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Easy Baked Mac & Cheese

Mac & cheese is such a classic. It’s an absolutely delicious comfort food and eating it feels like coming home, honestly! It’s cheesy, creamy, and oh-so-delicious.

Today we’re sharing a recipe for a Baked Mac & Cheese that adds some fun seasonings and a touch of cream cheese for extra creaminess and an elevated flavor profile. We think you’re going to love this super-easy, kid-friendly mac & cheese recipe!

Why we love Baked Mac & Cheese

This is a perfect winter meal that takes a classic comfort food and levels it up entirely! It’s got this bright flavor and it’s so creamy and cheesy, thanks to the cheddar and cream cheese, and each bite is just a delight.

We love the paprika and oregano which add such a nice, elevated flavor profile to this dish. We think it’s perfect for those winter nights when you just want to curl up with something warm and comforting!

What is cheddar cheese

Cheddar is an off-white or yellow cow’s milk cheese. It’s classified as a close-textured hard cheese — which are cheeses that have been ripened over a long period of time, generally more than nine months, and have a low water content. This makes it crumbly and dry and we love the way that tastes and the texture it adds.

Cheddar has a sharp flavor that’s fairly earthy. It’s comforting and familiar and just such a classic staple, and it’s the perfect cheese for this dish! Especially when shredded, cheddar melts extremely well and is oozy, which makes it perfect for a baked mac & cheese!

What does smoked paprika add

First, back to the basics — what is paprika? It’s a spice made of dried and ground red peppers. The peppers used to make it can be of a variety but they tend to be sweet peppers.

Generally paprika has a mild, kind of sweet flavor, but when smoked the flavor turns really intense. It has that classic woodsy flavor you’ll recognize from smoked meats, but it’s underscored by the sweetness of the peppers that made it. We think it adds such a nice touch to this recipe, a bit of smokiness that really makes you feel like you’re coming home when you eat this dish.

How to make Baked Mac & Cheese

  1. Cook pasta just until al-dente, about 4-5 minutes. 
  2. In a 12×8 baking dish add cooked pasta, 1 1/2 cups milk, grated garlic, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and oregano.
  3. Stir together until well mixed.
  4. Top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, white cheddar, butter, and cream cheese.
  5. Cover and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  6. Stir together, making sure melted cream cheese coats all of the pasta. 
  7. Heat the remaining milk and stir it into the pasta to get it to your desired consistency.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

More Mac and Cheese Recipes

One Pot Mac and Cheese

Baked Mac and Cheese

One Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese

Easy Baked Mac & Cheese

Alia and Radwa
This easy mac and cheese recipe is only a few ingredients. It's simple, creamy, and cheesy!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course dinner, lunch
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8
Calories
Ingredients
  
  • 4 cups cooked elbow pasta (2 cups uncooked, al-dente)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (freshly grated)
  • 3/4 cup shredded white cheddar (freshly grated)
  • 2 cups milk (divided)
  • 2 cloves grated garlic
  • 1 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1 tsp pepper (taste)
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika (or sweet paprika*)
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 4 oz cream cheese (cubed)
Instructions
 
  • Cook pasta just until a little under al-dente, about 4-5 minutes. 
  • In a 12x8 baking dish add cooked pasta, 1 1/2 cups milk, grated garlic, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and oregano.
  • Stir together until well mixed.
  • Top with shredded sharp cheddar cheese, white cheddar, butter, and cream cheese.
  • Cover and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  • Stir together, making sure melted cream cheese coats all of the pasta. 
  • Heat the remaining milk and stir it into the pasta to get it to your desired consistency.

Video

Notes

*If you don't like a smokey flavor, substitute smoked paprika for sweet paprika
Keyword baked macaroni and cheese, easy mac and cheese, easy macaroni and cheese, homemade mac and cheese, simple macaroni and cheese
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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