This is the mac and cheese recipe you’ve been looking for! Thanks to our easy dump-and-bake method, this No-Boil Baked Mac and Cheese delivers maximum ooey-gooey cheesiness with minimal effort and dirty dishes. 

the side view of a small wooden bowl of macaroni and cheese with a forkful of mac and cheese lifting out of the bowl

This recipe is…

If you’re anything like us, you’ve been on the hunt for the perfect baked mac and cheese recipe since, well…forever. With so many variations on ingredients and cooking methods, there are a million ways to cook up everyone’s favorite way to eat the classic elbow-shaped pasta.

But this dump-and-bake method might just be the best version yet. And it truly couldn’t be easier: instead of waiting for a big pot of water to boil, you start by adding the dried macaroni to a baking dish along with milk, butter, and salt. After a little time in the oven, cheese and a few other ingredients get stirred in, and of course more cheese is sprinkled on top. An easy breadcrumb topping adds a crispy, crunchy layer that bakes to golden brown perfection. That’s it!

We’re pretty sure this near-effortless, no-boil mac and cheese recipe is a winner. And once you try this genius cooking method, you may never want to go back to boiling your noodles ever again. So bookmark our Chicken Alfredo Bake, Sausage & Spinach Pasta Bake, and Baked Feta Pasta recipes for more no-boil baked pasta ideas.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Dump-and-bake method takes minimal active time and effort!
  • Crowd-pleasing recipe for any occasion
  • Fewer dirty pots and pans than usual methods
  • A great make-ahead recipe
  • Easy to customize
  • Freezes well

No-Boil Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe Ingredients

This easy mac and cheese calls for just a few simple, everyday ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to add to your next grocery list. Find ingredient notes (including substitutions and swaps) below.

  • Elbow Pasta – to start, you’ll need 12 ounces of dried elbow macaroni. We use (and love) THIS gluten-free option, but know that regular macaroni will totally work too.
  • Milk – you’ll also need 3 cups of milk: we used regular, whole cow’s milk, but feel free to use plain, unsweetened almond milk if you’d prefer.
  • Salt + Pepper + Garlic Powder – to season, we’ll use 1 teaspoon of salt and a ¼ teaspoon of black pepper.
  • Butter – in order to really take the creamy, richness of this dish over the edge, you’ll also need 4 tablespoons of butter.
  • Heavy Cream + Cream Cheese – 1/2 cup heavy cream and 4 ounces of cream cheese help make this mac and cheese super creamy.
  • Shredded Cheese – what is macaroni and cheese without cheese? You’ll need 3 cups of shredded cheese here. We used half sharp cheddar for flavor and half gouda for creaminess.
  • Breadcrumbs – to add a little bit of texture and pizazz to this dish, we’ll need a half cup of breadcrumbs to sprinkle overtop. Feel free to use gluten-free or regular breadcrumbs here if you’d prefer.

A full ingredient list with exact amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Recipe Variations and Modifications

While this classic mac and cheese is great on its own as a side dish or vegetarian main, it can easily be made into a complete meal all on its own. Here are a few variations worth trying:

  • Protein – When you stir the cheese into your macaroni, feel free to stir in some cooked chicken, lobster, cooked and crumbled ground beef, or even sliced fully cooked sausage to transform this side dish into a decadent main dish.
  • Green Onions + Bacon – For a loaded take on macaroni and cheese, top the dish with cooked and crumbled bacon and sliced green onions just before serving.
  • Spinach – For a little extra green in your meal, stir in nine ounces of frozen spinach (defrosted and squeezed of excess water) at the same time that you stir in the shredded cheese
  • Gluten-free – swap in gluten-free elbows and gluten-free breadcrumbs. (We used this pasta and these bread crumbs.)

How to Make Our Baked Macaroni and Cheese

This easy mac and cheese recipe yields an incredibly rich and decadent mac and cheese with little hands-on time and effort. Here’s how it comes together.

Step 1: preheat the oven to 400°F. Add the pasta, milk, and salt to a 3-quart baking dish and stir to combine.

