Creamiest Baked Mac & Cheese

October  8, 2019
Photo by James Ransom. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
Author Notes

Often, baked mac and cheese looks creamy and gooey before you put it in the oven but, by the time it's done cooking, it's dry. Here's my solution: Purposefully undercook your pasta in the boiling water and use a lot more cheese sauce (aka Mornay sauce) than you'd think. After about 15 minutes in the oven, followed by a couple more minutes beneath the broiler, the mac and cheese comes out creamy as can be, with perfectly cooked noodles. —Josh Cohen

Watch This Recipe
Creamiest Baked Mac & Cheese
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 3 ounces aged provolone, grated
  • 4 1/2 ounces asiago fresco, grated
  • 4 1/2 ounces fontina, grated
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 pound cavatappi (or your favorite short, tubular pasta shape)
  • 3/4 pound fresh mozzarella, grated
In This Recipe
  1. Set a large pot of water over high heat (this will be for the pasta). While you wait for that to boil, set another large pot over medium heat and melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk while whisking consistently. When you begin to add the milk, a paste will form. Keep adding milk and whisk until totally smooth, with no lumps. Simmer until the sauce begins to thicken to the consistency of thin gravy.
  2. When the sauce has started to thicken, reduce the heat to low and add in the provolone, asiago, and fontina cheese. Stir until all the cheese has melted. Taste and adjust the salt accordingly. Keep it warm over the lowest-possible heat and turn on the oven to 450°F.
  3. By now your water should be boiling. Add salt so that your pasta water tastes like a highly seasoned soup broth. Cook the pasta for half the time suggested on the box. (You want to undercook your pasta here, because it will keep cooking in the oven.)
  4. Drain the pasta, add to your cheese sauce, and stir. Transfer the pasta and sauce to a large, shallow baking dish. The more surface area, the more crispy bits (which are great).
  5. Sprinkle the fresh mozzarella on top of your pasta and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until you begin to see the sauce bubbling up around the noodles. Now broil the mac and cheese for 1 to 3 minutes, until the mozzarella is brown and crispy. Serve immediately.

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Josh Cohen

Recipe by: Josh Cohen

Born and raised in Brooklyn, I’m perpetually inspired by the diversity of foods that exist in this city. I love shopping at the farmer’s market, making ingredients taste like the best versions of themselves, and rolling fresh pasta. I learned how to make fresh pasta in Italy, where I spent the first 6 months of my career as a chef. I've been cooking professionally in New York City since 2010.