Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese

This incredibly creamy and cheesy homemade mac and cheese is great on its own or a jumping off point for your own customization.

The post Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

I have several flavored macaroni and cheese recipes on Budget Bytes already, but I realized I didn’t have one single plain, classic homemade mac and cheese recipe. Like, nothing fancy or unique, just straight up creamy, comforting, cheesy goodness! So that’s what I have for you today. It’s a classic stovetop macaroni and cheese recipe made with a classic roux-based cheese sauce that will satisfy all of your cheesy pasta cravings. It’s amazingly delicious on its own, but I’ve also included a list of fun add-ins and other ways you can customize your mac and cheese and make it unique.

Overhead view of a bowl of mac and cheese with a fork

What Makes it Extra Cheesy?

For this extra cheesy homemade mac and cheese, I did use slightly more roux and added about 30% more cheese than I generally do to my simple stovetop mac and cheese recipes. And I’m not even sorry about it. The thicker sauce and extra cheese made this mac and cheese so lusciously creamy and cheesy that I couldn’t stop sneaking forkfuls between photographs. AND the best part is that it even stays smooth and creamy when reheated in the microwave. Mac and cheese heaven! 🙌

What is a Roux?

This classic stovetop mac and cheese recipe starts with a roux, which is a cooked mixture of flour and fat (in this case, butter). The roux thickens the sauce and helps the cheese melt smoothly into the sauce instead of clumping up as it melts. While there are ways to make a cheese sauce without a roux, taking this extra step definitely creates the creamiest, dreamiest cheese sauce for your mac and cheese.

What Kind of Cheese is Best for Mac and Cheese?

Cheddar is probably the most popular cheese for macaroni and cheese and sharp cheddar provides the most pronounced flavor. But if you want to experiment outside of the confines of cheddar, there are a ton of other cheeses that are great in macaroni and cheese! You can use one or a combination of cheeses to make your mac and cheese your own.

Here are some other cheeses that work great with macaroni and cheese:

  • Parmesan
  • Gruyere
  • Smoked Gouda
  • Parmesan
  • Chevre
  • Cream Cheese
  • Brie
  • Monterey jack or pepper jack

Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese

I know it’s convenient, but the anti-caking agents used in pre-shredded cheese will, without a doubt, affect the creaminess of your homemade mac and cheese. Or in a worst-case scenario, it will leave your sauce super grainy and chalky in flavor. Buy cheese in block form and take a few moments to grate it yourself. The cheese will not be as dried out and it will create a truly smooth and creamy sauce.

Side view of mac and cheese in a pot

What Else Can I Add to Mac and Cheese?

Here’s where mac and cheese can get really fun. In addition to changing the cheeses, you can switch up the herbs and spices, add in some veggies, or your favorite protein to make your own homemade mac and cheese creation. Here are some other fun ingredients to add to your mac and cheese:

  • Cooked chicken
  • Broccoli
  • Bacon
  • Spinach
  • Kimchi
  • Pesto
  • Sausage
  • Taco meat or taco seasoning
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sriracha
  • Peas
  • Tuna
  • Salsa
  • Rotel
  • Jalapeños
  • Sour cream
  • Cauliflower
  • Ham

Need Some Inspiration?

If the list of add-ins was a little too much to choose from, here are some other Macaroni and Cheese Recipes that I’ve already created that might help get you started:

Overhead view of homemade mac and cheese in the pot
Overhead view of homemade mac and cheese in the pot

Homemade Mac and Cheese

This incredibly creamy and cheesy homemade mac and cheese is great on its own or as a jumping off point for your own creation.
Total Cost $4.19 recipe / $1.05 serving
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 about 1.25 cups each
Calories 610kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. macaroni $0.67
  • 3 Tbsp butter $0.30
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.03
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder $0.05
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.84
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce* $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp salt $0.03
  • 8 oz. block sharp cheddar, shredded $2.25

Instructions

  • Cook the macaroni according to the package directions (boil for 7-8 minutes, or until tender). Drain the macaroni in a colander.
  • Place the butter, flour, and onion powder in a medium pot. Whisk and heat over medium until the butter is melted and the mixture begins to bubble. Once bubbling, continue to whisk and cook for one minute.
  • After cooking the butter and flour roux, whisk in the milk. Continue to cook and whisk over medium heat until the milk begins to gently simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream or gravy.
  • Turn the burner off. Season the white sauce with the salt and hot sauce.
  • Begin to add the shredded cheddar, one handful at a time, whisking it in until completely melted before adding more. Continue until all of the cheese has been melted into the sauce. If the sauce becomes too cold to melt the cheese, place it back over low heat only briefly to continue melting the cheese. Overheating the sauce can cause it to break and become grainy.
  • Add the cooked and drained pasta to the pot with the cheese sauce and stir to combine. Serve the mac and cheese hot and enjoy!

