Cook macaroni according to the package directions. Drain.
Add butter to skillet, as soon as butter melts whisk in flour. Continue whisking until flour is fully mixed with butter. Then cook for about a minute to get rid of the flour taste.
Slowly add the evaporated milk a little at a time, followed by the half and half; you do not want the mixture to form any lumps. Simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the mixture thickens slightly.
Add seasonings, onion and garlic powder, Creole seasoning, and cayenne pepper.
Bring to a simmer and let it simmer gently for about 2 minutes.
Stir in the cheeses (reserve some as toppings later), and continue stirring until everything’s melted, evenly combined, and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Then add the cooked pasta to the pot, and stir to incorporate evenly.
Transfer the pasta mixture to a pan or a lightly greased 2-quart baking dish; top with the remaining cheese.
Bake at 375F°/190℃ for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.
Bread crumb topping (optional)
Place a small skillet on medium heat with 2 tablespoons butter, then toss in 1 teaspoon minced garlic, stir for about 30 seconds and throw in bread crumbs. Saute for about 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Lightly season with salt and pepper, if desired. Then top the mac and cheese with the bread crumbs and bake.
If using an egg (optional)
In a medium bowl, beat the egg then add about ½ cup of the sauce to the egg, return the egg mixture to the sauce, stirring to blend well. Proceed with the cheese and the proceeding steps.
Cheeses and Cheese Sauce
Don't use pre-shredded bagged cheese as it is drier. You have to get blocks of it and shred it yourself.
Sharp cheddar cheese, mozzarella, and jack cheese are my top faves. Or you can also use pepper jack cheese, gouda, fontina, and Gruyere.
More mozzarella cheese can be added for it gives it a nice gooey pull in every bite.
Do not cook cheese sauce too long.
You can also throw in special ingredients such as garlic herbs, dried mustard, crispy fried onion strings, and so on.
For extra flavor, add chicken breast pieces, spinach, and red bell peppers.
In case you want to cut down on the calories, use low-fat milk instead of evaporated milk and cut back on half of the cheese.
It’s best to warm milk. Cold liquid interrupts the cooking process. Heated milk also has a richer flavor than cold milk.
To avoid lumps, try adding the milk about 2-3 tablespoons at a time. Whisk until it’s incorporated before adding more. Once the can of evaporated milk is all mixed in, add in all the half and half at once.
Mac and Cheese can be made ahead up to the point of baking, then bake about 30-40 minutes before serving, so it’s hot and fresh. It can as well be made right in the morning and baked just before dinner time.
It can also be made ahead up to the point of baking and then frozen. It freezes better if you don't bake it first.
Reheat in the microwave if there are any leftovers then spray the top with oil or butter for moisture.
More Baking Notes
You don't cover baked mac and cheese with foil as it would steam the inside and prevent it from achieving that slightly crusty golden bubbly top.
If making for bigger groups of people, you can double or triple the recipe.
In the absence of cast iron, Mac and Cheese can be baked in almost any oven-safe casserole dish.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.