- Cook the pasta. Bring about 4 quarts of salted water to a boil over high heat in a large pot. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Warm the milk. Place 1 cup of the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and flour in a small bowl and whisk together until there are no lumps. When you just start to see wisps of steam rising from the warming milk, whisk in the milk-and-flour mixture. Continue whisking gently until the milk thickens slightly to the consistency of heavy cream, 3 to 4 minutes.
- Make the cheese sauce. Turn the heat to low and begin mixing handfuls of cheese into the milk. Stir in the salt and mustard. Stir until all the cheese has melted and the sauce is creamy. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Remove the sauce from the heat.
- Combine the pasta and cheese sauce. Place the pasta and 1/2 of the cheese sauce in a large serving bowl. Stir to coat the pasta evenly. Add the remaining sauce and any extra add-ins and stir to combine. If you'd like a looser sauce, add up to another 1/4 cup milk if desired. Serve the mac and cheese immediately while still warm.
Baked mac and cheese: If you have a little extra time, you can bake the macaroni and cheese to give it a golden crust. Pour the prepared mac and cheese into a casserole dish, cover with a lid or foil, and bake at 350°F for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and a few pats of butter, and bake uncovered for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the top is golden and the interior is bubbly.
Leftovers will keep for up to 1 week and can be reheated in the microwave. If the sauce is a little dry after reheating, mix in a splash of milk to make it creamy again.
- The most popular cheese used in macaroni and cheese recipes is Cheddar cheese.
- In 1993, Crayola named one of their crayon colors “macaroni and cheese.”
- Kraft introduced its famous boxed version of macaroni and cheese in 1937. During the first year, nine million boxes were sold. Today, Kraft sells more than one million boxes of its macaroni and cheese every day.