Baked macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. This simple recipe uses a traditional roux base to help thicken the sauce. A combination of melty cheeses and milk helps to nail just the right creamy texture to coat those noodles. You’re going to love the crunchy panko bread crumbs on top!
1. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in a large pot.
2. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, often stirring, until tender (just past al dente) and drain pasta.
3. Melt 5 tablespoons butter in large pot over medium-high heat.
4. Add flour, 1 teaspoon salt, cayenne (if using) and nutmeg.
5. Cook, constantly whisking, until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1-2 minutes.
6. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly.
7. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, occasionally whisking, until thickened, about 7 minutes.
8. Take the pot off the heat, slowly whisk in cheeses until completely melted.
9. Add pasta to sauce and cook over medium-low heat, constantly stirring, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.
10. Transfer to a broiler-safe baking dish and sprinkle with panko bread crumbs.
11. Broil in the oven until topping is golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Keep a close eye to not burn it.
12. Allow casserole to cool for 5 minutes before serving.