Trying to figure out the best cheddar cheese to buy from the grocery store begins with an agreement of what kind of mac and cheese you're after because, truth be told, there are a lot of different cheeses that will work in mac and cheese.
But when you're after a pot of the classic stovetop stuff, blanketed with that signature velvety-smooth sauce — the one that seeps into all the nooks and crannies of the noodles — there's one type of cheese that's better than the rest.
Mild Cheddar Is What Your Mac and Cheese Deserves
There is no better choice than mild cheddar when you're making classic stovetop mac and cheese. Start with a block and grate it yourself, or opt for a convenient bag of shredded cheese. The pre-shredded cheese takes a bit longer to melt, but both options will get you there, so the choice is up to you.
In comparison to the other types of cheddar, mild cheddar, with its higher moisture content, melts like a dream. And when it comes to mac and cheese, this is a quality you want to prioritize.
While sharp and extra-sharp cheddar are without question more flavorful than mild cheddar, it's a different story when it comes to which melts best. Mild cheddar has a higher moisture content than sharp and extra-sharp cheddar, due to a shorter aging process, which means the cheese is quicker to melt. Over low heat it easily melts into milk to make a sauce that's smooth and creamy.
A bowl of macaroni and cheese made with just mild cheddar will deliver just that — a mild but familiar flavor reminiscent of Stouffer's mac and cheese. When it's a sharper flavor you're craving, just use mild cheddar as a base and mix in an additional tangier, sharper cheese like Parmesan or even sharp cheddar. You'll get both flavor and creamy melt, which, when it comes to a good bowl of mac and cheese, is definitely what we're after.