How to make mac and cheese sauce

This mac and cheese sauce is smooth, creamy, cheesy and clings perfectly to macaroni. Learn how to make it, how to avoid lumps and what cheese to use to get the best creamy but flavourful result.

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How to make the best sauce for mac and cheese

A big bowl of comforting mac and cheese is one of life's simple pleasures. Macaroni is the base, but it's really all about that creamy, unctuous sauce. Get your bechamel right and add the right cheese, and the result is always heavenly!
How to make béchamel
Bechamel is one of those staple sauces that have a multitude of uses and cross genres. Get it right and you’ve got the perfect topping for everything from mac and cheese to moussaka. Essentially, what you’re doing is using a simple roux to thicken hot milk. It’s called a Mother Sauce, because it works as a base for endless flavours such as garlic, spices and cheese. Considering it’s such a simple recipe, it can be difficult to get right. The key is in the timing if you want to get a smooth, creamy sauce rather than a lumpy gloop.
First up, the roux. This is a white sauce, so you want to keep the roux white. Cook the flour too long and it will darken, changing the colour and flavour of the bechamel. The aim is to cook it long enough so you don’t taste the flour, but you don’t want to darken it too much. You’re aiming for a light, golden yellow colour. Melt your butter and slowly add the flour, stirring the entire time. You can use either a whisk or a wooden spoon, but the important thing is that you keep the mixture moving until the roux turns a soft blonde hue.
Now add the milk. You want to add it in 3-4 batches. By adding the milk gradually, it gives you the chance to whisk out any lumps. Get the roux looking smooth, then add more milk and repeat.
Once you’ve used all the milk, bring the mixture to the boil for five minutes. You can switch out your whisk for a spoon or spatula at this point, but keep stirring constantly. You want a thick, velvety texture that coats the back of a spoon. Let stand for five minutes, then add the cheese. There’s enough heat in the sauce that it will slowly melt as you stir it in.
What cheese to use for mac and cheese
The right cheese should melt easily and have a medium strength of flavour to give you a creamy, clingy sauce that's deliciously cheesy. Perfect Italiano Perfect Melt is a blend of traditional mozzarella, easy melt mozzarella, cheddar and romano that melts beautifully and also delivers in flavour. Perfect Italiano Perfect Bakes is a blend of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan to deliver a strong flavour hit, and it's great for sprinkling on top of baked mac and cheese too for a golden crust.
Play Video: Baked Mac and Cheese
More recipes with béchamel
Try other pasta bakes and lasagnes using bechamel. It's such a versatile sauce, you can also spread it in toasties and use it in moussaka, mornay recipes and more!
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