Classic baked mac and cheese

Classic baked mac and cheese

Classic baked mac and cheese is a comfort food favorite. The cheesiest sauce mixed with pasta, layered with tomatoes & cheese makes this an instant winner.
Course Dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword baked mac and cheese, mac and cheese, Mac and cheese recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12 (as a side dish)
Calories 379kcal
Author Alida Ryder


For the cheese sauce

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2-3 cups milk
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1-2 tsp mustard powder depending on preference
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups grated mature cheddar
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan

For the baked mac and cheese

  • 1 kg (2lbs) macaroni par-cooked + reserve 1 cup of cooking water
  • ¾ cup whipping/heavy cream
  • 2-3 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 6 tomatoes thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper


  • Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF.
  • Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour.
  • Whisk until smooth then slowly pour in the milk, a little at a time. (I always reserve approximately ½ cup milk. Some flours will absorb more/less liquid so you might not need all of it and sometimes after adding cheese I like to thin out the sauce just a little with the remaining milk.)
  • Whisk continuously until the sauce is thick then turn down the heat, add the spices and allow to simmer, stirring, until the sauce is thick and cooked through (this takes around 7-10 minutes on a gentle heat).
  • Once the sauce is cooked (the sauce will be completely smooth tasting with no flouriness) remove from the heat and add the cheddar and Parmesan. Stir until melted then season to taste. 
  • Combine the cheese sauce with the pasta then add the cream and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese. Stir and add some of the reserved pasta cooking water to thin out the sauce. You want the mac and cheese to be very creamy before going into the oven. 
  • Layer the macaroni with the sliced tomatoes and remaining mozzarella, seasoning every layer of tomatoes. 
  • Place in the oven and allow to bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy. 
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. 



Calories: 379kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 40mg | Sodium: 127mg | Potassium: 169mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 407IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 159mg | Iron: 1mg