Homestyle Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Homestyle baked macaroni and cheese is a comfort food staple that never goes out of style. Whether you’re looking for a hearty dish to warm you up on a chilly evening or a tasty side that will steal the show at your next gathering, this recipe is sure to impress. Featuring a rich, creamy sauce and a crispy topping, this baked macaroni and cheese combines classic flavors with a touch of gourmet flair.

Ingredients :

Before you start, gather the following ingredients to ensure your mac and cheese is flavorful and satisfying:

  • Pasta: 2 cups of small elbow macaroni (or any small pasta of your choice) to serve as the base.
  • For the Sauce:
    • 1/4 cup salted butter
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups milk
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • For the Crumb Topping:
    • 20 Ritz crackers (or another type of buttery cracker), crushed
    • 4 slices cooked, crispy bacon, chopped
    • 1 heaping tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Simple Steps to Perfect Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Follow these easy steps to create a dish that’s both comforting and delicious:

  1. Preparation: Begin by cooking the macaroni according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside. Preheat your oven to 400°F and spray a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Make the Sauce: Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until smooth and cook for about a minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Gradually add milk, cream cheese, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper. Continue to cook and stir until the sauce thickens (about 3-5 minutes).
  3. Combine: Add the cooked pasta and shredded cheddar cheese to the sauce, stirring until well combined and the cheese is melted.
  4. Assemble: Transfer the cheesy pasta into the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly.
  5. Add the Topping: In a small bowl, mix the crushed crackers, chopped bacon, and chopped parsley. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the pasta.
  6. Bake: Place the dish in the oven on the lower-third rack and bake for 20 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly.
  7. Cool and Serve: Allow the baked macaroni and cheese to cool slightly before serving. This rest period helps the dish set up a bit and makes it easier to serve.

Total Time and Servings

  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Bake Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Servings: Serves 8 people

Serving and Storage Tips :

Serving Tips:

  1. Garnishing: To enhance the presentation, consider adding a sprinkle of fresh herbs such as parsley or chives on top of the baked macaroni and cheese right before serving. This adds a pop of color and a fresh flavor contrast to the rich cheese.
  2. Pairing: This hearty dish pairs wonderfully with a light, crisp salad to balance the richness. Consider a simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing. For a heartier meal, serve alongside steamed vegetables or a roasted meat like chicken or pork.
  3. Temperature: Baked macaroni and cheese is best served warm. If it has cooled down too much after baking, you can reheat it in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes or until heated through.

Storage Tips:

  1. Refrigeration: Allow the baked macaroni and cheese to cool to room temperature before covering it with plastic wrap or transferring it to an airtight container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  2. Freezing: For longer storage, baked macaroni and cheese freezes well. Spoon it into freezer-safe containers and freeze for up to 2 months. To serve, thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
  3. Reheating: To reheat refrigerated or thawed macaroni and cheese, cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F until it is heated through, about 20 minutes. For individual servings, you can also reheat in the microwave, stirring occasionally to ensure even heating.
  4. Avoid Sogginess: If you notice that the pasta becomes a bit soggy when reheating, you can revive the dish by sprinkling some additional cheese on top and letting it melt as you warm it up, which helps restore some of the dish’s original texture and flavor.

Variations :

Homestyle baked macaroni and cheese is a versatile dish that can be adapted in numerous ways to suit different tastes and dietary requirements. Here are some delicious variations that you can try to keep the dish exciting every time you make it:

  1. Different Cheeses:
    • Gourmet Blend: Use a combination of Gruyère, Fontina, and a bit of blue cheese for a rich, complex flavor.
    • Smoky Flavor: Add smoked Gouda or smoked cheddar for a deep, smoky taste.
    • Mild and Creamy: For a milder flavor, try using mozzarella and Monterey Jack.
  2. Add-Ins:
    • Proteins: Stir in cooked, diced chicken, ground beef, or even lobster for a protein-packed version.
    • Vegetables: Mix in steamed broccoli, sautéed spinach, or caramelized onions to add a nutritional boost and extra flavor.
    • Heat: Incorporate jalapeños or red pepper flakes to give the mac and cheese a spicy kick.
  3. Toppings:
    • Breadcrumb Topping: Replace the cracker crumbs with panko breadcrumbs mixed with melted butter for a lighter, crunchier topping.
    • Cheese Crust: For extra cheesy goodness, top your macaroni with an additional layer of mixed cheeses before adding the breadcrumb or cracker topping.
  4. Gluten-Free Version:
    • Use gluten-free pasta and substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend or cornstarch to make the roux for the sauce.
    • Ensure that all other ingredients, like crackers used for the topping, are certified gluten-free.
  5. Vegan and Dairy-Free:
    • Substitute the dairy products with plant-based alternatives like vegan butter, plant milk, and vegan cheese.
    • Use nutritional yeast in the sauce to add a cheesy flavor without actual cheese.
  6. Low-Carb/Keto-Friendly:
    • Replace the elbow macaroni with cauliflower florets for a low-carb version of the dish.
    • Use heavy cream instead of milk and increase the amount of cheese to maintain a creamy texture without adding carbs.
  7. Holiday Twist:
    • For a festive version during the holidays, add ingredients like diced ham and green peas, or make a pumpkin cheese sauce by incorporating pureed pumpkin and seasonal spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.

Frequently Asked Questions :

  1. Can I make baked macaroni and cheese ahead of time? Yes, you can assemble the dish a day in advance and keep it refrigerated. Just add a few extra minutes to the baking time since you’ll be starting from a cold state.
  2. What’s the best way to reheat leftover macaroni and cheese? Reheat in the oven at 350°F covered with foil for about 20 minutes, or microwave individual servings at medium power, stirring occasionally until heated through.
  3. Can baked macaroni and cheese be frozen? Yes, you can freeze the dish either baked or unbaked. Wrap it tightly and freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking or reheating.
  4. How do I prevent my macaroni from getting too soft? Cook your pasta until it’s al dente (still slightly firm) as it will continue to cook in the oven.
  5. What are the best cheeses for macaroni and cheese? A mix of sharp cheddar for flavor and a melting cheese like mozzarella or Gouda for creaminess works best. Feel free to experiment with your favorites.


Homestyle baked macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. With its creamy texture and crispy, flavorful topping, this dish is perfect for any occasion. The blend of cream cheese and sharp cheddar creates a depth of flavor that’s both rich and satisfying, while the bacon adds a smoky crunch that elevates the overall taste. Serve this at your next family dinner or potluck and watch it disappear!