The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe

This family favourite is quick to make, delicious and a universal winner, with lots of variations. However, what is the best cheese for mac and cheese?

Image of Macaroni & Cheese out the oven
Macaroni & Cheese in a bowl

It’s a dish loved by all ages, that’s found its way onto restaurant menus and family food tables the world over. Everyone has their own ideas on what to add to it, as well as the best cheese for mac and cheese!


The other hotly debated topic is who invented mac and cheese, though many people believe that it originally came from North America.


The first reference to this dish in a cookbook (The Virginia Housewife written by Mary Randolph) appears to have been in 1824. Interestingly, this original USA version was pasta layered with quantities of butter and cheese.


Another theory is that it was a British Empire invention, and it arrived in Canada via British immigrants.


However, as the idea of mixing pasta and cheese into casseroles first appeared in 14th-century Italian and English cookbooks, the genius who thought of it is unlikely to be unmasked!


What we do know, is that the ingredients you use are key to giving mac and cheese maximum flavour, as well as its appetising appearance and ‘more-ish’ appeal.


What’s meant by ‘mac and cheese’?


First, let’s pin down, what is mac and cheese?

Unlike many commonly eaten family favourites, the basic ingredients are well-established. It is macaroni pasta – short-cut, narrow tubes made from durum wheat and sometimes egg too – in a gooey and tasty cheese sauce. The cooked pasta and sauce are mixed together, and then usually baked for a short time to blend them perfectly.


Somehow, it manages to be simply delicious. It is also quick to make and a good way to get protein and the other nutrients provided by dairy products. It can be a snack, side dish or a main meal too!


Best of all, you can get creative over what you put in mac and cheese to stamp your preferences on it, or to make it even more healthy.

What do YOU put in mac and cheese?


Adding in bacon, ham or some other meat is popular. After all cheese and bacon or ham are a brilliant combination. Onion, sweetcorn, peas, leek and broccoli are also often mixed in, as they too are great pairings with a cheese sauce.


Do you fancy a spicy version? Then chilli flakes or sliced jalapeños are an option to vary your mac and cheese recipe.


Some folk put a layer of tomatoes on the top, to grill as the mac and cheese spends its last bit of cooking time in the oven, while others add breadcrumbs to the grated cheese topping for extra crunch.


Did you know that Scottish cooks bake mac and cheese into a pie? Not surprisingly it’s a dish called Macaroni pie.


Also, you can buy elbow macaroni (bent tubes) to vary the appearance, and some people cut out the oven-baking time as they prefer a gooey-creamy-soupy version instead.


The best cheese for mac and cheese, for a perfect result


Whatever extras you add, the secret of perfect mac and cheese will always be the cheese sauce, which creates that divine texture and flavour. As well as the cheese you crumble or grate on top if you prefer a sensational crust on your dish.


In our view there is only one clear winner – and reports suggest that it is the most popular cheese to add to mac and cheese. Which is – cheddar!


You will find many recipes for mac and cheese that put quality English Cheddar as your top priority.

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