When you’re craving creamy comfort food, Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Breadcrumbs adds a level of crunch that makes it irresistible! It has all the indulgent nostalgia of the boxed Mac & Cheese you grew up with, but with a sophisticated twist that takes it to the next level. (It’s great for kids and adults alike!) Golden brown breadcrumbs on top of elbow macaroni smothered in ooey gooey melted cheddar and gouda or gruyere is an absolute dream.
Why You’ll Love This Dish
Ready to give one of your favorite dishes from childhood a delicious upgrade? Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Breadcrumbs is creamy and indulgent with just the right amount of crunch!
This recipe has all the comfort of the boxed Mac n Cheese you grew up with, but the addition of smoked cheese and golden brown breadcrumbs takes it to the next level. The flavor profile is sure to please kids and adults alike.
Best of all, prep only takes about 15 minutes. After that, toss it in the oven until everything is golden and melted!
If you’ve never tried Macaroni and Cheese with Breadcrumbs, get ready to meet your new favorite comfort food.
It’s so easy to make, and you may find yourself coming back to this one anytime you want a cozy dish the whole family loves!
Boxed just can’t compare to this homemade mac and cheese recipe.
- Pasta — Elbow macaroni is my favorite for this recipe.
- Butter — You’ll use this for the cheese sauce and for toasting the bread crumbs.
- Flour — This helps give the cheese sauce a luscious thickness.
- Milk — I recommend whole milk, but you could use half and half or heavy cream for an even more decadent sauce.
- Cheese — A combination of sharp cheddar cheese and your choice of smoked gouda or gruyere gives the sauce incredible flavor. (But feel free to use whatever kind of cheese you like in this baked mac and cheese. Swiss cheese and mozzarella cheese are also great options.)
- Mustard — Dijon mustard will enhance the cheese sauce and balance the dairy.
- Worcestershire — The combination of sweet, sour, and hint of spice adds complexity, making this dish so irresistible.
- Breadcrumbs — I recommend panko for the best crunch.
- Seasoning — Salt, pepper, and just a hint of cayenne round out the flavor. For a bit more kick, you can add a teaspoon of garlic powder.
Tips & Tricks
- Kids or family members sensitive to spice? You can omit the cayenne.
- Don’t try to swap out the whole milk for skim, or you’ll end up with a watery, runny sauce.
- If you don’t have panko breadcrumbs, you can use regular breadcrumbs instead. But for the best Homemade Macaroni and Cheese with Breadcrumb Topping, I highly recommend grabbing some panko!
- I like to grate my own cheese because the flavor is so much better.
- Sneak in a serving of veggies with these Healthy Zucchini Chips made with naturally gluten-free breading!
- What better way to dial up the comfort than with some crispy on the outside, tender on the inside Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries?
- No comfort meal is complete without dessert, and this decadent Gluten-Free Chocolate Pie on a crispy cereal crust is the perfect way to round out the meal!
- For a truly decadent meal, finish off with Lemon Cheesecake Bars.
Frequently Asked Questions
I like to use elbow pasta for my easy homemade baked Macaroni and Cheese with breadcrumbs. It’s the most traditional, and I just love the texture.
Of course, penne is another great option, or you could even mix it up with some bow-tie pasta!
This is entirely subjective. I like full-flavored macaroni with a sharp cheddar and smoked gouda or gruyere.
If you’re worried about younger palettes, you could sub in American cheese, which will also give you an even gooier texture.
Want your Macaroni and Cheese with Bread Crumb Topping to be a truly rich experience?
Try using heavy cream or half and half instead of whole milk! Fair warning: this combination will put everyone in a beautiful, luxurious food coma.
Tools Needed to Make Macaroni and Cheese with Bread Crumb Topping
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- 13 x 9 baking dish
- Small and large saucepan
- Spatula or spoon
- Food Processor (optional; for shredding cheese)
Leftover Macaroni and Cheese with Bread Crumbs will keep very well. Store any extra in an airtight container in the refrigerator and enjoy within four days.
How to Make Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Bread Crumbs
This is a visual walkthrough of the recipe. For the full recipe, see the recipe card below.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.
Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package directions. (Cook until al dente; be careful not to overcook because the pasta will continue to soften as it bakes.)
Next, make your roux. To do this, melt the butter in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown.
Whisk in the milk in slowly until well combined. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the shredded cheese. Once melted, add in Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well combined.
Once the pasta is cooked, drain and toss with cheese sauce and cubed cheddar cheese.
Transfer to the prepared pan. (I like to taste it at this point and adjust the seasonings.)
Melt butter in a small saucepan. Toss with the breadcrumbs, then sprinkle on top of the pasta.
Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.
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Baked Mac and Cheese with Bread Crumbs
- 16 ounces elbow noodles
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup flour
- 3 ½ cups whole milk
- 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese divided (½ shredded ½ cubed)
- ½ pound smoked gouda or gruyere shredded
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons butter
- ⅔ cup panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray.
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package direction.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown.
- Whisk in milk in slowly until well combined and cook, stirring often, until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the shredded cheddar and gouda or gruyere cheese. Cook until melted, then add in Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, cayenne, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir until well combined.
- When pasta is cooked, drain and toss with cheese sauce and cubed cheddar cheese. Transfer to prepared pan.
- Melt butter in a small saucepan. Toss with crumbs and sprinkle on top of pasta.
- Bake for 35 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.