09/13/2013 09:05 am ET Updated Oct 09, 2013

Mac And Cheese Mistakes You Might Be Making (PHOTOS)

You know what's great? Mac and cheese. You know what's better? Homemade mac and cheese. You know what's the worst? When you spend time, money, mental and emotional effort on cooking something that you don't like in the end.

Macaroni and cheese can be especially frustrating to mess up because we're usually making it in large batches, with lots of cheese, and that is not a melted cheese opportunity you want to squander. Let's get through this together, and discuss some of the mac and cheese mistakes you might be making.

  • 1 Not Making Your Own Because It Seems Hard/Time-Consuming
    Mac and cheese is so delicious that a lot of people think it must be hard to make. There are so many different ways to approach it that you could spend all day on it, or you could spend 45 minutes and do it all in one pot. Once you make homemade mac and cheese once, you will realize that you make the best mac and cheese ever. Get the Lobster Mac n Cheese recipe from Food52
  • 2 Not Using Enough Cheese
    Flickr: ilovememphis
    As the name indicates, there are two ingredients that are important in this dish: the macaroni and the cheese. Mac and cheese should either be creamy or stringy because of the cheese. Cheese should coat the noodles. This is a cheese-heavy dish. Don't eat it every day, but when you do eat it, eat it right. Our rule of thumb is to always grate more cheese than we think we'll need. Even if you've shredded too much, you can save it for another use.
  • 3 Using Any Pasta But Elbows Or Shells
    Flickr: megan.chromik
    The amazing thing about pasta is that certain shapes are designed for certain applications. Macaroni elbows and shells are designed to hold thick, creamy sauces. Cheese sauce is too heavy for a lot of pastas, making them either limp and flabby or clumped and unmanageable. Stick to the classics on this one.
  • 4 Overcooking Your Pasta
    Flickr: EvelynGiggles
    Whether you are a stovetop mac and cheese maker or an oven-baked mac and cheese maker, there is one universal truth in mac and cheesery: you're going to have to cook those noodles twice. When you do the initial boil on your pasta, cook it to just under al dente, so that there's a still plenty of chew on the noodles. Then you won't eat flabby macaroni covered in delicious cheese.
  • 5 Adding Too Much Liquid
    Flickr: Rex Roof
    You want your mac and cheese to be creamy, but you do not want to make mac and cheese soup (well maybe you do, but we don't). Add your liquids a bit at a time, stir to incorporate, then see where you stand. You can always add more, taking away is significantly more complex.
  • 6 Not Browning The Top A Little
    Flickr: technochick
    Look at this. This is like the surface of a beautiful cheese planet. When you make your own mac and cheese, whether you are a proponent of topping with breadcrumbs or not, you get the opportunity to turn your oven on to broil, then watch very closely as the top bubbles and browns. Don't squander this cheese opportunity.
  • 7 Trying To Replicate The Boxed Stuff
    The stuff in the box? Unquestionably delicious. But it's not mac and cheese, it's something else. Instead of trying to replicate it, make gooey, creamy, homestyle mac and cheese that you can't get anywhere else.
  • 8 Using Velveeta
    Flickr: Charles Williams
    No, guys. This is not cheese. There is one appropriate culinary use for Velveeta occasionally and that is queso. Keep it away from your noodles.
  • 9 Using Really Fancy Cheese
    Flickr: daskerst
    Guys, this isn't worth it. Do not melt a $14 hunk of Ossau Iraty into your mac and cheese. If the mac and cheese you love contains fontina, asiago, parmesan and provolone -- fine, whatever, it will never beat cheddar and monterey jack. You want a mild cheese for creaminess, a sharp cheese for tang. Keep it simple, keep it relatively inexpensive, save the fancy stuff for the cheese plate.
  • 10 Getting Avocado Into The Mix
    We love avocado. We love mac and cheese. There are some ingredients that just do not need to mix. Let's stop this insanity.
  • 11 Using Truffle Oil
    Flickr: C John Thompson
    Okay, guys. Real talk: truffle oil is the worst. We know it's expensive. We know it's luxurious. We know it's derived from a specialty ingredient the world goes absolutely bonkers for. But it sucks. Especially in mac and cheese, where it makes the whole dish taste like a food scientist's idea of what artificial truffle extract should taste like. Stop using it. At least in our mac and cheese.
  • 12 Limiting Yourself To A Bowl
    A bowl of mac and cheese is comforting and perfect, but there are grilled cheeses, pizzas, potatoes, hot dogs and more to be topped. Your imagination will serve you well in this case.

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Mac N Cheese
Mac N Cheese