Notes

*This amount of hot sauce does not make the macaroni and cheese spicy. It just  brightens the flavor a bit. You can also accomplish this with Dijon mustard (same amount).

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 610kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 32g | Sodium: 787mg | Fiber: 2g
side view of macaroni and cheese in a bowl with a fork

How to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Shredded cheddar in a bowl

Start by shredding an 8oz. block of sharp cheddar. It’s very important to shred the cheese yourself instead of using pre-shredded cheese. For more information on that, see the section above the recipe titled “Avoid Pre-Shredded Cheese.”

boiled macaroni held above the pot with a pasta spoon

Next, boil 8oz. of macaroni according to the box directions (boil for 7-8 minutes, or just until tender). Drain the macaroni in a colander. (This is the Barilla elbow macaroni, which has a slightly unconventional elbow shape and texture.)

Butter flour and onion powder in the pot

You can start the cheese sauce either while the macaroni is boiling, or wait until it’s draining and just make it in the same pot to save on dishes. Add 3 Tbsp butter, 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour, and ½ tsp onion powder to the pot.

Roux being whisked in the pot

Place the pot over medium heat and allow the butter to melt. Whisk the butter, flour, and onion powder together as the mixture begins to get bubbly and frothy. Cook and whisk for about one minute after it becomes bubbly.

Milk being poured into the pot

Whisk 2 cups of milk into the butter and flour roux. Continue whisking as the milk begins to heat (keep the pot over medium heat).

Thickened white sauce on the back of a spoon

Allow the milk to come up to a gentle simmer, at which point it will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream or gravy. Turn the burner off at this point.

salt and hot sauce added to the white sauce

Season the sauce with ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp hot sauce, or the seasonings of your choice (other great options are dry mustard, pepper, smoked paprika, pesto, etc.).

shredded cheddar added to the pot

Begin adding 8oz. shredded cheddar to the pot, one handful at a time, whisking until it is completely melted before adding more. If the sauce cools down too much to continue melting the cheese, you can put it over low heat briefly, but avoid allowing the sauce to simmer again. Overheating cheese sauces will cause them to break and become grainy and oily.

Finished cheese sauce dripping off the whisk

When all of the cheese is melted into the sauce, the cheese sauce is complete. You can give it a taste at this point and adjust the seasonings if you’d like. Remember, you want the sauce to be seasoned well because the flavor intensity will be diluted a bit once the macaroni is added.

Cooked macaroni being stirred into the cheese sauce

Add the cooked and drained macaroni back to the pot and stir to combine with the cheese sauce.

Finished mac and cheese in the pot

And that’s it! Your homemade mac and cheese is done. Don’t tell me you don’t want to dive right into that pot of mac and cheese and swim around a bit. 😂

The post Extra Cheesy Homemade Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Green Chile Mac and Cheese

Creamy Monterey Jack cheese, tangy diced green chiles, and a little earthy cumin make this green chile mac and cheese anything but ordinary!

The post Green Chile Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

Green Chile Mac and Cheese is one of those dishes that if a restaurant has it on the menu, I’m 100% going to order it. There’s just something about that green chile flavor paired with creamy cheese that I can’t get enough of. So why, in green chile heaven, had I not made it myself at home yet?? It was time to fix that. ;)

overhead view of green chile mac and cheese in a bowl with a fork on the side

Green Chile Mac: The Long Way and The Short Way

There are a few ways you can go about making green chile mac, but they all fall into two categories: the long way or the short way. The long way means buying fresh hatch chile peppers and roasting them yourself before adding them to your mac and cheese. This will definitely get you the most delicious and smokey green chile flavor, but in most of the U.S. fresh hatch chiles aren’t readily available year-round.

So I decided to make my green chile mac and cheese the short way, using canned green chiles. It’s fast, easy, and still gets you a good amount of that green chile flavor! And that’s more my style (most nights of the week, anyway).

