If there's one thing we hate, it's a bad batch of mac and cheese. What a terrible waste of a wonderful concept! The number-one mistake when making mac at home, aside from a cooking error like over-boiling the noodles, is using the wrong kind of cheese to start with. The type you choose is extremely important for the taste and texture of the sauce.

The two primary qualities you should consider when sourcing cheese are simple: it needs to taste good, and it needs to melt well. These requirements may seem obvious, but not all cheeses are created equal. Some are more mild than others, and not all cheeses melt easily.

The solution is simple: combine multiple types of cheese in your sauce. When in doubt, it's best to have one main variety that offers the creamy, silky texture you need. Then you can supplement it with funkier, more flavorful cheeses to achieve your ideal bite. After what felt like an endless amount of testing for our quest to find *the* perfect recipe, we discovered which cheeses work best...and which ones to avoid at all costs.

More From Delish
preview for Featured Videos from Delish US

The Best Types of Cheese

1. Sharp Cheddar

The king of all cheeses when it comes to coating your noodles. With a fairly low melting point, cheddar keeps things smooth. It's also got the classic taste you're looking for and expecting with mac and cheese. Sharp cheddar is ideal because its flavor is strongest, but the most important to thing to remember is to always buy cheddar in a block and grate your own! Pre-shredded simply doesn't work, which we will explain more in a bit.

2. Gouda

Gouda is a seriously underrated cheese when it comes to cooking! It melts beautifully and gives your mac a sophisticated taste without being too pretentious (or turning off picky eaters).

3. Gruyère

Despite it being a hard cheese, Gruyère still melts nicely. Its saltiness helps cut through all the heavy fats, and the nutty flavor is so special. It's a great cheese to introduce into your mac when you want to add nuance while still appealing to picky eaters.

4. Cream Cheese

We're no strangers to cream cheese here in the Delish test kitchen, so it wasn't a huge surprise when we confirmed that it's perfect in mac & cheese. It melts down easily and helps keep the sauce smooth with just the right amount of salt and tang. It works exceptionally well in a slow-cooker mac & cheese.

5. Brie

We use brie in our mac when we are feeling extra fancy. The creaminess is excellent for coating your noodles, and it creates the most decadent mac and cheese. Just be sure to remove the rind first.

You can even go crazy and make brie mac & cheese right inside your wheel of brie!

6. Goat Cheese

Extra tangy and extra creamy—we just love goat cheese. The flavor sticks around, even after all the milk and cream get added. It's a nice change of pace, an unexpected twist in the world of mac.

7. Parmesan

We could never make a list of the best cheeses and leave out Parmesan. Best for sprinkling atop your mac before it hits the oven (or again when serving), Parmesan also adds a much desired salty and nutty flavor that's unbeatable. You want to make sure you combine it with creamier, more melty cheeses for a well balanced bite. The higher quality, the better for this one!

The Worst Types of Cheese

1. Anything pre-shredded

The best way to ruin your mac is to dump a bunch of pre-shredded cheese in there. Packaged shredded cheese have added preservatives to keep the pieces from sticking together and to keep the cheese in stores longer. Those preservatives keep the pieces from melting evenly, and you'll end up with gritty, lumpy mac & cheese.

2. Feta

Dry, crumbly cheeses like feta or cotija are not ideal. With their high moisture levels, they don't melt properly and will leave you with clumps of cheese instead of a smooth sauce.

3. Monterey Jack

Please don't get me started on Monterey jack. It might melt well but it does. not. taste. right. I'm a huge cheese fan, and this is one I'll never touch. It tastes like nothing and leaves a terrible aftertaste. Strong opinion, but someone has to say it!

This content is imported from poll. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.
    Headshot of Makinze Gore
    Makinze Gore
    Food Editor

    Makinze is currently Food Editor for Delish, where she develops recipes, creates and hosts recipe videos and is our current baking queen.. Reigning from Oklahoma, she's also our go-to for all things regarding Midwestern cuisine. She's also our expert pie crimper.