This Pioneer Woman Mac and Cheese is thick, rich, cheesy, and creamy. The whole family will love this classic comfort food dinner. You can make a stovetop version or a baked version, it’s delicious both ways!
Pioneer Woman Mac And Cheese
Pioneer Woman’s mac and cheese will absolutely satisfy your cheese craving. It’s loaded with a luscious, ooey-gooey cheese sauce that’s enhanced with mustard powder for a tangy kick.
The addition of egg to the sauce creates an ultra-creamy texture. If you’ve never experienced it before, it’s a must-try! There’s even an optional baking step for those who love an extra cheesy topping.
I’m always eager to try new mac and cheese recipes. They’re so simple to whip up and taste so much better than boxed versions (though this recipe for How to Make Kraft Mac and Cheese Better is pretty great).
I promise you, this mac and cheese is so scrumptious and satisfying, it’ll become your new go-to recipe for potlucks, family dinners, and holiday gatherings. I can confidently say that this recipe gets a resounding thumbs-up from the kids in the family, too!
Elbow Macaroni: This recipe calls for macaroni, the classic choice for mac and cheese, but you can use any small pasta with nooks and crannies (like shell pasta). The pasta’s shape is essential for holding onto the creamy cheese sauce.
Egg: Adding egg to the sauce makes it extra creamy.
Butter and Flour: These two ingredients are used to create a roux, the base for the cheese sauce. The roux helps to thicken the sauce and gives it a smooth consistency.
Milk: Milk is the liquid that combines with the roux to form the cheese sauce. It adds creaminess and richness to the dish. I recommend using whole milk, but reduced-fat milk will work in a pinch.
Dry Mustard: Dry mustard adds a tangy flavor. It cuts through the rich flavors of the creamy mac and cheese and balances the overall flavor of the dish.
Cheddar Cheese: Cheddar has a low melting point, which will make a smooth sauce. It also adds the classic flavor you expect from mac and cheese. You can also use a combination of cheeses. Gruyere, colby, and Monterey jack are all great options to mix with cheddar.
Salt, Seasoned Salt, and Pepper: These seasonings provide a depth of flavor to the cheese sauce, balancing out the richness of the cheese and dairy ingredients.
How To Make Pioneer Woman’s Mac And Cheese
Cook the pasta: In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the elbow macaroni until al dente, following the package instructions. Drain and rinse the cooked pasta. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.)
Prepare the egg: In a small bowl, beat one egg until smooth.
Make the roux: In a large saucepan, melt the butter, then sprinkle in the flour. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring to prevent burning.
Add milk and mustard: While whisking continuously, pour in the milk and sprinkle in the mustard powder. Keep whisking occasionally as the mixture simmers until the sauce thickens. Reduce the heat to low.
Temper the egg: Slowly add a bit of the thickened sauce to the beaten egg while whisking constantly to prevent scrambling. Once smooth, slowly pour the egg mixture back into the sauce, whisking constantly to avoid curdling.
Add cheese and seasonings: Stir in the shredded cheese, salt, seasoned salt, and pepper. Mix until the cheese is fully melted. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Combine pasta and cheese sauce: Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce, stirring to coat the pasta evenly.
Optional baking step: For baked mac and cheese, transfer the mixture to a greased casserole dish. Top with more cheddar cheese and follow the baking instructions in the recipe card to achieve a bubbly, golden-brown crust. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, cooking times, and helpful tips, etc.
- To ensure that your cheese sauce remains smooth and lump-free, make sure to add the milk gradually while whisking continuously. This will help to create a smooth sauce base that will easily incorporate the cheeses.
- Use high-quality, freshly grated cheeses for the best flavor and texture. Pre-shredded cheeses often contain additives that can lead to a less-than-smooth cheese sauce.
What Cheese Is Best For Macaroni And Cheese?
Sharp cheddar is a classic choice, but you can also use a combination of cheeses like Gruyere, Colby, or Monterey Jack to add depth and variety to the flavor profile.
