baked white cheddar macaroni and cheese (1)
Side Dish

Easy Large Batch Baked White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

Cooks in 30 Minutes Difficulty Medium 0 comments

Sometimes, when the cold weather comes, it just screams mac n’cheese. This baked white cheddar macaroni and cheese is so smooth and creamy. You will love the golden buttery breadcrumb topping, a classic part of this great comfort food. Each cheesy mouthful is full of luscious flavor from the cheddar, and the soft noodles almost melt in your mouth! Baked in small cast iron skillets, the whole dish has a homey, rustic feeling.

Growing up, the extent of my knowledge of macaroni and cheese came from a Kraft dinner box. I had no idea that people made this themselves and that it could be sumptuous. Now, I love finding new cheeses to test out in the mac n’cheese, and with this one, I am sure you will agree we’ve found a winner!

Castello tickler aged old white cheddar is not grainy when melted into the thick roux. It makes each mouthful a cheesy bit of heaven. This macaroni dish is excellent for any fall or winter meal. It is extra tasty when topped with a traditional breadcrumb topping. Or eat a whole dishful because it’s super good!

This recipe makes a sizeable family-sized batch, so if you have leftovers, you can store them in the fridge or even freeze it for later use. I don’t like to freeze pasta, though, as it can lose some firmness in the reheating process, making it mealy. Reheat any leftovers the next day for a great lunch at home or work!

If you love the cheesiness of this dish, try our Taco bake!

so cheesy mac n cheese

Let’s make this easy baked white cheddar macaroni and cheese dish!

Finding quality cheese is the first rule of thumb for any macaroni and cheese. I like using white cheddar because it gives great flavor without looking like it was out of that kd box. Castello aged white cheddar is a solid, hard cheese with a hint of sweetness. It melts perfectly in this dish to create a sumptuous cheese sauce for your pasta.

What pasta are we using? Simple, it has to be macaroni for mac n’cheese! We cook the macaroni in water until al dente. Drain it and drizzle with olive oil and stir. The olive oil will keep the noodles from sticking together while we prepare the cheese sauce. Of course, if you have help in the kitchen, they can work on the pasta while you work on the sauce.

We first need to make a roux to make a great cheese sauce. I prefer cornstarch in my roux because it is less grainy and thickens better. The flavor also covers the taste, so you won’t even know that you added the cornstarch.

The roux must cook until thickened, so don’t jump the gun and add the cheese too soon. Your cheese should be grated ahead so that it will only take half a minute or so to melt fully when added to the hot roux.

I used salted butter with the cornstarch in my roux. You can easily use unsalted butter if you want to cut back on the salt.

In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter, add cornstarch over medium heat, and stir constantly. It will be soon that the mixture is bubbling. Please wait until it’s nice and thick before adding the milk. Stir while slowly adding milk to avoid lumps forming. The mixture will be considerably thinner now. That’s alright because once we heat it back up to boiling it will thicken. Remove it from the heat and add the cheese mixing well to allow cheese to melt into milk sauce.

It’s ready to pour on the pasta noodles now, which we can assume are ready and waiting.

Stir the mixture well and scoop enough to half-fill your mini cast iron pans. I added a bit of extra cheese here for added cheesiness. We are sprinkling the top of that with shredded cheddar as well. You can use more white cheddar or shake it up with an orange one.

Once you’ve covered that macaroni with the extra cheese, you can add another layer of macaroni. The pan should be full now, but we have one more step. That is, of course, to make and sprinkle each mini cast iron pan with the breadcrumb topping.

The topping is a simple mixture of breadcrumbs, salted butter, and paprika. Mix with a fork or clean hands until the butter is thoroughly mixed into the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle each pan generously and place mini pans on a baking sheet to bake in the preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. They will be done when the tops are a nice golden color or approximately fifteen to twenty minutes.

bake mac n cheese until golden (2)

Ingredients:

Old White Cheddar: Castello Tickler Mature Cheese was used in this recipe. If you can’t purchase, you can use another brand so long as it will melt smoothly without a grainy texture. Old cheddar offers a saltiness and more robust flavor that holds up well to baking compared to milder cheddar.

Macaroni: This dry pasta is small, allowing the cheese sauce to cover every bit of the noodle.

