In the mood for comfort food? Velveeta mac and cheese it is!
It has everything you can ever ask for in a bowl of mac and cheese: hearty, rich, creamy, and cheesy. It’s the ultimate delight!
But you know what sets it apart from other recipes? It’s that it only calls for the most basic ingredients. There are no fancy cheeses required.
In fact, this recipe only uses 6 ingredients, and I’m sure you already have them in your pantry.
So if you’re looking for a last-minute recipe that’s guaranteed to fill you with ecstasy, you can count on this Velveeta mac and cheese.
Velveeta Mac and Cheese Recipe
Despite not being a real cheese, Velveeta has been creating ridiculously rich and creamy dishes since the early 1900s.
You can always trust this processed cheese product to transform humble dishes into restaurant-quality treats.
In this recipe, you’ll use Velveeta to make the smoothest, creamiest, most luscious cheese sauce for mac and cheese.
Thanks to Velveeta, mac and cheese has never been so good and easy to make!
- Butter and Flour – Together, they create a roux, which is a mixture that thickens liquids, creating a base for broths, gravies, and pasta sauces.
- Milk – It’s added to the roux to make a creamy sauce.
- Velveeta – For the ultimate smooth, creamy, and cheesy mac and cheese sauce.
- Elbow Macaroni – The “mac” in mac and cheese.
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese – Velveeta isn’t enough! Shredded cheddar cheese is sprinkled on top of the mac and cheese to make it even more sensational.
- Crushed Ritz Crackers – A crunchy topping that provides a nice textural contrast to the creamy dish.
How to Make Homemade Mac and Cheese with Velveeta
1. Cook the pasta. You want it to be firm and al dente and not too soft and mushy. Boil it for no longer than 6 minutes and drain well.
2. Make the roux and the sauce. Whisk together the flour and butter until pasty. Gradually whisk in the milk and in just a few minutes, the mixture will turn into a thick sauce. Add the Velveeta cubes and stir until melted.
3. Assemble the casserole. Toss the cooked noodles in the sauce and transfer the mixture into a casserole. Top with shredded cheese and crushed Ritz.
4. Bake. Just 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or just until the topping turns golden brown.
Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese
The only requirement, really, is for the cheese to be melted. Other than that, anything goes!
It’s a matter of personal taste, but in case you’re looking for inspiration, here are my favorite cheeses to use for mac and cheese, aside from Velveeta.
- Any Kind of Cheddar – Mild, medium, sharp, extra sharp, white, Vermont, New York-style, take your pick.
- Mozzarella – It’s more stretchy and gooey than melty, but it makes mac and cheese extra special, nonetheless.
- Blue cheese – If you’re a fan of bold flavors, this cheese is perfect for you. Just don’t add too much, though, as blue cheese really does have a strong taste.
- Gruyere – This cheese will make the sauce extra smooth and velvety with nutty and earthy flavors.
- Smoked Gouda – It’s ideal if you want a hint of smokiness to your mac and cheese.
Tips for the Best Baked Mac and Cheese
- Keep the pasta firm and al dente by undercooking it for 1-2 minutes. Keep in mind that the noodles will continue to cook in the oven, so if they’re already soft, to begin with, imagine what they’ll be like after they bake.
- If you’ve accidentally overcooked the noodles, run them under cold water to stop the cooking process. You can also toss them in butter to keep them from absorbing more liquid during baking.
- While I often use pre-shredded cheese when cooking, I recommend against it when it comes to mac and cheese. You’ll want the cheese to be as melted as possible, and because it contains an anti-caking agent, pre-shredded cheese just won’t do. Just get a block of cheddar and shred it yourself! It’s easy, and also a lot cheaper.
- If the sauce is too thick, add milk, 1/4 cup at a time, and stir. Repeat until your desired thickness is achieved.
- Keep tasting the sauce as you go along. Season it with salt and pepper, if needed.
- If you’ve accidentally overcooked the pasta, coat them with butter to prevent them from absorbing more liquid and cooking further.
- Don’t forget to grease the casserole to keep the noodles from sticking.
Mac and Cheese Variations
Add your own personal twist to mac and cheese to make the dish your own!
- While it’s in the name of the dish itself, you don’t need to limit the pasta to elbow macaroni. Feel free to use other small-shelled pasta such as fusilli, ziti, penne, rigatoni, etc.
- You can also use large elbow macaroni so that all that cheesy goodness permeates inside the shells.
- If you want a cheesier sauce, just add more cheese to it. It can be any kind of melted cheese. It doesn’t have to be just Velveeta. I’m talking cheddar, Swiss, gouda, cream cheese, you name it.
- Whether you’re not a fan of Ritz or just don’t have the crackers on hand, you can replace it with crushed French onions or croutons. Basically, anything crunchy works!
- Make your mac and cheese more substantial and flavorful with ham, bacon, mushrooms, and onions.
- Spice it up with red chili flakes, sriracha, jalapenos, or hot sauce.
- Make the topping extra crunchy and mouthwatering with bacon crumbles.
- Pressed for time? That’s totally fine! Just skip the oven and enjoy the mac and cheese right after tossing the noodles and cheddar cheese in the sauce.
- Want a fall-themed mac and cheese? Stir in 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree to give the sauce an autumnal flavor.
- Add ground beef, minced onions, and tomato paste to make cheeseburger mac and cheese. That’s 2 comfort foods in one!
How to Store Mac and Cheese
Allow the mac and cheese to cool completely and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Place mac and cheese in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months.
Reheat an entire casserole of refrigerated mac and cheese at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 15 minutes. Add 5-10 minutes if you’re reheating frozen mac and cheese.
To reheat a smaller portion, transfer it into a microwave-safe container and microwave at 1-minute intervals until warmed through.
If the mac and cheese is looking dry, top it with cream, cover the dish with plastic wrap, and reheat in the microwave.
Make-Ahead Velveeta Mac and Cheese
Assemble the mac and cheese and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate it for up to 2 days.
Take the dish out of the fridge while you preheat the oven. Bake as instructed.
Note: you might want to increase the amount of sauce in the casserole as refrigeration may dry out the dish.
What to Serve with Mac and Cheese
While it’s perfectly fine to be served on its own, it’s always more fun to pair mac and cheese with sides!
- As this is a carb-rich dish, it’s great to eat with a meaty entree, such as buffalo wings and meatloaf.
- If you want to contrast its richness with something light, you can’t go wrong with roasted Brussels sprouts or glazed carrots.
- If you like to have something sweet with a savory meal, serve mac and cheese with a fresh fruit salad.
More Pasta Recipes You’ll Love
- Sweetie Pie’s Mac and Cheese
- Trisha Yearwood Mac and Cheese
- San Giorgio Baked Ziti
- Barilla Lasagna
- Sour Cream Lasagna
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