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Macaroni and Cheese

If you like, use just one type of cheddar or mix with another melting cheese, such as pepper Jack, Muenster, Swiss, or mozzarella.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 8
Macaroni and Cheese


  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 pound elbow pasta
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, (optional)
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded yellow cheddar cheese (5 ounces)
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded white cheddar cheese (5 ounces)
  • 8 ounces ham, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente; drain and reserve. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart heavy pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in flour to coat onion. In a slow steady stream, whisk in milk until there are no lumps.

  2. Cook, whisking often, until mixture is thick and bubbly and coats the back of a wooden spoon, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in cayenne, if using, and 1 cup each yellow and white cheddar cheese. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

  3. Toss pasta with cheese mixture; fold in ham. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish or individual dishes. Set aside.

  4. In a food processor, pulse bread until large crumbs form. Toss together with remaining 1/4 cup each white and yellow cheddar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Top pasta with breadcrumb mixture. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes.

Cook's Note

This recipe makes enough to fill eight 12-to-16-ounce baking dishes. Divide the macaroni and cheese evenly, sprinkle with topping, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden.

Reviews (54)

  • Alicia N 22 Jan, 2013

    Where is the cheese???? I followed this recipe exactly and it was NOT cheesy all. It was a big disappointment. I will be trying another recipe next time.

  • mn111512 15 Nov, 2012

    I picked this because it gave an actual weight for the cheese, instead of the "x cups grated cheese." The white sauce cooking directions were helpful too.

    In short, this is a good recipe to get the proportions of the basic ingredients to make simple mac and cheese.

    I didn't mess with onions/ham/breadcrumbs, etc. Also, it doesn't have to be baked if you are in a hurry.

  • SuzanneRP 10 Feb, 2012

    Let's face it, there's 10 Zillion. . . recipes out there for Mac & Cheese, made with different concoctions of everything from soup to nut! Each to their own! Everybody has their own version that came from their grandmother, mother, they grew up with OR they just made up ~ it's whatever you're use to! So why rag on this or anyboy else's recipe? Add, delete, redo or just stick to your own recipe. Lucinda Scala-Quinn is a great cook!

  • MrsBabs 1 Nov, 2011

    I could say sooo much about this poor recipe but I won't. What I will say is when did mac and cheese have ham? Why the sauce with the extra's? The bread crumbs with the cheese. I am with someone else this is not the recipe. I imagine Paula D or The Neely's have a much better recipe. OH AND ONIONS! Put them in my mac and cheese and we will have words. Women from the south know better than onions in mac and cheese.

  • RaggieAnn 25 Sep, 2011

    Yummy, but forget the ham, onion and pepper.
    My grandkids won't eat it with it in..
    Made without it and spread extra cheddar on
    top instead of bread.
    It is great according to my 5 grandkids....

  • Igby 18 Feb, 2011

    Comfort food at it's finest. I made this according to the recipe with the exception of not adding butter to my breadcrumbs. My breadcrumbs were from cinnamon swirl toasting bread. Very very good. Everyone around my table exclaimed this dish to be quite a treat. It has been years since I made macaroni and cheese. This did not disappoint.

  • jlprellop 19 Sep, 2010

    This recipe is awful. Luckily, I tasted the cheese sauce before ruining the pasta, so it wasn't a complete disaster, just a waste of time and cheese. I recommend finding another recipe.

  • IAFoodie 6 May, 2010

    If you use regular or fat free half and half in place of the milk you will not have to worry about the recipe curdling. I learned this 24 years ago in cooking school and have used it in several restaurant kitchens with sucess everytime. At home I use the fat free version and you can not tell the difference. I use the half and half in any recipe that calls for milk. I use it in soups, mashed potatoes, dips, eggs, pastas all with great success. Enjoy. IAfoodie

  • sabrina85 2 May, 2010

    did anyone answer janojess on why her mac had curdled? I made a Paula Deen recipe and it also curdled for a party and could not serve it. could it be the milk was not whole milk but 2% and didn't have the fat in it.

  • prod_test871 30 Apr, 2010

    you can never go wrong with some good mac and cheese, its everyones favorite.

  • achopkins 1 May, 2009

    Excellent! I don't usually like homemade mac and cheese, but this was good. I added some garlic powder and used pepper jack and cheddar cheese. Also, instead of breadcrumbs I used cornflake crumbs which you can buy next to the bread crumbs. Definately a do-over!

