1 tablespoon melted butter, plus more for baking dishes
1/4 cup store-bought or 3/4 cup homemade breadcrumbs
1 pound grated white cheddar cheese (4 cups)
Salt and pepper
8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 1/4 cups whole milk
8 ounces cream cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter four 14-ounce ovenproof dishes. In a small bowl, toss 1 tablespoon melted butter with breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup cheddar.
2. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook macaroni until al dente, according to package instructions; drain.
3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add cream cheese, cut into cubes, stir until melted, 2 minutes. Gradually stir in remaining cheddar until melted, 5 minutes. Add cooked pasta, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; toss to combine.
4. Divide the mixture among prepared dishes. Bake until bubbling, 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until golden, 10 minutes more.