marthas macaroni cheese Recipes

martha’s macaroni-and-cheese

I’m sorry. I know, this isn’t right. Not fair. Totally cruel. We’re just weeks from bathing suit season and this here is no friend to lycra.

look away, just look away

But I had to. I promised you this and I had to make it right.

what you'll need plus noodles, milk
torn-up bread
hello, all the bread, cheese, butter, elbows

You see, I gave you a recipe last year for something that was honest-to-goodness-ly the easiest macaroni-and-cheese recipe ever invented. There was no bechamel and you didn’t even have to preboil the pasta. Oh, and it didn’t taste half-bad either. I was pretty sure I’d died and gone to mac-and-cheese heaven and from rereading all of your comments today, it seems that many of you agreed.

this only happens if you double the recipe

But when I made it for a second time in January, something wasn’t right. Oh, it still tasted awesome but I noticed that the leftovers didn’t reheat well. Real cheese–and not Velveeta or other eerily stable cheese products–really doesn’t like to be melted, cooled and remelted again. It needs something to help it stay creamy, to help suspend it and that thing is quite often a bechamel–milk thickened with a bit of cooked flour and butter.

to the oven

So I turned to the one recipe I had heard from ten thousand people (and their mothers) was the bee’s knees. Cat’s meow. A triumph of the macaroni-and-cheese spirit and do you know what? It was all that and then some. This macaroni-and-cheese recipe might be the best thing since both macaroni and cheese. Even better, it passes the most important test: it reheats like a charm, staying creamy and ohmahgaahblaa…

martha's macaroni and cheese

I just melted into a puddle remembering how good it was. Seriously, why haven’t you made this yet?

martha's macaroni and cheese

One year ago: Corniest Corn Muffins

Martha Stewart’s Creamy Mac-and-Cheese
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics

Now, please be warned, this makes a ton-a mac-and-cheese. Not interested in going on an all-mac, all-the-time diet this week, but wishing to try the recipe at last, I halved it and guess what? We still had three dinner’s worth of mac-and-cheese, or a full six servings. Which is, of course, what the recipe said it would make if halved, but I was in denial.

This is particularly delicious with a big, crunchy salad and a steamed vegetable, like green beans or broccoli.

[New in April 2016: Fresh photos! Except they show a double batch being made. 1/2 went in the usual big 9×13 dish, the rest was divided over 3 1-quart baking dishes, such as the one shown on top. (Big one went to a party, a small one stayed home and the other two went into the freezer.) Fret not about that overly full 5-quart Dutch oven, that will only happen if you’re insane enough to make the double volume.]

Serves 12

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyère (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though we needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

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364 comments on martha’s macaroni-and-cheese

  1. I shall have to go swimming in a bowl of this macaroni and cheese before I worry about swimsuit season, because seriously? It looks lovely. Now if I can just get mom to ship me some nice sharp cheddar from Wisconsin….

  2. Evil, evil, Deb! Not only is bathing suit season rapidly approaching, but I have recently come to terms with the fact that no, really, I am lactose intolerant. Which doesn’t mean that I won’t occasionally eat cheese, which I love, and just feel gross, and this dish just might have to be the vehicle for that next indulgence.

  3. Look at all that cheesy goodness! Bathing suits, schmathing suits—that what cover-ups are for!

    Have you ever tried a mac & cheese that uses evaporated milk for the sauce, rather than regular milk or cream? It keeps real cheese from curdling, even upon reheating. America’s Test Kitchen’s Creamy Stovetop Mac & Cheese is our current household favorite. The thought of canned milk is kind of yucky to me, but the payoff is worth it–the ability to have the taste of higher quality cheese with a silky smooth, chunk-free sauce.

  4. This recipe holds a special place in my heart! My husband made this as part of a dinner he cooked for me the night he proposed. Ahh, sweet memories :)

  5. Want this NOW. If only I had time to make some before work!

    Have you tried it with any cheese besides the ones mentioned? Would Swiss work instead of gruyere?

  6. the guts look unbelievable, but i reject without comment the cubed bread on top. i REQUIRE buttery bread crumbs.

    now i’m really craving mac and cheez, and it is SO not m&c weather here.

  7. Uh…Ma…Gawd. I bookmarked that faster than it’ll probably take me to scarf the whole thing (which will likely be 2.657 seconds if I had to make a wager.)

    Thanks for the recipe!

  8. I’ve made this before, and it’s delicious but very, very expensive so I haven’t made it again. Hopefully you can get the cheese cheaper in NY!

  9. A co-worker of mine was eating freezer mac-n-cheese today at lunch, and I thought about how I still need to find the “ultimate” mac-n-cheese recipe. Considering that I was just about embarrassing myself at work with how much I drooled while reading this recipe, I think this variation might be in the running!!

  10. I love how the bread gets crunchy. Cheddar and Gruyère make the best combo, especially when you throw fontina in the mix. Nice pictures.

  11. mmmm, heart attack in a baking dish. when i made this in march, i nearly went blind tasting it. then my pant size went up by 2. i’d have to run to your place and back to Colorado to work off a pan of this stuff ;) hope you two are having fun.

  12. yes, this is totally unfair. Just by looking at the photos I noticed my pants were getting tighter. Your photography is just too good!

  13. We make this every year at our house and we call it “crack-and-cheese” or the “$30 mac-n-cheese” It is oh so delicious and I could eat it morning, noon and night!

  14. Deadly. This is way too good and you’re right, we are way too close to bathing suit season for something this deliciously bad for you. But I’ll probably make it anyway and love every bite full.

  15. This was the very first mac n’ cheese that I ever made – back in 2001 when I was living in Paris and homesick for all things “american”. I made a batch of this and ate it every day for a week. I kid you not.

  16. Macaroni and cheese is a good Southern dish, I so have to make this. Bathing suit season is already here in Charleston, I am already up the creek on this one. So another fatty food meal can’t make it any worse than it is. Great photographs again, enjoy as always.

  17. I have yet to find the quintessential Mac n Cheese, but leave it to Martha Stewart (and your post) to come up with a good contender. As I adore comfort food, this recipe I will have to try. Thanks for sharing!

  18. hi Deb, just looking at these photos made me twitch a little…from horror or delight, I can’t quite decide…it looks delicious!

  19. Hi, you guys don’t have kids yet, right? Want to adopt a fully grown one? I’ll even do dishes some nights. Especially if you make this and don’t call me a fat ass for licking the serving dish clean. And the serving spoon. And …

  20. I have really been enjoying your blog! I just wanted to throw in with the other reader that suggested the ATK Stovetop Mac-n-Cheese. We tried it recently, and it is delicious!

  21. this is my go-to recipe for M&C. i’ve altered it a bit over the years but its always delicious. i’m curious if you used the Gruyere or Romano. i always use Romano and the sharpest white cheddar I can find.

  22. Evil, evil woman! I was doing okay during the afternoon-I’m-desperate-for-a-snack-slump until I saw this post….OMG now I’m salivating!

  23. You evil evil thing! I cannot resist a good mac and cheese. Especially one that has received your stamp of approval. :) Maybe I’ll quarter the recipe?

  24. OMG!!! Long time reader first time commenter. I had thought that this recipe was my little secret find. I found it in an old Martha cookbook that was 1/2 off so I bought it and tried it out on family and now it is my duty to make it at least twice a year…and it gets better everytime!! So glad that you made and shared this!

  25. Nick (The Peanut Butter Boy) has already mentioned this as an aside, but I have to tweak you on this.
    “6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces”

    Like those perfect little anal-retentive bread cubes in your picture were torn. HA! :)

    Gotta wait for a paycheck before I can buy that cheese, but it’s definitely on my list.

  26. OMG. I just gained 10 pounds LOOKING at this. It looks absolutely divine…and I am HUGE into mac-n-cheese. Huge. SO wanting this for dinner now!

  27. I’ve been making this for years, and it is indeed the best recipe out there. It’s even better than the Cook’s Illustrated baked version! (Gasp!) And I have to note that Deb is not the only one who neatly cubes the bread instead of tearing it…

  28. Dear God. You are an evil, evil woman… Oh this looks SO creamy and decadent. Yum! I’m off to cook dinner now because if I look at this screen one more second I might pass out!

