tricky at times. thanks a lot for wonderful feedback. happy cooking.

    1. almost same. just bake them with some cheese added on top. also the herbs and spices can be of your choice.

  6. Hello Dasana,

    In the simplified version of the recipe above the detailed steps, it says “cooking paste”. I think there has to be “cooking pasta”. Please take the note. And amazing recipe 🙂 Eager to make it soon!

    1. thank for informing me maria. you are right. the auto correct option of my laptop has changed it to paste. i will correct it. thanks again.

  7. Hello Dassana..I was wondering if I could make this recipe without the roux since I don’t usually have too much time but yet I have to satisfy my week nights’ cravings. And would you please share some recipes that take much too less time to make?

    1. you can make without roux also. for a quick version, cook the pasta. heat a bit of milk with some butter. add the pasta, herbs and seasoning. mix well. then add cheese. mix and switch off the flame. if you want you can bake too or just have the pasta directly. will try to add recipes which take less time.

  8. hi i tried this recipe and it turned out so good that i surprised my teenage boys as they always longed for this cheese sauce.I also added different vegetables which i cooked separatly.You are doing amazing work.Thank you so much.5 stars

    1. welcom shikha thank you for positive views, glad your kids liked the mac and cheese recipe 🙂

  9. Thanku sooo much for this amazing recipe… my hubby is seriously impressed… u made my day… Also I added oregano seasoning instead of black pepper and nutmeg powder and it turned out delicious…5 stars

  10. Yummy recipe I added corn to the sauce nd it turned out cheeselicious can u share recipe for penne arrabitta or pasta in red sauce4 stars

    1. thanks komal. i plan to add these recipes. right now i am adding the recipes which are drafts. relocating and not yet settled. so will take a couple of months till i begin to add recipe requests.

  11. Hi
    Im new on your blog and mac and cheese looks yummy.i have few doubts..
    Any substitute for nutmeg.also can this be made only with mozeralla or parmesan
    Thankyou..

  12. Hi Dassana di,

    Instead of just pepper, can I add all purpose seasoning, which is basically a ready made mix of herbs which go well with Italian cooking like pasta and pizza?

    I tried your restaurant style dal makhni recipe (dhungar). I followed it word to word and was really skeptical if only such a few ingredients could result in churning out restaurant quality dish. End result, it came out brilliant. I simply thank god for that moment when i found your website.

    1. yes you can add all purpose seasoning. you can skip the pepper completely. thanks for the feedback on dal makhani. i completely agree it a superb recipe and that too with few ingredients 🙂

  13. Hi dassana. …
    I hv made so many of ur receipes nd all comes out very well…I hv made Besan ladoo recently nd it really comes out very tasty.I hv one query. …can we use any other ingredient instead of lemon juice in ur chocolate cake receipe? ??

    1. thanks vatsala for the feedback on besan ladoo recipe. in the chocolate cake recipe, instead of lemon juice you can use vinegar.

  14. Hi Amit ! The recipe and method is so lucid !,I’m gonna try my hand at it and will let u know !!! Thanks 5 stars

  15. Stumbled upon your website while searching for Kid’s school tiffin recipes. Must appreciate the way you have explained through pictures. Loved it! I am going to try the Mac and Cheese recipe for my 7 year old today 🙂

  16. hi d,I tried your recipes and must say they turned out yummy. I tried your whole wheat bread, dahi vada sand they were simply superb.i just did a minute change by adding Ming dal yellow one and they came out really soft.Can you tell me what rack to keep the mac and cheese for baking and baked samosa for baking in otg .i have morphy richards otg. Pls reply.

    1. thanks rashmi. mung dal can be added to the vadas. there is a moong dal dahi vada too :-). i kept in the center rack. you can also keep in the second last rack. for samosa also i keep in the center rack, so that there is even baking. but for any baking recipe, i always keep both top and bottom heating elements on. so is the case with mac and cheese and samosa.

    1. welcome rajat. the cheese won’t get brown but it will melt in the microwave. the timing depends upon the oven and the microwave power you use. just microwave till the cheese melts.

  17. Hi Dassana,

    This looks really yummy n mouth watering,… i just love the way you make the presentation…

    Can you please share the receipe without baking4 stars

    1. madhu, the cheese won’t get brown but it will melt. the timing depends upon the oven and the microwave power you use. just microwave till the cheese melts.