This MAC AND CHEESE CASSEROLE tastes like a million bucks! This casserole has a layer of cheese in the center, so it’s ultra creamy, extra rich, and supremely cheesy! Your friends and family are going to go nuts over this recipe!
Would you believe that the only macaroni and cheese we ate as a kid came from a box?
I was probably an adult before I had REAL mac and cheese.
I mean, I’m not super mad about…boxed mac and cheese is nothing to complain about…it’s just not the real deal. It’s like a completely different dish, you know?
This homemade baked macaroni and cheese casserole is making up for all the boxed mac I ate as a kid. It’s intensely cheesy, ultra rich, super creamy, and just loaded with cheese.
You’re going to want to make this one.
With two layers of mac and cheese and a center layer of shredded cheese and sour cream, this is seriously the ULTIMATE mac and cheese recipe – which is why we’re calling it Million Dollar Mac and Cheese!
Love this? Try our Million Dollar Spaghetti. It’s where I got the inspo for this recipe!
How To Make:
Macaroni: While your oven is preheating bring a large pot of water to a boil and begin cooking the macaroni. Allow it to cook for one minute less than the directions on the package calls for, and then drain and set aside.
Cheese Sauce: Now for the good stuff, the homemade cheese sauce!
First, you’ll make a roux, which is just a fancy term for melting some butter in a saucepan and stirring in some flour until it’s all combined.
Then you’ll whisk in some milk and heavy cream to make a thick sauce. Remove that from the heat and stir in the shredded cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper until it is smooth and creamy.
Cheese Sauce Tips & Tricks
- After adding your liquid to the roux, keep whisking and cooking over medium heat until it’s thickened. You’re going for the consistency of a thin gravy. It should coat the back of your spoon.
- Use blocks of cheese and grate them yourself. Pre-shredded cheese has added starches which doesn’t make for the creamiest cheese sauce.
- Remove your pan from the heat before you add the cheese. Cooking the cheese in the sauce can make for a grainy sauce.
Combine: When the cheese sauce is ready, stir in your cooked macaroni and mix well to coat the pasta in all that glorious cheese!
Go ahead and give your mac and cheese a little taste. Season with extra salt and pepper, if you think it needs it.
Layer: This macaroni and cheese casserole isn’t called Million Dollar Mac for no reason – we’re going to really take it over the top now!
Pour melted butter into the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish and then spoon half of the macaroni and cheese mixture into the dish.
Next spread the sour cream over the top of the macaroni and then sprinkle on the Havarti and gruyere cheeses!
Spoon the remainder of the macaroni and cheese over the top.
This method creates the ultimate cheesy layer in the center. It’s absolutely divine!
Finally, you’ll make the tasty Panko topping in the next step. Don’t skip it!
Topping: Since this is a baked mac and cheese, we’re going to top things off with a little Panko for some crunch.
Panko is a Japanese bread crumb that is light, airy, and crispy. It can be found in most any grocery store. We highly recommend using Panko over traditional bread crumbs in any breading recipe where you want a crispy finished product.
Mix together the Panko, melted butter, garlic salt, and parsley to make the crunchy topping. Sprinkle it over the macaroni and cheese to add a little crunch to the finished dish. The contrast in crunchy topping and creamy, cheesy pasta is just perfect.
Bake: Pop the dish into a preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the topping is as golden brown as you’d like.
What Readers are Saying!
This was the best Mac and cheese I have ever made. I was proud to have brought this to our family Thanksgiving table. It was perfect. Everyone loved it. -Jancie
How to reheat mac and cheese:
I personally believe that not many macaroni and cheese recipes can hold up to reheating, but I’m here to tell you that this one reheats like a dream.
It doesn’t dry out. It doesn’t get funky in texture. It just stays perfectly creamy and decadent.
I reheat my macaroni and cheese in the microwave, because it’s easiest and it doesn’t dry things out.
Place in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 1 minute increments, stirring every minute, until it’s heated through.
Serve this baked macaroni and cheese casserole as a decadent main dish with a side salad – it’ll serve 3-4.
Or, serve it as a side dish and you’ll get closer to 6-8 servings.
Million Dollar Mac and Cheese
For the mac and cheese:
- 8 ounces elbow macaroni
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 10 ounces cheddar freshly grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 3 ounces Havarti freshly grated
- 3 ounces gruyere freshly grated
For the bread crumb topping:
- ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon butter melted
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 tablespoon parsley minced
To make the mac and cheese:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Cook pasta for one minute less than package directions state. Drain.
- While macaroni is cooking, melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium sized pot and add the flour. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat for 1 minute.
- Continue whisking and slowly pour in the milk and cream. Cook over medium heat for another 2 minutes until thickened and smooth.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar, salt, and pepper. Continue stirring until smooth and creamy.
- Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to coat.
- Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
To layer the dish:
- Pour melted butter into the bottom of a 2 quart baking dish. Spoon half of the macaroni and cheese over the top.
- Spread the sour cream over the macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle with the Havarti and gruyere.
- Spoon remaining macaroni and cheese over the top.
To make the topping:
- Stir together the Panko, melted butter, garlic salt, and parsley to make the bread crumb topping. Sprinkle over the macaroni and cheese.
- Bake for 25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the top is as browned as you'd like.
- Serve immediately.
Tips & Notes:
This post was originally published in May 2018. It was updated in March 2021.