  29. Been lurking a bit on your site, and now feel compelled to comment. Breath taken away by photos and excitement. Plans for spring–skirt wearing, tighter, more revealing clothing, etc… officially ruined.

  30. Ha Ha Ha, not swimsuit season here in Australia, and won’t be for another 9 months. I’m totally making this asap, thanks Deb.

  31. I’ve made this and it is amazing. I also had it at a friend’s house and he added crispy cubes of pancetta. Not for the faint of heart!

    Deb, I love your website! I really need to stop reading it in bed because now I’m hungry and I have no mac and cheese to eat.

  32. is nice to see how peaple made pasta,
    i’m italian, and maccheroni and cheese in thate way are “strange”

  33. the cubes look weird
    but it would not, could not stop me…

    i do not think i have ever made mac and cheese and i think it is probably out of fear that i would go crazy and eat the entire tray.

    because like, it could totally happen…

  34. Update: I made this mac n cheese last night. Everything about it was creamy and delicious and melt-in-your-mouth wonderful. A little labor intensive perhaps, but definitely worth it. Definitely, definitely worth it. Thank you for providing the quintessential recipe I’ve been looking for! (Why did I not think to look to Martha Stewart in the first place? Is there anything that woman cannot do?)

  35. I work for Martha’s website and def. need to try this recipe! I work with her recipes all day long, but rarely get feedback like this from someone who has tried the recipe. I come to smittenkitchen all the time since I started working there and oogle the beautiful photography. Deb, your photo of this mac and cheese is way better than the one on our site!
    http://www.marthastewart.com/portal/site/mslo/menuitem.3e37788aa306c4df62fc95103373a0a0/?vgnextoid=4e64867350b88110VgnVCM1000003d370a0aRCRD&autonomy_kw=macaroni%20and%20cheese&rsc=header_1

  36. Wow, that’s quite a comment (above me, Iowa Girl). You’ve got it going on Smitten Kitchen!

    Looks delicious! I cannot wait to try it. Thanks!
    ps – although cruel due to summer arrive, this is one I will definitely let slide. : )

  37. I have been making this recipe for about 7 years. And it truly is the best mac and cheese recipe. Everytime we make it and bring it to a party, we have to give out the recipe 5 times. I also found that you can totally add about another 1/2 lb of pasta and it is still very creamy and reheats well. (alternatively, you can cut back on some of the ingredient measurements…but adding more pasta is easier).

  38. My secret is out! I have been using this recipe for years. I have tried others and never found anything that comes close to this. For the topping, I strongly recommend tearing up the guts of a good French baguette or other crusty bread. Tastes much better and looks prettier than sliced white bread. Love the blog!

  39. I vouch for the deliciousness of this recipe. It makes an amazing mac and cheese. Make sure to use fresh-grated nutmeg.

  40. I have made this “classic” dish and it is wonderfully creamy, reheats splendidly and is given to flexibility beautifully. WOW……talk about superlatives……LOL Anyway, it came out perfect when made per the recipe, and yielded delicious results when I played with all three cheeses in various proportions. This recipe and Ina Garten’s are my two favorite mac n’ cheese keepers.

  41. Another recipe to add to my”Mister” file – he loves macaroni and cheese, and will eat whatever kind I make but his all-time favorite is KRAFT Mac and Cheese…no one will ever accuse him of being a gourmand! So I’m going to make this for him this weekend and see how it measures up to his favorite…should be good for a laugh or two…at least I know I’ll love it! And swimsuit season? What’s that?!?

  42. yeah, this is the best recipe for mac and cheese ever. i’ve been whipping this one out once or twice a year for a while now. no one can resist! people: take this recipe and make it now!

  43. I’ve made this before and its as awesome as it looks. Haven’t made it in a while but now will HAVE to…so much for looking good in a swim suit;)

  44. I agree, this is the best of the mac and cheese recipes I’ve tried. The spices really make it delicious. I will never make mac and cheese again without cayenne or nutmeg!

  45. Good golly, you have a beeyooootiful site. I am in LOVE with your mac’n’cheese photos and about to start an affair with a host of your other food shots (I’m crushing on the hot grape-tomatoes-n-friends images). And I’m not a foodie! Maybe I’ll convert?

    Wow. Thank you.

    May I borrow a shot to show on my blog? Heard about you from Henna at Canadian Beauty; she’s obsessed. And now I have to tell my peeps about you. TODAY. (It’s things-that-start-with-F day.)

  46. This is my fave mac and cheese recipe…we have been making it for years!! And yes it makes a TON, even halving the recipe has us eating mac and cheese for 3 nights in a row (to hub’s happiness!). The cheese blend is great.

  47. i made this for my friends this past saturday and they LOVED IT! =) and so did i! the bread was so yummy and toasty and the cheese on top was so nice…it was great! =) thanks!!

  48. I just made this last week and I was less than enchanted with it. I found the cubed “breadcrumbs” unappealing,crunchy, intefering with the smooth creamy aspect and the 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper added too much of a kick. The five year olds were not pleased.

  49. izzys…that’s so funny about the cayenne because i CANNOT taste it at all, so i tend to add about a tsp…and then i hardly taste it!!! the 5 year olds would hate mine hehee.

  50. I made this yesterday and had to make an emergency substitution of evaporated milk. Well, actually I only THOUGHT I had to because I thought I was out of milk. Turned out there was another gallon of milk in the 2nd fridge but I didn’t find it until too late. Anyway, I also subbed Swiss cheese for the gruyere because the gruyere here is $1 an ounce! Yikes! It turned out really good. I think next time I will use fresh bread crumbs instead of the cubes because I did not really care for the look or the crouton crunchiness of them. Thanks for the recipe!

  51. The guy at the deli counter accidentally gave me horseradish cheddar instead of sharp, and boy did it ever work out great! The whole recipe got gobbled up quick by 7 ladies and 3 hungry guys.

  52. Thank you for this recipe! My family’s handed-down mac and cheese recipe includes uses tomatoes, hot dog bits and hardly any cheese so I am so happy to have one that gives cheese the starring role :) I just made it and it is so creamy and delicious! I live alone so I quartered the recipe so that I wouldn’t be tempted to eat mac & cheese for a whole week. Thanks again!!

  53. When I first went to make this, had no sharp cheddar, so I used Asiago, and didn’t want to run to the store and buy Gruyere (probably couldn’t find it in my little backwater town anyway), so used grated Parmesan, and it was STILL the best mac and cheese EVER. And I didn’t even mess with the bread…just sprinkled on the cheese and went straight to Nirvana.

  54. OH MY GOD. seriously. I now understand why an earlier commenter called this crack-n-cheese. This is seriously the best stuff I’ve had in my life. I quartered the recipe (little brother stole half my cheese!!) using sharp cheddar and pecorino romano, nixed the bread on top because we didn’t have any on hand, and this was the best thing ever. I don’t care that it’s summer and that I told my bf I was going to eat non-horribly fattening things to get back in shape (that day I told him that I also made chocolate ice cream, oops).

    I’m going to go eat it now for the second time today, and I’m not sharing.

  55. I made this last night, and it was just as amazing as I thought it would be. And I had some more this morning, and–true to your description up top–it reheated Perfectly!

    The only thing I would say is this: The recipe calls for using a 3 quart casserole dish, but I used a 3 1/2 quart dish and it JUST fit. Not sure why the discrepancy, but I’m just putting that out there.

  56. My wife just finished making this for our dinner and WOW!! was it ever good and juicy. A great recipe for a cool night. Comfort food…

  57. Good God delicious. I made this last night, making the cheese sauce in a cast iron skillet, tossing the pasta in it, and sticking the whole thing in the oven. Score, one less pan to wash! Absolutely amazing. I ate more than one person really should. And I cannot wait to tear in to the leftovers I brought for lunch.

