I’ve been a chef for 15 years. Here are my 9 tips for making the best mac and cheese.

Mac and cheese is a classic dinner.Igor Dutina/Shutterstock

As a professional chef, I know the best tips for making the perfect batch of mac and cheese.

Pick a pasta that has ridges or curves to hold onto the sauce and boil it until it’s al dente.

Make a sauce from scratch by starting with a roux, then slowly adding freshly grated cheese.

Although boxed options can get the job done, mac and cheese is shockingly easy to make at home.

It’s also a dish you can experiment with and adjust to your liking by selecting your favorite cheese or adding toppings.

And as a professional chef, I know the best simple tips for making a great batch of mac and cheese in your own kitchen.

Pick your favorite pasta shape

Even though macaroni and cheese derives its name from the elbow-shaped pasta, you can make it with a variety of noodles.

Shells, cavatappi, farfalle, gemelli, and even pipette rigate can easily be tossed and coated in cheese sauce.

Ridges, cavities, and curves are ideal for holding onto the sauce, so avoid straight pasta, like spaghetti or fettuccine.

Cook the noodles until they’re al dente 

penne pasta being boiled in metal pot being stirred by metal spoon

Al dente pasta is cooked but slightly firm.Dagmara Ponikiewska/Shutterstock

Your mac and cheese shouldn’t be mushy, so make sure to leave room for the pasta to cook more.

Boil the pasta until it’s al dente, the point where it’s cooked but retains a slightly firm interior. Since the best mac and cheese is baked, the noodles will continue to soften in the oven and absorb the cheese sauce.

Mix and match cheeses for extra flavor

One benefit to making the meal at home is choosing what cheeses to include.

Look for cheeses that have a little extra flavor and melt exceptionally well, like a semi-firm block of mozzarella or cheddar. Avoid options with a high water content, like buffalo mozzarella or burrata, since they can make the sauce runny and clumpy.

Add a handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano Romano, or Asiago for an…

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