Baked macaroni and cheese being served from casserole

Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese is a staple recipe that is enjoyed in many households at pretty much any time of the year. It’s the one recipe that every cook should have, is perfect for serving at any gathering, and is the quintessential southern comfort food.

Baked macaroni and cheese being served from casserole

Macaroni and cheese recipes can become the topic of “healthy” discussion when speaking on its preparation. It seems there are a lot of versions out there that we’ve all grown to know and love; hence there are multiple ways to make it.

Some prefer to make it on the stovetop while others bake it. The cheese you’ll use will also vary as well as the technique — and the technique is where the real difference lies.

The mac & cheese I grew up on is very different than the mac and cheese I now make for my family. Growing up, a baked mixture of cooked macaroni, milk (whole, evaporated, heavy cream, or half-and-half), cheddar cheese, and sometimes eggs was always the foundation. This is what I call traditional southern baked macaroni and cheese AKA Soul Food mac and cheese.

Overhead shot of mac and cheese straight from the oven

My version uses a Béchamel sauce (technically a Mornay sauce) which gives my recipe a distinct creaminess and results in very rich mac and cheese. However, I still bake it, so it still has some of those traditional components.

You know I wasn’t going to toot my own horn here, but this is some of the best baked mac and cheese I have ever made.

Pouring mac and cheese mixture into casserole dish for baking

Which cheeses should I use?

I chose to go with four different kinds of cheeses. I think this is a great combination for this easy mac and cheese recipe:

  • Sharp or medium cheddar is a tangy cheese with more complex and deeper flavors. Because this cheese is aged longer, it has a more sharp and pronounced cheddar flavor.
  • White cheddar is a New York-style Cheddar that has a sharp and buttery flavor as well but tends to be milder than the sharp cheddar above.
  • Gouda is characterized by its rich, nutty, and caramel-like flavor paired with its smooth and creamy texture. It’s a household favorite that I use in many recipes.
  • Mozzarella has a distinct but mild, somewhat salty flavor and does a great job picking up flavors from other ingredients. I can eat mozzarella on anything you can put cheese over.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the mac and cheese ingredients:

macaroni recipe ingredients
  • The most popular pasta to use is elbow or macaroni pasta if you make mac and cheese. I prefer the large shells as the narrow tubes are larger and can carry a little more of that creamy cheese sauce.
  • I discussed in detail a little earlier about the cheese. I chose cheddar cheese, gouda, white cheddar cheese, and mozzarella.
  • I use low-sodium chicken stock to make my cheese sauce. It adds the flavor needed without oversalting the dish by adding a lot of salt directly.
  • The two ingredients to make my roux are butter and all-purpose flour, and to create the béchamel, I add heavy whipping cream.
  • For my seasonings and herbs, I added garlic, oregano, thyme, and Himalayan salt.

How to make baked macaroni and cheese:

  1. Begin by cooking your macaroni pasta as instructed, draining, and adding the pasta to a large bowl.
  2. Next, let’s work on the sauce while the pasta is cooking. You will begin by adding the butter, garlic, and flour into your cooking pan, stirring these ingredients together until the butter has melted.
  3. Add the chicken stock and heavy whipping cream to the pan and stir until it begins to bind. Follow this up by sprinkling all the seasonings evenly over the top of the sauce.
  4. Add the shredded sharp cheddar cheese, shredded Gouda cheese, and shredded white cheddar cheese to the pan. Stir ingredients until it is well blended, creamy, and smooth.
  5. Chop your mozzarella cheese block into chunks and set to the side.
  6. Over the cooked pasta, pour the sauce, and add the cheese blocks. Now fold everything together.
  7. Pour all ingredients into a casserole dish (paid link) then top off with the shredded medium cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, remove from the oven, and it’s ready to go!
Individual serving of mac and cheese

Baked Mac & Cheese FAQs:

So what is a béchamel or mornay sauce?

There are five core sauces used in most French cuisine (AKA “the five mother French sauces”), and they are hollandaise, velouté, tomato, espagnole, and of course, béchamel.
Béchamel is basically a white sauce made from a roux (flour and butter) plus milk. It can add an amazingly creamy and rich texture to almost any dish and becomes the base for many other sauces, like Mornay. Mornay is created when you take béchamel sauce and add cheese to it like Gruyère, Parmesan, or cheddar.

How much mac and cheese does this recipe make?

Perfect for the holidays, this recipe prepares a large casserole for a small gathering of 8-10. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if only needed for a smaller gathering of 4. 

Can I store this mac and cheese?

