K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide (2024)

If you’re a fan of classic comfort food, then you have probably tried and loved K&W’s famous mac and cheese. This creamy, cheesy dish has been a staple in Southern kitchens for decades, and for good reason.

It’s the perfect combination of gooey cheese, tender pasta, and just the right amount of seasoning. And now, you can recreate this beloved dish right in your own kitchen with our step-by-step .

Whether you’re craving a comforting weeknight dinner or looking for a crowd-pleasing side dish for your next potluck, this recipe is sure to satisfy. So grab your apron and let’s get cooking!

Table of Contents

About K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe

K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide (1)

The K&W mac and cheese recipe brings together the best of home cooking and Southern hospitality. This dish, known for its creamy texture and rich flavor, is a much-loved favorite at K&W Cafeterias. Here’s a quick rundown of what you should know about this recipe:

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Type of Dish: Side Dish/Main Course

Cuisine: Southern American

Quantity: Serves 6-8

Calories: Approximately 500-600 per serving

This recipe is all about creating a satisfying balance of flavors and textures. It pairs perfectly with a wide range of dishes, from grilled meats to salads, making it a versatile choice for any meal.

Whether you’re new to cooking or a seasoned chef, the K&W mac and cheese recipe is a straightforward and rewarding dish to prepare.

A Brief Introduction to K&W Mac and Cheese

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The K&W mac and cheese recipe is named after the popular Southern cafeteria-style chain, K&W Cafeterias. The company, founded in 1937, has built a reputation for serving home-style meals that make diners feel like they’re eating at grandma’s kitchen table.

Among their array of delicious dishes, the mac and cheese stands out as a favorite among regulars and first-time visitors alike. This iconic side dish is made with elbow macaroni and a rich, creamy cheese sauce.

What sets the K&W mac and cheese apart is its unforgettable, nostalgic taste. It’s like a warm, comforting hug on a plate that brings back memories of family dinners and special occasions.

It’s not overly complicated or fancy, but its simple, straightforward goodness is what makes it so irresistible.

Now, we’re bringing this Southern classic to your home kitchen with this easy-to-follow recipe. We’ve aimed to stay true to the original K&W mac and cheese recipe, so you can experience the same delightful flavors and textures without having to leave the comfort of your own home.

Necessary Ingredients for the K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe

K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide (3)

To bring the K&W mac and cheese recipe to life, it’s essential that you have the right ingredients on hand. Don’t worry, though. The list isn’t too long or complicated. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound of elbow macaroni: This is the classic choice for mac and cheese. It holds the sauce well, and who doesn’t love those fun, curved shapes?
  • 4 cups of sharp cheddar cheese: The sharper the cheese, the more flavorful your mac and cheese will be.
  • 2 cups of whole milk: Whole milk will give your cheese sauce that rich, creamy texture that is the hallmark of the K&W mac and cheese.
  • 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour: This will help thicken the cheese sauce.
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted butter: It’s important to use unsalted butter since the cheese will add plenty of saltiness.
  • Salt and black pepper to taste: Seasoning is key in this recipe. Don’t be shy with the salt and pepper.
  • Optional ingredients: Some folks like to add a bit of dry mustard or hot sauce to give their mac and cheese a bit of a kick.

Keep in mind that the quality of the ingredients can make a big difference in the end result. Try to use the freshest and best-quality ingredients you can find.

But don’t worry, even if you’re on a budget or can’t find the exact ingredients, this K&W mac and cheese recipe is flexible and forgiving. And remember, the secret ingredient is always love!

Preparing the Pasta

K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide (4)

Before we begin creating the indulgent cheese sauce, let’s focus on preparing the elbow macaroni, the key structural ingredient of our K&W mac and cheese recipe.

• First, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Make sure to add enough salt to the boiling water. This step is crucial as the salt enhances the flavor of the pasta.

• Once the water is at a rolling boil, add your pound of elbow macaroni. Stir the pasta occasionally to prevent it from sticking together or to the bottom of the pot.

• Cook the pasta according to the package instructions until it’s just al dente. Remember, the pasta will continue to cook in the oven later, so it’s better to undercook it slightly at this stage to prevent it from turning mushy.

• Drain the cooked pasta in a colander, but do not rinse it. The starchy water that clings to the pasta will help the cheese sauce adhere better.

Getting your pasta just right is the first step towards .

