How to Make Mac and Cheese Crispy on Top

Joel Mason

Mac, Tutorials

Mac and cheese is a classic comfort food that almost everyone loves. But sometimes, you want to take it to the next level by adding a crispy, golden topping.

The contrast between the creamy mac and cheese and the crunch of the topping is pure magic! In this tutorial, we will show you how to make mac and cheese with a crispy top that will leave your taste buds begging for more.


  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Breadcrumb Topping:
    • 1 cup breadcrumbs (Panko works great!)
    • Variation:

      • You can also mix breadcrumbs with grated Parmesan cheese for added flavor.


    Cooking the Macaroni:

      Note:You can cook the macaroni according to the package instructions or slightly undercook it for al dente texture since it will continue cooking in the oven.

      To start, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

      Add the macaroni and cook until tender but still firm, usually about 7-8 minutes. Drain the macaroni and set it aside.

    Preparing the Cheese Sauce:

    1. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk constantly for about 1 minute or until the mixture turns light brown.

    2. Slowly pour in the milk while continuing to whisk until the mixture is smooth and thickened.

      This usually takes about 3-4 minutes.

    3. Add the shredded cheddar cheese to the saucepan, reserving a small amount for topping if desired. Stir until all of the cheese has melted and combined with the sauce.

    4. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, stirring well.

    Assembling and Baking:

    1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).

    2. In a large baking dish, combine the cooked macaroni and cheese sauce. Mix well until all of the macaroni is evenly coated with cheese.

    3. Breadcrumb Topping:
      • Melt some butter in a small bowl (about 2 tablespoons) and add it to your breadcrumbs.

        Mix well until all of the breadcrumbs are coated with butter.

      • Baking:

        • Sprinkle the breadcrumb topping evenly over the macaroni and cheese mixture.

        • Variation:

          If you opted for the Parmesan cheese variation, you can sprinkle the mixture on top of the breadcrumbs for added flavor.

        • Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy.

    Final Thoughts:

    Now you know how to make mac and cheese with a crispy top! The combination of creamy macaroni and cheese with a crunchy breadcrumb topping is simply irresistible.

    Feel free to experiment with different variations, such as adding bacon bits or mixing in some diced tomatoes. Whatever you choose, this dish is sure to be a crowd-pleaser!

    So go ahead and give this recipe a try. Your taste buds will thank you!

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