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This epic White Cheddar Mac and Cheese recipe is incredibly cheesy and easy to prepare. It uses two varieties of cheese for a rich, deep flavor! Plus there is one secret ingredient that makes it extra smooth and creamy.
This is the best white cheddar mac and cheese I’ve ever tasted, and I am a cheesy shell aficionado! Growing up Dad’s old fashioned macaroni & cheese was a monthly treat.
In this white cheddar version, al dente shells are coated in a creamy cheese sauce that’s baked to perfection with more melted cheese on top. The sharp cheddar cheese with the crème fraîche gives this easy recipe the right amount of tanginess to balance its creaminess. Every bite is interesting and delicious, making it the perfect side dish to pair with pulled chicken barbecue, healthy creamy coleslaw, spicy peach pork chops, and countless others!
Table of Contents
- Why you will love this Creamy Mac and Cheese:
- Professional Tips for Making This Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- How to Make White Cheddar Baked Mac and Cheese
- Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
- How do you make the creamiest mac and cheese?
- Frequently Asked Questions
- White Cheddar Mac and Cheese Recipe
- Before You Go!
Why you will love this Creamy Mac and Cheese:
- It’s easy! This delicious white cheddar macaroni and cheese is incredibly easy to make. I’ve included step-by-step directions for a simple roux that will make the sauce thick and creamy. The rest is just cooking pasta, melting cheese, and baking!
- It’s balanced. Many mac and cheese recipes are loaded with heavy cheese and cream, and, while delicious, can be a bit one-note. By adding crème fraîche to the recipe, this baked white cheddar mac and cheese has an element of freshness and tanginess that lifts the whole dish.
- You can stretch this recipe. You can add an additional ½ cup of shells or macaroni to the base of the dish and it will still be delightful. This can help stretch the recipe if you have an unexpected guest or just want to enjoy it for longer.
Professional Tips for Making This Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- Start with the best sharp cheddar. If you don’t like the way the cheese tastes off the block, you won’t love the final dish. Choose a gruyère and white cheddar that you love. Using more than one kind of cheese will also add a lovely depth of flavor.
- Finish with crème fraiche. This adds a silky texture to the final dish. It makes the cheese seem extra creamy and rich. You could also add cream cheese if you have that.
- Be careful not to overbake. You can, in fact, over-bake mac and cheese. It is a sad fact that I learned the hard way while filming. Too much moisture will evaporate and then you will not get that cheese pull or the gooey cheese filling. The flavor will still be delightful but the texture will be different.
- Shells or Macaroni: Whether you decide to use pasta shells or macaroni for this recipe, be sure that they are measured dry. This will provide the most accurate measurement.
- Butter: I recommend using unsalted butter for this recipe. This will allow you to taste as you go and add more salt as needed to your personal taste.
- Flour: Plain flour or all-purpose flour will work best for this recipe. However, you can also use bread flour if needed. This will thicken faster than regular flour but will still work in a pinch.
- Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is less salty by volume than table salt or sea salt, making it easier to taste your food as you go and harder to oversalt your food.
- Milk: I recommend using whole milk for the creamiest mac and cheese, but 2% milk will also work here. It will just be slightly less rich and creamy.
- Mixed White Cheeses: I used 1 cup of gruyère and 2 cups of very sharp white cheddar cheese. When making homemade mac and cheese, I don’t recommend buying shredded cheese. The cheese will melt better and become a more cohesive cheese sauce if you grate the cheese yourself.
- Crème Fraîche: This adds a hint of tanginess to the creamy sauce. Crème fraîche also helps create a luscious, smooth texture.
- Quick Stovetop Mac and Cheese: You can skip the baking for a stovetop mac n cheese. If making a stovetop variety, you do not need to reserve the final ½ cup of cheese for the topping. Just mix it all together and serve right away. You can also make this dutch oven mac and cheese for a one pot alternative!
- Bacon Mac: Try adding some crumbled bacon to your dish after it comes out of the oven for an extra decadent mac n cheese recipe.
- Cheese: You can add a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese when you remove the white cheddar mac n cheese from the oven for a salty, cheesy garnish. I am also in favor of mixing it up with a smoked mac and cheese recipe!
How to Make White Cheddar Baked Mac and Cheese
Use these instructions to make the perfect creamy macaroni and cheese every time! Further details and measurements can be found in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Step 2: Cook pasta to al dente where they still have a little bite.
Step 3: In a medium sauce pot, melt butter then add flour and salt. Cook, stirring constantly until it boils one minute, trying not to let it brown. If it does, no big deal. Just keep going!
Step 4: Slowly whisk in the milk several tablespoons at a time.
Be sure to allow each addition of milk to completely absorb and thicken before adding the next addition. This will keep your roux thick and smooth.
Step 5: Add the shredded white cheddar cheese and gruyère, reserving ½ cup for the topping, followed by the noodles.
Step 6: Finish with the crème fraiche.
You can actually stop right here and serve this as a stovetop mac and cheese! It is so fabulous that I had to keep the hubs from eating half of the pot!
Step 7: Pour into a casserole dish. Top with the reserved cheese and bake in a preheated oven until the center is boiling and the top has browned.
Be careful not to over-bake the macaroni & cheese. Too much moisture will evaporate and then you will not get that cheese pull or the gooey cheese filling. The flavor will still be delightful but the texture will be different.
Chef Lindsey’s Recipe Tip
Starch needs to boil for one minute to get rid of that raw flour taste. Be sure to allow the butter and flour to cook for at least one minute to get all the thickening properties and none of that raw flour taste!
How do you make the creamiest mac and cheese?
- Start with a roux. This is a French technique for thickening sauces where you cook butter and flour together until thick and a little bit browned and nutty. Then, add the milk slowly. Slowly whisking the milk into the roux will allow for maximum absorption and will make a nice rich, thickened base. Adding the milk too fast will create lumps and will be too loose.
- Finishing with crème fraiche or cream cheese will make it extra silky smooth and creamy. Serve it straight from the stovetop or bake it just until golden brown and bubbling.
Frequently Asked Questions
Store leftover white cheddar mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator. I do not recommend you freeze mac and cheese. The texture will not be the same when it is reheated.
Choose a variety of cheese to get the best flavor and texture, and be sure to taste it before you dump it all in. I love a mix of gruyere, extra sharp white cheddar, and compté. Swiss cheese can also be a good addition if you like it.
You can use pre-shredded cheese for this recipe, but it will not be as rich and creamy as high-quality, freshly grated cheese. Pre-grated cheese contains coagulants that are designed to keep the pieces separate, making it harder to form a cohesive and creamy sauce.
If you tried this recipe and loved it please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the comments below. I love hearing from you; your comments make my day!
White Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Cook pasta to al dente where they still have a little bite.
- In a medium sauce pot, melt butter then add flour and salt. Cook, stirring constantly until it boils one minute, trying not to let it brown. If it does, no big deal. Just keep going!
- Slowly whisk in the milk several tablespoons at a time. Be sure to allow each addition of milk to completely absorb and thicken before adding the next addition. This will keep your roux thick and smooth.
- Add the shredded white cheddar cheese and gruyère, reserving ½ cup for the topping, followed by the noodles.
- Finish with the crème fraiche.
- Pour into a casserole dish. Top with the reserved cheese and bake in a preheated oven until the center is boiling and the top has browned. Be careful not to over-bake the macaroni & cheese. Too much moisture will evaporate and then you will not get that cheese pull or the gooey cheese filling.
Before You Go!
I hope you enjoyed this professional chef-tested recipe. Check out our other delicious, chef-developed side dish recipes!