One of our favorite comfort foods in the entire world? Mac and cheese. We know we’re not alone in this; there is nothing more crave-worthy than pasta dripping in a thick, creamy cheese sauce. We’re starving just thinking about it.

Besides being incredibly indulgent, mac and cheese is also a very versatile dish. You can make it from a box on a stove or you can make the sauce yourself with a blend of cheeses; you can add brown sugar to make it a sweet treat or cayenne to give it a kick; you can add in bacon, veggies, ketchup, chorizo, or anything else your heart desires.

When it comes to mac and cheese, the world is your oyster — oysters, add those to the list.

Since mac and cheese is so versatile in its additions and flavors, why can’t it be just as flexible with how it’s made? You don’t have to limit your mac making options to the stove top or the microwave. Think bigger.

Food52 has got their heads in the game when it comes to taking mac and cheese to the next level, as evidence by this sheet pan mac and cheese. You heard that right: mac and cheese spread out and baked in a sheet pan. It may be unorthodox, but don’t hate it until you give it a try. (The odds of you hating it AFTER giving it a try are slim to none, by the way.)

Baked mac and cheese finished.Food52

In this recipe, you’re basically making your mac and cheese from scratch. Making homemade pasta is encouraged but always optional — we’ll most likely being giving this a try with a box of our favorite elbow pasta, truth be told!

However, it is essential that you make the cheese sauce from scratch. As intimidating as this might sound, this is actually a pretty simple process, and it will give you more flavorful, richer results than if you simply used a packet of “cheese” from a boxed mix.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your homemade cheese sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 12 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • 1 pound pasta spirals (or pasta in another small shape, like elbows)
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • Salt
  • 2/3 cup whole milk

For the full instructions, make sure to check out the entire recipe from Food52.

Our favorite part of this recipe is how crispy and brown the pasta gets as result of baking; the crunch is almost as satisfying as the creaminess of the cheese sauce! The combination of the two textures is what really takes this dish over-the-top.

If you prefer more crunch, sprinkle more cheese on top of your pasta before baking. If you prefer a softer mac and cheese, sprinkle less cheese. It’s that simple.

What do you think about this interesting take on mac and cheese? Will you be baking your mac the next time your have a cheesy craving? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.