I have no time for dry, crumbly mac and cheese—I want it rich and extra creamy or not at all (okay, I'd still eat it). But that classic mac and cheese you love with an extra creamy twist is what I have for you today. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I don't mess around with mac and cheese so you can trust me when I say it's good! This is the perfect mac and cheese recipe to serve your family when they're looking for comfort food and you want to make a vegetarian meal evvvveryone will enjoy.Jump to Recipe
How to Make Extra Creamy Mac and Cheese
Here are some tips for getting a really creamy mac and cheese.
Shred the cheese yourself
One of the key strategies for getting extra creamy mac and cheese is shredding the cheese yourself from the block rather than buying a bag of shredded cheese. This is a topic I'm pretty passionate about—but for good reason!
It genuinely makes a BIG difference in the overall quality and texture of your mac and cheese sauce.
That's because bags of shredded cheese have cellulose and other non-cheese ingredients, which help prevent it from clumping together in the bag. Unfortunately, these same ingredients also prevent the cheese from melting as smoothly into the sauce as it could.
Shredding your own cheese creates a much smoother texture to your sauce since all you’re adding is pure cheese!
Plus, when you shred it yourself, you actually get a far better bang for your buck. More cheese for less money? Yes please!
So the next time you make mac and cheese, don't forget about this key step—it makes all the difference! Shredding your own cheese will ensure your mac and cheese comes out creamy every single time.
Use a mix of milk and cream (or just cream!)
I understand you might be tempted to use JUST 1 or 2% milk to make mac and cheese, but trust me—you won't regret using a mix of cream and/or half-and-half in its place.
It's actually not technically essential that you use cream; you can still get good results with just whole or 2% milk. But if you want the creamiest mac and cheese possible, opt for heavy cream, half-and-half, or a combination of the two. It'll add an extra richness to your sauce that's unbeatable.
Make a roux
A roux is a mix of fat and flour that is cooked until it thickens and can be used as a thickener for sauces. It's a French culinary technique, but it's perfect for mac and cheese!
It adds a great depth of flavor to the sauce!
To make a roux, start by melting butter in a pot over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in all-purpose flour until smooth (you may need to add more butter or flour to get the correct consistency). Cook for 1–2 minutes until slightly golden and then whisk in your milk of choice. Once the sauce is thickened, add cheese and seasonings to finish off the sauce.
Use a combination of cheeses
Cheeses with a relatively low melting point are ideal for mac and cheese because they melt more easily into the sauce without getting stringy or grainy. Softer cheeses like cheddar, gouda, and sometimes even cream cheese will make your mac and cheese super creamy.
I also love using a combination of these cheeses to get a really rich and flavorful sauce. Try mixing cheddar with a sharp or smoked cheese for an extra kick of flavor, or adding cream cheese for a smooth finish.
Extra Creamy Classic Mac and Cheese
Here's what you'll need for my classic mac and cheese recipe!
- Macaroni noodles
- All-purpose flour
- Heavy cream or whipping cream
- Sharp/old cheddar
- Monterey jack cheese
- Mustard powder
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper
Extra Creamy Classic Mac and Cheese
- 3 cups macaroni noodles measured dry
- 5 tablespoon butter
- 4 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2.5 cups milk I use 2%
- 1.5 cups heavy cream or whipping cream
- 2.5 cups sharp cheddar shredded
- 1 cup monterey jack shredded
- ½ teaspoon mustard powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- pinch of smoked paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste I use at least ½ tsp. of salt
- Boil the macaroni noodles in a large pot of salted water according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, for 2-3 minutes until it becomes a light golden color.
- Gradually add the milk and heavy cream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue cooking the mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and comes to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat to low and stir in the grated cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses, mustard powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Stir until the cheese is fully melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Add salt and pepper to taste
- Add the cooked macaroni noodles to the cheese sauce and stir until the noodles are glossy and well-coated.
- Enjoy your extra creamy and cheesy mac and cheese!
Love this classic mac and cheese?
Here are some other mac and cheese recipes to try next:
- Baked Mac and Cheese for One
- Chipotle Mac and Cheese with Cornflakes
- Buffalo Mac and Cheese with Ranch
I can't wait to hear what you think of my mac and cheese—thanks so much for giving it a try!