  58. Cait,

    I have been searching for someone who does mac and cheese the way my family did which sounds similar to yours – swiss cheese, chunked up but not made into a sauce, whole canned tomatoes, sort of crushed up and macaroni. We never did the hot dogs. I have been trying to figure out the origin of this dish

  59. wowowwowowow!!!!hope i could taste this delicious mac n cheese…ive been craving for this since, im pregnant ryt now….GOD pls give me some of this mac n cheese!please!Amen

  60. I have made this dish and it’s wonderful, but it’s even better if you add a layer of minced beef meat in a flavoured tomato souse, put this on a thin layer of the macaroni in cheese and on top of the meat layer, the rest of the macaroni and the topping.
    It’s realy good, you should try it.

  61. My boyfriend and I made this last night and WOW – that’s some mac&cheese!

    We used extra sharp white cheddar and gruyere as the cheeses and (due to my inability to read my laptop as I stirred in cheese – put all the shredded cheese into the milk/flour/spices mixture. You know what? It was freaking amazing! It was definitely an ADULT mac and cheese though – I would have hated it as a kid. Fortunately, I’m not though. We broke out some chardonnay and it was bliss! I would compare it to fondue with noodles. And the bread on top, while not obsessive compulsively cubed, but rather hungrily torn into smallish pieces made the texture even better!

    I will totally make this again! (but perhaps after I’ve gone to the gym a few more times)

  62. I know this post is long over, but just wanted to say that this is AMAZING! We made it tonight for a dinner party and heard the words, “This is the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had in my life by far.” Simply brilliant with some green beans and a big salad. Also, I’m glad I halved the recipe since it was plenty for 4 adults, 2 toddlers, and leftovers.

  63. Skip the bread cubes and crush some real potato chips. You’ll think you died and went to heaven.. fat heaven, but is there any other????

  64. This is the definition of comfort food! I ate a dish of this so fast, my face is sweating. I can’t wait to serve this at my new years party tonight!

  65. Deb you have yet to let me down… Every single recipe you post on this lovely site of yours turns out perfectly! This mac and cheese was no execption- ohmigoddd creamy.. I can’t wait to try it reheated for lunch tomorrow :) Thank you!!!!!

  66. I just made this and its really yum, but SUPER rich! I made only a third of the recipe and used only extra sharp cheddar and asiago (thats all I had). It was still a lot, coz you can only eat small portions of it at a time. I would decrease the salt (my personal taste) and add more pepper and cayenne next time. Otherwise, it was great!!

  67. I loved finding the recipe but my printer just printed 24 pages of comments! You should make a “Printer friendly site”!…I can’t believe that I used all that ink for one silly recipe I could have gotten from Martha Stewart.com!

  68. There is a printer-friendly format. It is at the very bottom of the post. (Right next to comment count, categories and emailing and printing options.)

  69. Ha – too funny all these posts this cold January weekend! My husband and I just made this recipe for a potluck and it tasted great – of course – it’s all gone baby gone. But we noticed that the sauce was a little grainy. I’m sure if it’s something we did since no one else mentions this. Anyone got any ideas why? Did we choose the wrong cheese or perhaps not cooked the flour long enough? Thanks for your help!

  70. Serves 12?!?! How does it freeze? Or has anyone had enough left over to save? (Yes, I know I could halve the recipe, but math is not my strong suit. Neither is resisting a metric ton of mac and cheese.)

  71. Deb, thanks for confirming there is a pringer friendly format as I too have been printing out over 20 pages for most of your recipes. However, I see that the picture of the finished product does not print out. Is there a way of printing with the picture??? Thanks for an AWESOME WEBSITE!!!!

  72. This is a great basic, no frills, not gourmet mac n cheese – it’s so good and comforting – perfect for a rainy day like today.

  73. I made this tonight and it turned out great. I used wheat bread, wheat pasta, and skim milk in an attempt to make it a little healthier. It still turned out awesome, and I would recommend it to anyone.

  74. salad schmalad. This looks like it’s best eaten standing up over the sink fending off other family members….drool…

  75. I tried this the other week and it was delicious. It was definitely in my top 5 of mac and cheeses. Everyone else who tried it (there were 5 total, including me) really liked it. This will be my staple potluck dish. I don’t think I will ever make mac and cheese without cayenne and nutmeg again. Thanks for posting this.

  76. I made this last night and it is truly delicious. Everyone went back for seconds and then thirds! Really wonderful recipe. Thanks for sharing it!

  77. Thanks so much for posting this recipe! I made it a few months ago and then once again tonight. Absolutely delicious, my definite go-to for homemade mac and cheese! And I’m glad you found a recipe that reheats well, because even though I’m pretty sure I ate my weight in it tonight, there was still plenty left over like last time ;)

  78. Amazing. I made this for dinner tonight and it was the mac and cheese from my dreams (I think I’m in love). I 1/4’d the recipe because there are only 2 of us here and we still only ate about half of it. I used sharp cheddar and parmesan cheese and next time, I’d skip the bread on top. I prefer just yummy browned cheese.

    Thanks for a great recipe!

  79. i recently discovered this site, so when I decided to make mac and cheese today I searched and found this. It is pretty much the same as what I was planning to do, so I’m glad to know that it will be good. But I add slivered almonds on top for an extra crunch and mix in some diced tomatoes before baking for color/flavor/juiciness/makes-me-feel-slightly-healthy factors.
    p.s. im excited about having discovered this site!

  80. I just made this for my book group tonight – I was a little nervous making a recipe for the first time for a gathering. But no fear – it was delicious! Even though I forgot to warm the milk until the end of stirring and then had no idea how think “thick” was… Fool proof!

  81. I want to make macaroni and cheese tomorrow, and I remembered having a really great MS mac & cheese years ago, so I looked up the recipe. Then I googled “best macaroni and cheese” recipe just to make sure I wasn’t missing something else even better and this was one of the first hits; if you say it’s the best, I’m sure it is.

  82. I made this last night for friends with a new baby. It is to die for. I have to say, reading your directions, that yours are much easier to follow than Martha’s.

  83. I’ve been making this with the exact same tweaks for years now! Everyone loves it. I make it with whole wheat pasta and a good 7 grain or some other variety bread as the “bread cubes”. The whole wheat pasta holds up way better in a casserole. Today I also added about 1/3 c. pickeled jalapenos to it for a little change. Yum.

    It also tastes just as good with 1/2 the butter and skim milk- I swear!

  84. THANK YOU for introducing me to this recipe. I made it last night and ended up halving the recipe and dividing it into one of the jumbo muffin tins that have room for 6 muffins. Half the recipe fit perfectly (though the bottom of my oven MAY disagree a little) and after setting up for a few minutes they maintained their shape pretty well. The best part is the equal parts of those YUMMY bread crumbs on each serving … Please excuse me I’m pretty sure the leftovers need immediate attention.

  85. I made this last night for dinner, and didn’t think it was too labor intensive, it was ready in a little over an hour. I also halved it, but forgot to account for this with the gruyere, so added some extra cheese — didn’t seem to hurt a bit! Absolutely delicious, with a salad, this is going to make a great lunch every day this week.

  86. Measurements for halving the recipe:
    8/2 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
    6 half slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
    (5 1/2)/2 cups milk
    Half of a 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    2/2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
    Half of a 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    (1/4)/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/2*1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    4 1/2 half cups (about two quarters of 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
    2 cups minus one cup (about 8 half ounces) grated Gruyère or 1 1/4 four-eights cups (about 5/2 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
    1/2 pound elbow macaroni

  87. oh man. oh man oh man oh man.

    I didn’t have enough of either gruyere or pecorino romano so I used both. I also didn’t read the part about how much this makes… good thing it reheats well, because it’s gonna take awhile for two people to eat this!

    the flavor is fantastic but it’s really too rich for me. and gruyere is expensive! so I don’t know if I’ll be making this again. maybe for an extra-special occasion. but when I need a quick dose of comfort food, I’ll stick to something milder and cheaper.

    also, I didn’t care for the breadcrumbs at all. the crunch interfered with the melty, creamy goodness.

  88. Hi Deb – I made this recipe tonight using kraft cracker barrel 2% extra sharp cheddar because it was on sale today. I’m in heaven once again, and I’ve only licked the spoon. The house smells delicious and I’m watching the timer on the stove tick down while I mop up the puddle of drool at my desk. Thanks again for providing such a wonderful resource for good recipes; you’ve never failed me. I hope the little one is well. More photos please.