Breadcrumbs: Panko bread crumbs work fine for this mac n’cheese topping. Any breadcrumb will work. Watch out for heavily seasoned crumbs, though that will alter the outcome of the recipe.

Salted Butter: This is ideal for cooking, and I love using it because the salt brings forward the creaminess of the butter.

Milk: This recipe is using 2% milk. The result is a luscious cream sauce ideal for adding cheese to.

Substitutions for Baked White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

Old White Cheddar: The white cheddar has a sharp flavor and saltiness. If you prefer a milder cheddar or something radically different, like an Italian blend, that will work, too. Remember, the key to excellent mac n’cheese is all in the cheese and its meltability!

Macaroni: If you prefer to use a different noodle or pasta shape, that will work. Remember to cook al dente and drizzle with olive oil for best result.

Breadcrumbs: The breadcrumb topping is critical to having that golden baked appearance. It also protects the upper layer of pasta from drying out while baking. If you don’t like it and are omitting it, I recommend covering the macaroni and cheese with foil before baking.

Salted Butter: Butter is getting out of control regarding cost. So, if you don’t have butter to make a roux, feel free to substitute a margarine or solid oil product that you may have on hand.

Milk: 2% milk is the standard white sauce ingredient. However, you can increase the milk fat content by using 10% or higher creams for a more decadent sauce.

so cheesy mac n cheese

Expert tips and serving suggestions for this easy-baked macaroni and cheese dish.

The roux is the basis for success with a cheese sauce. You have to be careful to not have it burn or scorch while making it. Stir that roux constantly for a smooth, creamy result. Be sure to cook it for long enough. You can tell when it’s done because the roux will spit at you like a thick porridge.

Serving this macaroni and cheese baked in mini rustic pans means you can create a country feel to your dinner. Served with a steak and green beans, it makes a complete meal. Alternatively, you could serve with a roasted chicken breast and a side of brussel sprouts. There are so many great pairings for this cheesy side dish!

baked white cheddar macaroni and cheese

Easy Baked White Cheddar Mac N’Cheese

Amber Bondar
This easy baked white cheddar macaroni and cheese is served in mini cast iron pans for a homey feeling. The cheese sauce is super sumptuous and decadent so that every mouthful virtually melts in your mouth. Baked mac n' cheese is a great side dish for dinner!
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 8

Equipment

  • 4 Mini Cast Iron Skillets *Oval or round
  • 1 Pasta Strainer
  • 1 Stock Pot
  • 1 Sauce Pan
  • 1 Grater
  • 1 Mixing Spoon
  • 1 measuring cup
  • 1 Tablespoon

Ingredients
  

Macaroni

  • 1 Pkg Macaroni 8 Cups cooked
  • Water to cover
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil

Cheese Sauce

  • ¼ Cup Cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp Salted Butter
  • 3 Cups Milk *Or heavy cream
  • 7 Oz Shredded Old White Cheddar Castello Aged Old White Tickler (200grams)

Breadcrumb Topping

  • ½ Cup Breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp Salted Butter
  • 1 tsp Paprika

Extra

  • ½ Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese Mix

Instructions
 

Macaroni

  • Add enough water to a large stock pot to cook an entire package of macaroni and bring to boil on high heat.
  • Add all the macaroni and allow to cook until al dente. Approx 8 mins.
  • Drain the pasta.
  • Add a the olive oil to the pasta and stir.

Cheese Sauce

  • In a medium saucepan make the roux by melting the butter with the cornstarch.
  • Stir roux until the butter mixture is bubbling.
  • Slowly stir in milk to avoid lumps forming.
  • All the milk mixture to thicken and heat up to boiling.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the shredded white cheddar cheese.
  • Add cheese sauce to macaroni and stir well.

Breadcrumb Topping

  • Mix the breadcrumbs, butter, and paprika in a small bowl.

Assembly & Baking

  • Fill the mini cast iron skillets to halfway.
  • Sprinkle with the 'extra' cheese mentioned above.
  • Fill the mini skillets to full with more macaroni.
  • Add enough breadcrumb topping to each dish so as to cover the macaroni.
  • Put on a baking tray and bake in a preheated 350℉ oven for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and serve in skillets.

Notes

Any leftover macaroni and cheese will reheat well the next day.
Store in the fridge for up to three days covered.
Freeze for up to one month in freezer.
Keyword cheesecake, Macaroni, pasta

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