This creamy white mac and cheese is so easy and delicious that you will wonder how you ever lived without it.
I first created this recipe for my youngest daughter. Aka: the picky eater. The one thing she was always guaranteed to eat was Panera’s mac and cheese.
What I wasn’t counting on was that she would like it so much that she traded her affection of Panera’s mac and cheese for mine.
I quickly learned I could easily modify the amounts for single serving size as well. Phew!
This white mac and cheese is also a frequent guest at my gatherings as it:
feeds a crowd
keeps well in a slow cooker
is ready in 20 minutes
consists mostly of staple ingredients (white American cheese is definitely a staple in my house).
Handy recipe to have, right?
White Mac and cheese
Begin by boiling water and cooking your pasta of choice per package recommendations for “al dente”.
While the pasta is cooking, make the roux. A roux is a mixture of flour and a fat (in this case butter) that is used as a base and thickening agent for the sauce.
Add the butter to a medium-large heavy sauce pan and melt over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and stir well.
Simmer over medium heat 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally to cook out the “flour” taste.
Slowly add the milk while stirring constantly until well combined.
Simmer for 3-5 minutes until the sauce becomes creamy and thickened.
At this point the sauce is referred to as a bechamel, or white sauce.
Bechamels are used as a base in many french recipes or when making creamy sausage gravy.
Stayed tuned as you’ll be seeing this again soon in some of my upcoming recipes. I have a suspicion that a croque madame is coming soon.
Next, add the shredded white American cheese and salt.
Stir well until all of the cheese is melted and the sauce is heated through. Remove from the heat.
Just look at this creamy, dreamy, cheesy sauce!
Drain the pasta and add to the yummy sauce. Fold in gently and then let the pasta sit in the sauce for at least 3 minutes to allow the sauce to absorb and get into all of the nooks and crannies.
Easy Homemade White Mac and Cheese
- 1 stick salted butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 16 oz shredded white American cheese
- 1 lb medium dried pasta shells
- First make the pasta per manufacturers instructions for ‘al dente” in a large pot.
- While the pasta cooks, add the butter to a large heavy saucepan.
- Melt the butter over medium heat.
- Add the flour and stir well.
- Cook over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes stirring constantly, until bubbly and thickened.
- Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to prevent lumps.
- Increase heat to medium and simmer for about 5-10 minutes until the sauce is thick and creamy.
- Add the salt and shredded cheese.
- Stir until the sauce is smooth and the cheese is completely melted.
- Remove from the heat.
- Drain the pasta and add back into the large pot.
- Add to the cheese sauce to the pasta.
- Gently fold in and allow to sit for about 3 minutes.
- Serve immediately or keep warm in a slow cooker.