I call this an Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe because the oven truly does all the work. This macaroni and cheese is creamy and dreamy without boiling the pasta or making a cooked cheese sauce before baking it in the oven.
I have a confession to make. Until now my macaroni and cheese of choice came in a box from the store. Shocking right? It wasn’t that I loved the taste of the boxed kind (though my kids enjoy shells and cheese). It’s just getting out two pots to boil some macaroni and then make a cheese sauce and then stir it together and then bake it seemed like missing the point of an easy side dish. But then I found this recipe and after doing some testing and revisions I think I have come up with seriously the best (and still easy) oven baked macaroni and cheese recipe.
My changes to the original recipe I am taking help from are based on reviews and my own personal taste preferences. Half and half makes the macaroni and cheese extra creamy. A combination of smoked gouda (which melts easily) and medium cheddar cheese makes for a simply delicious flavor combination – slightly smoky, tangy, cheesy and not grainy. I’ve never been a fan of dried mustard or any other spices in my macaroni and cheese. A little yellow mustard and hot sauce rounds out the flavor profile.
This is the only homemade macaroni and cheese I’ll make now. And it’s so simple that I will be kicking those boxes to the curb. Try it and tell me if you agree!
Tips for a perfect Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe:
- This recipe can be easily doubled for a crowd
- Grate your own cheese – do not use pre-shredded cheese for this recipe
- I use this brand of macaroni in my recipe
- Use an 8-cup (2-quart) capacity baking dish similar to this one
- Sprinkle some cooked and crumbled bacon on top after baking to make this a main dish – serve it with roasted or grilled vegetables, a salad and/or fresh fruit
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Watch how to make Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese:
Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- 1 cup 4% fat cottage cheese
- 2 cups half and half
- 8 oz smoked Gouda cheese grated
- 8 oz medium cheddar cheese grated
- 2 tsp yellow mustard
- 1 tsp hot sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 8 oz (half box) macaroni pasta
- 2 tbsp butter softened
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease a baking dish (at least 8 cup capacity) with the two tablespoons of butter and set aside.
- Combine the shredded Gouda and Cheddar cheeses and set aside about 1 cup of cheese. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- In a blender, combine the cottage cheese, half and half, remaining shredded Gouda and Cheddar cheeses (about 3 cups), salt, mustard and hot sauce. Blend until smooth.
- Stir the half and half and cheese mixture into the uncooked pasta and pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 for 45 - 55 minutes (or until the macaroni is cooked through - I tasted it to make sure). Remove the dish from the oven. Remove the foil and stir well. Top the cooked macaroni with the remaining cup of shredded cheese.
- Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Return the macaroni and cheese to the oven and bake an additional 10 - 20 minutes, or until the cheese on top is bubbling and starting to lightly brown.