  89. Deb,

    I am a Californian living in Barcelona for a semester studying law. I made this recipe last night with some small changes because stuff here is hard to find. I used all cheddar, and it was the only cheddar I could find at the grocery store and it was imported from Ireland.

    But seriously, this recipe has changed my life. It was the best pasta dish I’ve ever had. So, thank you.

    Also, I love your website and read it all the time to get ideas. I’ve made a lot of your recipes, and I always tell people about your website. Thanks for all your work. :)

  90. I am in the midst of making this delectable dish right now…… BUT, I am not eating it until tomorrow, Thanksgiving! Could I put it all together and then bake it tomorrow? Should I bake it now and re-heat tomorrow and if so what is the best way????? HELP!!:)

  91. good question Shannon. I like to cook to almost done, let cool, refrigerate, then re-heat before the dish is needed the next day. Good luck w/it :)

  92. YUMMY! I made it today for Thanksgiving and it was a huge huge hit! I was worried at first. :)

    I did make a few changes: Instead of sharp WHITE cheddar, I used one medium white cheddar, and one sharp yellow cheddar – and I grated a whole thing of Romano Cheese and used that. And instead of bread crumbs I used Planko crumbs.

    Great Crack-&-Cheese for sure!

  93. Also a tip to reheat: if you are reheating a single portion in a bowl or a plate, cover it with a WET paper towel while you microwave (not soaking, you’ll squeeze the access out). While heating the moisture from the towel will help the cheese etc. from trying out too badly.

  94. I made this last night for 4 people….and only had a little left over….we kept going in for more and more and then some more. It was amazing!!! I used my favorite whole grain bread for the topping…extra delish!

  95. I’m going to try this with regular sharp cheddar cheese because I wasn’t able to find the white cheddar so I hope that doesn’t effect the texture/taste/reheatability…*crosses fingers* I seem to be on a bit of a smitten kitchen kick this winter break :P

  96. I think I messed something up with the salt because this dish was overly salty. Oi, I’ll eventually make it again and I’m sure it’ll be up to par.

  97. I have made this twice and it is deeee-licious … it’s funny, I’ve had the opposite problem of #152 (Sima) … I always think it could do with a little more salt. But that could rely heavily upon the cheese you’re using — I’ve always used gruyere, which to me isn’t as salty as Pecorino Romano. And I tend to think I’m fairly sensitive to things that are overly salted — I go light with it in general. I’m making this again for an office pot luck and I’m going to throw caution to the wind and add another teaspoon of salt :-)

  98. Made this last night, and was surprised to find it did not quite meet my idea of what delicious mac and cheese is. I ran into several problems though – I did as it said and undercooked the pasta, though I wouldn’t do that again. It seemed to absorb all the creaminess in the sauce. Then while in the oven it didn’t look quite done, so I turned on the broiler to brown the cheese a little. Mmm cheese. But I overcooked it. Turns out we are not huge fans of burnt croutons.
    I’m not exactly known for following recipes to the letter, and when I looked at the sauce, and saw how much noodles a 1/2 pound would be (halving the recipe) I laughed. Ha ha, no way is that even close to what we would eat. Perhaps we are gluttonous, but is a pound of macaroni really 12 servings?? So I added more macaroni.
    And so it’s probably not surprising to hear that it wasn’t as creamy as it could have been.
    Also I didn’t use white aged cheddar. Or cayenne pepper.
    Now you can all laugh at me for saying I didn’t like it when I didn’t follow the recipe. Hee hee!

  99. Also…for those who had cheese questions, perhaps I can inform you a little, as I work in a deli.
    Cheddar cheese is for the most part colored with ‘annato’ which does nothing for the flavor (at least nothing easily distinguishable – probably there are people who know the difference in a blind taste test, but I am not one of them (: )
    Aged white cheddar and aged yellow cheddar are really going to taste the same way, provided they are aged the same amount of time. What you want to pay attention to is the amount it is aged. 3,2, or 1 year aged cheddars all have a great kick to them. Regular aged cheddar (that doesn’t specify a time) is aged less than a year, and one of my favorite cheeses to eat. yum!
    Although it’s a fave with me, I would confess to you that if you made taste aged, medium and mild without knowing which was which, I could probably pick out the aged with about 80% accuracy, but the mild and medium – who knows? For cheeses that have only a few months difference it is very difficult to tell. Consider that perhaps one piece was produced before the other, but was sold less quickly. They may by now be the same age.
    What am I getting to here?
    Simply that if you do not have a large cheese budget, don’t sweat it. Cheddar aged over a year will reward you for your investment, but apart from this, buy what’s on sale. Then you’ll be able to afford the Gruyère too!
    Regarding Gruyère/Romano I would certainly agree that Romano is saltier tasting. I cannot attest to the actual salt content (I do not have it memorized! so sorry!) but it sure tastes that way. Really firm cheese like these keep very well, so if you see it on sale, snap it up.
    I know someone commented that this is the 30$ mac and cheese, and I can sure see why it can be.
    Someone who asked which is better Romano or Gruyère, I am a Gruyère fan, but it’s all about personal preference. Swiss cheese, or Italian cheese? what do you feel like eating?

  100. This recipe has been a HUGE success amongst all of my friends! Made it last night for a group of 8 (all gone now…) but subbed out the white bread with Challah and also added bleu cheese on top in small chunks!!! Absolutely perfect!

  101. I made this for a New Year’s Day open house buffet and it was the most popular dish on the table by far! There were no leftovers and most people had two or three helpings. Multiple requests for the recipe and people were raving about it the whole day.

    Here’s what I did differently – used regular store bought breadcrumbs to line the casserole after buttering, and heavily sprinkled on top with a little melted butter – much better than the crouton-style taste-wise and saves a few steps. Used the spices in the amounts recommended, but added a teaspoon of dried mustard powder. Used 18 oz aged white cheddar, 7 oz Gruyere, and a cup of Parmesan. Used 2 lbs of Barilla Celentani-style pasta (slightly twisted and more elegant than regular elbow), instead of 1 lb because I could see there was way too much cheese sauce for 1 lb. 2 lbs was still plenty creamy for my party’s tastes, and it easily served 2 dozen+. Used the 3.5 quart casserole. Everything fit fine.

    This was the first time I had made this dish but I have to agree it was the best mac n’ cheese I’d ever had. I was sorry there were no leftovers.

  102. Wow, excellent. I am so glad I tried this. Used a combination of pepper jack and cheddar, subbed oregano for nutmeg, and used cream in place of some of the milk. My skinny husband needs the calories ;) Since there are only two of us I halved the recipe, adding 2 cans of tuna and 8 oz. frozen peas. I found that it needed a little more salt than called for– but I REALLY like salt. The texture was awesome. I liked the kick of the cayenne. We’re reheating the leftovers tomorrow for lunch, and I’m sure it will work great. Thank you!

  103. i made fresh macaroni with the kitchen aid pasta press and used it in this recipe. tasty tasty. I wish we had found older cheddar, we still had the sharp cheddar but older white cheddar would have been better. otherwise it was creamy and delicious!

  104. This is my new go-to mac and cheese. I’ve tried several and this has been my favorite thus far. I made it for a potluck and it was a huge hit, gone in five minutes. Thanks for the recipe!

  105. OMG! In disbelief I thought no way is this the best. So I went out to the store and bought ingredients but I used Romano instead of Gruyere since that was $12 per lb. The white cheddar was bad enough. Oh and I added a 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika to the mix. I rarely in my lifetime have followed a recipe. This is probably 1 of ten times (being 43 yrs old) I have cooked alot in my day. Really since I was 11 I cooked dinners for my family. This is truly the best mac n cheese I have ever tasted to date. It is worth the time and money spent. It cost me $21 for all the stuff, and I used sour dough bread instead of regular for a twist. I thopught it might be spicy b/c of the Cayene but absolutely not, it hits the back of your tongue and no burn! Smooth, creamy, and oh so good! Worth your time ;o)

  106. Okay then. Just made this and it was insanely good. Yes there are a few steps involved, but it is so so worth it. The creaminess is just wow! I used Gruyere and sharp cheddar (perfect combination of flavors), and had some sourdough loaf that became the breadcrumbs. My belly is so happy. The thing looked so beautiful coming out of the oven, I said to the dish of bubbling goodness ‘mmm, you’re pretty…’.

