In this recipe, you’re basically making your mac and cheese from scratch. Making homemade pasta is encouraged but always optional — we’ll most likely being giving this a try with a box of our favorite elbow pasta, truth be told!

However, it is essential that you make the cheese sauce from scratch. As intimidating as this might sound, this is actually a pretty simple process, and it will give you more flavorful, richer results than if you simply used a packet of “cheese” from a boxed mix.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your homemade cheese sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 1 pound pasta spirals (or pasta in another small shape, like elbows)
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • Salt
  • 2/3 cup whole milk

For the full instructions, make sure to check out the entire recipe from Food52.

Our favorite part of this recipe is how crispy and brown the pasta gets as result of baking; the crunch is almost as satisfying as the creaminess of the cheese sauce! The combination of the two textures is what really takes this dish over-the-top.

If you prefer more crunch, sprinkle more cheese on top of your pasta before baking. If you prefer a softer mac and cheese, sprinkle less cheese. It’s that simple.

What do you think about this interesting take on mac and cheese? Will you be baking your mac the next time your have a cheesy craving? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.