Baked macaroni and cheese is a classic comfort food perfect for adults and kids! Super cheesy with crispy baked Panko crumbs on top. Make this a new family favorite!
3 cups uncooked elbow noodle pasta
2 8oz blocks sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (you’ll use 5 cups in the sauce, and the rest for the topping)
6 tablespoons butter (3 tablespoons will go in the Panko, and 3 tablespoons will be for the sauce)
3/4 cup Panko crumbs
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 and 1/2 cups half & half
Smoked paprika for topping
1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook the elbow noodles according to package, and spray a 9×13 baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Season the Panko with the garlic powder. In a small pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter, then pour over the Panko crumbs and stir to coat.
3. In the same pot, over medium heat melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, then stir in the flour, salt, dry mustard, and pepper…stir until everything is blended. Slowly stir in the half & half, and cook thickened. You want it to coat the back of a spoon and be creamy. See above for a photo example, for me it took 6 and 1/2 minutes to get the right consistency. Lower the heat, then pour in 5 cups of the shredded cheese, pouring in one cup at a time and blending completely until adding each cup. Once the cheese sauce is made, remove from the heat.
4. Place the cooked and drained elbow noodles in your baking dish. Then, pour the cheese sauce over top and stir together to make sure all noodles are coated, even the noodles on the edges of the dish. Top with the remaining shredded cheese, then the Panko, and finally sprinkle with smoked paprika. Bake for 20 minutes.
Keywords: baked mac and cheese