Looking for the best baked macaroni and cheese recipe? You’ve found it! Incredibly creamy, cheesy, and super tasty, you will love this baked macaroni and cheese casserole, topped with a surprise pretzel crust!
This Baked Macaroni and Cheese recipe has been a long time coming, you guys. I have made so many versions of macaroni and cheese and while they have all been good, I was still looking for that wow factor! So many oven baked macaroni recipes are bland or end up dry after baking, I wanted a macaroni and cheese where the cheese stayed creamy and you could taste the cheddar and this recipe is finally it!
This easy baked macaroni and cheese is anything but bland. The spices provide a lot of flavor, and my secret ingredient (dijon mustard) adds to the tanginess of the extra sharp cheddar. I borrowed an idea from Spend with Pennies, where she adds a can of condensed cheddar cheese soup. I only use half the can. To be honest, I don’t like the flavor of condensed soup in recipes, but the addition here ensures that your cheese sauce stays creamy the next day when reheated.
The pretzel crust is a fun addition to this already perfect macaroni and cheese recipe. The pretzels add great texture and saltiness and just make this recipe stand out from the others. I love pretzels used in recipes, and used them to make a delicious crust on these chicken tenders too!
How long should you bake macaroni and cheese?
One of the most important tips I can give you about this recipe is not to over bake it. This isn’t going to be the dried up macaroni and cheese casserole that you find at so many potlucks! It has a quick bake time to meld everything together and brown the top, while the pasta stays al dente and the cheese sauce stays super creamy. Bake for no longer than 18 minutes! I used to bake my macaroni and cheese for 45 minutes! What was I thinking???
I can finally stop searching for the best baked macaroni and cheese recipe because this is it! I will never make another version, except of course my super popular macaroni and cheese bites, which are always a hit at parties and is my all time most popular recipe on the blog!
Looking for more macaroni and cheese recipes?
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- 12 oz. shell pasta cooked short of al dente. Cook 3 minutes less than box says.
- 3 1/2 cups shredded extra sharp yellow cheddar cheese plus 1/2 cup for topping
- 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 4 tbsp. flour
- 1/2 can condensed cheddar soup
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tsp mustard powder
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- for the topping:
- 1 cup crushed pretzels
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp parsley
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a 9 by 12 casserole dish with non stick spray.
In a sauce pan, melt butter. Once melted, whisk in flour until smooth. Let cook 1 minute. Add in the milk. Cook over medium heat until milk mixture thickens. Add all the seasonings and stir.
Turn off the heat and add 3 1/2 cups of the extra sharp cheddar and the parmesan cheese. Stir well until all melted. Add in the half can of condensed soup and stir well. Pour the cheese mixture over the cooked pasta and add the pasta to the casserole dish.
Top with the pretzels, panko, and parsley. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.
Make sure to buy a brick of cheese and shred yourself. Pre-shredded cheese is coated in a wax to prevent sticking.
If you love macaroni and cheese, try this Spicy Philly Cheesesteak Macaroni and Cheese!