5 Easy-to-Make Homemade Mac & Cheese Recipes That Outperform the Store-Bought Variety

Winter is all about comfort foods, and there may be no dish that better comforts our collective cold-weather miseries than macaroni and cheese, one of the most famous side dishes of all time. If you're seeking something hearty and traditional because of the rain or snow, a warm bowl of mac 'n' cheese can do the trick — but noodles and powdered cheese from a box might not.

Fortunately, making this gooey pasta dish from scratch isn't difficult; all you need is the perfect recipe. The greatest mac and cheese recipes vary by taste, but we've compiled a list of five homemade versions that are sure to please. Check out some flexible ideas for your next comfort food-based dinner and prepare to fall in love with this childhood favorite all over again.

Macaroni & Cheese Baked to Perfection
Pushing your spoon through a crisped shell of cheese and into the soft, melty center of a bowl of mac and cheese is a delightful experience, and a classic baked version is a terrific choice if you consider yourself a traditionalist. If that sounds about right, you'll want to try Damn Delicious's oven-baked mac & cheese recipe. To begin, make a roux, which is the flour-and-butter base of a creamy sauce, and then add spices, evaporated milk, and cheddar and Parmesan cheeses for a richer flavor.

This recipe also suggests dividing the pasta-and-cheese sauce mixture into individual serving sizes, which will be baked after being topped with more shredded cheese to form a bubbly shell. These Cast Iron Serving Bowls will make baking a breeze in your kitchen. These little metal baking plates are durable and rustic, and they carry just the right amount of macaroni and cheese for a delicious dinner side — but we wouldn't blame you if you grabbed two.

The Best Southern-Style Cuisine Macaroni & Cheese
Traditional macaroni and cheese might be luxurious, but it doesn't have to be. Consider this Southern casserole-style recipe from The Fresh York Times Preparing whether you're cooking for a special occasion or simply want to try a new twist on an old favorite.

So, what distinguishes it as Southern? Mac and cheese meals from the south are frequently done custard-style, which means the sauce is made by whisking together eggs and milk. The end result is a solid but creamy dish that keeps its shape and is bursting with sharp cheddar flavor.

You'll need some robust bakeware to handle this macaroni and cheese because it requires repeated stints in the oven to become the smooth and sumptuous dish that it is. This deep and sturdy Emile Henry casserole dish comes in a variety of colors, making it ideal for serving on the dinner table or transporting to a party. It also has enough height so you won't have any trouble stacking the several layers of cheese and pasta required by this recipe.

Crockpot Mac and Cheese at its Finest
You don't want to stand over the stove stirring and straining on some days, but you still want to eat substantial, home-cooked flavors. That's the ideal time to make a (crock)pot of mac and cheese that will stick to your ribs. This dish from The Chunky Chef delivers, and it's also a terrific alternative to mac and cheese loaded with all kinds of additions and baked in the oven when you're not in the mood for that.

You might be thinking, "Macaroni and cheese in a slow cooker?" But this method of cooking — and the dish it generates — is simple, reliable, and tasty. Simply add some tried-and-true ingredients like elbow macaroni, butter, heavy cream, chicken stock, and spices to your Crock-pot and let them cook until all the liquid is absorbed. Then add the shredded cheeses and cream cheese, which is the secret ingredient that gives this dish its over-the-top creaminess. Don't be surprised if your dinner guests ask for seconds (or even thirds!) helpings.

Best Mac & Cheese for the Stovetop
What makes this Gimme Some Oven stovetop recipe different from store-bought boxed versions? The answer might surprise you, and it has nothing to do with the cheese. Sure, using freshly grated cheese elevates every dish, but shaved parmesan and cheddar aren't the only additions to this dish's flavor. When you see the garlic powder and powdered mustard — and the fact that it's a one-pot dish, cleaning isn't a problem — you'll notice that this usual mac and cheese recipe isn't so ordinary.

You'll start with making a roux, then add practically everything — the pasta, seasonings, milk, and water — and let it all boil together. When the noodles are soft, add the cheese and mix to combine. Dinner is ready in less than 15 minutes. You can quickly cook up some bacon to add as a topping if you're in the mood for something savory and salty. After all, you may make some delectable toppings or side dishes to accompany this simple recipe using the time you save by cooking in a single high-quality stock pot.

Mac and cheese that is both vegan and gluten-free is the best.
With this recipe from Minimalist Baker, warding off vampires and avoiding gluten while adhering to a vegan diet has never been tastier or easier. It checks all the boxes for a superb pasta dish, with a savory show-stopper in the form of an entire head of roasted garlic. Other important ingredients are gluten-free penne, almond milk, and nutritional yeast, a vegan must-have for an incomparable cheesy flavor. While it's common to believe that making classic dishes vegan-friendly necessitates additional procedures and ingredients, that couldn't be further from the truth in this case. Only ten ingredients are required, several of which you may already have on hand.

Short on time while preparing this dish? Use this handy garlic roaster to cut down on prep time while still getting that trademark roasted garlic flavor in your mac. You'll never want to eat garlic-free macaroni again after tasting this recipe. It's safe to say that even the non-vegans at the dinner table will enjoy this.

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