  107. I just made this tonight, because of your photograph and not my love for mac and cheese. My memories of mac and cheese are of blandness, or livened up with baconand tomato, but just nothing special. I’d never made it for myself.
    This was a new and welcome experience. I halfed everything except the nutmeg and cayenne, and between me and my two girls – we wolfed it down. There is one small portion left for my lunch tomorrow (and I’m holding myself back from eating it now!!.)
    It was creamy and it had a kick – I loved the texture of the crisp croutons on top with it.
    Worth the time it took to make – very happy bellies over here :-)

  108. This is my all time favorite mac and cheese recipe. I have made other recipes and nothing compares. It does make a ton but with it being this good thats not really a bad thing:)

  109. The Very Best MAC & Cheese Ever! Didn’t halve the recipe so shared it with daughter and family – they’re very happy tonight! While I’m at it, thanks, too for the links to other food bloggers – while few can compare to SK, it so fun to hop around the sites and see how others do their thing! You blog is terrific and that baby boy is just something else…. :)

  110. i added half a cup of finely chopped onions to step 3 (stirring in with milk). by the time it had cooked down with the milk and had been baked, it was almost indiscernible whether there was anything else other than cheese in the mac n cheese. adding it in helped to add a little bit of flavor to the whole dish without getting any bites of onion. fresh bits of chives and parsley on top are also great :). i love chives in anything creamy. this was a great recipe. thanks!

  111. i just made this tonight. didn’t have all the various types of cheese, but it still rocked! also made with panko breadcrumbs,i was trying to cut down on time to make, that was still delicious. also added pureed carrots to make it healthier for my daughter (about 1/4 cup – for halved recipe). she ate it, and she’s picky. it was AMAZING! yum. thank you thank you:)

  112. Deb,
    I want to thank you – I never would have tried to make this – and would have bumped along on every-day mac & cheese – probably frozen. This turned out to be the most wonderful canvas of a recipe! You can use any combination of cheeses, throw stuff in or leave it out and the darn stuff tastes great – and continues getting better with ‘age’. Try Italian whole grain torn bread on top, mix in proscuitto or ham or peas or mushrooms separately or all together. Finely grate aged peccorino romano on top of the bread before cooking – and I am here to tell you that if you nuke the stuff two days later, the bread crunches up and it is to die for!

  113. This recipe is the best. Gruyere really isn’t in our grocery budget, so I substituted Swiss… the results were great! Although I’m sure Gruyere would make it fantastic! I also just sprinkled it with dry breadcrumbs I had made (instead of slicing the bread, etc). So versatile, and so delicious!!

  114. This was fantastic! We made it last night (halved the recipe as you did). We did the recipe as stated, except we added a pinch of dry mustard, and did half Romano cheese and half swiss! It was really delicious and we are all looking forward to leftover today! Thank you for sharing this recipe, Deb!

  115. hi deb! do you have any recs on how to best par-cook this? i want to bring some to friends with a new baby, and i’m not sure whether they’ll want to stick it in the oven to eat right now or stick it in the freezer to save for later. thanks!

  116. Just made this today, my first non-boxed M&C, in fact. It was awesome. I can only imagine how good it was fresh, as I had to go to work shortly after it came out of the oven. Kids liked it though, so really, even if I hated it, I’d consider it a success! I’ve yet to dislike a recipe I’ve made from here. Thanks for keeping the streak alive!!

  117. Deb, any idea on why the sauce for mac n cheese sometimes “breaks”? I made Alton Brown’s yesterday and it was awful – grainy and odd and not good eats. I overbrowned the roux a bit, but other than that I thought I followed the instructions closely. He adds an egg to the sauce, which requires tempering, but I thought I did that properly. We actually threw out half the pan, which is unusual in my house – I have a 15yr old boy!

    I’d love to have some insight before I try again. Could cheap cheese be the culprit? (Store brand Wisconsin sharp cheddar)

  118. I made this last night, halving the recipe. It made the whole apartment smell delicious…I mean…delicious. The funny thing is, last night after I finished I thought the only change I’d make is to use a few more slices of bread (even halving the recipe — throwing in more of the homeade croutons, is as Martha says, a good thing) and cutting them into smaller pieces. Lo, I came here and saw the tiny bread pieces you have in your photos. Exactly what I had in mind after I finished last night. Great minds!

    Also, I used skim milk in the recipe, because you know, eating 2 pounds of cheese should be balanced with skim milk. When I was reducing the sauce I figured it wouldn’t work but it did just fine.

  119. I just made a quarter batch with whole wheat rotini, good sharp cheddar, and I added a few crumbled sage leaves and a flaked filet of salmon (using up the fridge before vacation!). It was very good, although I’d skip the topping. I used homemade oatmeal bread (again, using stuff up) and it just ended up being crunchy buttery croutons, which I don’t like. Maybe soft bread has a different texture, but my guest and I didn’t think it added anything. Glad to finally have tried the famous recipe!

  120. There have been lots of posts about the expensive cheese here…just wanted to add that I made it last night with fontina, which is less expensive than gruyere and doesn’t need grating, and regular sharp cheddar. It was awesome! (I also skipped the bread crumbs as per daughter’s request=no crunch on top but still terriffic)

  121. Maybe it’s the two days of being sick and couped up in my lounge room with nothing but football replays and my Macbook for company or maybe it’s the lack of training due said sickness or even the severe cold weather. Whatever it is, it’s probably a combination of all of those elements that has brought me to poison myself by way of dairy products.

    I submit that eating a quarter pounder meal would accrue less calories per mouthful, but alas, not be nearly as much fun.

    I’m offsetting its pure unadulterated cheesiness by plying the plate with some steamed broccoli and a green salad, as suggested.

    It is likely that the next place you’ll find me is in the ER, with quite literally, a cheesy grin on my face.

  122. I got distracted by this recipe while on my way to vegetarian recipes. I have a bounty of farm share on my kitchen counter right now and need to use it. I will make this after I dispense with the veggie fest.

  123. I made the mistake of making this recipe for my in-laws. Now it’s requested at every family event! It’s time-consuming, but even a novice like me could figure out how to do it. It doesn’t hurt to have a second pair of hands available as well. The quality of cheese used makes a big difference to me – so I go to Costco to stock up before making it. I gave this recipe to my caterer for a 1980’s themed reception, it was the perfect way to dress up mac and cheese – everyone loved it!! Thanks for sharing this fantastic recipe.

  124. I’m considering making this with some roasted cauliflower…any suggestions?
    [note: i might be one of those you talked about who makes mac and cheese way more complicated than necessary…]

  125. YUM! I’m living in Japan and made this for a potluck dinner yesterday. The pan was practically licked clean by cheese craving westerners and newly converted Japanese guests who had never tried mac’n’cheese before. My go-to has also been that NYTimes recipe, but this one is far better. I used Gouda and Parmesan and it was amazingly yummy. I also have to say that your recipes always work. It’s so refreshing. Cheers!

  126. Deb, this is the most delectable-looking mac&cheese I’ve ever seen. To my great frustration, neither my husband nor my sons like cheese. Creamy. cheesy things are gross to them. They are mutants! And so I never make things like this. But we’re going to a potluck this weekend and by golly, I am going to make this and let them take their chances with the other offerings!

    My question: Can I assemble it all the day before, keep it in the fridge and bake it the next day? Or will this affect the texture somehow?

    1. Kate — I think it should be fine. The noodles might get a little softer/gummier, but generally that doesn’t bother people with mac-and-cheese.

  127. Thanks so much for answering my question on this 2yo topic! I’ve been reading your blog for about a few months and enjoying it hugely. I’ve made those eggplant toast things multiple times now; they are insanely good!

  128. Hi Deb, if I wanted to add some frozen peas and carrots to the recipe, when do you think would be the best time to do it? after mixing the pasta with the cheese sauce?

  129. This macaroni recipe makes me want to bathe in a pool of melted cheese!!!!! This looks better than my mother’s recipe (sorry mom). I think I will step away from the norm and introduce this recipe into the family repertoire this holiday season. Thanks!~

  130. Oh MY GAH. Deb. I just died. Seriously ;-) annnnnnd I haven’t even pulled it out of the oven yet! My sister and mother swear they hate all mac & cheese (i have no idea how they think thats “not a big deal”). I am determined to change their mind at T’Giving tomorrow!

