There are few dishes more comforting and indulgent than mac and cheese, and this version will become your new go-to. Mac and cheese may seem straightforward, but in an all-star mac, each component is carefully considered and intentionally chosen to build a creamy, melty pasta bake. Master each element of the dish with this winning recipe. It all starts with the noodles, and in this recipe, we use large elbow macaroni noodles. They’re a bit thicker than your average elbows, so they catch more of that creamy cheese sauce (and the exposed ends crisp up beautifully when baked). At the core of any good mac and cheese is a winning blend of cheeses; this recipe calls for three different types of cheese, each one serving a distinct purpose. Extra-sharp Cheddar brings that punch of sharp cheesy flavor and coveted orange color; Parmesan makes an appearance in the breadcrumb topping, bringing a natural bite of salt and crisping up beautifully. Then, for the third cheese, have your pick of Monterey Jack, provolone, or mozzarella, all white cheeses that bring creaminess and that stretchy, cheese-pull texture we look for in any high-quality mac. At the base of the cheese sauce is a roux—a mixture of butter and flour—and we incorporate mustard powder to bring salty, earthy tang. Then, to kick this mac and cheese up a notch, we add crumbled bacon to the breadcrumb crust and mixed directly into the pasta bake. From Skillet Cauliflower Mac to Macaroni Pie, there are countless ways to reinvent this comforting dish. But before you get really creative, it’s important to master the basics. This Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon is an excellent, extra-indulgent recipe to keep in your rotation—it’s sure to please a family or a crowd.