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Here are all the best mac and cheese recipes! From classic to unique, these spins all have one thing in common: they’re irresistible.

How to make mac and cheese
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There’s no better comfort food than the American classic: Mac and Cheese! Macaroni and cheese has been around for centuries. The first modern recipe for mac and cheese was included in at 1770 cookbook! With 250 years to refine the concept, there are countless variations on the combination of cheese sauce and macaroni.

Here we’ve collected a few of our very favorite mac and cheese recipes! There’s everything from a classic straight-forward take with cheddar cheese to more unique recipes with pesto, smoked gouda cheese, and even squash! Let’s get cooking.

And now…the best mac and cheese recipes!

Best noodles for mac and cheese

As you can see from these mac and cheese recipes…macaroni and cheese doesn’t need to use macaroni! There are all sorts of unique noodle shapes to use in mac and cheese recipes. In fact: we prefer it with everything from shells to gigli. The main guideline? Use a short-cut pasta, not long noodles. Here are our favorite types of short pasta for mac and cheese, in order of preference:

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How to make mac and cheese

Classic Mac and Cheese (& More Recipes!)

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 10 to 12 as a side, 6 to 8 as a main 1x


Here’s how to make a classic mac and cheese recipe! Cook this ultimate comfort food from scratch and it’s better than any you’ve ever had.


  • 1 pound short pasta of any type (we like large shells)
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (not aged)
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¾ cups 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (or plain breadcrumbs)


  1. Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Start tasting the pasta a few minutes before the package instructions and stop cooking once the pasta is just tender but still firm. Then drain the pasta in a colander and rinse it quickly with warm water.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: Grate the cheese (if necessary). Measure out the butter, flour, milk, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the butter over medium heat; when it melts, stir in the flour. Heat the mixture for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Immediately when the color starts to turn light brown, reduce the heat to low. Start to add the milk very slowly: whisk constantly until the mixture is completely smooth, then add a bit more milk until it is fully incorporated, then repeat. Once all the milk is added, add the salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Continue cooking on low heat for about 2 minutes to thicken slightly, whisking frequently. After 2 minutes, gradually add the grated cheese and keep stirring until it is fully melted.
  3. Top with breadcrumbs and serve: Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce, then pour it into a dish and top with breadcrumbs. If you’d like, place it in a baking dish and broil it for 2 to 4 minutes until the crumbs are lightly browned, turning the pan to even out the browning as necessary. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop with a splash of milk and stir until creamy. 
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

More great pasta recipes

Love pasta? Here are all the best pasta recipes to try:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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