Creamiest Baked Mac & Cheese

October  8, 2019
8 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 4 to 6
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

What You'll Need
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Creamiest Baked Mac & Cheese
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • lbf
  • Adrienne Candelario
    Adrienne Candelario
  • marilyn young
    marilyn young
  • Klingmanj

4 Reviews

lbf November 20, 2020
I was really excited to try this recipe. I was disappointed. I mean it is not awful, alright. It tastes.... meh. It does not compare to my tried and true recipe for mac & cheese from Pasta & Co - Bellevue, WA.

I found this recipe to be pretty "soupy". Moreover, the flavor profile is off-balance, way too tilted toward bechamel than cheese. I think a better ratio is the Pasta & Co 3 cups whole milk, half cup flour, 7 tbl of unsalted butter. It also needs a slight kick with some white pepper and a splash of Tapatio or Tabasco.

The other thing is the cheese selection in this recipe. I bought the very best quality fresh Asiago, Fontina and Provolone (aged) from Seaside Market in Cardiff, California. Seaside is very serious about cheese. I talked to their guru whose life is cheese to make sure the cheeses selected would be well suited in this recipe. He handpicked them for me and said they would be fantastic.

Not so much.... As i said, i think the ratio of bechamel to cheese is off pretty significantly. Moreover, i truly think a sharp cheddar and mozzarella layered rather than folded into the bechamel creates much better results than the fontina, asiago, provolone. Now, Pasta & Co does add 1/2 cup of parm regg and 1/4 of romano into the bechamel along with the white pepper and splash of hot sauce.

The Pasta & Co is thicker and cheesier and just pure decadence. This one was bland and soupy.
Adrienne C. November 4, 2020
I never leave reviews, but I have to say that I tried this recipe and it is truly the best and so adaptable to whatever you have on hand. I live in a country that rarely has these cheeses available, so I substituted with local ones that I knew were melty and tasted good. Came out perfect. Thank you!
marilyn Y. December 28, 2019
Like - No - LOVED this guy and this video - heading to the kitchen !
Klingmanj November 15, 2019
Great recipe. In the directions, step 1, change ‘consistently’ to read ‘constantly’.
Just a typo (I’m an editor). You guys are doing great. Nice to have a place to go to watch what everyday people cook instead of the “Gladiator Channel” also referred to “The Food Network”.