Winter is all about comfort foods, and there might not be a dish that soothes our collective cold-weather woes better than one of the most classic side dishes of all time: macaroni and cheese. If grey skies or snow flurries have you craving something hearty and traditional, a warm bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese is sure to satisfy — but noodles and powdered cheese from a box might not.
Fortunately, this gooey pasta dish isn’t too difficult to whip up from scratch; you just need to find the right recipe. The best recipes for mac and cheese vary from taste bud to taste bud, but we've rounded up five homemade options that are bound to delight. Get ready to fall in love with this childhood favorite all over again as you check out some versatile recipes for your next comfort food-based dinner.
Best Baked Mac and Cheese
Things don’t get much more satisfying than pushing your spoon through a crisped layer of cheese and into the soft, melty center of a bowl of mac and cheese — and a classic baked version is a great choice when you fancy yourself a traditionalist. If that sounds about right, you’ll want to try this oven-baked mac and cheese recipe from Damn Delicious. To start, you’ll create a roux — that flour-and-butter base of a creamy sauce — and add spices, evaporated milk and cheddar and Parmesan cheeses for some definite richness.
Best Southern-Style Mac and Cheese
Best Creamy Crockpot Mac and Cheese
Some days, you just don’t want to deal with standing over the stove stirring and straining but you still want to enjoy hearty, home-cooked flavors. That’s precisely the right time for whipping up a (crock)pot of stick-to-your-ribs mac and cheese. This recipe from The Chunky Chef delivers, and it’s also a great go-to when you’re not in the mood for mac that’s topped with all sorts of extras and baked in the oven.
Best Stovetop Mac and Cheese
How does this stovetop recipe by Gimme Some Oven differ from your standard store-bought boxed versions? The answer may surprise you, and it doesn't necessarily come down to the cheese. Sure, using freshly grated cheese is bound to elevate any dish, but shaved parmesan and cheddar aren't the only things that give this meal a certain bite. You’ll see that this regular mac and cheese recipe isn't so typical when you spy the garlic powder and ground mustard — and the fact that it’s a one-pot dish, so cleanup is pretty much not a concern.
Best Vegan and Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese
Warding away vampires and avoiding gluten while sticking to a vegan diet have never been tastier or easier than they are with this recipe from Minimalist Baker. It ticks all the boxes for a perfect pasta dish — with a whole head of roasted garlic serving as a savory show-stopper. Other key ingredients include gluten-free penne, almond milk and that vegan essential — nutritional yeast — for creating an unbeatable cheesy flavor. While people often think that translating classic dishes into vegan-friendly fare adds extra steps and ingredients, that couldn’t be further from the truth with this recipe. You’ll only need 10 ingredients, many of which you might already have in the pantry.