Why Overcooking The Noodles Will Help You Avoid Dry Mac & Cheese

Melted cheese, pasta, and a creamy sauce can make the ultimate comfort food. Even though it may bring back fond memories from childhood, mac and cheese holds a place in our hearts, and on our plates, well into adulthood. There's nothing wrong with pulling a boxed mac and cheese mix from the pantry and whipping it up on the stove when you need a quick fix, but sometimes you want this classic dish as a casserole, made with a blend of your favorite cheeses and baked until the top is an eye-pleasing golden hue.

Whether you make it for a side dish or as a creamy, indulgent main course, baked mac and cheese is amazing when cooked just right, and the sauce is smooth and cheesy. But even the most experienced cooks can end up with the pasta absorbing too much of the sauce, leaving the dish dried out. The good news is there's a way to avoid this disappointment — it's a foolproof method that may seem odd, at least at first.

Overcooking the noodles helps them to absorb more water, allowing a creamier result

The best way to achieve a perfectly gooey batch of baked mac and cheese is to let the pasta cook longer, per Good Housekeeping. This might seem like the wrong move because when it comes to cooking pasta, you may be used to precisely following the cooking directions on the package. Or maybe you prefer to make your baked pasta on the al dente side, so it doesn't overcook during its time in the oven. And cooking to al dente, or just shy of it, is a solid strategy when you're making something with a tomato sauce, like baked ziti.

When mac and cheese is baked, the noodles tend to take on more of the creamy cheese sauce. Although cooking the pasta for a few extra minutes sounds like a recipe for mushy mac and cheese, it allows the noodles to absorb more water and moisture. This helps the dish remain creamy once the pasta is mixed in with the sauce instead of drying out. You can even opt to add some of the pasta water to the sauce right before baking, making these few extra steps and time worth it once you bite into your velvety, creamy dish of mac and cheese.