Mac ‘n cheese is a favorite food in our household, but I try to avoid the boxed kind. All those artificial ingredients…you know what I mean. I’m okay with it once in awhile, but not often. Of course the kids love the boxed stuff and haven’t been fans of the much-better homemade mac’ n cheese. Believe me, I’ve tried a lot of different recipes. There’s many good recipes out there – that I like, but are they kid-friendly? That was the question.
And then I found this recipe for Homemade Mac and Cheese in one of my cookbooks. I played around with it for a bit and my kids liked it! They ate it up and asked for more. Now I’d be lying if I said they’d pick this over the boxed stuff (I swear they put addictive stuff in there), but I’m happy I found a homemade recipe that works. The hubs and I like it too, so about twice a month, I make it as a “meat-free” meal. (Saves a little money, you know?) I’ve adapted it slightly and this is the result: Kid-Friendly Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese!
This favorite kid friendly mac and cheese recipe is easy to make and a tasty alternative to processed boxed mac ‘n cheese that even picky kids love. And since you can use whatever type of cheese you like (mix and match, make it different each time – it’s up to you), it’s versatile too, another plus in my book.
So try it out. Hopefully you and the kids enjoy it!
Kid-Friendly Easy Homemade Mac and Cheese
Note: this recipe makes about 12 servings or more, so you can half it if you don’t need that much.
- 1 (16 oz) box of elbow macaroni
- 10 tablespoons (1 stick + 2 TB) butter, divided
- 1/3 cup flour
- 3 cups milk
- 12 ounces cheese – any kind you prefer – we usually do cheddar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 4 Tablespoons dry bread crumbs
Begin by boiling water to cook your noodles. Also preheat your oven to 375º.
Then in a saucepan, melt 1 stick (8 TB) of butter over medium heat.
When the butter is melted, add 1/3 cup of flour and stir in.
Gradually add 3 cups of milk as you stir. Yes, it’s a lot of milk. But this is homemade mac and cheese here.
(Do you know how hard it is to take a picture at the same time? It’s more challenging then you’d think!)
Around this time, your water should be boiling, so add the box of elbow macaroni noodles and cook.
Back to your butter/milk – bring it to a boil, stirring all the while on medium heat. If you stop for a minute to rescue your toddler from your 3 year old sitting on him, that’s ok, but don’t leave it for too long.
Once it’s boiling, set the timer and cook and stir for about 2 minutes. I like to use a whisk.
Reduce the heat to low. By now it should be thickened. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the cheese.
For this batch, I used shredded cheddar cheese with a couple slices of American thrown in.
I often do Cheddar Jack, Mozzarella, and other varieties. Sometimes if I happen to have a specialty cheese, I will cube a little and throw that in for more flavor variety. The kids like it “plain” though so I try not to overdo it. Again, it’s all up to you and your kids.
Add the salt and pepper now too and stir until the cheese is melted.
Keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted. This shouldn’t take very long.
At some point, you should have drained your cooked elbow macaroni and set that aside.
Now you can add the noodles to the cheese mixture. Mix well.
Turn the macaroni and cheese mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish or a 9×13 inch pan. (Really whatever you have will work. This is not a picky recipe.)
In a separate small bowl, melt 2 Tablespoons of butter add 4 Tablespoons of bread crumbs plus a dash of pepper and mix.
Sprinkle this bread crumb mixture over the mac and cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes. If you want it a little “crispier” (not even that), leave the lid off.
Doesn’t this homemade mac n cheese look yummy?
Update 2015: I won’t make any promises that your kids will love this recipe – they are kids after all. But I will tell you that this has been one of the most popular posts here on this site and I’ve received countless emails from moms telling me just how popular this meal is with their children.
Try it out and let me known what you – and your kids – think! I hope you love it just like my family does!
- 16 oz box elbow macaroni noodles
- 10 TB butter, divided
- ⅓ cup flour
- 3 cups milk
- 12 oz cheese
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 4 TB dry bread crumbs
- Cook macaroni noodles and drain.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a saucepan, melt 1 stick (8 TB) butter over medium heat. Stir in flour. Slowly add milk, stirring. Bring to a boil and stir for 2 minutes. Turn off the burner and add the cheese, salt, and pepper, stirring until the cheese is melted. Add the elbow macaroni noodles and mix well.
- Turn into a 2 quart casserole dish.
- Mix 2 TB melted, butter, 4 TB bread crumbs, and a dash of pepper. Sprinkle over the mac 'n cheese.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
Note: if you’ve come looking for this recipe – you’re still in the right place. Our photos have had a makeover!