    LOVE the site, sometimes I find myself talking about J’s pictures….as if they were my own child. Whoops!

  131. Uh, yum. That’s pretty much all that me, my thighs, my husband, and our dinner guests have to say about this one. Worth every calorie and I don’t say that too often.

  132. Just made this to take to friends who recently brought their new baby home from the hospital. It was perfect comfort food. I assembled it the day before (sans cheese and breadcrumbs on top) and then topped it and baked it at their apartment. HUGE hit and the halved recipe still yielded seconds and leftovers for the new mommy.

  133. This recipe was delicious! The only problem was that the bread came out kinda… large on top. (It sprung back to full size after a few minutes in the oven.) That’s more of an aesthetic thing, since it tasted great!

    Next time, we’ll try actual breadcrumbs. Has anyone tried cornbread crumbs? have a feeling they would soak up the cheese well, but not be as crunchy.

  134. Ok, one more addition for this… Lobster. OMG it is delicious. Chop up boiled lobster in smallish pieces and add just after the cheese sauce. I have never seen anything disappear so fast in all my life!

  135. I’ve been making this recipe for several years. Instead of the Gruyere, I use equal amount of freshly grated Pecorino Romano. I also add 1/4 tsp garlic powder to the cheese sauce mix. This recipe is absolutely awesome!!!

  136. To those asking about less expensive cheese – I’ve done this recipe many times, with many cheese combos, and it always seems to turn out well! I tend to cheap out on the cheddar and get the “sharp” store brand, cabot or kraft (you know, the type of cheese which is shelved by the butter rather than by them fancy cheeses). I do use fresh grated Pecorino Romano or Parm, or sometimes do a half and half of that with Swiss (or more costly Gruyère if I’m feeling fancy – tend to also use the more expensive cheddar then too). Once I also tossed in chunked up swiss into the sauce/pasta mix – it was interesting as it didn’t fully melt and left little yummy swiss chunks throughout. I wouldn’t feel the need to do it again, but the boyfriend loved it, so that’s another potential variation if one wants to try it.

    Long story short, I’ve found it’s the bite of the main cheese that matters more than the cost – you want the nice sharp taste but you don’t need to pay the big bucks for it to work out fine. Whether or not the cost of cheese relates to the sauce breaking – it’s possible, but I haven’t noticed a consistent pattern. I’ve really only noticed the breaking issue on reheating.

    I also tend to leave the crusts on the bread (both very crusty and soft crusted bread) and find it works well, but then, I love the bread on this, to the point where I usually add half again the suggested amount. Those who don’t find it the highlight should definitely remove the crusts.

    Also, to those who were wondering, this freezes and reheats beautifully. The challenge is getting it to stay in the freezer for more than a few days.

  137. Deb and others,
    If frozen, what’s the cook time?
    Does it there need to be some thaw time?
    Going to be giving this to sort of new parents.
    Thanks!

  138. I swear I wasn’t trying to slowly pump dairy through anyone’s arteries, but I just happened to have a container of organic half and half that needed a good home so….lets just say: “creamiest mac ever.”
    On another note, I felt guilty so I followed this recipe with Smitten Kitchen inspired kale chips. Phew. Something green always erases the guilt of excess cheese!

  139. Hello Deb,

    This is by far the best mac and cheese EVER! I have made it several times now and it is just great! One question… what is the best way to reheat it? I put it in the oven, but I can’t quite get the temp/time right. Any suggestions?

    Thanks so much! Your blog is so great… whenever I see a new post pop up in my reader it is very exciting :-) Thanks for all your great recipes!

  140. I need to make this tonight, but I need help, please!

    Deb–we had a fondue party last week and have ample left over. One is an aged-sharp-cheddar-and-beer fondue, the other a classic white-wine-gruyere-emmentaler one. I’d LOVE to put it to a use as good as this, but I’m not sure how to measure out refrigerated [cubes of] fondue vis-a-vis this recipe. I suppose I could just guesstimate but, though you might have more a more creative idea (you always do). Thanks so much in advance!

  141. I’m not sure I followed. Do you have the fondue dip made or just cubes of cheese? If cubes, if you have a scale, weigh them, or grate them until you have the right amount of cups. If the fondue is already made, yikes, not sure. You can always make the bechamel (flour, butter, milk) and stir in the cheese you have until it melts and bake the pasta with it. It won’t be bad, but the level of cheese might be a little high or low. Hm, does too much cheese in mac-n-cheese exist?

  142. Too much cheese does not exist, no! I should’ve been more clear. What we have leftover is a load of prepared fondue. In their refrigerated form, they’re like 2 blocks of cheese. I think grating them makes the most sense. It’ll be a slightly beer- and wine- inspired dish but, let’s see what transpires. I’ll keep you apprised, if interested! Otherwise, thanks again for the recipe (and the reply)!

  143. I made this with the addition of fresh thyme and a bit of onion and garlic powder in the cheese sauce. Yum! I halved the recipe, and my boyfriend polished off what I didn’t eat (I envy his metabolism). Next time, I think we will add mushrooms. Thanks for adding your awesome pics to this recipe–it’s always the photographs that convince me to try a recipe.

  144. I made this for my son’s 6th birthday party – it was wonderfully rich, but I found I wasn’t a huge fan of the nutmeg in the mix. I’m making this for a work pot-luck tomorrow without the nutmeg – everything else in this is wonderful!

  145. I love, love, love the recipe, Mac & Chez 101. This is my go-to Mac & Chez for special occasions (as the gruyere is a bit spendy for us). We have this w/a nice ham and lovely green salad for Easter every year.

  146. I have gone through this recipe a million times. I have gone through all the comments here about the same amount of times.

    And I have but one thing to say, right here, right now…

    OM NOM NOM NOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM!!!!

  147. Amazing! i used half and half because it’s what I had on hand, and grated an assortment of cheeses I had left over from a dinner party. This will be my go-to recipe from now on.

  148. I love Mac & cheese and this looks amazing! I make mine with shredded prociutto & thinkly chopped spring onion which adds real depth to the taste (not to mention the occassional crunch which is lovely). I am loving your site :-)

  149. I have been looking for something like this for what feels like ages and I can’t wait to take it to a girls’ night in this week! One quick question from those who’ve tried and loved it–would I be able to make it an hour or two ahead of time and bake it when I’m ready? How does it handle that kind of wait time? Thanks!

  150. When I searched for a good mac and cheese recipe online, I looked for Martha Stewart’s. And then I stumbled on this post!

    I just made this tonight for a lunch playdate I’m having tomorrow w/ a friend (she and her kids love mac n cheese). I added peas and ham, so I guess it’s more of a casserole now. But it’s amazing! I just hope it does reheat well and will be just as good tomorrow!

    Thank you for sharing!

  151. @PG recipe Halved:
    4 tablespoons (.5 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
    3 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
    2 3/4 cups milk
    1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
    1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 1/4 cups (about 9 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
    1 cups (about 4 ounces) grated Gruyère or 1/2 cups (about 2.5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese
    1/2 pound elbow macaroni
    *when it gets down to 1/8 teaspoon, really, just shake it straight in and don’t bother measure.

    I made half the recipe, and it filled a 9 by 13in pan. It’s soooo gooood. I especially love the cheesy buttery crunchy topping. It’s also tasty if you add a bit of wine or mustard or use savory artisan bread crumbs instead of plain white. It’s not which one’s better, it’s a different taste (basic comfort vs. fancier). I heated butter, milk and flour in one pot while whisking continuously. I also tried sprinkle half of the topping with Parmesan. I think I like with a sprinkle of Parmesan on top better than without.

    I used to just put cooked macaroni with shredded cheese in the microwave and eat. Never doing that again. This recipe is so good it’s every bit worth the effort. Yum…

  152. Will make this today. Even though bathing suit season is on the horizon it is 48 degrees this morning and the weather report shows no sign of the sun for at least 6 days. Sounds like mac and cheese weather to me!

