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Creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese {Piccadilly Cafeteria's Copycat}

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The creamiest, cheesiest, baked macaroni and cheese recipe that you will EVER make!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Cheese, Dairy, Noodles, Pasta
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Servings 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 tsp paprika (not smoked paprika!)
  • 1/2 TB salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 lb macaroni elbow pasta (uncooked)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter (unsalted)
  • 4 cups milk (I use whole milk, but you can use a combination of whole milk and half and half to make it even more rich!)
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 2 cups mozzarella cheese (shredded)

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
  • Fill a large pot with water and a sprinkle of salt. Bring it to a boil and add the macaroni elbow pasta. Cook the pasta for a minute or so LESS than what the box says, because it will cook further in the oven.
  • Drain the pasta and do not rinse it! Feel free to toss it with a tiny bit of olive oil, though I usually skip that.
  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a pan, and whisk in the flour. Keep cooking for a minute, whisking the whole time.
  • Add 2 cups of milk to the pan, a little bit at a time, while you keep on whisking. Slowly add the rest of the milk, whisking nonstop until it is smooth.
  • At this point, the sauce will look thin / watery, but do not worry! Keep cooking it over medium heat (while constantly whisking) until it thickens,
  • Turn the stove off and add in your spices and 1.5 cups of a mixture of the shredded cheddar and mozzarella. Keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Then, add another 1.5 cups of the shredded cheese mix, and stir until you have a uniform cheese sauce.
  • Pour your cheese sauce over the cooked, macaroni pasta and stir until it is well distributed.
  • Add half of the cheesy pasta to the greased 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle 1.5 cups of cheese on top. Then, add the remainder of your pasta to the baking dish, and top with the last 1.5 cups of cheese.
  • Bake the creamy macaroni and cheese for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is deliciously melted, bubbly and slightly browned on top.

Notes

This is the perfect recipe to make in advance! Just cover it well BEFORE baking it, and store it in your fridge for a day or two. When you are ready to serve it, let it sit out for half an hour and then cook it, as instructed above. It will take slightly longer for the cheese to get bubbly and slightly brown though, so cook it for around 30 minutes instead!