This post may contain affiliate links.
If you buy something from one of the linked sites you won’t pay anything more, but I might make a commission.
Have a question about this recipe? I may have answered it here.
Have you ever wondered if you could make baked mac and cheese with spaghetti instead of elbows or some other kind of short pasta? You absolutely can! In fact, it’s one of my favorite ways to use spaghetti.
Cooking with my grandmother
One of my favorite memories from my childhood is helping my grandmother make mac and cheese. She was not a good cook, at all. But somehow she’d mastered making baked macaroni and cheese, and she was asked to bring it to every family gathering. She took a lot of pride in it.
My job was to sit at her kitchen table and tear the American cheese slices into small pieces. (Actually, my job was also to go to the store and buy the cheese, even when I was really little. You could send a six-year-old grandchild to the store in those days and not risk getting arrested.) I would try not to eat too much of the cheese as I turned the neat stack of deli slices into a big pile of orange pieces.
When the sauce was done and she was mixing it with the elbow macaroni, she would always take out a little juice glass and pour some sauce out for me. Yup, I used to drink a glass of hot cheese sauce when I was little. (I also used to eat peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches on squishy white bread. My eating habits have gotten slightly better.)
She would then pour the whole thing into her biggest casserole dish, the square white one with the blue flowers on it. She’d put the glass lid on and slide it into the oven. It would emerge about an hour later, hot and bubbly and ready to go to whatever baby shower or birthday dinner we were getting ready for. She would wrap it in towels to keep it hot, and keep from burning her fingers. (Now you can just use one of these insulated hot/cold carriers.)
My mom’s version
At my own house growing up it was a little different. My own mom used my grandmother’s cheese sauce recipe, but she never ever had elbow macaroni on hand. But we always had spaghetti, so she’d use that instead! What? Craziness, I know. But it gave the mac and cheese a totally different texture. We called it spaghetti mac, which was kind of redundant, but that was its name.
She also used to put breadcrumbs on top, which I love. But my kids don’t, so sometimes I just put them on half.
I hope you enjoy this recipe, just writing this down is making me crave some!
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- In a large pot, cook spaghetti in salted, boiling water for 8 minutes; drain and return to the pot
- Toss spaghetti with 2 tbsp of butter; cover and set aside
- In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 6 tablespoons of butter over low heat
- When butter is completely melted, add flour and stir to combine
- Add milk 1/4 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until milk is completely absorbed; do not rush this part or sauce will be lumpy
- Once all of the milk is added and mixture is completely smooth, add the cheese, stirring until melted
- Add the bay leaves, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper
- Cook sauce for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure that bottom doesn’t burn
- Remove and discard the bay leaves
- Pour the sauce into the large pot of spaghetti and stir until coated
- Pour mixture into 13x9x2 glass dish and spread spaghetti out until level
- Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly on top (if using)
- Cover with aluminum foil and place in oven on middle rack
- Bake for 30 minutes, then remove foil and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes
- Let sit for 10 minutes before serving
If you want to speed up the sauce a little, you can warm the milk in the microwave; it will absorb into the flour mixture faster.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases (but you won't pay anything extra!)
Pyrex Measuring Cup Set, 4 Pack
Lucky Plus Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons - 17-piece set
Farberware Classic Stainless Steel 15-Piece Cookware Set
Rachael Ray Wooden 3-Tier Stacking Salt Box
OXO Spaghetti Server
OXO Good Grips Wooden Corner Spoon
Pyrex Portables Baking Dish Set
Pyrex Portables Glass Bakeware and Food Storage Set
ChicWrap Foil Dispenser with Slide Cutter (includes foil)