What I love about this recipe is it is great days after making it. It’s almost as if the cheese melts all over again. And that’s because of the base béchamel/mornay sauce. You can place any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Baked macaroni and cheese in casserole dish

This crowd-pleasing creamy mac and cheese recipe is one that your family will love any day of the week and any time of the year. If you want to make a great impression, give this recipe a try, and you will not regret it. It’s a good one!

Love mac and cheese? Then you must try my…

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Baked macaroni and cheese being served from casserole

Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese


  • Author: Eric Jones
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 10 1x

Description

Made with four cheeses this baked mac and cheese recipe gets its creaminess and cheesiness from homemade mornay sauce (made from béchamel).


Ingredients

Scale
  • 5 cups Large Macaroni Pasta, dry/uncooked
  • 16 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded 
  • 8 oz.  Gouda Cheese, shredded 
  • 8 oz.  White Cheddar Cheese, shredded
  • 16 oz. Mozzarella Cheese, cubed
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Stock
  • 3 cups Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 3 tbsp. Butter
  • 2 tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 tbsp. Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. Oregano
  • 1 tsp. Ground Thyme
  • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Himalayan Salt

Instructions

  1. Cook macaroni pasta as instructed, drain (do not rinse), add to a large bowl once complete.
  2. While your pasta is cooking, add butter and garlic to the cooking pan on medium-low heat. Once butter melts, add flour. Stir consistently until combined. Pour chicken stock and heavy whipping into the pan and stir until mixture is well blended.
  3. Add seasonings, half (8 oz.) sharp cheddar, gouda, and white cheddar cheese into the sauce and stir until smooth and creamy. (Using a whisk (paid link) may help with this step). 
  4. Pour sauce over the cooked macaroni. Cut the mozzarella cheese block into chunks add to the same bowl. Fold ingredients together.
  5. Pour ingredients into a casserole dish (paid link) and top off with remaining sharp cheddar cheese. Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool then serve.

Notes

Perfect for the holidays, this recipe prepares a large casserole for a small gathering of 8-10. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if only needed for a smaller gathering of 4. 

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Comfort Food
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Calories: 660
  • Sugar: 3.6g
  • Sodium: 780mg
  • Fat: 38.8g
  • Carbohydrates: 40.4g
  • Fiber: 1.9g
  • Protein: 36.4g
  • Cholesterol: 118mg

Keywords: Creamy Baked Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese, Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese, Baked Mac and Cheese, Creamy Mac and Cheese, macaroni and cheese

Show Comments (19)
  1. Planning on making for Thanksgiving but I have a lot of extra sides to make as well. Could I stop at step 4 to get it prepped and then bake the following day? Or do you think the noodles would soak up too much of the sauce and it not be as creamy once baked?

    1. Hi Catrina! I think the noodles would expand and soak up a lot of the sauce. I would keep the sauce separate until you are ready to bake it. So, you can make the sauce in advance, refrigerate the sauce, add the noodles and cheese blocks to your dish, and store both. Then the day you want to bake it, fold in the cheese, and bake.

  2. HOLY CRAP THIS IS FANTASTIC. NEVER USING MY OLD RECIPE AGAIN. DEFINITELY BEST ADDITION TO SUNDAY DINNER






  3. I followed the recipe exactly and WOW! My family and I loved it! There was not a bite left after dinner was over. This will definitely be my go-to Mac and cheese recipe!






  4. Oh my goodness! This macaroni recipe was a HUGE hit at a BBQ I attended for my daughter’s volleyball banquet! It was beyond delicious. It will be my go-to from now on!






  5. Yum, yum, yum! This 4 cheese mac was splendid. Adding chicken stock took this meal to next to level. I think this is the secret ingredient. Thanks for sharing:)






  6. Hello, this recipe looks delicious. I’m just a bit confused because you talk about your cheese choices in detail and you say it’s “4 cheese” mac, yet in the actual recipe you have 5 cheeses. And 9-10 cups of cheese paired with only 5 cups of cooked pasta seems excessive and trust me, I love cheese! Is this correct? Thank you! I’d love to make this soon.

    1. Hi Jaimee! There are four types of cheese. The “fifth” cheese is used as the topping but is the same kind of cheese used inside the cheese sauce. For the pasta, the measurement is for dry/uncooked pasta. Your pasta will double in size (approx.) so you would end up with almost 10 cups of cooked pasta. Hope this helps. FYI…this makes a large serving of mac and cheese so feel free to cut the recipe in half. Hope you enjoy it!

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