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Tested and updated October 2022

The trick with the best mac and cheese is to achieve that Zen-like balance of melted cheese and soft noodle goodness. Then to bring it on home, there’s gotta be a nice little crunch, brought on by a subtle dusting of breadcrumbs. It’s tricky at first, and it might take a few stabs before you get it right, but once you do, you’ll never go back to the box (unless you’re in a hurry). Oh yeah, if you really want this dish to rock, head over to our how-to make bechamel sauce primer or try mixing it up with our Ultimate Mac’n’Cheese Idea Generator.

Other mac and cheese recipes call for heavy cream, a wide variety of cheeses, add-on ingredients from caramelized onions to Buffalo chicken. Those can be great and fun to make too, if you have more time. But this Best Mac and Cheese recipe is perfect because it strips the dish down to its main parts: noodles, cheese, breadcrumbs and creaminess from the bechamel sauce. You can add more cheese to make it cheesier, you can double it and feed a family of four or more for a week, you can pair it with salad for a fairly easy and satisfying weeknight meal.

Most importantly, you can have a bowl of comforting, satisfying mac and cheese with fairly minimal effort. And sometimes, that’s all you need.