Q: Can macaroni and cheese be made a day ahead, refrigerated and then baked before use?
Sent by Ruth
Editor: Ruth, yes, absolutely. In fact, it can even be frozen at this point. (When ready to use, thaw and bake.)
Readers, any specific advice for making mac and cheese ahead?
Related: Dinner Quick: One-Bowl Microwave Macaroni and Cheese
(Image: Emma Christensen)
Tips & Techniques
My mom and I both regularly make mac n' cheese ahead in one of 2 ways. Either make the whole thing ahead to the point of baking and then pour a little milk on it before it goes in the oven (the pasta will absorb some of the sauce liquid, so you need to give it a little more before you bake it) or you can just make the sauce ahead and quickly cook up your pasta, combine them, and bake when you're ready. I don't think it's quite as good as freshly made, but I wouldn't kick it out of bed, either.
I do this all the time and it's now my preferred way to make it.I cook the elbow macaroni for just 6 minutes so it's still very al dente. I rinse it under hot tap water to remove the starch and then rinse it under cold water to stop the cooking.Then, I make the cheese sauce. I store the pasta and the sauce separately in the icebox and combine them just before baking. I bake it for the regular time, no need to adjust.Good luck.
I'm still confused over the idea of "baking" macaroni and cheese. When I make it, I boil the pasta, add the sauce, and voila! Mac and cheese! Where does baking come into it?
julie42 - there's more than one way to make mac & cheese. my favorite is a baked mac and cheese, in a sort of custard base with shredded cheese and chunks of cheese. you can mix it all up and leave it in the fridge overnight and bake it the next day.
Absolutely I make a primal version with cauliflower instead of macaroni and it is absolutely wonderful. It is basically cooked cauliflower in a yellow cheese cream sauce. With more cheese on top.It works really well to pour it into bags inside ramekins, then freeze it in the ramekins. Remove the ramekins when solid and they'll easily go from freezer to oven with no waste.If I'm going to bake my "mac 'n' cheese" I also like to add bacon or ham or both to it.
I make mac & cheese a day or so ahead of time for holidays. Because it's usually made during cold weather, sometimes we put it in the garage to keep cool - if the refrigerator is too full to fit a casserole dish. We tend to make mac & cheese extra cheesy, so that helps if some of the cheese sauce gets absorbed by the noodles, there's still plenty.
I'm surprised at all the yes's...Everytime 've combined sauce + pasta and let it sit for the day, the sauce gets absorbed and the pasta itself is dry. I'd make each separately, then combine the day of and bake.
If I'm making if for a large group I usually make it at least the night before to save time and cleanup. If I am making Mac-n-cheese for my family of 3 I always make one small baking dish for dinner and divide the rest into ramekins which can be popped into the oven for lunch or after school snack over the next couple days.
When I was pregnant we baked and froze pans of mac and cheese to have food when the baby came. We just put the oven on 350 and an hour later it was good to go.The other night I made crock pot mac and cheese and it was heavenly. I just posted about it:http://www.twobedroomsandababy.com/2011/08/crockpot-macaroni-and-cheese-with.html
The only thing that I would say if you're going to bake the mac and cheese is to either bake it first and then freeze it or add more fresh (unfrozen) cheese on top when you're going to bake the pre-made frozen product...cheese doesn't melt the same way and create the same crispy crust on top after its been frozen and at least for me the crispy crust is my favorite part!
Don't limit yourself to Mac N Cheese, MarthaStewart.com has TONS of freeze-ahead meals, including lots more pasta ones, I think I saw a whole slide show on them. Too lazy to look it up for ya (sorry) but it's not hard to find.
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