How to make penne pasta mac and cheese

Mac and cheese is personally my favourite. The blend of flavours is so simple yet flavorful. You don’t like mac and cheese everywhere or made by everyone. I have tried to make homemade penne pasta mac and cheese several times, but it was always inedible until this recipe. This recipe is perfect and MEGA GOOD for beginners and experts. 

With time, I built up the perfect muscle for mac and cheese. This easy recipe is straightforward to make in just 20 minutes and tastes way better than any boxed mac and cheese you’ll ever buy. 

But before jumping over to the recipe, let me tell you a secret.

Making sour cream pesto pasta has always been challenging and tastier, but my handful of ingredients made it! So, if you're struggling with achieving perfect Umami and Earthy-nutty flavour in the sauce, don't forget to check out my 

Quick dip recipe for sour cream pesto pasta sauce

Let’s begin without any further ado! Shall we?

How to make penne pasta mac and cheese?

As always, today’s mac and cheese recipe points to using simple, no-fuss ingredients that you may already have in your fridge and pantry. You’ll love my classic version of the penne pasta mac and cheese recipe because the simple ingredients listed below are required to make this magic happen.

Ingredients you need for penne pasta mac and cheese:

Get ready to dive into the gastronomic journey that blends cheese flavours in a good cream sauce with the cosy allure of penne pasta. 

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  •  2 garlic cloves, crushed
  •  ¼ cup flour
  •  2 cups of milk
  •  ½ cup low-moisture mozzarella
  •  ½ cup provolone, shredded
  •  ½ cup gruyère, shredded
  •  12 ounces of Penne pasta, cooked
  •  ½ cup breadcrumbs

Best cheese combination:

I almost always use cheddar and some other cheese. I made it with provolone cheese, mozzarella, and gruyère this time, and it turned out pretty well. You can use it a little or put your favourite cheeses in your fridge.

People mostly use others as substitutes, too, but I have never found this true! I don’t usually use pre-shredded, but sometimes half or so because I keep it on hand. My sauce always comes out smooth. 

Pasta option:

Penne is a great choice for holding all that cheesy goodness. I don’t mind elbow/macaroni, but PennePenne has the right bite texture and the amount of tube space inside. It holds its shape and keeps its bite, perfect for a baked penne pasta mac and cheese. 

Another thing to remember is that this is a baked pasta recipe, so if you have to cook the pasta a la dente before baking and while it continues to cook in the oven, cook for 8 minutes. 

Step-by-step directions 

Roux making:

This roux recipe will open up many new culinary doors: cheese sauces, cream sauces, thickening for stews, gravies, and all sorts of things.

  • Warm a skillet over low heat and add butter for melting.
  • Raise the heat to medium, and add the garlic and flour.
  • Slowly pour in milk, stirring continuously until smooth.
  • Add the three types of cheese individually, stirring in the process.

Adding pasta:

  • Add cooked al dente penne to the roux and stir.

Roasting breadcrumbs:

Cheese is surprisingly complex to balance the flavours. Sprinkle the top with breadcrumbs to add savoury and crunchiness to mac and cheese.

  • Heat a separate skillet over low heat to melt butter.
  • Add the breadcrumbs and stir until they’ve soaked up all the butter.

End with baking:

A large baking dish works well for baking mac and cheese.

  • Preheat oven to 140 F.
  • Start by spraying non-stick cooking oil on a baking dish and filling it with sauced pasta.
  • Sprinkle grated mixture over pasta.
  • Bake for 25 minutes at 340 degrees F/170 degrees C until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  •  Serve immediately; this penne pasta mac and cheese is best served the same day it’s made.  Enjoy!

Suggested seasoning add-ons to enhance penne pasta mac and cheese:

  • Add smoked paprika to your roux and cheese to the pasta after you strain it. It works as a killer combination.
  • Adding ground mustard powder in roux makes it taste more cheesy.
  • White pepper is a secret ingredient because it’s invisible. It makes a perfect combo of mac and cheese. It gives it a different kick.
  • Instead of using breadcrumbs, you could cook bacon, chop it up, then cook onion in the bacon grease for topping.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best pasta for mac and cheese?

Macaroni, or elbow pasta, holds an excellent cheesy sauce on the inside. But any short pasta shape, like shells, PennePenne, ziti, etc., will work fine.

What two cheeses are best for mac and cheese?

Use a combination of sharp cheddar, Parmesan, and cream for mac and cheese. This makes it extra creamy and has a dominant flavour.

How do you keep mac and cheese creamy when baking?

Melting cheese is sensitive to heat and can easily separate if it gets too hot. You can lower the temperature of your oven. Also, try adding some processed cheese to help it melt nicely.

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