  • sweethunny 16 Feb, 2009

    try it ,love it move on

  • travelingchic04 19 Jan, 2009

    Janojess- Make sure all the ingredients, especially the milk

  • janojess 12 Nov, 2008

    I had to throw the whole batch out because it curdled and wasn't creamy at all. What a disappointment! What did I do wrong?

  • Rorie_D_Lion 7 Oct, 2008

    My sister puts salsa on top of hers =P Excuse me, she DUMPS salsa on top of hers =] She puts it on pancakes too because she doesn't like maple syrup =/ My whole family is weird. I say ditch the breacd crumbs, ditch the onion pieces and use a dash of onion powder, and use a shreaded "mexican" blend you can get in bags at the store =]

  • carabau 2 Oct, 2008

    CertainlySusan-Great ideas, will try all.Especially like the salami option, because ham is blaaaaand!!

  • npell 2 Oct, 2008

    i love to add fresh tomatoes to the top of my mac and cheese

  • CertainlySusan 17 Sep, 2008

    I personally never put crumbs on top. That cuts a few calories. I do, however, add a bit of full cream to the recipe for flavor and richness. Carmelizing chopped onions first can be an extra flavor boost. Also, this recipe can be made economically if your deli sells "ham ends" and "cheese ends." Salami can also be used instead of ham for the sake of variety. A sprinkle of oregano adds zing.

  • wednesdayaddamsd 18 Jul, 2008

    The best recipe I've ever tried for Mac N Cheese. I omitted the nutmeg and cayenne. Also didn't care for the buttered bread crumbs. They made it too rich and greasy. I made mine with Gruyere and Sharp White Cheddar cheeses only. I halved it, and it still made enough for an army. You will not be dissapointed if you love rich pasta and cheese dishes. Definitely a five star dish!

  • HotRodMama 9 Jul, 2008

    For really creamy old fashioned mac 'n' cheese you gotta add at least 1 cup sour
    cream! I know the calories will soar, also top with crushed yellow round snack
    crackers w/ melted butter. Quick

  • HotRodMama 9 Jul, 2008

    For really creamy old fashioned mac 'n' cheese you gotta add at least 1 cup sour
    cream! I know the calories will soar, also top with crushed yellow round snack
    crackers w/ melted butter. Quick

  • kateness 8 Jul, 2008

    Yum! I made this a month ago and added Black Forest Ham and Parmesan cheese. I cooked, then froze several in individual ramekins and just had one for lunch heated in the microwave. It tasted great, will definitely make again.

  • Schmooter 6 Jul, 2008

    I cut this recipe in half and used 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs mixed with 2T unsalted melted butter for the topping instead of the regular bread crumbs -- it was easy to prepare and turned out great!

  • caraharris 26 Mar, 2008

    I used 2 cans (3 cups) of evaporated milk and 1 cup of milk instead of 4 cups of milk. It was a creamier texture than the first time I tried this recipe (plus it didn't curdle with the evaporated milk). My kids and mother-in-law loved this recipe!!

  • CanadianCrafter 12 Mar, 2008

    Using half chicken stock and half milk for the liquid worked well, for those looking to cut a couple of calories.....

  • CanadianCrafter 12 Mar, 2008

    Using half chicken stock and half milk for the liquid worked well, for those looking to cut a couple of calories.....

  • cook4four 3 Mar, 2008

    I did cut this recipe in half and it worked out great. Also used a combo of cheeses. I cooked the noodles while putting everything else together. Family loved it. This is a keeper

  • KatieLG 27 Feb, 2008

    My siblings, parents and I get together every four months for a Family Freezer-Food Cookoff - every person chooses 1 meal to make (for everyone else) for the freezer. This was my choice; it was delicious. It froze wonderfully - just make sure to add extra sauce if freezing. My sister-in-law is on a gluten free diet, so I made her batch with soy noodles and it still turned out wonderfully. This recipe is very adaptable - I quadrupled it with no problems.

  • kcohan 27 Feb, 2008

    Recipe revised to serve 2 (may need to reduce cooking times accordingly):

    Coarse salt and ground pepper
    4 oz. elbow pasta, cooked and drained
    1 tablespoon butter
    1/4 small onion, chopped
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, (leveled)
    1 cups milk
    dash cayenne pepper, (optional)
    1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon shredded yellow cheddar cheese
    1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon shredded white cheddar cheese
    2 ounces ham, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
    1/2 slice white sandwich bread

  • sharonmanis 27 Feb, 2008

    by the way that cuts the cooking time down alot.