Can I Use Pre-Shredded Cheese?
It’s best to use freshly grated cheese, as pre-shredded cheese is coated with anti-caking agents that can result in a gritty texture when melted.
Why Do You Put Eggs In Mac And Cheese?
Eggs create an emulsion that leads to a thick and creamy cheese sauce.
Can I Add Other Ingredients To This Recipe?
Absolutely! Feel free to add veggies like broccoli or peas, cooked proteins like bacon or chicken, or even toppings like breadcrumbs for added crunch. If you like your mac and cheese with a little heat, try adding a dash of hot sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper to the cheese sauce.
Make Ahead Instructions
This recipe can be made ahead, but it will be less creamy when you prepare it ahead of time. You could always increase the sauce or lower the noodles to make it creamier.
Make the recipe as instructed (without baking it). Let it cool completely in a buttered baking dish, then sprinkle more cheese on top and cover it with foil before storing it in the fridge for 1-2 days. When you’re ready to bake it, let it rest on the counter for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven. Bake at 350F for 25-35 minutes (or until it’s hot and bubbly).
Slow Cooker Instructions
If you’d like to make this dish in a slow cooker, combine the cooked pasta and the prepared cheese sauce in your slow cooker, set it on LOW, and cook for 1-2 hours. This method will allow the flavors to meld together and produce an ultra-creamy texture.
Can I Freeze This Mac And Cheese For Later?
Yes, you can freeze the unbaked mac and cheese in an airtight container for up to 3 months. When ready to bake, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight and follow the baking instructions.
What Should I Serve With It?
Some great side dishes to pair with mac and cheese include slow cooker green beans, a simple green salad, or roasted vegetables.
Keep In Touch
I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime
Mac And Cheese Recipes
If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our pasta recipes! Some reader favorites are:
- Baked Mac and Cheese with Velveeta
- Velveeta Mac and Cheese (Stovetop Recipe)
- How to Make Kraft Mac and Cheese Better
- Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
- Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese
- Spicy Mac and Cheese
- Paula Deen’s Crockpot Mac and Cheese
- 4 cups elbow macaroni
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2 heaping teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 pound freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese*
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Optional spices (cayenne pepper, paprika, and/or thyme)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta to al dente according to the package instructions (if you plan to do the optional bake time, the pasta needs to be very al dente). Once it’s done cooking, drain it through a colander, and rinse.
- Add the egg to a small bowl, then beat it.
- Heat a large saucepan over medium heat, add the butter and let it melt. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour and mix to create a roux. Cook the roux for 2 minutes while stirring to prevent burning.
- While constantly whisking, pour in the milk and sprinkle in the mustard powder. Continue whisking occasionally while you simmer it until the sauce is very thick (about 5 minutes). Once thickened, reduce the heat to low.
- Take 1/4 cup of thickened sauce and slowly add it to the beaten egg while constantly whisking to prevent the egg from scrambling. Once smooth, slowly pour the egg mixture into the sauce while whisking constantly (it’s important to add it slowly so that the egg whites don’t curdle).
- Once the egg is incorporated into the sauce, add the shredded cheese, salt, seasoned salt, and pepper. Mix until the cheese is melted. Taste the cheese sauce and add more salt and seasoned salt to taste.
- Add in the cooked macaroni, and stir to coat it with the sauce.
- Optional: If you want baked mac and cheese, you can transfer it to a greased casserole dish. Top it with more cheddar cheese, then bake it for 20 to 25 minutes in a 350F oven.
*It’s important to use freshly grated cheese. Pre-grated cheeses are coated in an anti-caking agent that makes the texture gritty after it melts.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 769Total Fat: 38.3gCarbohydrates: 72.2gFiber: 2.9gSugar: 7.8gProtein: 32.7g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.
You’re all set to make this mouthwatering Pioneer Woman Mac and Cheese that’s sure to become a family favorite! Whether you opt for the stovetop or baked version, you’ll be serving up a delicious and comforting meal everyone will love.