  153. So, this was very good, but is there any way the 1 lb of pasta is a misprint? I halved the sauce recipe, cooked half a pound of pasta, looked at the two and thought, “no way is this enough pasta for this much sauce.” I ended up using almost the full pound of pasta with just half a batch of sauce. It didn’t dry out much in the oven, either. I did use spirals instead of elbows, but it doesn’t seem like that should make much difference.

    1. Not a typo. I made a half recipe of this with whole wheat elbows and sauteed spinach for the toddler this week, so the numbers have been recently rechecked. (He didn’t eat it, btw. One day I will accept that he hates cheese and stop fighting it!)

  154. Huh. Ah, well – it was delicious in any case, and knowing that I like it with twice the pasta (really, half the cheese) just saves me money (and means that I can buy the good cheese).

    Also: Your son is adorable, but I can’t trust someone who doesn’t like cheese. Those cheeks are clearly hiding something.

  155. Love, love, love this recipe.

    Deb, any suggestions for how to reheat this on the 2nd (and 3rd… and 4th) day?

    1. My rule is to reheat things like this gently; 300 degrees or less, keep it in the oven for a while. I like to heat it without foil because I love a crunchy top.

  156. I made this recipe and it was quite delicious!!! I used both white sharp cheddar and regular sharp cheddar because I didn’t have enough white cheddar. I also used wheat bread instead of white bread for the bread crumbs. Everything came out well and I received many compliments.

  157. I made this recipe (halved) two nights ago and my mom, sister and I brought some of it to an Indigo Girls concert, along with your Black Bean Confetti salad. It was one of the most perfect meals ever. Thanks, Deb!

  158. I made this a few months ago and it is by far the best ever bar none! I love experimenting- try adding some fresh bacon crumbled and don’t forget to include the drippings. Yum, yum!

  159. lmao @yvo…I just love funny people who make me laugh!! (Btw, I’m laughing with you, not at you, Yvo.)

  160. Just made this tonight and I would agree with a few of the other posts… did not like the nutmeg in this dish. I love nutmeg in my pumpkin bread, but not in my mac and cheese. I will eliminate next time. Also, the cheeses are expensive, so if you have any hesitation about any of the seasonings, i would suggest only adding them in a small portion of the dish to try it out.

  161. I made this for my brother’s going away party and it was an absolute hit! Everybody loved it and there were no leftovers at all. This is by far the best mac and cheese recipe I have ever tried. @Fanya thank you for the halved recipe. I plan on using that one for dinner tonight.

  162. I made this for a BBQ recently and it was LOVED by everyone! I even have a friend that doesn’t like macaroni and cheese (what?) and he went back for seconds & thirds! I almost followed the recipe perfectly except I used 1 1/2 lbs of pasta; the pasta to cheese ratio was perfect in those proportions. Also, I just used panko bread crumbs on the top, though I’m sure the bread would taste good as well. The gruyere and sharp white cheddar were to DIE for. There was more than enough left over. It still tasted great as leftovers, but the creaminess isn’t the same after coming out of the oven for the very first time, so keep that in mind! Absolutely delicious. I plan on making this again very soon.

  163. I just made this and it was by far the best mac and cheese recipe I have ever made. I love the crouton like breadcrumbs as it gives it a better crunch.

  164. Just made it today for some friends and family and it was a hit! Even better, we made the full recipe and Deb is right – it is a lot of mac and cheese – which is really okay by me. I am happy to have leftovers for a couple of days (although I doubt it will last that long!)

  165. I’ve been following mac-n-cheese recipes for years of all variations. My family and friends have always loved whatever recipe I’ve made but I was never satisfied. There was a taste, consistency, a feeling that I was looking for in the recipe that I could never quite achieve. Last night, a friend begged me to make mac-n-cheese for her and so I attempted yet another recipe knowing that at least she’d be satisfied regardless if I liked it. I think I was even short on cheese by a slight amount as per the recipe but I used what I had. There were 5 of us and the first item on the plate that everyone tasted was the mac-n-cheese. It was the best mac-n-cheese I’ve ever made AND I agreed. Everyone loved it. I think I’ve found my standby mac-n-cheese recipe. No more craving my grandmother’s perfection of it, though I’ll still look forward to hers either way.

  166. Deb- I am planning to make this for a “welcome baby” party for my sister-in-law. I will be working all day before the party and would love to know the best way to prepare this the night before. I will have about an hour between when I get home from work and when the guests will arrive so I don’t think I can do the whole thing after work. Should I prepare it and put it unbaked in the freezer? The fridge? What do you suggest?

  167. I made this last night and added crumbled bacon and it was absolutely heavenly. Also, to further torture myself I just plugged it in to my weight watchers etools recipe builder and it is 16 points-plus for 1/10th of the recipe. That’s a lot, but you know what? This stuff tastes as good as being thin feels.

  168. Absolutely fab mac and cheese. My husband loves it and always requests it. I use cheese bread for the crouton topping for even more of a cheesy taste. So yummy…. thx for posting this!

  169. It is strange to read your oldest posts and be denied a cute photo of Jacob. However, I do believe this recipe makes up for it!

  170. I made this last night. Wow. Just wow. The only thing I did a little different was I tore up the insides of two small baguettes (as was suggested by someone else) and I replaced 1/2 c of the cheddar and 1/2 a cup of the gruyere with asiago. I was a little worried about the sauce being a bit thin because I make cheese sauce for broccoli and it’s thicker but it worked out perfectly. Even the pickiest eater among us liked it. Thank you so much for this recipe!

  171. Hello, Deb!

    I do have a question but I just wanted to say thanks so much for this website. I’ve been visiting smitten kitchen for several years. Each and every recipe I’ve tried has been absolutely wonderful. Thanks to you, of course.

    I know an earlier reviewer mentioned swapping some of the cheddar for pepper jack and I wanted to do the same. My question is how much do you think I should substitute? And if I do, will it change the taste in a bad way? I also wanted to try sprinkling the top with breadcrumbs and turkey bacon. What’s your take?

    Thank you!

  172. I’ve made this several times over the past year and love it more and more. First time I made it I made a half batch and made sure I had the white cheddar but used every other type of cheese I had in my fridge at the time, including quite a bit of swiss – way good. Next time I made a full batch, with half the sauce as I found it super saucy the first time. That time I made it with all the proper cheeses as we had company coming. the 2nd time proved to be too little sauce and we weren’t AS big of a fan of te gruyere/white cheddar combo as the swiss/white cheddar combo. Then…we went to Door County, WI for the weekend…and bought a block of 6 yr aged white cheddar. Oh my. Spendy. Super sharp. What shall I do with it? Martha’s Mac! The white cheddar/swiss combo and 3/4 the sauce (keep the 1/4 tsp. cayenne and black pepper)…AHHH mazing

  173. In my search for the perfect Mac n cheese recipe, I first looked on your site (if for no other reason because I LOVE your baby…even if he is a toddler now and no longer a baby…and he gives my. Kids a run for the money with his cuteness) and find not one but TWO. An easy one and a fancy one, I cannot believe how much cheese is in this!! Which means I HAVE to make it. I’m obviously overexcited by all this because I feel the need to keep emphasizing key words.

  174. Made this tonight for dinner, only regret is I waited this long. Thanks for another awesome recipe. Family declared it the best mac and cheese ever.

  175. Deb,
    If I were to make this in advance and freeze unbaked as you suggest, would I let the dish thaw before baking or just pop it in the oven frozen? Would I cook it at the same temp but expect to add about 10-15 minutes extra cooking time?
    Thanks,
    Ann

  176. Hi Ann — Check #199, who says it freezes beautifully. I haven’t frozen it yet. I tend to make this when people come over and it never lasts.

  177. I made this for thanksgiving and stumbled on this post as I looked to the internet to see if anyone else ran into what I did. While the dish turned out great, did it ( and maybe this is a silly question considering it is a cheese dish afterall) turn out TOO cheesy for anyone? I could barely even make out the noodles! I used great quality cheese and spent a fortune and, as I am celiac/gluten intolerant, used rice pasta and gluten free bread whirled up in the food processor to get the breadcrumb effect – no one knew it was GF! score! – however, I was completely overwhelmed by the cheesiness of the dish. Next time I will up the pasta or not use all of the cheese sauce. Just curious if anyone else ran into this…. thanks!