Is it Spicy?

Green chiles can be spicy or mild. If you can’t handle the heat, make sure to look for a canned green chile that specifically says “mild” on the label. The recipe below also includes a pinch of crushed red pepper and while that ingredient can be spicy, it’s in such a small quantity in the recipe that it will not add a significant amount of heat to your green chile mac and cheese.

What Kind of Cheese is Best for Green Chile Mac and Cheese?

For macaroni and cheese in general, you want something that melts smoothly instead of stringy. Cheeses in the cheddar family melt smoothly, while mozzarella is a good example of a stringy cheese. To go with the green chile and cumin flavors in this dish, I recommend going with either a white cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a pepper jack if you want your mac to be a little spicier.

How Are the Leftovers?

Cheese sauces are usually a lot better when fresh compared to after refrigeration and reheating, but I still enjoyed the leftovers of this green chile mac and cheese quite a bit! While the cheese sauce wasn’t quite as smooth and saucy, the green chile flavor does intensify as it refrigerates, which added to the enjoyment.

What to Serve with Green Chile Mac

I wouldn’t be opposed to sitting down to a large bowl of this as my whole meal, but it’s probably best used as a side dish. I’d serve this macaroni and cheese as a side to something like Turkey Taco Skillet, Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken, Chipotle Portobello Oven Fajitas, or Smoky Black Bean Soup.

Overhead view of a pot full of green chile mac and cheese
Overhead view of a bowl full of green chile mac and cheese

Green Chile Mac and Cheese

Creamy Monterey Jack cheese, tangy diced green chiles, and a little earthy cumin make this green chile mac and cheese anything but ordinary!
Total Cost $5.00 recipe / $1.25 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4 1.5 cups each
Calories 571kcal
Author Beth – Budget Bytes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb. macaroni $0.50
  • 2 Tbsp butter $0.10
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour $0.02
  • 2 cups whole milk $0.82
  • 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded $1.69
  • 2 4oz. cans diced green chiles $1.78
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin $0.05
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. Once boiling, add the macaroni and continue to boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the macaroni in a colander.
  • While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the green chile cheese sauce. Add the butter and flour to a saucepot and cook over medium heat while stirring for about 2 minutes.
  • Whisk the milk into the cooked butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk and cook over medium heat until the milk begins to simmer, at which point it will thicken to a cream-like consistency.
  • Turn the heat off. Begin stirring in the shredded Monterey Jack cheese, one handful at a time, until fully melted into the sauce.
  • Drain the canned green chiles and stir them into the cheese sauce along with the cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Make sure it is heavily seasoned as the flavor will dilute slightly when mixed with the pasta.
  • Finally, combine the cooked and drained pasta with the green chile cheese sauce. Serve hot.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 571kcal | Carbohydrates: 54g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 28g | Sodium: 779mg | Fiber: 3g
side view of a fork lifting green chile mac and cheese from the bowl

How to Make Green Chile Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos

Cooked macaroni in a colander

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. Once boiling, add 1/2 lb. macaroni and continue to boil until the macaroni is tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the macaroni in a colander.

butter and flour being whisked in a saucepot

While the macaroni is cooking, begin the cheese sauce. Add 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to a sauce pot. Cook over medium while stirring for about 2 minutes.

milk being poured into the pot with butter and flour

Whisk 2 cups whole milk into the saucepot with the butter and flour. Continue to cook and whisk over medium heat until the milk comes up to a simmer, at which point it will thicken. It should thicken to the consistency of cream.

Shredded Monterey Jack cheese added to the saucepot

Turn off the heat and begin stirring in the 8oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese, one handful at a time, until it is all melted into the sauce.

green chiles and spices added to the cheese sauce

Drain two 4oz. cans of diced green chiles, then add them to the cheese sauce along with ½ tsp cumin, ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper, and ¼ tsp salt. Stir to combine, then taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to your liking if needed. The sauce should taste heavily seasoned as the flavor will dilute a bit when mixed with the pasta.

Cheese sauce being poured over the drained pasta

Finally, combine the cooked and drained pasta with the green chile cheese sauce.

finished green chile mac in a pot with a spatula

Serve and enjoy while it’s hot and creamy!

The post Green Chile Mac and Cheese appeared first on Budget Bytes.

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