Classic Baked Macaroni Recipe

baked macaroni recipe image with ground meat tomato sauce topped with melty cheese
IMAGE Bianca Laxamana

When making lasagna is too much work but you still want a hearty, meaty pasta that's not a spaghetti dish on your dinner table, the baked macaroni, or baked mac for short, is exactly what you should make for any handaan

What Is Baked Mac? 

A baked macaroni is a baked pasta dish but unlike the lasagna, which is layered, the baked macaroni is really a leveled-up macaroni pasta. The leveling-up part is the extra cheese that's added on top and the extra saucy nature of the pasta itself.

The cheese for a macaroni pasta might be a simple grated Parmesan or creamy cheese. However, on a baked macaroni, the cheese is emphasized, so much so that a cheese pull is an expected phenomenon, especially if the baked pasta comes straight from the hot oven. Not only that, the cheese is swapped for extra stretchy cheese, commonly mozzarella, so the cheese pull is a success, but this can be mixed with creamy cheese so you get the best of both worlds. 


The sauce meanwhile needs to be extra when making a baked pasta since the dish will be reheated and basically simmered again in the oven. The extra sauce will prevent the pasta from drying out but also infuses the pasta with its flavor, creating pasta shells that are more flavorful than just a mere coating. 

baked macaroni recipe pasta image
Baked macaroni makes a fantastic dish to add to your party table.
Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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Plus, the pasta sauce can be any kind of pasta sauce you like! For the classic version of this recipe, however, the pasta sauce is a delicious tomato-based one that is sweetened slightly. The sauce is also an extra meaty one that includes ground meat and hotdogs, an addition that is not commonly seen in more authentic Italian or even American pasta dishes. This is one of the more unique characteristics of this baked pasta. 

The result is an appealing and extra appetizing pasta plate that you'll definitely want to go for a second (or third) helping. 

How to Serve Baked Mac

The baked mac is a baked pasta dish and what's so great about it is that there's no right or wrong way to "cut" into this baked dish. It's elbow macaroni pasta, which, unlike lasagna, you do not have to slice through to the bottom to release from the pan. This makes it easy to simply dig in through the topping of cheese and enjoy with a slice of garlic bread on the side. 


How to Make Baked Mac

Just like normal pasta recipes, baked macaroni starts with two components: pasta sauce and pasta. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions, but for only 8 minutes or until just al dente.  The pasta sauce is made with ground meat, the requisite hotdogs, and a sweetened tomato sauce that appeals to the sweet tooth of the Pinoy. You can skip the tomato sauce and just use prepared spaghetti sauce to make it easy to create the sauce for your baked mac. 

Mix the pasta sauce and the cooked pasta and you're almost nearly done. The next step is to put the mixture into a baking dish, top with your choice of cheese (a combo of mozzarella and a creamy cheese is best), and bake in the oven until the cheese has melted and the pasta sauce is bubbling. 

Tips To Make Delicious Baked Mac

baked macaroni recipe image with ground meat tomato sauce topped with melty cheese
This classic recipe macaroni baked like a lasagna is the fast and easier version. No need to obsess over the layers!
Photo by Bianca Laxamana

1 Use any pasta but undercook it. 

The pasta is elbow macaroni but this can be swapped out for other pasta shapes which can be penne, shells, bows, or even broken-up spaghetti noodles if you don't have time to shop for the macaroni. Just remember that the pasta needs to be cooked at most 8 minutes or al dente so it won't be overcooked as it cooks again in the oven later. 

2 Make a watery pasta sauce. 

To make a fantastic baked mac, you need to remember that the pasta is going to be cooked twice. Since this pasta sauce needs to be a little more liquid than you would normally make it, you can add extra water to keep your pasta moist as it bakes. You can add 1/2 cup of water to the sauce but remember that this needs to be cooked off or you might end up with a bland baked mac or worse, watery pasta.


How to Store Baked Mac

A baked pasta dish is always best covered and wrapped in plastic. You can also transfer the leftover into a container with a lid. It's an aromatic dish, thanks to the herbs and tomatoes, so it's best to save the other dishes in the refrigerator from absorbing its aromas. Consume pasta within 3 days since the pasta itself can go bad even if the tomato sauce won't. 

If a longer period of time is required to store it, you can freeze pasta dishes, tightly wrapped in plastic, until ready to eat. Just thaw and reheat in the oven, taking care that the baking dish isn't subjected to extreme changes in temperature to prevent accidental shattering. 

Watch: Baked Mac Recipe

Baked Mac Recipe

Prep Time
10 mins 
Cooking Time
20 mins 
Ready In
35 mins 
Cooking Method
Simmer and Bake

Classic Baked Macaroni Ingredients

How to cook Classic Baked Macaroni


Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

Got your own version of the classic dishes? Pa-share naman! Get your recipe published on by submitting your recipe here.

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