There are a lot of recipes for healthy macaroni and cheese and most of them are delicious and virtuous. But now and then we need to go all out on crowd-pleasing comfort food this is the best creamy mac and cheese recipe we’ve made and is has comfort food written all over it.
It is perfect for parties, barbecues, potlucks and even Thanksgiving dinner. It’s even better than (or at least rivals) Panera, or KFC mac and cheese, if those are your faves.
Our contributing cook got this recipe from her sister-in-law. She said she was at her SIL’s house for a barbecue and immediately asked for this recipe! Her SIL said, “It’s easy!”, and started rattling off ingredients and instructions.
In my experience these are the best kind of recipes you will ever get. Not only has the cook made it so many times that they have it all memorized, but that it’s actually pretty simple, and it’s probably a family recipe, like this one was.
The Best Creamy Mac and Cheese Recipe
The secret is the flavor of the sharp cheddar, the creaminess of the mozzarella, and the home style, indulgent Velveeta all melted and mixed together with tender noodles.
You can use shredded cheese, cubes or blocks of cheese, because it’s all going to melt anyway.
Naturally, as with most mac and cheese recipes, this one is easily adaptable. I have varied this recipe using more cheddar and no mozzarella, and even extra butter instead of some or all of the Velveeta.
When it comes to cheese and noodles, it’s hard to go wrong. So if you’re planning ahead, then try this combination, but if you’re wanting something quick and easy, use whatever cheese you have on hand in these approximate quantities and it should still be a win.
Our contributing cook said: This is her absolute favorite mac and cheese recipe. She said, “My mother, who likes healthy food, nearly croaked when she heard the recipe. She vowed not to eat any at the party we were attending together, but then I caught her going back for seconds and thirds! LOL!!! That’s how delicious it is! You won’t regret it, (unless you eat too much, which — fair warning — it’s easy to do)! 😉
Just be forewarned: the next time you’re invited to a potluck, they will ask you to bring your best creamy mac and cheese recipe, and you may even get labeled as the Mac and Cheese Queen (or King)! 👸🏻🤴🏽
Tips in Making this Best Creamy Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
Casserole Dish Mac & Cheese Method – Crispiest Method
If you’re baking this in a casserole dish, don’t forget to cover with foil for the first 20 minutes. Then, when you uncover and stir it is the best time to add in the salt. If you like the slight crispiness that can happen on the top layer, then this casserole method is best for you because you have the largest surface area for crispness to occur.
Crockpot Mac & Cheese Method – Creamiest Method
This is our favorite method because it comes out the creamiest. However, since you’ve got a deep container rather than a wide one, you will need to duplicate your layers at least twice for the best overall results.
Skillet Method Mac & Cheese – Quick Method
With this method, you can melt the cheese in milk in the skillet then add the pasta and salt and stir until almost ready, then finish in by baking in the oven.
Stovetop Mac & Cheese Method – Quickest and Easiest Method
This method is the same as above, but it skips the step of finishing in the oven, thereby making it the quickest and easiest to make with just one-pot to clean up.
The Best Creamy Mac and Cheese Recipe
Easy Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
- 2 cups sharp cheddar 8 oz. shredded or cubed
- 2 cups mozzarella 8 oz. shredded or cubed
- 1 lb Velveeta or off brand easy melt cheese
- 2 cups Milk more or less to fill dish to ~1/3
- 1 lb macaroni noodles cooked
- 1 tsp salt or to taste
- BOIL WATER in a large pot over high heat. Adding the macaroni pasta and cook until they are soft but not mushy. We even like them slightly al dente for more chewability, but it's a fine line to perfection. So you can also go with your favorite approach or the manufacturer's instructions).
- DRAIN NOODLES and put them into an oiled casserole dish.
- LAYER CHEESES on top of the noodles in casserole dish starting with the Velveeta, then the mozzarella, and last the cheddar. If using a crockpot, you'll need to do 2 layers, since it is a more vertical container.
- ADD MILK, (it should be up to approximately 1/3 of the container).
- COVER with aluminum foil and BAKE at 350°F for about 20 minutes.
- STIR – Remove the macaroni from the oven, uncover it, and stir all the cheese milk and noodles together gently, starting in one corner and slowly working your way through the dish until there is a creamy consistency throughout. If it seems too thin, that will go away after a little longer in the oven.
- COOK uncovered for another 15 minutes or so. We like to cook it until it's tinged with golden brown here and there for some crispier sections amongst the creamy bites.
- SERVE hot and enjoy!