Best Ever Macaroni and Cheese

A creamy, cheesy mac and cheese that will please the pickiest eaters. The only mac & cheese recipe you’ll ever need!



Prep time:

5 minutes

Total Time:

35 minutes

Good For:

Dinner, Side


About this Recipe

I admit it. I never grew out of my love of macaroni and cheese…and I passed the love right along to my kids. We have tasted and sampled and tried making a variety of recipes over the years, and the results ranged from gross and globby to…this. Perfection in a pan. Based on a recipe from Martha Stewart and then tweaked to our tastes, this one is now the ONLY recipe I ever make.

The History of Macaroni and Cheese

And really, I feel no need to apologize for my love. Perhaps Kraft has made it a “kid’s dish,” and maybe we think of it as being fairly modern, but in actually, the oldest surviving recipes for Macaroni and Cheese date back to the early 1700s! It’s believed that it was originally Parisian, though the facts are a bit murky there. What we know is that English and American colonial housewives were writing down their “receipts” for pasta layered with cheese and butter for well over three hundred years.

In fact, macaroni was so popular a dish that the word itself began to be used to mean “stylish,” like we see in the song “Yankee Doodle.” (Did you wonder why someone was sticking a feather in his cap and calling it a pasta? There you go!”

This Recipe

This mac and cheese uses ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. I know some people will wrinkle their nose at the American cheese, but it’s used here because it melts better than the alternatives, for that creamy sauce you crave. I highly recommend buying Kraft or another brand whose ingredients are cheddar and whey and milk, not the cheaper versions that use oil to thin the cheese. The other secret is the minced onion. My kids don’t like onions as a rule, but it lends a flavor here that takes the dish to the next level.

This is the recipe my kids regularly ask me to make for birthdays and special occasions. The first few times I made it, it took me 45-minutes to an hour, just trying to balance all the steps and chop the onion and cheese…these days I can get it on the table in under 30 minutes.



  • 3 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ t salt
  • Dash of pepper
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 lb American cheese, cubed or torn up slices
  • Shredded cheddar to garnish, if desired
  1. Cook macaroni according to package directions; reserve a half cup of the cooking water and then drain the rest. (The water will keep the macaroni from absorbing the sauce too much.)
  2. For cheese sauce, in a saucepan melt butter; cook onion in butter until tender but not brown. Whisk in the flour, salt, and pepper to form a paste. Add milk all at once; cook and whisk until thick and bubbly, then 2 minutes more. Add cheese and stir until melted.
  3. Add cooked macaroni and reserved pasta water to the sauce, stir to combine. Transfer to oven-safe dish, top with shredded cheddar if desired. Bake at 350 until bubbly.

From the Books

You can bet that macaroni and cheese, classic dish that it is and capable of feeding a crowd, would make an appearance on the table of the Ocracoke Inn from Yesterday’s Tides, and I like to think that my characters would favor a recipe like this one. It also would have been enjoyed by the pasta-loving characters in Shadowed Loyalty, and quite likely by my colonial family in Ring of Secrets too!

More Recipes

Classic Porridge

Classic Porridge

Soaked or slow-cooked oat groats create a classic porridge with a satisfying bite and familiar oat flavor, a perfect base for your fixings!

read more
Print Friendly, PDF & Email