Oven baked mac and cheese
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How To Keep Mac And Cheese Warm After Cooking

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Macaroni and cheese is probably the most popular comfort food for both adults and children in America. The combination of pasta and creamy cheese satisfies everyone. As a result, it’s commonly served as a side dish at gatherings and potlucks. But, this creamy dish tends to become dry as it gets colder. So, you may want to know how to keep mac and cheese warm.

There are a few ways to keep mac and cheese warm. You can keep it hot in a crock-pot or serve mac and cheese on a chafing dish at a party. Parents even use thermoses to pack mac and cheese as school lunches for their children

In this article, I will talk about how to keep mac and cheese warm for hours so that you and your guests do not have to eat it cold and dry. Sometimes, you will have leftovers, and you should know how to reheat mac and cheese the right way. 

How To Keep Mac And Cheese Warm 

You might have a party where many guests will attend. At American household parties, mac & cheese is a common side dish. Keeping the dish warm is important because when it gets cold, it becomes hard and dry. And once you reheat mac and cheese, it loses its taste and becomes gluey. Your mac and cheese should not stick too much. 

Here are a few ways you can keep mac and cheese warm to keep it creamy and tasty: 

1. Using Crock-pot To Keep Mac and Cheese Warm

You can use a crock-pot to keep mac and cheese warm for hours at small parties or potlucks. It is the best way to keep mac and cheese loose and creamy. A crock-pot is a type of slow cooker. It can also keep food warm. Generally, a crock-pot can keep food safely warm for one to five hours, depending on its quality.

Here is how you can use a crock-pot to keep mac and cheese warm: 

  • First, get a clean crock-pot. You have to preheat it before putting the cooked mac and cheese in it. You will find a few settings on it. Choose the “low” or “warm” setting to preheat the pot. 
  • You should also coat the inside of the crock-pot with nonstick cooking oil or spray to prevent the mac and cheese from sticking to the pot.
  • Put freshly cooked mac and cheese in the crock-pot to keep warm. This way, it will retain the taste and texture. You can also add cream or water to the dish to keep it creamy. 
  • Do not completely fill the crock-pot with mac and cheese. Not more than two-thirds or half of the pot should be filled up with mac and cheese. It will help stir the dish from time to time. 
  • It is crucial to maintain an ideal temperature to keep the food bacteria-free. So, get a cooking thermometer. Then put it in the middle of the macaroni and cheese to make sure it stays at a safe temperature of 150 degrees F. 
  • Every 15 to 30 minutes, take off the lid of the crock-pot and stir the mac and cheese. Otherwise, it will get sticky. 

Keep the lid of the crock-pot closed when you are not stirring the dish. You don’t want it to become contaminated with bacteria and cause food poisoning in your guest.

Also, you can directly slow cook mac and cheese in the crock-pot. However, it may take some time, and the taste and texture may not be the same as stove-cooked pasta. 

2. Chafing Dish To Keep Mac and Cheese Warm

What if you do not have a crock-pot or you have a big party? Guests will not feel comfortable taking food from crock-pots whenever they want. Also, you may arrange a self-serve meal buffet. In this case, your best option is to serve mac and cheese on a chafing dish. 

A chafing dish has a rack where all the parts of the dish fit together. There are fuel holders to place the fuel cans. You will see a water pan to hold hot water. Then there are the food pans where you will put your mac and cheese. 

Remember, you should serve cooked mac and cheese that has a temperature above 140 degrees F. If you leave mac and cheese below the temperature for a long time, it gets contaminated by bacteria. The chafing dish will keep the food warm for you. It does not cook the food.

Finally, buy fuel cans depending on how long you want to keep the food warm. It is better to get fuel cans that keep the heat on for 3 to 4 hours. 

 Here is how you set up a chafing dish to serve mac and cheese warm to your guests: 

  • Set up the chafing dish rack in the serving area. Then place the fuel cans on the fuel holders. 
  • Next, put the water pan on the rack. Pour some hot water into the pan. Depending on the pan size, 1 to 2 inches of hot water is enough. 
  • After that, ignite the fuel with a long igniter. 
  • Put your freshly cooked mac and cheese on food pans and place the pans on the hot water pan. Then put the lid on. 

Set up the chafing dish about 20 to 30 minutes before your guests start to arrive. When guests are ready for the food, take off the lid of your mac and cheese. Thus, your guests will have warm, non-sticky, and creamy mac and cheese. 

However, you must maintain food safety guidelines. The temperature of the dish should not stay below 140 degrees F for more than two hours.

3. Thermos To Pack Mac and Cheese for Lunch 

Children love mac and cheese. If you are a parent, you can surprise your kids once in a while by packing mac and cheese as a school lunch in a thermos. When I heard about this idea, I immediately used it to give my kids a pleasant surprise. Of course, they loved it!

But first, prepare the thermos for mac and cheese. It is like preheating an oven or something. 

Fill up the thermos with hot water. It should be like that for at least 10 minutes. In the meantime, make some fresh mac and cheese. Once the dish is ready, pour out the boiled water from the thermos. Then, put the hot mac and cheese in the thermos. It will keep the mac and cheese warm for a couple of hours. 

How To Reheat Mac And Cheese On A Microwave?

Sometimes, no matter how delicious your mac and cheese is, you may have some leftovers. You may not want the food to go to waste. So, refrigerate the leftovers before they stay out for too long. Now, if you want to reheat the dish and get some of its creaminess back, you need to know how to microwave it. 

  • Take the mac and cheese from the fridge and put it in a microwave-safe bowl. 
  • To make it creamy, add some milk. Without liquid, the mac and cheese will get dry. Also, the milk will bring back some of its flavors. So, add milk and mix it with your leftover mac and cheese.
  • Next, cover the bowl with microwave-proof plastic wrap. Leave some space to let the excess steam out. 
  • Place the bowl in the microwave and heat it on medium power for one minute. The amount of time depends on the amount of leftovers. You can heat it for 90 seconds for more than one serving.
  • When the time is up, stir the mac and cheese well. Then put it back in the heat for another 30 to 60 seconds. Keep doing this until you reach your desired temperature. 

Finally, you will have your reheated mac and cheese. Because of the added milk, it will look creamy as before. However, their taste may change slightly. 

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