Creamy Baked Four Cheese Mac and Cheese

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese is a staple recipe enjoyed in many households at pretty much any time of the year. It’s the one recipe that every cook should have, perfect for serving at any gathering, and 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; some use eggs, and some don’t. The cheese you’ll use will also vary, as will the technique—and the technique is where the real difference lies.

Overhead shot of mac and cheese straight from the oven

The mac and cheese I grew up on is very different from 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.

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 traditional components. It uses a combination of cheeses for both the creamy cheese sauce and the topping, which results in the ultimate baked mac and cheese.

Individual serving of mac and cheese

This is a family favorite and is requested multiple times throughout the year. It goes without saying that it takes the primary spot amongst all side dishes during the holidays.

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.

Which cheeses should I use to make four cheese mac and cheese?

I chose to go with four different kinds of cheeses. I think this is a great combination for this easy baked 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.

Ingredients you’ll need for this four cheese mac and cheese recipe:

macaroni recipe ingredients
  • The most popular pasta to use is elbow or macaroni pasta if you make mac and cheese. I prefer large elbow pasta as the narrow tubes are larger and can carry a little more of that creamy cheese sauce.
  • I discussed the cheese in detail a little earlier. I chose cheddar, gouda, white cheddar, and mozzarella.
  • I use low-sodium chicken stock to make my cheese sauce. It adds the flavor needed without over-salting 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 sea salt.

How to make baked four cheese mac and cheese:

Boil the pasta. Begin by boiling your macaroni pasta as instructed, draining, and adding the pasta to a large bowl. (Make sure your pasta is cooked “al dente” and is not overcooked or mushy. Since the pasta will continue to cook in the oven, you want to start with “al dente” pasta to compensate for the extra baking time.)

Prepare the béchamel sauce. 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 until the butter has melted. Add the chicken stock and heavy whipping cream to the pan and stir until it begins to bind. Follow this up by adding all the seasonings to the sauce.

Add the cheese to the sauce. 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.

Combine the cheese sauce with the pasta. Chop your mozzarella cheese block into chunks and set to the side. Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and add the cheese blocks. Now fold everything together.

Pouring mac and cheese mixture into casserole dish for baking

Add to a casserole dish (paid link) and bake. Pour all ingredients into a casserole dish (paid link), then top off with the shredded medium cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes; remove from the oven, and it’s ready to go!

Baked Mac & Cheese FAQs

  • What is a béchamel or mornay sauce? Five core sauces are used in most French cuisine (AKA the five mother French sauces): hollandaise, velouté, tomato, espagnole, andbéchamel. Béchamel is 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 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 make this recipe ahead of time? Follow all instructions except the final baking step. Once assembled, cover your casserole dish (paid link) with foil and place it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. When you are ready to bake your mac and cheese, allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then bake according to the instructions.
  • 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

If this is your first time making homemade mac and cheese, this easy recipe will have you cooking like a pro in no time!

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

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 15 reviews

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


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


Units Scale
  • 5 cups large macaroni pasta, dry/uncooked
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 16 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz shredded gouda cheese
  • 8 oz shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 16 oz mozzarella cheese block, cubed


  1. Cook macaroni pasta as instructed. Drain (do not rinse) and add to a large bowl. Set to the side.
  2. While your pasta is cooking, add the butter and minced garlic to a large cooking pan on medium-low heat. Once the butter melts, add the flour. Stir consistently until combined.
  3. Pour the chicken stock and heavy whipping into the cooking pan and stir until well blended.
  4. Add oregano, ground thyme, garlic powder, sea salt, 8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, gouda, and white cheddar cheese into the cooking pan. Stir until smooth and creamy. (Using a whisk (paid link) may help with this step). 
  5. Pour the cheese sauce over the cooked macaroni. Add the mozzarella cubes to the same bowl. Fold ingredients together.
  6. 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.


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


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

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  1. I’m a native Texan living in Switzerland and was looking for a mac n cheese recipe for Thanksgiving (for a bunch of half-American kids who haven’t really grown up with mac n cheese in Switzerland). I had to really improvise with the cheese as the only cheddar available is white English-style and mozzarella only comes in soft form. I used a mix of white cheddar, gouda and Gruyere. In the end it was more like fondue and noodles, but we love our fondue around here so no one complained. It made the perfect amount for our group of 14.

    1. Eric Jones says:

      Hi Rebecca! Using soft cheeses (that contain more milk) will certainly change the consistency of the sauce. Adjusting the amount of heavy cream may have helped. Glad it came out great anyway!

  2. I made this for a potluck dinner. Rave reviews and it was the first dish that was all gobbled up. 👍

    1. Eric Jones says:

      Nice! It’s hard to pass up a creamy mac and cheese. So glad it was a hit!

  3. Family and friends loved it more than any other they have had – now i am asked to bring it for family get togethers. Have also had kids moms call and ask for the recipe.

    Modifications tried
    * Used Veg stock for those vegetarians in the family
    * Added cracker crumb topping from other similar recipes
    * Have added a buffet of add ons as sides for the non-vegetarian folks (BBQ, Buffalo Chicken, Lobster)

    Struggled a little with the dry noddle amounts at the beginning.

    Have had a request to try and add Blue Cheese – waiting to try that next time

    1. Eric Jones says:

      This is awesome JK! Thanks so much for sharing and really glad everyone is enjoying it!!

  4. This turned out perfect, i used smoked gouda with bacon and 1 ounce of cream cheese beause I didn’t have enough mozzarella haha. But it came out delicious thank you for sharing!

    1. Eric Jones says:

      Thanks for sharing, Alexa! Glad it was a hit!

  5. Catrina Kelley says:

    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. Eric Jones says:

      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.

  6. Yolanda Petocchi says:


    1. Eric Jones says:

      Hahaha! Thanks, Yolanda! Glad you enjoyed it.

  7. 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!

    1. Eric Jones says:

      So glad your family enjoyed it, Lilly!

  8. Tamara Johnson says:

    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!

    1. Eric Jones says:

      That is great to hear!

  9. This is real mac & cheese! The texture and flavor–everything–was on point and it reheated perfectly. Thank you!

  10. 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:)

  11. Crystal DaCruz says:

    I’m always looking for new mac and cheese recipes to try and this one is by far my favorite one that I’ve come across! Thanks so much for sharing, we loved it!

  12. Four cheeses and a roux made with heavy whipping cream resulted in the richest mac and cheese I have ever experienced.

  13. Dee Moore says:

    This Mac & cheese is similar to how I make mine and I’m a fan! I have to consider adding minced garlic the next time I fix it.

  14. So creamy and delicious! I made a half recipe for Sunday dinner and I will definitely be making it again soon!

  15. Britney Brown says:

    This is literally the perfect macaroni and cheese. It’s creamy and rich and super cheesy! We all loved this recipe!

  16. This was the gooiest mac and cheese I’ve had in a while. The gouda sets it off. Thanks for sahring.

    1. Eric Jones says:

      We love gouda and use it in everything — especially this recipe!

  17. 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. Eric Jones says:

      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!