How to Bake Macaroni and Cheese
There's perhaps nothing more American than learning how to bake macaroni and cheese. Whether it's for a summer barbecue or a winter comfort meal, macaroni and cheese is a crowd pleaser for all seasons.

One of the keys to creating the perfect macaroni and cheese is producing a luxurious cream sauce that coats the noodles. That sauce often begins with a "roux," a cooked mixture of flour and fat (generally equal parts) that serves as a thickener before liquid is added. For macaroni and cheese, all-purpose flour and butter is a common roux combination, and milk is typically the liquid.

The roux is cooked for a minute or two before adding the liquid to remove that "raw" flour taste. It's important that the liquid is not extremely hot (rather room temperature or warm) because it can cause the end mixture to be lumpy--whisk constantly as you add liquid to help with that. Also, it's important that once the liquid is poured into the roux, the mixture simmers for a few minutes to thicken properly.

Breadcrumbs add a nice texture to macaroni and cheese if it is baked. To help them brown and stay moist, add a bit of fat (butter, olive oil, cheese, etc.) or cooking spray to the breadcrumbs.

Transcript
-Hi everyone, I'm Judith. We'll today, we'll be making a good old comfort food, classic baked macaroni and cheese. So, what you'll need is 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter or non-hydrogenated margarine. Today, we'll be using butter; 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour; 1 tablespoon of onion powder; 2 teaspoons of garlic powder; 2 cups of skimmed milk; half a cup of shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese; 2 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese; 1/2 pound or 2 cups of elbow macaroni; cooked according to package direction; half a cup of Panko bread crumbs. So, this is a very simple recipe to make and it's a wonderful one on a cold winter's day when you just want that nice comforting macaroni and cheese. So, first things first, we have preheated our oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. We have our baking dish here. Try and get about 6 cups baking dish and we're just gonna spray it here with some cooking spray. Let that to the side. Now, in our sauce pan to the side of us, we're gonna put it on a medium heat, and we're gonna add in our butter. So, we let that butter melt. So, into the melted butter goes our flour and our onion and garlic powder. That's gonna give it a lovely sync with the cheese, that onion and garlic. And so what we wanna do here is stir continuously for about a minute just to bring all those ingredients together. So, once all that has come together, we are going to add in the milk little by little and stirring continuously just to bring it all together. There you go, so this is gonna be our nice sauce for our macaroni cheese. Make sure the heat stirring continuously, add that in little by little. Now, as you can see, still might be a little lumpy to begin with of course. What we wanna do is just whisk it in all in, and get it to a nice consistency, which we want for our cheesy sauce dressing. So, once it's all in, let's just give it a good whisk and get all those ingredients together. So, whisking all of those ingredients in together, we're gonna bring the heat up to a medium high and bring it to a boil and keep whisking continuously for a couple of minutes, get that to a boil and that's just gonna get to that consistency that creaming as that we want. Once that's brought to boil, we're then gonna reduce the heat and let it simmer for 5 minutes, and make sure to stir occasionally. You don't have to stir constantly when you do this, but when it's simmering, just give it a stir here and there, just to, you know, get all those ingredients separated. So, we'll be back in 5 minutes. So, once all mixtures have been simmering there for minutes, we're gonna take it off the heat now, give that one last stir, that's nice and creamy, just the way we want it. Off the heat, let's add in our cheese, of course. So, we are using some nice cheddar cheese, should give it some good color, and some fresh parmesan cheese as well, and here we can season with some salt and pepper as well according to your taste like so, that's it. Now, give that a good stir, so all that cheese melts in to the mixture, Oh, that is gonna be delicious and it smelled fantastic in this kitchen right now, I'm telling you, beautiful, lovely, creamy cheesy consistency. Very [unk] to just stick my finger in there either right now, but we won't because lastly we're gonna add in our macaroni. Now, we cooked this, cooked and drained it about 5 to 7 minutes in some boiling water. Obviously, cook your macaroni according to the instructions, and we're just gonna add it into our pan here. There we go, and we're just gonna give that a really good stir and get all that macaroni mixed in to the cheesy creamy mixture, huh, delicious. That looks great. This one is always a crowd pleaser isn't it, with family, with friends that come over, and really very simple ingredients can go a long way, perfect. Alright, so once of that is mixed in there beautifully. We are now ready to put it in our baking dish. So, in there goes, remember, we spread it already with some cooking spray, and we'll just let that into there that is gonna look beautiful, fantastic. There you go, perfect. Alright, so, last but not the least, let's add our bread crumbs. Now, I'm using these Panko bread crumbs, which I feel for this recipe really gives it that extra crunchiness, crispiness, really makes it delicious. So, let's sprinkle that on the top of our macaroni and cheese. You know, you eat those Japanese fried foods and they taste extra crunchy, and it's because of these bread crumbs they use, really, really good, and just to finish it off. I'm just gonna give a quick spray with some cooking some cooking spray so the break crumbs don't burn in the oven. So, that now is gonna go into the oven at 350-degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown. So, we've taken our macaroni and cheese from out of the oven. It's been in there for 30 minutes and it's exactly how we want it now. We've this lovely golden brown on the top and nice crunchiness from the Panko bread crumbs and a lovely creamy cheesiness underneath with that macaroni and cheese, and that's how you make classic baked macaroni and cheese.
What You'll Need
  • 1   tablespoon unsalted butter or nonhydrogenated margarine

  • 2   tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1   tablespoon onion powder

  • 2   teaspoons garlic powder

  • 2   cups skim milk

  • 1/2  cup shredded reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese

  • 2   tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2  pound (2 cups) elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions

  • 1/2  cup panko breadcrumbs


Step By Step
1
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 6-cup baking dish with cooking spray. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, onion powder, and garlic powder, and cook 1 minute, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium-high, and bring sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2
Remove from heat, and stir in Cheddar and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in macaroni. Transfer to prepared baking dish, and top with breadcrumbs. Lightly spray breadcrumbs with cooking spray. Bake 30 minutes, or until top begins to brown.


More Recipes
This is great on its own, but if you like to gild the lily, try one of the add-ins below.
Not only is this ultra-creamy version of mac-and-cheese nearly as fast as the boxed variety, but your family will be able to pronounce every ingredient. If they aren't broccoli fans, substitute a frozen vegetable of your choice.
Adding the cheese in two stages helps to create the best consistency.

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