  • sharonmanis 27 Feb, 2008

    Come on you proably don't work on sunday at least not outside of the house!
    You can buy the cheese already shreaded and they sell pre packaged bread crumbs. The pasta cooks while the butter is melting and you can skip the onion the ham is pre cooked, but you can skip that too!!! Ease up for your kids sake!

  • lathomas62 27 Feb, 2008

    I have to agree with "kick" - I work full time, have 2 kids and many activities during the week (mine

  • kick 27 Feb, 2008

    One hour to make mac and cheese!? Are you kidding? There have to be shortcuts to this recipe. Make your own breadcrumbs? Come on you have to come up with something better than this. I work, I have 3 kids and everyone is starving. If I had an hour to cook it better be a roast. Not mac and cheese. Come up with something quick and easy and great.

  • tiffanygirl 27 Feb, 2008

    15 minutes ago I was wondering what to have for dinner. The best part.....I have everything!! this sounds delicious

  • barbmer 27 Feb, 2008

    I have to agree with snflwr1955's comments...let's not trash each other but try to build each other up because in the end that is what is really failing our world! Let's cook people!!! :)

  • Annie26 27 Feb, 2008

    I can't wait to make this for my husband when he comes home on Friday. I think it may be better than his homemade mac and cheese.

  • snflwr1955 26 Feb, 2008

    Wow, Ive only looked at comments here a couple of times but Ive never seen people trash another over wanting to know if a recipe could be cut in half. Pretty petty if you ask is just too short for that. I dont think it had ANYTHING to do with someone's math skills...lighten up and enjoy the mac and cheese! :o)

  • robin26 26 Feb, 2008

    Hi Sugi, If dryness is your problem I would use evaporated milk. I use that in my Mac

  • Sugi 26 Feb, 2008

    To supermpr: I have the same problem. I tried a different recipe (from a cooking show) and it also turned out dry. I wonder if it is because we didn't eat it as soon as it came out of the oven? I also have problems with mac salad being dry. Suggestions/solutions from readers?

  • ggs 26 Feb, 2008

    Having a recipe that serves more than two people works for me because I cook only once and have leftovers the second day and maybe something for lunch also! I haven't tried the recipe yet, but it looks easy.

  • JoJof 26 Feb, 2008

    Do you think you can cut this recipe in half? Too much for one person, but I love mac and cheese!

  • dvernille 26 Feb, 2008

    This is a good recipe for Mac

  • MiszIcy 26 Feb, 2008

    This is BRILLIANT!!

  • dvernille 26 Feb, 2008

    This is a good Macroni

  • kelliespence 26 Feb, 2008

    We often try new flavors of potato chips at our house - the yucky ones go in the pantry to be crushed and used to top Mom's mac and cheese. Adds unique flavors you may not otherwise try!!

  • supermpr 26 Feb, 2008

    I tried this recipe a while back and it was not creamy. Could I have done something wrong? It tasted GREAT but not creamy.

  • supermpr 26 Feb, 2008

    I tried this recipe a while back and it was not creamy. Could I have done something wrong? It tasted GREAT but not creamy.

  • skycat 26 Feb, 2008

    Gee, I don't know, did you try to halve the recipe?

  • Jacquiemdb 26 Feb, 2008

    Recipe looks tasty, BUT (yes i'm yelling) NOT ALL OF US COOK FOR 4 TO 8 PEOPLE. Please start giving recipes for 2 hungry people that like to watch portions. OBESE AMERICA, REMEMBER !!!!!

  • Bewitched4ever 23 Feb, 2008

    this is the best mac and cheese i have ever had. I switch it up a bit by adding some frozen peppers, onions, or tomatoes to it. I also made it with some pachetta instead of ham taste great giving it a feel of italy.

  • 1hotmama 24 Jan, 2008

    everytime i make this for someone new, they always ask for the recipe! enjoy!

  • miabella 8 Jan, 2008

    i love to try new mac n cheese recipes- it is the ultimate comfort food- cant wait to try this one out!!!

  • hayleyglasson 6 Jan, 2008

    Its been a long time since I have made Mac and cheese. I am planning on making it tomorrow night for dinner. I am planning on using bacon instead of ham, and putting mozerella cheese as well as cheddar in. I will let everyone know how it goes.

  • Emcat 17 Dec, 2007

    This is my favorite recipe for mac n chs. I made it once for the kids when adults were having barbqed flank steak; all the adults wanted a taste and now request it often. Yum yum!

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