Remember, the pasta is not just a vehicle for the cheese sauce; it’s an integral part of the dish and deserves attention. Now that we have our perfectly cooked pasta, we are ready to move on to the next stage: creating that creamy, cheesy sauce we all love.

Creating the Creamy Cheese Sauce

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Creating the creamy cheese sauce is the heart of the K&W mac and cheese recipe. This is where you infuse the dish with that comforting, gooey, cheesy goodness that everyone loves. Here are the steps:

• Mix the 1/4 cup of unsalted butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Be careful not to let the butter burn, as it can give your sauce a bitter taste.

• Once the butter has fully melted, slowly whisk in the 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour to create a roux. The roux serves as the thickening agent for your cheese sauce.

• Keep whisking and cooking the roux for about 1-2 minutes. This cooks out the floury taste and achieves a golden-brown color.

• Gradually pour in the 2 cups of whole milk while continuously whisking. The gradual addition ensures a smooth sauce, without any lumps.

• Allow the mixture to come to a simmer. You’ll notice it start to thicken. This is your bechamel sauce, the base for your cheese sauce.

• Reduce the heat to low and stir in the 4 cups of sharp cheddar cheese. Stir until the cheese is fully melted and the sauce is creamy and smooth.

• Season the sauce with salt and black pepper to taste. Remember, the sharper the cheese, the less salt you’ll need.

• If you’re using optional ingredients like dry mustard or hot sauce, add them now and stir well to combine.

The creamy cheese sauce is the soul of the K&W mac and cheese recipe. It’s all about the balance of sharp cheddar cheese, creaminess from the whole milk, and the thickening power of the roux.

This cheese sauce recipe ensures you get that perfect, velvety texture every time. Now, let’s move on to assembling and baking the mac and cheese!

Assembling and Baking the Mac and Cheese

K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide (6)

Now that we’ve prepared the pasta and the cheese sauce, let’s move on to assembling and baking our K&W mac and cheese.

• Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

• In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked elbow macaroni and the creamy cheese sauce. Stir them together until the pasta is evenly coated with the cheese sauce.

• Now, pour this cheesy macaroni mixture into a greased baking dish.

• Optional: For a golden, crispy top, sprinkle additional shredded cheddar cheese over the top of the macaroni mixture.

• Once your oven is heated, place the baking dish on the middle rack. Bake the mac and cheese for 25 to 30 minutes or until it’s bubbly and golden brown on top.

• Once baked, remove the mac and cheese from the oven.

Remember, every oven heats differently, so keep an eye on your mac and cheese as it bakes to prevent it from overcooking or burning.

It’s crucial not to cut into your mac and cheese immediately after removing it from the oven. Letting it rest for a few minutes allows the cheese to set and results in a better texture.

With that, you have completed the most important part of the K&W mac and cheese recipe: the baking. The result? A gooey, creamy, and irresistibly cheesy mac and cheese that is sure to please anyone who tries it. Now, let’s move onto some ideas on how to serve your homemade K&W mac and cheese.

Serving Suggestions for K&W Mac and Cheese

K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide (7)

Once you’ve made your K&W mac and cheese, it’s time to enjoy it. This dish is incredibly versatile and pairs well with a wide range of flavors. Here are some serving suggestions to inspire you:

• Classic Pairings: Keep things traditional by serving your mac and cheese alongside some grilled chicken or a juicy steak. Add some garlic bread and a simple green salad, and you have a comforting and balanced meal.

• BBQ Combo: For a Southern-style feast, serve your mac and cheese with some slow-cooked pulled pork or tangy BBQ ribs. The creamy, cheesy mac and cheese is a perfect counterpoint to the rich, smoky flavors of the barbecue.

• Vegetarian Feast: This dish can easily be a hearty main for vegetarians. Pair it with a colorful, nutrient-packed salad and some roasted vegetables for a satisfying meal.

• Kid-Friendly: Mac and cheese is always a hit with kids. Serve it with some cut-up fruits and vegetables, or add in some chopped up hot dogs for a classic kid-friendly meal.

• Make it Spicy: Add some heat to your mac and cheese by serving it with spicy grilled sausages or spicy baked chicken. The creaminess of the cheese sauce can help balance out the heat.

Remember, these are just suggestions. The beauty of this K&W mac and cheese recipe is that it’s so versatile, it can work with just about anything. So, feel free to get creative and serve it with whatever you and your family enjoy. After all, food is all about personal preference and enjoyment.

