Baked Mac and Cheese

The beauty of baked mac and cheese

They say there are two kinds of people in the world: those who prefer baked mac and cheese and those who love stovetop. The baked mac buffs love the slightly crunchy texture you get from sprinkling breadcrumbs, bacon, or shredded cheese on top of the dish. Stovetop devotees prefer their mac and cheese ultra-creamy.

Ask a Wisconsinite if they prefer stovetop or baked mac and cheese and the answer will probably be "yes." It's impossible for us to say "no" to any mac made with Wisconsin Cheese. That's because our cheese is simply the tastiest, highest-quality, most award-winning cheese on the planet. We'll never turn down a chance to enjoy mac and cheese made with Wisconsin cheddar, gorgonzola, gouda or Colby – baked or stovetop is just fine with us.

That said, we've made a lot of baked mac and cheese in our time. So, we know it's easy to deliver a dish that's full of both crunchy texture and creamy goodness. Check out the baked mac and cheese recipes on our website for inspiration or read on for tips on how to satisfy everyone with baked mac and Wisconsin Cheese.

How to make the best baked mac and cheese

Here are a few of our favorite recommendations for making baked mac and cheese even better.

  1. More cheese, more better. The best homemade mac and cheese is made with more than one kind of cheese. You definitely need a cheese that melts well – yes, we're looking at you, fontina, Monterey Jack, Colby and mascarpone. But you will also want some cheeses with big flavors – hello, smoked gouda, havarti, gorgonzola and brick. And be sure not to skimp on the cheese, which is, after all, the real star of this famous duo.
  2. Stringy noodles need not apply. There's a reason it's called "macaroni and cheese" instead of "spaghetti and cheese." Cheese just won't stick to the long, slender, stringy noodles like spaghetti or fettuccine. Look for noodles with nooks, crannies and curves like penne, rotini, rigatoni, and cavatappi in addition to macaroni.
  3. Bring on a crunch. Add a gratin crunch to your baked mac and cheese by sprinkling breadcrumbs, bacon bits, potato chips, or diced onion rings on top. Panko breadcrumbs are a universal favorite.
  4. Foil is your friend. When baking mac and cheese, cover the dish with aluminum foil to retain the moisture that will make the dish creamy. Then remove it 10 minutes before serving to get the crunchy texture on top.
  5. Be playful. Baked mac and cheese is the ultimate playground for home chefs who like to experiment. Add protein with ingredients like bacon, pulled pork, andouille sausage, crab, shrimp, or lobster. Or go healthy with veggies like broccoli, onions, cauliflower, butternut squash, spinach, peas, and artichokes. Pesto, truffles, walnuts, and herbs can really boost your flavor profile.

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

FAQs: Where did baked mac and cheese come from?

Where did baked mac and cheese come from?

People have likely been combining pasta and cheese for hundreds of years, if not millennia. The earliest recipes for macaroni and cheese appeared in Italy in the 14th century, and the first modern recipe for baked mac and cheese was published in an English cookbook in the late 18th century.

What are the best cheeses for baked mac and cheese?

A great baked mac and cheese dish needs a melting cheese to deliver the creamy, bubbly goodness we all expect from our mac. Monterey Jack, fontina, baby swiss, or mascarpone are all great options. But because many melting varieties have a milder taste, you'll also want a cheese that brings a lot of flavor. Try parmesan, bleu cheese, smoked gouda, or havarti. Cheddar or gruyere cheese are a few of the varieties that both melt well and are big on flavor.

What are the other methods for making mac and cheese?

You can make mac and cheese on a stovetop by creating a milk-based sauce and slowly adding cheese and cooked noodles. Lots of people also enjoy crock pot mac and cheese and instant pot mac and cheese recipes.

Wisconsin: where baked mac and cheese is better

We may be a teensy bit biased, but we think Wisconsin has the best baked mac and cheese. Or rather, the best baked mac is made with Wisconsin cheese. We are the State of Cheese, after all, producing one-quarter of the cheese in America and nearly half of all artisan cheese. Our cheesemakers have been obsessively making cheese nonstop for 180 years – since before Wisconsin was even a state – and every Master Cheesemaker in America has called Wisconsin home at one time or another. And we have more than 5,500 cheese awards on our mile-long mantle that prove we make the tastiest, highest-quality cheese in the world. That's more than any other state in the nation, and more than any other country in the world.

So, next time you're fixing a batch of baked mac, make sure that chunk of cheese you're using has a Proudly Wisconsin Cheese badge on the label. That's when you know your mac and cheese will be living the best version of itself.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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