My Best Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese

Comfort food perfection! My favourite homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese ever! Great cheese combines with a super creamy sauce, for an absolutely creamy, dreamy mac and cheese.

I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a bad Macaroni and Cheese. Let’s face it, a plate of pasta and cheese sauce going to be pretty good no matter the recipe you start with. But when I enjoyed a bowl of the famous Beecher’s Macaroni and Cheese when I was in Seattle, I realized that macaroni and cheese could be more than just good – it could be really great. I think it was great for two reasons – it had lots of a wonderful creamy sauce and it was made with a really great cheese (and it makes a huge difference!).

So like all food-obsessed people, I set out to recreate it when I returned home. Turns out, the Beecher macaroni and cheese recipe is available online, so it turned out that recreating it was going to be a lot easier than I thought :) My next problem was that I was in Canada and that wonderful Beecher’s cheese isn’t available here. Thankfully, while Beecher’s is certainly great cheddar, there are a lot of other options available, as a great starting point for a perfect mac and cheese.

This isn’t the exact Beecher’s recipe, but it is certainly based on it. Of course, the cheese is different, but it is also comes about as a result of a “happy accident” I made when preparing the published Beecher’s recipe for the first time. You see, I failed to properly read the instructions and added all 4 cups of the cheese sauce to the dish, instead of the specified 2 cups. Yes, I accidentally doubled the sauce and found macaroni and cheese heaven! It should be no surprise, of course. If 2 cups of cheese sauce is good, 4 cups has to be great, right? And great it was. The combination of extra, creamy sauce with really great cheddar was perfect.

Experiment with your favourite cheeses and make your own signature dish. I loved the combination of a nutty, super old (crumbly) white cheddar with the sharp Canadian MacLaren’s Imperial cold-packed cheese. (Using two different ones gives a nice depth of cheese flavour). If you don’t have access to MacLaren’s, use a nice, sharp orange cheddar or possibly another brand of cold pack cheddar. I topped mine off with a bit of Extra Old Balderson Cheddar.

Featured Review: Best Mac n Cheese recipe ever ! And my husband is a chef :-) !!! – Nad

Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese

Cook’s Notes for Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese

To ensure your macaroni doesn’t get too soft, be sure to cook it 2 minutes less than you normally would, about 8 minutes. Rinsing well with cold water after draining will stop the cooking process and will also ensure your pasta doesn’t get too soft.

When crumbling your cheese, don’t leave the crumbles too large. They need to melt by only the heat from the sauce. This process of turning off the heat, then adding the cheese to melt without bottom heat, helps to ensure the cheese doesn’t become grainy and is the secret to a smooth, creamy sauce for your macaroni and cheese!

Don’t skip the chili powder or chipotle chili powder. It’s such a lovely smoky, spicy note. It complements the cheese perfectly, without over-powering it.

Add a bit more salt if you need to. Taste your cheese sauce before adding the pasta and add a bit more salt if you think it needs it. Proper salting makes all the flavours here really shine.

Homemade Creamy Mac and Cheese

My Best Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Perfect Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best macaroni and cheese recipe, creamiest mac and cheese, creamy mac and cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Energy: 508 kcal
Author: Jennifer
It's handy to have a scale for this recipe, to weigh the dry pasta and cheese. I've added alternate measurements where I could. Use a really great cheddar for this, as well as whole milk, if you can. It will make all the difference in the finished dish. I like to use two cheddars, a really great, aged one for most of it and then another one, a bit milder but still sharp, for a bit of depth of flavour. Experiment and find your favourite combinations.


  • 8 oz dry macaroni (1 2/3 cups measured in a 2 cup glass liquid measure. Note that this measure will only work for macaroni and probably not a larger pasta shape. Weighing is recommended.)

Cheese Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk recommend whole milk here you can, 3%
  • 7 oz Good aged white crumbly cheddar crumbled
  • 3 oz Another variety orange sharp cheddar or cold-packed cheddar grated or crumbled
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt little less if using table salt
  • 1/4 tsp regular chili powder
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder


  • 1/2 oz aged cheddar grated
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder


  1. Add water and a bit of salt to a large pot and place over high heat for the pasta. While it's heating, prepare the cheese sauce.
  2. For the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Very slowly add the milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly. Once all the milk has been added, cook, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. (Don't rush this step. The mixture will not be thick, but will noticeably thicken after 8-10 minutes of cooking).
  4. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the cheese, salt, chili powder and garlic powder. Stir until the cheese is melted and all the ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. (If the cheese isn't melted completely after about 3 minutes, you can put the pan back on low heat and stir until it is melted). Set aside for a minute.
  5. Preheat oven to 350F (175C) with rack in the centre of the oven. Oil or butter an 8-inch square baking dish, an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or individual baking dishes.