Making the K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe Your Own

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Although we have provided you with a faithful representation of the K&W mac and cheese recipe, one of the greatest joys of cooking is making a recipe your own. Here are a few ways you can add your personal touch:

• Cheese Variations: Instead of sharp cheddar, try using a blend of different cheeses. Gouda, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack are all excellent choices that melt well and have distinct flavors.

• Mix-ins: Consider adding cooked vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, or peas to your mac and cheese for a pop of color and some added nutrients. For a protein boost, cooked bacon, ham, or grilled chicken can be stirred in before baking.

• Toppings: For a crunchy contrast to the creamy mac and cheese, sprinkle breadcrumbs, crushed crackers, or even French’s fried onions on top before baking.

• Spice it Up: Add some heat with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce. A touch of smoked paprika can also lend a nice, smoky depth of flavor.

• Creamy Additions: Some cooks like to add a dollop of sour cream or a few spoonfuls of cream cheese to their cheese sauce for an even richer flavor.

Remember, the key to successful experimenting is to make one change at a time. That way, you can see how each adjustment affects the final result and tweak your approach as necessary.

Above all, have fun with it! There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to cooking, so feel free to get creative and let your palate be your guide.

Concluding Thoughts on the K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe

K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide (9)

In conclusion, the K&W mac and cheese recipe is more than just a dish; it’s a trip down memory lane, a comforting favorite, and a culinary experience that can be customized to your liking.

With this guide, our aim was to bring the iconic taste of K&W’s mac and cheese to your kitchen, demystifying the process with clear, step-by-step instructions. The beauty of this recipe lies in its simplicity and versatility.

Remember, cooking is about exploration and enjoyment. Whether you stick to the original recipe or add your personal flair, what matters most is the love and care that goes into the preparation.

After all, the heart of any home is the kitchen, and nothing says ‘home’ more than a bubbling, golden-brown tray of homemade mac and cheese. So, here’s to comforting food, shared memories, and the joy of cooking!

K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe FAQs

K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide (10)

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the K&W mac and cheese recipe:

Q: Can I use different types of cheese for this recipe?

A: Absolutely! While sharp cheddar is the traditional choice for K&W’s mac and cheese, you can use a variety of other cheeses. Gouda, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack all make excellent alternatives. Just make sure to choose a cheese that melts well.

Q: Can I add in other ingredients?

A: Yes, feel free to get creative. You can add cooked vegetables, proteins like bacon or chicken, or spices for a kick of heat. Just remember to keep the balance of flavors in mind.

Q: Can I use a different type of pasta?

A: Elbow macaroni is the classic choice, but you can use any pasta shape that holds sauce well. Try penne, fusilli, or shells for a change of pace.

Q: Do I have to bake the mac and cheese?

A: While baking gives the mac and cheese a crispy top and gooey interior, you can also enjoy it straight from the stovetop. Just combine the cooked pasta and cheese sauce, and serve immediately.

Q: How can I store leftovers?

A: Store leftover mac and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. You can reheat it in the oven or microwave until heated through.

Remember, cooking is a personal journey. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the K&W mac and cheese recipe to make it your own. Happy cooking!

K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide (11)

Megan Carter

Megan Carter here, your culinary companion at ProRecipeBook.com. I’m on a mission to simplify your kitchen adventures. Join me for quick, tasty recipes and a sprinkle of inspiration. Let’s make cooking fun and delicious! 🍽️😊


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K&W Mac and Cheese Recipe: A Step-by-Step Guide (2024)


How do you step up mac and cheese? ›

8 Ways to Elevate Your Macaroni and Cheese Dinners
  1. Add extra cheese to your dish.
  2. Mix in some hot sauce and chicken to make buffalo chicken mac n' cheese.
  3. Add in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.
  4. Sprinkle some bacon bits or breadcrumbs on the top of your dish.
  5. Add spices and fresh herbs to your dish.
May 21, 2022

What are the 3 best cheeses for mac and cheese? ›

What Is the Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese? Sharp cheddar is the overwhelming popular choice, but for extra-creamy results, we think medium cheddar is even better. Other delicious options include Gruyère, smoked Gouda, and Monterey Jack.

