Baked Spaghetti Mac and Cheese
3-Cheese Spaghetti Mac and Cheese Recipe
How to Make Mac and Cheese with Spaghetti Noodles
Indulge in a creamy, comforting, baked spaghetti mac and cheese made with sharp yellow cheddar, white cheddar, and gruyere cheese! Call it a 3-cheese spaghetti or a spaghetti macaroni – whatever you name it, it’s irresistibly delicious. Learn how to make mac and cheese with spaghetti noodles as a one pot meal or baked in a casserole dish!
I’ve made mac and cheese in all types of ways, with all sorts of noodles. On the stove, in the oven, in the microwave; with elbow noodles, shells, rotini, cavatappi. This was my first time making a spaghetti mac and cheese and, let me tell you: HUGE win! The cheese sauce coats those long noodles beautifully, and it makes for such a creamy, cheesy, satisfying bite.
Start with a simple roux, made with your favorite cheeses, and then slather that cheese sauce over your desired noodles. You can use regular spaghetti or gluten free—my preference is chickpea spaghetti, and I think it’s equally delicious! Enjoy that cheesy spaghetti straight out of the pot, or bake it in a casserole dish with a layer of cheese on top for extra comfort and deliciousness.
Spaghetti Mac and Cheese Ingredients
- spaghetti noodles of choice (regular, gluten free, chickpea, etc.)
- flour (all-purpose or gluten-free)
- milk (dairy)
- shredded cheeses of choice (sharp yellow & white cheddar, gruyere, etc.)
- salt & pepper
What noodles can you use for mac and cheese?
For homemade mac and cheese noodles, macaroni (elbows), conchiglie (shells), farfalle (bowties), penne, and cavatappi (corkscrews) are some of the most common choices. This is because these medium-sized noodles have plenty of surface area, nooks, and crannies to catch the creamy cheese sauce. But, these aren’t the only options—you can really use any noodle shape that you want!
Since pretty much all pasta shapes are made of the same ingredients (semolina or durum wheat flour), they’ll all taste similar. Using longer noodles for spaghetti mac and cheese makes for a fun change in texture and slurp-ability! Also, feel free to use any type of noodle you prefer: regular wheat, gluten free, or bean and lentil pastas. (My favorite are chickpea spaghetti noodles.)
What cheese is best for mac and cheese?
Generally, the most common and beloved choice for macaroni and cheese is a sharp yellow cheddar cheese. But, just like with your choice of noodles, you can also change up the cheeses in this spaghetti macaroni however you like! Personally, I like to use a combination of sharp yellow cheddar, white cheddar, and gruyere cheese, with a bit of parmesan sprinkled on top.
How to Make Mac and Cheese with Spaghetti Noodles
- Cook spaghetti noodles of choice according to package directions.
- Make a roux with butter and flour. Add milk and seasonings, whisking 5-6 minutes until bubbly and thickened.
- Melt in shredded cheese until smooth.
- Add cooked spaghetti noodles, tossing to coat.
- Enjoy as-is for a one pot spaghetti mac and cheese, or transfer to a casserole dish to bake.
- Top with additional cheese and bake at 350°F (180°C) 22-25 minutes.
How do you keep mac and cheese creamy (& not mushy)?
To keep this spaghetti macaroni nice and creamy, but not mushy, I have 2 easy tips to offer:
- Undercook your spaghetti noodles slightly—about 1 minute less than it says on the package. This is always my go-to method with chickpea or bean pasta in particular, because it prevents the pasta from becoming too soft or gummy. In this case, undercooking the noodles slightly is smart because they’ll continue softening a bit in the oven.
- Instead of regular milk, use heavy cream in the cheese sauce. More dietary fat makes for a richer, creamier texture! Heavy cream will result in the creamiest cheese sauce, or opt for whole milk instead of reduced fat or skim. (Both of these milk options will still work in this recipe, they’ll just be a bit less creamy.)
How to Store Spaghetti Mac and Cheese
I love to whip up this spaghetti mac and cheese recipe when I’m feeding a crowd, or it’s a great meal prep dinner option that I can make ahead of time! After baking, simply store the leftovers in an airtight container, covered, for 5-7 days in the fridge. Simply reheat leftovers as desired in the microwave, or for 10-15 minutes in an oven or toaster oven.
How to Freeze Casserole for Meal Prep
For longer-term meal prep storage, pop your cheesy spaghetti macaroni casserole into the freezer!
- Before baking the casserole, allow to cool completely in a freezer-safe glass baking dish.
- Cover and freeze for 1-3 months.
- Thaw overnight in the fridge before baking.
What can I add to plain mac and cheese?
If this baked spaghetti mac and cheese is a bit too plain for you, or if you’re craving some additional flavors and mix-ins, give some of these ideas a try:
- Serve with crumbled bacon or bacon bits.
- Stir chopped hot dogs, ham, cooked ground beef, or pulled pork in with cheesy spaghetti noodles before transferring to casserole dish.
- Top casserole with breadcrumbs or even potato chips for a fun, crunchy element!
- Serve with a dash of hot sauce, ketchup, BBQ sauce, or sriracha.
- Use spaghetti macaroni to make an epic spaghetti grilled cheese sandwich!
To see how this cheesy spaghetti is made, watch my CRAZY Spaghetti Recipes video!
3-Cheese Spaghetti Mac and Cheese
- 8 oz spaghetti noodles of choice, (I used chickpea noodles)
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 3 Tbsp flour, (gluten-free, if desired)
- 2 cups milk, (dairy)
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 1½ cups shredded cheese of choice, (I used sharp white cheddar, yellow cheddar, & gruyere)
- ¼ cup shredded cheese of choice
- 2 Tbsp shredded parmesan
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). (If you don’t plan to bake your spaghetti in a casserole dish, you don’t need to preheat the oven.)
- Cook spaghetti noodles according to package directions.
- In the meantime, melt butter in a large pot (big enough to hold the pasta).
- Add flour and heat 1-2 minutes, stirring continuously.
- Add milk, salt, and pepper and whisk to remove any lumps.
- Cook over medium-high heat for about 5-6 minutes, until bubbly and thickened.
- Stir in 1½ cups shredded cheese and whisk until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.
- Add cooked and drained spaghetti noodles into pot and toss to coat with cheese sauce. (Feel free to stop here and enjoy spaghetti mac and cheese as-is!)
- Transfer cheesy noodles to a glass baking pan or casserole dish. (My dish was 10×8-inches with a 6-cup volume.)
- Add remaining ¼ cup shredded cheese and parmesan on top.
- Bake 22-25 minutes. I recommend broiling at the end for a few minutes to brown the cheese on top!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-7 days.
To Freeze for Meal Prep:
- Before baking, store casserole in a freezer-safe glass baking dish or casserole dish with a lid. Allow to cool completely, then cover and freeze for 1-3 months.
- Thaw overnight (~24 hours) in the fridge before you plan to bake the casserole.
- Once thawed, bake at 350°F (180°C) for 25-30 minutes. (Check to see how it’s heating through—you may need to bake for up to an hour after freezing & thawing.) Again, broil for the last few minutes to brown the cheese on top!