  6. When the pasta water is boiling, add the macaroni and cook for 2 minutes less than the package directions indicate. (The noodles will finish cooking in the sauce in the oven). When the pasta is cooked, drain and immediately rinse well with cold water. Make sure your pasta is well drained.
  7. Add the cooked pasta and to the cheese sauce and mix gently, but thoroughly. (It might look like too much sauce or too little pasta, but trust me, it will all be good in the end). Spoon or ladle the mixture into a prepared baking dish or individual dishes. Sprinkle the top of each with a bit of additional grated sharp cheddar cheese (you don't need a lot here, as there is plenty in the sauce), then sprinkle with the chipotle chili powder.
  8. Bake in the preheated 350F (175C) oven uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauce has bubbled up around the edges and the top has a nice golden crust. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Be sure to read the "Cook's Notes" in the original post, for more tips, options, substitutions and variations for this recipe!


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  • Will be making this as a side to my beef sliders tonight….

    Not for publication but if you go to number 7 I feel you have a grammar error in the first sentence forgive me if I am wrong but the word “and” needs to be deleted….

    Next to that will let you k ow how it came out for my family..thanks.

    • Hi Benita, you want to use about 3 oz, so if my math is right, it would be a little less than half (3/8th of the round). Enjoy!

  • I also made it in a couple of cast-iron skillet’s. I have the photos if you care to see them. I just made your macaroni and cheese for dinner tonight and we raved about it. Thank you again for the great recipe. Cheers! 🤗

  • Thank you so much for the most wonderful macaroni and cheese that I have ever tasted and my family agreed!! It was creamy, cheesy, tasty and melt in your mouth delicious! I will most definitely make your recipe time and time again for all of us to save her the flavor. Thank you again!

  • My husband mentioned that since he became lactose intolerant he really misses mac and cheese. He can have the butter and the good, old cheddar but not the milk and doesn’t do well with the lactase product and others like it. Wondering how this would work with soy milk instead?

    • Hi PA, I haven’t actually tried it, but I did a little checking around and it looks like soy milk should work. That said, it may not thicken as regular milk would, so be prepared with a little cornstarch and water mixture to thicken at the end, if necessary. Let me know how it works if you try it!

  • Hi Jennifer
    Can I make the sauce the day before and then cook macaroni and add to warmed up sauce and then bake.

    • Hi Donna and while I haven’t tried it myself, I think that would work ok. As long as sauce and macaroni are both warm, should be good. Enjoy :)

  • Hi Jennifer, this recipe looks amazing I always buy McLarens and was looking for mac & cheese recipe to use it in, however has anybody ever used ham in this recipe. I have a few chunks of Ham in my freezer from a big ham hock and I was wondering if I could use it in the mac & cheese recipe or if it’d be too salty.

    • Hi Melodie, I have to confess, I’m a mac and cheese purist, so I rarely add anything to mine, but I think if I were going to, ham would be a natural. I think your concern about saltiness is a good one though. I’d maybe just slightly reduce the added salt in the pasta (boiling water) and the sauce to compensate. Enjoy :)

  • This looks delicious! I am making lunch for my staff and was wondering if anyone has made this dish a couple of days in advance and then served it?

    • Hi Megan, Hopefully someone who has actually done that can weigh in for you, but I can tell you what the leftovers are like from the fridge. The sauce in this one does thicken up as it sits in the fridge, so it’s not quite as “saucy”. That said, it’s still pretty darned good and quite acceptable when re-heated in the microwave 24 hours later.

  • Thanks Irene and yes, this has been my one and only mac and cheese recipe since I first made it :) I’m glad you found the MacLaren’s. I love that sharp cheddar note and I miss it when I make this one without it.

I love hearing from you, so if you have a question or something isn't quite clear, I'm happy to help. If you made this recipe, I'd love to know how you liked it ~ Jennifer

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