Rich and decadent double cheddar baked macaroni and cheese made with a classic bechamel sauce and two types of cheddar cheese. It’s a go-to comfort food favorite.
I’ve never met a mac and cheese I didn’t like, even the day-glow yellow boxed mac and cheese that was my favorite growing up. Macaroni and cheese is a comforting, decadent, and versatile dish. Once you know how to make it you can go in so many flavor directions. I’ve made Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese and Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese but this Double Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese is my definitely one of my favorites.
We’re calling on our old friend bechamel sauce for this one and turning it into the creamiest cheese sauce made with not one, but two types of cheddar cheese. The creamy cheese sauce is layered with pasta and more shredded before it goes in the oven. It emerges bubbling hot with a cheesy crust. I love it year-round, but especially during the fall and winter when I crave cozy comforting dinners.
How to Make Macaroni and Cheese
This macaroni and cheese starts with a creamy bechamel sauce, two kinds of cheddar cheese, and tender macaroni.
Bechamel sauce is a rich white sauce made with butter, flour and milk (or cream or both). It’s the type of sauce that can go in many directions flavor-wise depending on what you’re making. Here’s what you need…
- Melted butter and flour are combined to create a sort of paste which is what will thicken the sauce once the milk and cream are added.
- I used a combination of 2% milk and heavy cream for the sauce. This produces an extra-rich sauce. If you want to dial it back on the richness you can omit the cream and use all milk instead.
- The sauce is flavor with onion. As the sauce cooks, I like to place a wedge of onion with a clove in the sauce. This gives the sauce the onion flavor but you won’t have chunks of onion in the sauce since you will discard the onion wedge.
- I also added some mustard powder to the sauce. When the mac and cheese is done you won’t really taste the mustard, but it definitely adds a flavor note that leaves people wondering, what’s in this that makes it taste so good?
- I like to cook the sauce slowly which will help ensure that it doesn’t break. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the sauce to thicken.
- I used two kinds of cheddar cheese: a 2-year aged cheddar and a white cheddar cheese. I found both kinds at my regular grocery store in the specialty cheese area near the deli. They made the macaroni and cheese extra-cheddar-y.
- I added cheese to the sauce until it was melted and smooth and saved some of it for sprinkling over the top of the macaroni and cheese
- I don’t recommend using pre-shredded cheese for this recipe. Pre-shredded cheese often has additives that make the cheese more shelf-stable (like anti-clumping agents) which can cause issues in how it melts into the sauce.
I used elbow macaroni and first boiled it for about half the time indicated on the package. Because this is a baked macaroni and cheese you don’t want to fully cooked the pasta before adding it to the sauce. It will finish cooking in the oven.
You will add the pasta to the cheese sauce before pouring into a baking dish. I like to do a couple of layers starting with some of the pasta and cheese sauce followed by some shredded cheese. I did a few of these layers before topping the macaroni and cheese with the rest of the shredded cheese.
I like to bake it for about 30 minutes, uncovered, at 375°F until it’s hot and bubbly with a bit of a chewy cheesy crust on top.
This macaroni and cheese makes six very generous servings – my favorite kind of serving! I like it as a main dish with a crispy salad or simple roasted veggies on the side.
More Comfort Food Recipes
Chicken Cordon Bleu Pasta | This chicken cordon bleu pasta is a hearty dinner that serves four hungry people. The sauce is made with Swiss cheese that bakes up with pasta, pan-cooked chicken, and ham and it’s topped with crispy breadcrumbs.
Braised Short Rib Mushroom Sauce with Pappardelle | This braised short rib mushroom sauce is made with red wine and fresh herbs. It slow cooks in the oven until the short ribs are falling apart tender before it’s strained and reduced to a velvety smooth sauce.
One-Pan Spaghetti Bolognese | Spaghetti bolognese goes from a weekend kitchen project to weeknight go-to dinner thanks to a few key shortcuts that help get dinner on the table in less than an hour. Italian sausage and ground beef cook together in a simple short-cut sauce brightened with a pop of sun-dried tomatoes and fresh herbs. It’s hearty and comforting with minimal clean-up.Print
Rich and decadent double cheddar macaroni and cheese made with a classic bechamel sauce and two types of cheddar cheese. It’s a go-to comfort food favorite.
- 8 ounces macaroni
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup 2% percent milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 onion, peeled with a single clove in it
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 cup aged cheddar cheese (see note)
- 1 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, grated (see note)
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the macaroni for about five minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a large sauce pot, melt the butter until frothy. Add the flour and mix it with the melted butter until there are no lumps (about 2 or 3 minutes). Slowly pour in the milk and cream mixture, whisking continuously, until the milk and flour/butter mixture are smooth with no lumps.
- Add the onion with the clove stuck in it and the ground mustard. Bring the pot to a low simmer and cook the sauce until it’s thick enough to just coat the back of a spoon, about 15 or 20 minutes.
- Season the sauce with the salt and pepper and add 1 cup of each type of cheddar cheese (save the rest for the baking dish). Stir until the sauce is smooth and the cheese has melted.
- Add the macaroni back to the large pot it was boiled in. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and gently stir it all together until the macaroni is coated. The sauce may be a little loose, which is fine. The pasta will finish cooking while in the oven and the sauce will continue to thicken.
- Spoon about a third of the pasta and cheese sauce into a baking dish. Sprinkle a third of the remaining cheese over the top. Scoop 1/2 of the remaining pasta over the top of the cheese. Top that layer with some more cheese, leaving enough for the last layer. Add the remaining pasta and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 375 degrees. Let it stand a few minutes before serving.
I used one type of cheddar cheese that was aged for 2 years and another one that was a white Irish cheddar (brand was Kerrygold). They made for an extra cheddar-y (is that a word?) mac and cheese and both can be found at regular grocery stores.
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- Serving Size: 1/6 of recipe
- Calories: 637
- Sugar: 5.1g
- Sodium: 601mg
- Fat: 45.7g
- Carbohydrates: 35.7g
- Fiber: 1.4g
- Protein: 21.3g
Keywords: double cheddar macaroni and cheese