Creamy, cheesy, gooey, this southern macaroni and cheese is one the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever tasted. This recipe is celebrity chef, Art Smith’s macaroni and cheese recipe and it uses a combination of a creamy cheese sauce and layers of cheese for the ultimate comfort food.
I first tasted this macaroni and cheese while I was visiting Orlando for work. My co-workers and I went to Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ restaurant in Disney Springs. The food there was all incredible, but this mac and cheese stuck with me. It was the perfect combination of gooey and creamy with the perfect blend of cheeses and a crispy baked cheese layer on top.
How to cook pasta al dente? What does al dente mean?
Al dente translates to “to the tooth,” meaning that your pasta should still be firm when you bite into it. The more you cook pasta the mushier and gummier it gets. Because we are adding lot of creamy sauce to your pasta and baking the extra heat from these two things will continue to cook the pasta. So if your pasta is too soft to start it will be complete mush by the time it’s done cooking.
The easiest way to tell if your pasta is al dente is to give it a taste! Al dente pasta will still look a little bit dry in the very center and will have a bit of firmness or bite in the center. Pasta usually takes about 8 minutes to cook, but start checking around 6 minutes to ensure you don’t over cook it.
What size of baking dish should I use for this macaroni and cheese?
A 9x13 baking dish or a 4 quart baking dish is a perfect size for this recipe! I used a slightly smaller one because I also wanted to bake a couple in mini casserole dishes. I have a baking dish like this that I love using for this recipe.
What kind of hot sauce should I use in this recipe?
Chef Art Smith’s macaroni and cheese recipe calls for hot sauce, but doesn’t specify what kind or how much. I like to use a classic pepper hot sauce, like Tabasco, but you can use your preferred brand. We like our mac and cheese with a little kick to it so we add in the hot sauce liberally, but add as much as tastes right to you.
Best Cheese for Baked Mac and Cheese
This recipe uses extra sharp cheddar and American cheese in the sauce and layered into the pasta as well as parmesan on top. I think this combination is perfect. The extra sharp cheddar gives Chef Art Smith’s macaroni and cheese recipe so much flavor and that gooey cheesy texture, the American cheese adds a creamy softness to the recipe, and the parmesan on top gives it crispy golden topping while also adding a little bit of extra saltiness that puts this recipe over the top!
What to serve with mac and cheese:
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Chef Art Smith's Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound penne pasta or elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups milk heated
- 2 cups extra-sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 cups American cheese finely chopped
- freshly ground black pepper
- hot pepper sauce
- 1 ⁄4 cup parmesan cheese freshly grated
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish (or a 4-quart baking dish) and set aside.
- Fill a large pot with water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add your pasta and cook for about 8 minutes until al dente. Drain off the water.
- In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, melt your butter. Add your flour in with your butter and whisk together until you have a smooth roux.
- Gradually add in your milk, whisking it so it’s smooth. Once you’ve added in all the milk, bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly until your sauce thickens. Reduce the heat and add in 1 cup of cheddar cheese and 1 cup of American cheese. Season with salt, black, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. Set aside.
- Take your remaining cheddar cheese and American cheese and combine them. Spread about ⅓ of your pasta on the bottom of your greased baking dish and top with ½ of your combined cheese. Then spread ⅓ of your cheese sauce over top.
- Repeat your layers—spread ⅓ of the pasta, the remaining half of the cheese, and ⅓ of your sauce.
- Layer the last ⅓ of your pasta over the top and then spread the remaining cheese sauce over top. Sprinkle your parmesan cheese over the top and bake for about 30 minutes until your macaroni and cheese is bubbly and golden around the edges.