old fashioned macaroni and cheese

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Dinner, Main dish, Recipes


Macaroni and cheese, a dish that evokes nostalgia and comfort, has a history as rich as its creamy sauce. This classic comfort food has been a household staple for generations with its tender pasta and rich cheese. Unlike its modern variations, the old-fashioned version adheres to the basics: quality ingredients, simple seasoning, and traditional baking. It’s a testament to the adage that sometimes, the original is hard to beat.

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Overview of Ingredients for Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

Overview of Ingredients for Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

Creating a delicious batch of Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese involves a combination of staple pantry items and dairy products to create a rich, creamy, and comforting dish. Here’s a breakdown of the main ingredients used in this classic recipe:

Elbow Macaroni

The quintessential pasta choice for macaroni and cheese, elbow macaroni provides the perfect nooks for capturing the cheese sauce. Its shape and size make it ideal for baking dishes.

Sharp Cheddar Cheese 

The dish’s star, providing a deep, tangy flavor essential for the classic macaroni and cheese taste. Sharp cheddar melts well and offers a rich color and taste.

Whole Milk and Heavy Cream

The combination of milk and cream creates a luxurious base for the cheese sauce, making it rich and smooth. Whole milk adds moisture and creaminess, while heavy cream contributes to the velvety texture.

Unsalted Butter and All-Purpose Flour

These two work together to form a roux, the thickening base for the cheese sauce. The butter provides a silky fat base, while the flour helps absorb the butter and thickens the cream mixture.


Salt, black pepper, and garlic powder enhance the flavors. Salt brings out the cheese’s natural flavors, black pepper adds a slight kick, and garlic powder introduces a subtle depth that complements the creamy sauce.

Optional Garnishes

Breadcrumbs can be sprinkled on top for a crunchy texture contrast, while parsley adds a fresh color pop. For those who enjoy extra flavor and texture, bacon bits offer a smoky crunch.

Each ingredient in this recipe has been chosen to contribute to the overall harmony and indulgence of the dish, making it a beloved comfort food that brings warmth and satisfaction to any meal.

The Timeless Appeal of Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

Old-fashioned macaroni and cheese is more than just a meal; it’s a piece of culinary history. Its roots can be traced back to the history of macaroni and cheese, evolving from a sophisticated pasta dish to the beloved comfort food we know today. The appeal lies in its:

Simplicity: A few high-quality ingredients create a comforting and familiar dish.

Richness: The creamy cheese sauce enveloping each piece of pasta offers a taste of indulgence.

Versatility: While perfect, it can also serve as a canvas for additions like breadcrumbs or bacon.

Choosing the right type of cheese is crucial for authenticity. A blend of sharp cheddar for depth of flavor and a smoother cheese like Gouda or Fontina can create a balanced, creamy sauce. For more on choosing the right type of cheese, consider each variety’s texture and melting properties.

Perfecting the traditional mac and cheese

Achieving the quintessential old-fashioned macaroni and cheese requires more than just following a recipe; mastering key techniques and understanding the nuances that elevate the dish from good to unforgettable. Here are some tips to perfect your macaroni and cheese:

Cheese Selection: Opt for high-quality cheese. A sharp cheddar provides a robust flavor, while a softer cheese ensures creaminess.

Pasta Cook Time: Cook your pasta al dente since it will continue to cook in the oven.

Sauce Consistency: For a silky sauce, cook your roux until it’s golden and smells nutty, then whisk in the milk slowly to avoid lumps.

Baking to Perfection: Bake until the top is golden and crispy. Consider adding a breadcrumb topping mixed with melted butter for an extra crunch.

Nutritional Information About baked macaroni cheese

While old-fashioned macaroni and cheese is a comfort food favorite, it’s also rich in calories, fats, and carbohydrates. Here’s a general breakdown for a single serving:

Calories: Approximately 500-600 kcal

Fat: 25-35 grams, depending on the types of cheese and milk used

Carbohydrates: 50-60 grams

Protein: 20-25 grams, a benefit of the cheese and milk

Consider pairing your macaroni and cheese with a light and refreshing Lemon Butter Garlic Shrimp Pasta for a delightful contrast of flavors. The Sun-Dried Tomato and Feta Stuffed French Toast offers a savory twist on a classic favorite for a cozy breakfast or brunch that feels homey and comforting.

FAQs About Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

Can I use different types of cheese?

Yes, you can experiment with various types of cheese in your macaroni and cheese. While sharp cheddar is traditional for its bold flavor, try Gruyère for a nutty taste, Fontina for creaminess, or a bit of Parmesan for a salty kick. Mixing cheeses can add depth and complexity to the dish.

How can I make my macaroni and cheese creamier?

To achieve a creamier texture, ensure you use a good sauce-to-pasta ratio. Adding extra milk or cream to the cheese sauce can also help. Another tip is incorporating cheeses that melt well, such as Fontina or Gouda, into your cheddar base.

Can I make old-fashioned macaroni and cheese ahead of time?

Planning a meal? No problem! You can assemble the macaroni and cheese a day in advance and refrigerate it before baking. If you’re starting from cold, add a few extra minutes to the baking time. Cover it with foil to prevent drying out, then remove it towards the end to make the top golden and crispy. With these simple steps, you can confidently prepare a delicious, nostalgic meal for your loved ones.

Is it possible to make this recipe gluten-free?

Yes, you can make a gluten-free version by using gluten-free pasta and substituting the flour in the roux with a gluten-free flour blend. Ensure that your cheese and any other added ingredients are also gluten-free.

Can I add extras to the macaroni and cheese?

Old-fashioned macaroni and cheese is a recipe and a canvas for your culinary creativity. Add cooked bacon, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized onions, or even lobster for a luxurious twist. Vegetables like peas or broccoli can also be mixed in for added nutrition. The possibilities are endless, and each new variation can bring a fresh wave of nostalgia and comfort to your table.

How do I store and reheat leftovers?

Leftover macaroni and cheese can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, add a splash of milk to prevent it from drying out, then warm it in the oven at 350°F until heated through. You can also reheat it in the microwave, stirring occasionally to ensure it heats evenly.

Can I freeze old-fashioned macaroni and cheese?

Yes, you can freeze it either before or after baking. If freezing before baking, assemble the dish, but hold off on the final bake until you’re ready to eat. If freezing after baking, let it cool completely before freezing. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat as directed above. Note that the texture may change slightly upon freezing and reheating.

Happy cooking!


old fashioned macaroni and cheese

  • Author: Gabriela cardenas
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian


  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
  • Breadcrumbs (optional for topping)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Cook the macaroni according to package instructions until al dente, then drain.
  3. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour to form a roux, cooking for 1 minute.
  4. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Add salt, pepper, and paprika. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the cheddar and Gruyère cheeses until melted.
  6. Combine the cooked macaroni and cheese sauce, then transfer to a greased baking dish.
  7. (Optional) Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top for a crispy finish.
  8. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown.
  9. Let it cool for a few minutes before serving.


  • For a creamier texture, add an extra 1/2 cup of milk to the sauce.
  • Experiment with different cheeses for new flavors.
  • For a crispy topping, mix breadcrumbs with melted butter before sprinkling over the top.

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baked macaroni cheese / classic macaroni cheese / traditional mac and cheese

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