Step 2: slice two tablespoons of butter and place over top of the macaroni + milk mixture. Cover the dish with a fitted lid or aluminum foil as tightly as possible (this is important…the tighter the better!), then bake for 30 minutes. 

Step 3: while the macaroni bakes, combine the other 2 tablespoons of butter (this time melted), ½ cup of breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon dried parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder.

Step 4: after 30 minutes, remove the macaroni from the oven and take off the lid or foil covering. Stir in the cream cheese, heavy cream, two cups of shredded cheese and the black pepper. 

Step 5: sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over top of the macaroni and cheese, followed by the breadcrumbs, then return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs and cheese are browned on top. Serve + Enjoy!

Easy Mac and Cheese Recipe Tips

While we feel like we cracked the code on creamy oven-baked mac and cheese, there are definitely a few tips that will ensure that your finished product is as creamy as ours was: 

  • Use Freshly Shredded Cheese – we are all about convenience over here, and typically, we are game for buying a bag of pre-shredded cheese. But when it comes to homemade mac and cheese, buying a block and shredding it yourself is the way to go. Pre-shredded cheese contains anti-caking agents, making it less creamy and rich than the freshly-shredded stuff.
  • Add More Whole Milk – if your mac and cheese isn’t as creamy as you’d like, feel free to add another splash of milk. Also, whole milk makes for a much creamier mac and cheese than skim or 2% milk, so when it comes to mac and cheese, we say that splurging on the good stuff is totally worth it!
  • Don’t Skip the Cream Cheese – the cream cheese in this recipe is essential for making a super creamy sauce.

How to Serve

Serve piping hot right out of the oven, or cool slightly and serve warm.

How to Store and Reheat

Refrigerate any leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container for up to five days.

To reheat, you can microwave until heated through, or bake in a 400-degree oven to get the breadcrumb topping crunchy again.

Can you freeze mac and cheese? Yes, you can: just wrap it in a double-layer of cling wrap and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn, and use within three months.

the top view of a casserole dish with oven-baked mac and cheese with one serving missing sitting next to a small wooden bowl with a serving of mac and cheese

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the best type of cheese to use for mac and cheese?

When it comes to homemade macaroni and cheese, we recommend using two types of cheese if you can: one for creaminess and one for flavor. We used gouda for creaminess and sharp cheddar for flavor in this recipe, but feel free to use a different kind of cheese if you wish. Any combination of cheddar (mild, white, sharp, etc.), gouda, gruyere, fontina, parmesan, havarti, and Monterey Jack will all yield delicious results.

Can this recipe be made without the breadcrumb topping?

Absolutely! If you prefer your baked macaroni and cheese sans breadcrumbs, feel free to leave them off, and enjoy a bowl of cheesy goodness after it’s baked for 30 minutes and the cheese is stirred in.

Can mac and cheese be frozen?

It can! This mac and cheese recipe freezes really well, actually. When it comes to freezing, you can go one of two routes: freeze the whole dish together (this is great if you know that it’ll all get eaten relatively quickly after it’s thawed and reheated), or portion the macaroni and cheese into individual containers and freeze it that way (this is great if you know that you (or your family) will only eat a small amount of thawed and reheated mac and cheese at a time). To reheat, simply transfer your mac and cheese into an oven-safe dish and pop it into a 350°F oven for 30-45 minutes, until warmed through, or give it a quick zap in the microwave. 

Can mac and cheese be made ahead of time?

Definitely. We do think that the breadcrumb topping is best served right out of the oven, though, so if you’re planning on making this dish ahead of time, hold off on combining the breadcrumbs + butter, topping the mac and cheese, and giving it the final 15-minute uncovered bake (to get the breadcrumbs browned and crispy) until you’re ready to serve it.

If you tried this No-Boil Baked Mac and Cheese, or any other recipe on the Fed & Fit website, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let us know how it went in the 📝 comments below!

