Brace yourself. This recipe is about to become a staple in your household like it is in ours. And my mother’s. And my sister’s. So basically welcome to the family.
This is my grandmother’s recipe. She taught it to my mother who taught it to me. I tinkered with the measurements because extra sauce makes it extra yummy so why on earth wouldn’t we make extra sauce? Can’t think of a reason.
There’s a lot you can do when it comes to macaroni & cheese. You can experiment with all kinds of pricey cheeses. You can bake it. You can add in bacon, herbs, crawfish, etc. Personally I like to keep it simple. It’s so simple that you’ll probably be surprised by how short the ingredient list is. But that’s all it takes. Really. It’s about having the right ingredients and cooking the cheese sauce very slowly. You know how they say a watched pot never boils? Listen to them (whoever they are). Watch it. And know that your sauce can still curdle even if it doesn’t look like it’s boiling so pay attention.
Cheese is the key. I’ve experimented with all kinds. Our hands down favorite is Cracker Barrel (either Extra Sharp, Sharp, or White Cheddar) which is available in most grocery stores. Yes, you can use a different brand but they do not all melt the same. Some get stringy, which is still tasty but not the right consistency. Making your cheese sauce with Cracker Barrel cheese and cooking it very slowly will produce a dreamy velvety sauce that covers every beautiful macaroni noodle perfectly.
When it comes to milk I’ve used whole, 2%, 1% and even skim. I recommend 2% or whole for this recipe.
*Tip: If you’re planning to serve this at an event and it will be an hour or two before it’s eaten make 50% more cheese sauce. The finished product will look soupy but by the time it’s served it will be just right. Also you should double the recipe when making it for a crowd. It will go fast! I made four batches of this for my niece’s birthday party and it was still the first dish to run out!
- 8 oz elbow macaroni (feel free to use spirals or shells if you prefer)
- 10 oz Cracker Barrel cheddar cheese
- 1¼ cup 2% milk
- 1 tbsp flour
- ½ tbsp salt
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- Add ¾ cup of milk and your cheese (diced into smaller blocks) to a small pot. Heat on low heat, stirring often, until the cheese has completely melted. This can take 15-30 minutes depending on how hot your stove gets. It is a slow process but if you're not careful your sauce will curdle so give it lots of attention.
- Cook your macaroni according to package directions. Drain water. Set aside.
- Add your remaining ½ cup milk to a jar along with your flour. Put the lid on and shake vigorously so that you don't have any clumps of flour left.
- Add the flour/milk mixture to your melted cheese sauce. Stir. Keep it on low heat for another 3 - 5 minutes then remove from heat and set aside.
- Salt & pepper the cheese sauce. Taste and add more if that's your preference.
- Pour your cheese sauce over your macaroni and stir.
- Voila! You have officially mastered a perfect macaroni & cheese.