Recipe: Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Ready in 47 Minutes Forget the box mix. Our mac and cheese from scratch delivers a taste worth the extra time, and the process is much easier than you might think. Our step-by-step guide removes any guesswork from making this classic pasta.

Step-by-Step Video: Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas

The holidays can be stressful, so break out this comfort food recipe to get you through.

When you think holiday food, your mind probably turns to frosted Christmas cookies, or a stunning crown roast, or crispy latkes, or a boozy glass of eggnog. We love all of these things, but the one dish you need for the holiday season is none of the above. It’s our Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Mac and cheese, you say? But I can eat that any day of the year! Which is true, but there are several reasons this dish is a holiday winner:

It Feeds a Crowd
The holidays are a time for big gatherings and our recipe feeds six to eight people—perfect for office potlucks, Christmas Eve dinners, New Year’s Eve parties, or any cozy holiday get-together. If you’re cooking for a really, really big crowd (and have two skillets, or a skillet and a Dutch oven), you can easily double this macaroni and cheese recipe, too. Serve it with a big green salad on the side and everyone will be comfortably stuffed.

Related: 37 Spirited Holiday Cocktails

It Will Please Just About Anyone
Picky kids? Vegetarian cousin? Unadventurous mother-in-law? Eternally hungry teenagers? Unless you’re feeding the lactose-intolerant, macaroni and cheese is a certified crowd-pleaser. You can even adapt it for gluten-free diets by using gluten-free pasta. Everyone loves it, from old to young and any age in between.

It is Inexpensive
At a time when budgets are even tighter than usual, this is a very affordable way to feed a lot of people. Many macaroni and cheese recipes call for several different types of expensive cheeses, but this one only uses one block of extra sharp Cheddar. The tangy, intense flavor helps a little bit of cheese (who are we kidding, it’s a lot…) go a long way. The rest of the ingredients are probably already in your kitchen.

It is Fast
Time is just as precious as money during the holidays, and this meal comes together in less than an hour. Most of it is hands-off cooking time in the oven, too. Instead of a buffet of fussy hors d’oeuvres, put out a big pan of macaroni and cheese and watch your friends and family load up their plates and sigh with happiness.

It is the Ultimate Comfort Food
The holidays are one of the most magical times of the year but these jam-packed days can also be stressful, too. There’s no dish that is more instantly comforting than a hot, bubbling pan of macaroni and cheese. Serve it to your family and watch any tension disappear. Serve it at a holiday party and watch everyone dig in and loosen up, even without cocktails. Or just make a pan for yourself and grab a spoon. We’ll take holiday cheer any way we can get it.