No-Boil Baked Mac and Cheese

4.40 — Votes 48 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients  

  • 12 ounces dried elbow pasta,
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups shredded cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  • Add the pasta, milk, and salt to a 9×13 inch, or other 3-quart baking dish, and stir to combine. Then, slice two tablespoons of butter and place over top of the macaroni.
  • Cover the dish with a fitted lid or aluminum foil as tightly as possible, then bake for 30 minutes.
  • While the macaroni bakes, combine 2 tablespoons of melted butter with the breadcrumbs, parsley, and garlic powder.
  • After 30 minutes, remove the macaroni from the oven and very carefully take off the foil. Stir in the pepper, heavy cream, and cream cheese until it is fully melted, then stir in two cups of shredded cheese.
  • Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over top of the macaroni, followed by the breadcrumbs, then return to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs and cheese are browned on top.

Recipe Notes

  • To make this gluten-free: use gluten-free elbows and gluten-free breadcrumbs. We used this pasta and these bread crumbs.

Nutrition

Calories: 467kcal | Carbohydrates: 43.4g | Protein: 22.1g | Fat: 22.6g | Saturated Fat: 13.6g | Cholesterol: 61.5mg | Sodium: 937.6mg | Fiber: 1.7g | Sugar: 7.3g

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 467
Keyword: baked mac and cheese, mac and cheese, macaroni and cheese

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Elizabeth Brownfield


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52 Comments

  1. If using the GF noodles, do you still not cook them? Does it adjust the bake time?

    1. We used gluten-free noodles, Kelly, so no need to adjust anything in the recipe to accommodate that!

  2. 5 stars
    I found this after I boiled the macaroni. How can I make this with cooked noodles? Next time I promise I’ll leave them alone : )

    1. Oh no! We haven’t made this with cooked noodles, Linda! So sorry!

  3. This recipe was great! I substituted Banza chickpea pasta, almond milk, & low-fat cream cheese and it was still delicious.

  4. 5 stars
    Wow! My husband was so skeptical about putting “uncooked noodles” in the oven But we devoured this stuff! It was so yummy!

    1. You can! Just know that it won’t be as creamy as it is with heavy cream!

  5. Please add Pinterest links to this post! I want to save it to my Thanksgiving board, but Pinterest can’t seem to ‘find’ any images (mobile version)

    1. They should be attached to the post, Angie! If you click the Pinterest icon on the right side of the screen (if you’re on a desktop computer), they should pop up!

  6. 4 stars
    Overall a great recipe!
    The bread crumbs with a hint of garlic was a nice touch! I added one more cup of cheese than what it called for because #cheeseislife and also added a little more pepper! I just dumped in 1 lb (16oz) of pasta instead of 12 oz like it called for and it was fine… except for reheating it was a little dry so I just added some milk and it worked like a charm!
    Definitely will make this again!

  7. 5 stars
    I tried this recipe for dinner tonight and it was really good. My whole family loved it. A question though – at the top of the post it calls for 1 pound of macaroni and 4 cups milk, and at the bottom it says 12 oz macaroni and 3 cups milk. Not sure which is the correct version. I ended up going somewhere in between. Thanks for all your great recipes!

    1. So glad you caught that! I just fixed it to read 12 ounces of pasta + 3 cups of milk in both places! Thank you!

  8. 5 stars
    Wow was this recipe a Godsend! My 3 and 5 year olds helped me make it while I wore my 4 mo so you know it’s easy! The only changes I made (based on what I had) were I used crush coconut oil veggie straws for the breadcrumbs and Parmesan for the top and also snuck in some shredded carrots and yellow beets. This was decadent and delicious and a winner all around! I did 1.5x so we have enough for leftovers this week. Keep these recipes coming, so fantastic!!

    1. Yum! That sounds fantastic! So glad you all loved it, Nicole!

  9. Mac and cheese is my love language! Do you think this would bake/freeze well with a pasta like Banza?

    1. Mine too!! We haven’t tried it, Katie, so we can’t say for sure! Let us know if you try it though!