Think outside the (blue) box with our simple 4-step plan for cooking awesome homemade mac and cheese.
mac-n-cheese in a bowl with spoon
Photography by Lucy Schaeffer
| Credit: Photography by Lucy Schaeffer

1. Make a Roux

Roux (pronounced ROO) is a mix of equal parts flour and fat that's used to thicken sauces, soups, and stews. For mac and cheese, melt 3 tbsp. butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in 3 tbsp. flour, whisking until pale beige, about 3 minutes. You need to cook the roux until it no longer tastes like flour, which doesn't take long.

2. Turn It Into Béchamel

Whisk in 3 cups milk in a steady stream, then simmer until the sauce is thick, 10 to 15 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and you've got béchamel, a creamy white sauce that's used for mac and cheese, lasagna, and potato gratin.

3. Add Cheese and You've Got Mornay

Throw in about 2 cups shredded cheese (such as cheddar or provolone) and stir until the cheese melts. By adding cheese, you've made what's known as Mornay, a basic and delicious cheese sauce. Add some chopped fresh herbs (such as sage, thyme, or rosemary), a squirt of Dijon mustard, and a pinch of cayenne if you wanna show off.

4. Stir in the Pasta and Ooh-La-La!

Now just stir in some cooked macaroni. (Boil 12 to 16 ounces of dried pasta until al dente.) Then spoon the mixture into a baking dish and broil until the top is golden and crispy, about 5 minutes. Serve to hungry kids (or adults), and prepare to make this recipe a lot.