Easy Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese is classic comfort food, made even better, with the addition of rosemary. Creamy, cheesy, goodness in every bite!
Tips for the Best Macaroni and Cheese
Pick the Right Noodle
Besides macaroni noodles there are truly so many options. You want to grab a noodle or pasta that has lots of texture, hollow spots, holes, openings or chambers, creases, crinkles or wrinkles! You get the idea!
You want the noodles or pasta to be able to hold on to some of the sauce in every bite. Stay away from spaghetti, angel hair or fettuccine pastas that are long with a smooth surface and aren’t capable of holding on to any of the cheese sauce. You don’t want the cheese to just slide right off!
Salt your Pasta Water
The salt makes such a difference in flavoring the pasta. I usually throw in about a tablespoon of salt, every time I make pasta. Really.
Timing your Pasta
Read the side of your box or bag of pasta to find the exact timing for al dente pasta. Al dente pasta is generally firm and slightly chewy. If you are going to be making this recipe, or any other baked macaroni and cheese recipe, cook pasta between 2 and 3 minutes less than al dente.
The pasta will continue to cook in the oven so a somewhat under cooked pasta is ideal in this situation. If making your pasta to be served right away al dente is usually preferred but you decide which timing you prefer based on what is written on the side of your package.
The best macaroni and cheese requires a blend or combination of different cheeses, not just cheddar alone in my opinion!
I always look for an aged cheddar and parmesan for sure. You don’t need costly or expensive cheese to create an amazing cheese sauce either. Just don’t be afraid to try a small piece of a different cheese.
Start out adding a little at a time, you never know what amazing flavor combination you might stumble upon! I would love to hear what works for you and doesn’t in the comments below.
Grate or Shred the cheese yourself
Store bought shredded cheese contains so many extra ingredients, more specifically chemicals, and not only doesn’t taste the same it doesn’t melt the same either. I strongly urge or recommend that you try grating or shredding the cheese yourself, at least once to see, and taste the difference.
Taste it as You Go
I always include the parmesan and cheddar first and then experiment with a different variety. Add a little bit of cheese into the sauce, taste and see if you need or want to add more of anything. Be careful not to add too much cheese or any other ingredient for that matter.
You can always add more of something but you can never remove anything, as my grandmother used to say! I can go through more than 10 little spoons while I am tasting as I go so don’t be afraid to do the same!
There are so many different cheeses out there. Don’t hesitate to give one a try! That being said, sometimes simple is better. Maybe a cheddar, parmesan and mozzarella maybe, instead of the pepper jack.
The Perfect Cheese Sauce
Making the best cheese sauce possible is the most important part of a great macaroni and cheese recipe and this sauce is terrific! Instead of making a bechamel like sauce with a roux, butter, flour and later milk, we use evaporated milk, cheese, butter, garlic, rosemary, parsley, pepper and salt to taste.
Easy peasy and no fuss. Works every time! Before you add in anything else you need to make sure your sauce tastes exactly the way you want it to. Then add pasta, any extras and toss until coated. Dump into casserole dish and bake.
Cook or blanch, for the last couple minutes, in boiling pasta water before straining and adding to macaroni and cheese. Options include cauliflower, broccoli, peas or beans.
Chopped spinach, sweet peppers, tomatoes or a drained can of corn can be tossed with the macaroni mixture before going right into your casserole dish.
Sauteed Mushrooms and/or Onions are so wonderful added in to macaroni and cheese as well.
Chop, dice and cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towel before adding to macaroni and cheese mixture.
Cook ground sausage, beef or pork until no longer pink. Drain in colander in your sink until you are ready to add it to your cheese mixture.
Pan fry or crisp leftover ham, ham steak, pancetta or Italian ham before adding it to your cheese sauce.
You are only limited by your imagination! I can’t wait to hear what you all do differently with your Easy Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese in the comment section below!
Ingredients in Easy Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese
- macaroni noodles
- white cheddar
- pepper jack cheese
- parmesan cheese
- evaporated milk
- parsley flakes
- bacon, ham, pancetta, ground sausage, pork or beef, if desired
- cauliflower, broccoli, peas, beans, chopped spinach, sweet peppers, tomatoes, corn, sauteed mushrooms and/or onions, if desired
How to make the Best Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese
Cook noodles to slightly soft or al dente, then drain and pour into a large mixing bowl.
If using, prepare your meat and/or vegetable option if adding at all. For example, chop or dice your bacon and cook it until crisp. Allow to drain on paper towels and set aside.
Add in all other ingredients, mixing thoroughly.
Spray a casserole dish with nonstick, then pour in macaroni mixture.
Top with extra cheese and rosemary.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until golden and bubbly on top and cooked through. (This will depend on how thick your macaroni is in your dish)
Serve as desired and enjoy!
Easy Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese Video
Easy Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese
- large saucepan for pasta
- casserole dish
- 3 cups macaroni noodles
- 2 ½ cups white cheddar, shredded
- 1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded or grated
- 2 cans (12 oz) evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 2-3 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
- 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- salt to taste
- ½ pound bacon, chopped or diced if desired
- ½ cup white cheddar cheese
- ½ cup pepper jack cheese
- ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
- chopped rosemary if desired
- Cook noodles to slightly soft, then drain and pour into a large mixing bowl.
- If using, chop or dice you bacon and cook it until crisp. Allow to drain on paper towels and set aside.
- Add shredded cheddar, jack, parmesan cheese, evaporated milk, garlic, butter, rosemary, parsley and pepper, mixing thoroughly.
- Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray, then pour in macaroni mixture.
- Top with extra cheeses and rosemary.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until golden and bubbly on top and cooked through. (Timing will depend on how thick your macaroni is or the size of your casserole dish)
- Serve as desired.
- Cook or blanch, for the last couple minutes, in boiling pasta water before straining and adding to macaroni and cheese. Options include cauliflower, broccoli, peas or beans.
- Chopped spinach, sweet peppers, tomatoes or a drained can of corn can be tossed with the macaroni mixture before going right into your casserole dish.
- Sauteed Mushrooms and/or Onions are so wonderful added in to macaroni and cheese as well.
- Chop, dice and cook bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towel before adding to macaroni and cheese mixture.
- Cook ground sausage, beef or pork until no longer pink. Drain in colander in your sink until you are ready to add it to your cheese mixture.
- Pan fry or crisp leftover ham, ham steak, pancetta or Italian ham before adding it to your cheese sauce.