White Cheddar Mac and Cheese – This is the BEST mac and cheese recipe! All you need is 5 simple ingredients and less than 30 minutes to make the perfect white cheddar mac and cheese! This mac and cheese recipe feeds 6-8 people and is easy to double so it is a great way to serve a crowd!
White Cheddar Mac and Cheese
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that mac and cheese is one of the greatest foods ever created by mankind. Mac and cheese has been one of my favorite foods since I was little, ranking up there with pizza and sushi. Clearly, I had great taste as a 5 year old! As time has worn on, my favorite foods have shifted but mac and cheese will always have a special place in my heart. I have always been frustrated with making homemade mac and cheese though because so many turn out gritty or are terrible after a few minutes. I has just assumed that all homemade mac and cheese was like that and that I should just stick to getting it in restaurants where they did some magic in the kitchen to make it perfect and creamy but then I made the copycat panera mac and cheese recipe and knew there was still hope for the perfect homemade mac and cheese!
Okay so this mac and cheese recipe has a secret ingredient… cream cheese! Somehow, I had never thought to use it in mac and cheese but it makes such a difference in how creamy the sauce is. The easiest way to get the cream cheese to combine nicely is to cut it into smaller pieces before popping it into the milk. I cut the cream cheese into about 1/2″ blocks and it quickly melted in and combined.
Another mac and cheese pro-tip I learned was if you plan on reheating it later on, do not microwave it! The best method of reheating mac and cheese is putting it in a pot over medium heat until the cheese melts and the noodles are hot. This way, the pasta stays creamy instead of the weird texture and flavor that mac and cheese gets when you put it in the microwave. You can always add just a splash of milk and a bit of butter when you are heating the mac and cheese up too.
Common questions about making mac and cheese
How do you make homemade mac and cheese?
All you have to do is boil pasta, melt the ingredients for the sauce together, combine the pasta and sauce together, and serve. Super easy!
What can you add to mac and cheese to make it better?
- Bacon crumbles
- Parmesan (only add when you are serving, do not add it in when you are cooking)
- Black pepper
- Steamed veggies
How do you make baked mac and cheese?
For a classic baked mac and cheese, you are going to want a recipe with a bechamel sauce base such as my baked brie mac and cheese. It will firm up nicely in the oven since it is a thinner sauce than this mac and cheese.
Other tips and tricks on this white cheddar mac and cheese recipe
- Feel free to use your favorite pasta shape! I went with mostaccioli because that was the shape that Outback Steakhouse had in my favorite mac and cheese growing up but other shapes such as the classic macaroni, elbow, shell, penne, etc all work! The best ones are those that have a hole in the middle that can fill up with cheese inside!
- You can use sharp cheddar cheese instead of white cheddar too! Just stay away from medium or anything lower in the cheddar spectrum, they will not have a bold enough flavor.
- Make sure you do not get pre-shredded cheese. It doesn’t melt as nicely since it has additives to avoid clumping. As convenient as it is to buy you cheese pre-shredded, spending the time to shred it yourself is worthwhile!
- If you want to cut a little bit of fat, you can use neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese. It’s very similar and just as creamy.
Can’t get enough of this mac and cheese recipe? Try these other recipes!
White Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound noodles shells, elbows, mostaccioli, penne, etc
- 2 cups whole milk
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 ounces freshly grated white cheddar cheese
Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water according to the directions on the packaging of the pasta. Drain.
While the pasta is cooking, pour the milk into a large pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once it is at a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low add in the cream cheese and mix using a whisk until the cream cheese is completely melted in and combined. Add in butter and white cheddar cheese and mix until it has melted in.
Add pasta into the sauce and continue to cook for about 3-5 more minutes or until the sauce has thickened up and is covering the noodles.