What to make with mac n cheese? ›

What Goes Well with Mac and Cheese: The Best Proteins
  1. The Meatloaf Recipe That'll Turn You Into a Meatloaf Lover. ...
  2. Baked BBQ Chicken Drumsticks. ...
  3. Honey Garlic Ribs. ...
  4. Light and Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken. ...
  5. Tandoori Fried Chicken. ...
  6. Baked Buffalo Chicken Wings. ...
  7. Sweet and Sour Meatballs. ...
  8. Cabbage Slaw.
Jan 2, 2024

Why add sour cream to mac and cheese? ›

Whether making it from scratch or the box, sour cream is the secret ingredient to rich and creamy macaroni and cheese. This tart and tangy additive goes a long way regarding recipes, and just a dollop can transform any dish into a thick and creamy masterpiece.

Is it better to cook mac and cheese in milk or water? ›

Creamier Mac and Cheese Starts with Milk

Instead of water, cook your pasta in milk! Now, you usually add milk later in the cooking process to make the cheese sauce, but for an extra touch of luscious creaminess, incorporate the milk at the very beginning of cooking.

Do you use milk or water for mac and cheese? ›

You most definitely can use water in place of milk in any pasta recipe including mac and cheese. It is how I make mine, in fact, and it is just as healthy and delicious. The thing is that it will make it not as creamy and perhaps less thick.

What kind of milk is best for mac and cheese? ›

Milk: Keeps our cheese sauce super creamy. I use whole milk or reduced-fat milk. Mustard and spices: A combination of Dijon mustard, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt makes this macaroni and cheese extra delicious. Cheese: I use white cheddar and parmesan or pecorino cheese.

What is the most perfect cheese to use on Mac & cheese? ›

Gruyere is a classic addition because it melts much like Cheddar, but has a lovely nutty flavor. Other classics include Gouda, Muenster, Parmesan, fontina, Havarti and Monterey Jack. Brie works well too, just make sure you remove the rind before mixing it in.

What is the best cheese blend for mac and cheese? ›

For a mac and cheese recipe, consider the combination of sharper cheddar cheeses and a flavorful Parmesan. This cheese adds a boost of fruity, nutty notes to your favorite macaroni recipes.

What makes mac and cheese taste so good? ›

1. It takes two cheeses to tango with mac. For really great macaroni and cheese, you need a cheese that melts well and a cheese that packs a punch. A few cheeses do both (that's a shout out to you, cheddar, emmentaler, and your other alpine-style, fondue favorites).

How do you keep macaroni and cheese creamy? ›

You want equal amounts of butter and flour by weight. This is key. Throw in too much flour, and sure the sauce might get thick, but it also might taste floury and be lumpy. Even if you get the roux right, use too much or reduce your sauce down too far, and the macaroni and cheese will turn out dry.

What makes mac and cheese taste good? ›

Take boxed mac and cheese to the next level by experimenting with different combination of add-ins. Adding cold butter to the sauce and baking the mac in the oven helps with both texture and flavor. Incorporating things like real cheese, bacon, or leftover veggies can turn boxed mac and cheese into a full meal.

Why is my mac and cheese never creamy? ›

Cook your noodles in milk instead of water

Cooking your noodles in milk instead of water makes your resulting mac and cheese creamier. According to The Kitchn, cooking your noodles in milk instead of water makes the sauce creamy before you even add the cheese sauce.

How do you fix bad taste in mac and cheese? ›

Add 1 tablespoon of milk per cup of mac and cheese and mix to incorprate as much as possible. *If you'd like to add more creaminess and flavor, substitute half-and-half or cream. 3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven at 350°F for 20-30 minutes, or until heated through.

How do you doctor up leftover mac and cheese? ›

Tip: For extra flavor or chrunch, add some grated cheese, jalapenos, bread crumbs, or bacon pieces on top and return to the oven uncovered until cheese is melted or bread crumbs are browned.

How do you spice up pre made mac and cheese? ›

Take boxed mac and cheese to the next level by experimenting with different combination of add-ins. Adding cold butter to the sauce and baking the mac in the oven helps with both texture and flavor. Incorporating things like real cheese, bacon, or leftover veggies can turn boxed mac and cheese into a full meal.

How do you make mac and cheese not boring? ›

Add more cheese

Improve both the taste and texture of boxed mac and cheese by adding some actual cheese to the mix: mozzarella for stretch, an aged Alpine cheese like gruyere for sweet and savory notes or a hard cheese like Parmigiano Reggiano or pecorino for depth and additional saltiness.


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