Our version of loaded Velveeta mac and cheese is sure to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Homemade Velveeta cheese sauce with tender mac is what mac and cheese dreams are made of and when you can turn this into a hearty meal that your whole family gobbles up, even better. It’s a real crowd pleaser.
If you love a quick and delicious comfort food easy meal, then this recipe is for you.
This creamy, cheesy recipe is sure to satisfy your family’s cravings for some classic comfort food. Not only does it come together in about 30 minutes, but the addition of ham, and veggies makes it a balanced meal. Easy-to-make recipe requires minimal prep time so you can get it on the table faster.
Cheesy Comfort Food
A few years ago, a family friend brought over a mac and cheese casserole that had such a delicious creamy texture and was incredible. She had added fried onions and ham pieces. Our family has been hooked since.
Why Velveeta cheese?
You might be wondering why I chose to go with Velveeta cheese for the cheese sauce and not shredded cheddar cheese. It is a super easy, foolproof way to make the smoothest and creamiest cheese sauce ever. When paired with cooked pasta, the combination is so gooey, cheesy, creamy, and just so scrumptious.
What other cheese can I use in this casserole?
Along with the Velveeta, this recipe uses 1 cup of shredded cheese as a topping for additional cheese flavor. Today we used a combination of shredded cheddar and mozzarella. However, this is a wonderful recipe to switch up the cheese to your favorite one. Here are a few ideas for different types of cheese.
- Cheddar Cheese. This classic cheese is generally found as a sharp, medium, or mild. It also comes as a yellow or white cheddar. Of course, the sharp cheddar cheese has the most cheddar flavor, with medium in the middle, and mild has a more subtle and milky cheese flavor.
- Mozzarella Cheese. It’s hard not to include mozzarella as it adds that extra gooey and stringiness. For me, it takes this casserole dish over the top for a comfort food.
- Cream Cheese. This is a great addition to the cheese sauce. It will add even more creaminess to the smooth sauce.
- Parmesan Cheese. It is a dryer cheese with a fruity and nutty taste, and it is mostly consumed grated over pastas or used in soups and risottos. After the mac and cheese comes out of the oven, a little bit of this cheese sprinkled on top adds a nice Italian style flavor.
- Gruyere Cheese. This cheese is reminiscent of a fondue cheese with its creamy, slightly salty, and nutty flavors. Yet it is a velvety smooth cheese that adds even more richness to this dish.
- Fontina Cheese. I love this cheese for its buttery and hint of roasted nuts flavor. It is a great cheese for melting and of course adds even more gooey, melty goodness to this loaded mac and cheese recipe.
- Monterey Jack Cheese. This cheese has a mild, buttery flavor that adds more of a creamy, milky type flavor to the recipe. A lovely gentle flavor.
Real Cheese versus Pre Shredded Cheese for This Recipe
I have a confession to make.
It is better to grate your own cheese. However, since the Velveeta cheese is the star of the show, and the real cheese is added just on top. I used pre shredded cheese from the grocery story to help hurry this casserole along.
How to Make Baked Loaded Velveeta Mac and Cheese
This is a simple homemade mac and cheese recipe without flour, and no roux. Just melt the cheese with the milk and pour over the ingredients and bake.
Note: I made a double batch of this recipe today, the photos will reflect that.
To save time, cook the macaroni on the stove while you are microwaving the broccoli and onion. While this is cooking, cube your deli ham and Velveeta, and shred your cheese.
Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions until it is al dente. Drain and set aside.
Place the broccoli florets in the microwave in the Steamer bag and cook on high for 6 minutes.
Dice the onion and place in a microwave safe bowl, cook on high for 2 minutes. Set aside
Dice the thinly sliced deli ham into small bite-size pieces. Set aside.
Cut the block of Velveeta cheese into cubes and add to a large saucepan or kettle, add the milk and cook on medium heat. Stir occasionally until the cheese is melted and incorporated into the milk. You will see a rich, velvety sauce. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Casserole Assembly. Prepare a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Layer in the cooked pasta, broccoli, onion, and ham. Pour the creamy cheese sauce over the top.
Top with the shredded cheese, today we used a combination of shredded cheddar and mozzarella. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or until hot and bubbly. For best results, the cheese should be melted and starting to turn golden brown in color in a few places.
