The Mac And Cheese Baking Hack That Will Maximize A Crispy Topping

There is something inherently comforting about a bowl of macaroni and cheese. In fact, The Washington Post once said it "might be the most popular comfort food known to ... any American." While some may be transported back to their childhood home and hearth by a bowl of Kraft macaroni and cheese, for many it is the homemade variety that offers the biggest source of solace.

PureWow contends that you can up your game by opting for a cheddar substitute to use in your homemade mac and cheese like parmesan, fontina, havarti, or gruyère. Tastemade says you could smother your Kraft macaroni and cheese in ketchup as many Canadians do. And Serious Eats suggests trying a black bean and chipotle version or one that uses chickpeas and spinach. 

But what if the macaroni and cheese feature that you most enjoy is the crunchy bits? Well, there is even a way to maximize that crispiness, no longer limiting it to just the noodles perched way up top. 

Mac & cheese's best friend is a metal sheet pan

You may choose to create a crunchy topping for your macaroni and cheese by simply adding naturally crispy ingredients to the top and baking as usual. For instance, Striped Spatula contends that potato chips, bread crumbs, oyster crackers, or french fried onions will do the trick. It turns out, however, that the only part that benefits from the added crispiness is the top. Once that's been scooped up, you're left with just the creamy center.  All Recipes recommends putting your mac and cheese on a baking sheet, instead, to spread out that crunchy goodness. 

According to the outlet, this larger baking surface enables the entire dish to enjoy the oven's heat, ensuring that the crispiness you crave is present throughout the whole dish. It is important to note, however, that a metal sheet works best due to the material's thermal properties. Once you've spread your macaroni and cheese concoction on the pan, you can sprinkle a mix of panko bread crumbs and seasonings on top followed by a mizzle of melted butter. Once it's golden and starting to bubble, it's time for everyone to enjoy a helping of crispy mac and cheese yumminess. 

If you want to feel the comforts of yesteryear in noodle form, you could try spreading this creamy homestyle mac and cheese recipe across your trusty metal sheet pan. It might even become your go-to dish when you need a culinary hug.