If you enjoy a bit more of an adult version of creamy mac and cheese, add salt and black pepper to taste and a dash of ground mustard or a sprinkle of smoked paprika.
Other vegetables work well with this so feel free to add any extras into the pasta that you see fit, such as cauliflower, or sliced carrots.
Cooked bacon adds a delicious smokiness to the hot dish.
Cooked ground beef is a great way to really amp up the hearty goodness.
If you enjoy a crunchy topping, add bread crumbs that have been mixed with a bit of butter. Amazing!
Really, a few cups of vegetables and the meat really compliment the cheesy goodness and help make this a fast and delicious busy weeknight meal.
Do you like your food hot? Just sprinkle on a little hot sauce. Generally, I hold back on adding the hot sauce to the whole dish as not everyone enjoys the same level of heat. So, make sure to have the hot sauce out on the table for your guests to add their own.
For us, we go for this type of comfort food when the weather is cooler too.
What to Eat with Mac and Cheese
For us, mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. There are so many delicious food pairings. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is a hearty bread or a warm, crusty piece of garlic bread.
Serve this as a main course or a side dish any day of the week. It fits in well at the Holiday table and is a main staple of the cookout and picnic menu.
Main Dishes such as BBQ ribs, pulled pork, brisket, fried chicken, meatloaf, fried fish, hot dogs, and hamburgers.
Other Side dishes to compliment this dish. Cold salads, vegetables, pickled condiments, and other baked hot dishes.
Desserts. Well, anything and everything will pair with a delicious, sweet finish to a great meal.
Here are a few of our favorite delicious recipes to pair.
What is the best pasta to use in macaroni and cheese?
Round sort pastas work well.
Most often, this dish is made with macaroni pasta. However, Velveeta shells has become a popular choice; therefore, shell pasta is quickly becoming a classic too. Really, any short, round pasta will work such as a hearty elbow, fusilli, penne, ziti, rigatoni, and gemelli are all great choices.
Does homemade mac and cheese need to be refrigerated?
Yes, for food safety, once it has come to room temperature, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to 5 days.
Just reheat as needed.
Can you freeze mac and cheese?
Yes, you can store it in a freezer safe airtight container or a heavy duty freezer bag for up to 2 months. Make sure to add a label and date.
Best Way to Reheat Macaroni and Cheese
There are two different methods I use to reheat mac and cheese: the microwave and the oven. Using the stovetop can cause the cheese sauce mixture to stick and burn to the bottom of the pan.
The fastest method is using the microwave. Just scoop your desired portion into a microwave safe dish and microwave in 1 minute increments until hot. Stirring between each minute of heating. If desired, add a tablespoon of milk or teaspoon of butter and mix to help revive the creamy gooey textures.
The second method is to bake. Add your desired portion into an oven-safe dish. I like to add a dollop of butter to make sure that it doesn’t dry out. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Baked Loaded Velveeta Mac and Cheese Recipe
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- 8 Ounces Elbow Macaroni about 2 cups dry or other small pasta of choice
- 10.8 Ounces Broccoli Florets 1 Steamfresh bag
- 8 Ounces Black Forest Ham Deli Meat Diced
- 1 Medium Vidalia Onion Diced
- 8 Ounces Velveeta Original Cheese 1 boxed loaf cubed
- 1 Cups Whole Milk or heavy cream
- 1 Cup Cheddar Cheese or other cheese blend shredded
- Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water according to the package directions until it is al dente. Drain and set aside.
- Place the broccoli florets in the microwave in the Steamer bag and cook on high for 6 minutes.
- Dice the onion and place in a microwave safe bowl, cook on high for 2 minutes. Set aside
- Dice the thinly sliced deli ham into small bite-size pieces. Set aside.
- Cut the block of Velveeta cheese into cubes and add to a large saucepan or kettle, add the milk and cook on medium heat. Stir occasionally until the cheese is melted and incorporated into the milk. You will see a rich, velvety sauce. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Casserole Assembly. Prepare a 9 X 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Layer in the cooked pasta, broccoli, onion, and ham. Pour the cheese sauce over the top.
- Top with the shredded cheese, today we used a combination of shredded cheddar and mozzarella. Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or until hot and bubbly. The cheese should be melted and starting to turn golden in color in a few places.