  178. Deb, This is the ONLY Mac & Cheese (we call it Crack & Cheese because of its addictive qualities!) I have made in recent years…worth the time & cost, however I’ve never frozen it ahead of serving. Do you recommend freezing it BEFORE baking or AFTER baking? Since it dirties every pot in my kitchen, I want to make it in advance to serve on Christmas day with ham…only Martha can make Mac & Cheese a “company” dinner! Appreciate your insight! Sharon

  179. I made this recipe a few days ago and had a total blonde moment in mid-preparation: I put all of the cheese in the sauce (instead of keeping out a portion for the top). Despite my mistake, the mac and cheese was still amazing! I just cooked it for another 10-15 minutes until the edges browned a bit. I’ll definitely make this recipe again and hopefully follow the directions next time.

  180. I’m making this tomorrow for my sons 2nd birthday party, along with a salad and homemade cake. It’s going to be a hit, I just know it! Thanks for sharing all of the mouth watering pictures. I gotta go…my stomach is grOwLINg…seriously! Take care peeple and enjoy making/tasting this comfort food…I know my family will :)

  181. I have made this mac and cheese more than a handful of times and it continues to be my absolute favorite! Everyone who I have served it to loves it! Most of the time I cut the recipe just about in half and it works out wonderfully.

  182. Hey there,
    Firstly, this looks so amazing! My mouth is watering just thinking about making this! (which I plan to do so soon and brings me to my next point) and secondly, I am making this for a dinner party (friends surprise birthday who is obsessed with Mac and cheese) and I was wondering if the dish could be made in advance ie cooking the sauce, pasta and putting in the dish and then refrigerated and baked hours later? Or would that make it go sloppy and soggy?
    Thanks
    Annie

  183. This is my all-time favorite ever mac & cheese recipe. I’ve been making it for years!!! Everyone I know absolutely LOVES it!!

  184. I’ve read through 4 years and 254 replies, and have NOT found ONE that asks if this can be made successfully in single serving ramikins!!!!! help please. I want to make this a little fancy and not so threatening looking for a dinner where the ladies all think about their waists….I know, how and why do I even know people like this? How long should I bake ramikins and do you think I’ll lose any creaminess?

  185. Annie,
    I’ve made this for Thanksgiving years running now, and I always prep parts before hand. I am wary of letting the noodles soak in the sauce for too long, although a few hours would be fine i’m sure. If I want to make components before hand, I usually par cook the noodles per directions and pop in a ziploc, make the cheese sauce and cover it up. Then when it’s Go time I just stir the two together and add the bread crumbs (I cube and butter those ahead of time too) and bake it up! It’s worked well for me a number of times now. Hope that helps, and that the party in question hasn’t already happened :)

  186. I add a clove or two of crushed garlic and a bay leaf or two (depending on the size of the bay leaves) to the milk, butter and flour mixture. I fish out the bay leaves and the garlic before I add the cheeses and rest of the ingredients. Deeeelicious!:)

    I find this dish to be very simple. The most laborious part of making this dish is grating the cheeses. I can’t find the attachment for grating for my Cuisinart, anywhere, but with some elbow grease and a little perspiration, you’ll have mounds of grated cheese goodness in no time.

  187. I finally got around to making this and I don’t really see wat the big deal is.

    u can get this quality using any basic mac and cheese recipe.

    the thing that this recipe nails is the perfect proportions of cheeses.

    a perfectly made mac and cheese using the wrong cheeses can range from bland to too strong and sharp depending solely on wat cheeses you use.

    the cheddar gruyere combo is”perfect” in my opinion. but other than that, there is really nothing special or unique about this recipe.

  188. I made this for a potluck tonight, so delicious! I didn’t taste test the pasta until after I had poured out all the boiling water and was afraid the 2 minutes wasn’t going to be enough because the noodles were still really hard, but it turned out perfectly after 30 minutes in the oven. Thank you for another wonderful recipe!

  189. Way prefer this to Alton Brown’s macaroni and cheese with panko crumbs. I ended up refrigerating it for a couple of hours before baking. It could be my imagination, but I felt like this resulted in the final product being less creamy than when I tasted it right after mixing the noodles and cheese. Next time I will pop it directly into the oven to see how it differs. We might also throw some lobster in, as noted by an earlier poster, for some extra (excessive…) indulgence. The dish does reheat great in the microwave and we thoroughly enjoyed the leftovers.

  190. What is wrong with you people – now you have me wanting to buy lobster to make this mac and cheese again. I thought of inviting friends to share the decadence, but don’t believe it would taste as good if not eaten in jammies on the couch. I do prefer fresh breadcrumbs on top and my trick for buttery ones is to throw a stick of frozen garlic parsley bread in the blender and blitz- perfect

  191. Is there a typo in this recipe? I am wondering if it was meant to have 2 pounds of macaroni, not 1. I made this an there was double the amount of sauce needed. Other recipes I’ve made had about 3 cups of milk and about that much cheese to 1 pound of pasta. You have double that. Just wondering.

  192. Yum Yum Yum! We halved this as well and it made a ton of mac and cheese! Very saucy, which was lovely. Thanks Deb :)

  193. This might be my favorite go to classic mac & cheese recipe now. I made half the amount and swapped the bread cubes for Panko because I just love the texture of the crumbs. I drizzled them with the melted butter first and they all came out so crispy and golden. I also traded the elbows (couldn’t find Rigate) for Pipe Rigate since they are so similar. The pasta is a wider tube so each piece was like a pocket of melted cheese sauce. Freakin’ awesome!!! Thank you!!!

  194. Deb — i was trying to cut down on dishes and labor a bit, and was thinking that maybe i could make the cheese sauce in a cast iron skillet, pour the macaroni into that, stir, and then place the skillet directly into the oven. Do you think that would be problematic?? thanks!

    1. Hi Tracy — Not at all. You’ll probably want at least 12-inch cast iron skillet. (Sorry, I didn’t do the volume math exactly so it could be off, but eyeballing it, that would be my guess.)

  195. I have to agree with ChristineMM above, surely there’s a typo? The mac is swimming in a pool of runny sauce, looks nothing like your picture. The milk amount can’t be right…

  196. This recipe is the one I photographed. (I promise, I have absolutely nothing to gain by misleading readers!) There is an incredible amount of sauce in this recipe — I am surprised it’s not visible in photo #2, 6, and the final photo — but we find it to be just right once baked up. It also allows the dish to be reheatable without becoming dry.

  197. I halved the ingredients again and we still had enough for lunch – definitely going to double it next time as I don’t see how I could get sick of this! Just one note, definitely worth the wait to reheat this in the oven instead of the microwave as the bread on top goes chewy. Also I steamed some baby endive (the only green I had on hand) and cooked some diced chicken and stirred it in before baking and it was great – definitely didn’t find that there was too much milk – in fact mine could have probably used a bit more… I plan on making this again very soon!

  198. Oh one more thing – I had to bake this about double the amount of time suggested even though I only used half the amount. I used gluten free pasta which cooks in the same amount of time as normal pasta but even still it was still crunchy, will boil it longer next time. I bought Gruyere for the first time to make this but it was really expensive so would there be any penalty in just using good ol’ parmesan next time? They do taste similar.

  199. This has been my go to for quite a while. It does cost some dollars to make . . . .but my family would say it is worth every penny . . . . the Gruyere and White Cheddar are what makes this so special and the “loads of sauce” problem people seem to be struggling with IS INDEED what makes it lovely when re-heated and creamy beyond your dreamy when fresh out of the oven. I have never met a toddler – teenager or adult that does not think this is the BEES KNEES. I have catered funeral and wedding receptions and made this for them all – it is always a huge hit!

  200. I made this in a crock pot last night and it was PERFECT!!! Just thought some others might want to know. I find that this recipe for the oven requires numerous pans and utensils and is just a mess to make! The crockpot method uses just the crockpot and was very easy!!! Here’s how I did it:

    I melted the butter in the crock pot. Then, added the flour. Then, added 1 cup of warm milk. After making sure it was not lumpy, I added 4 more cups of milk (cold). Then, I added the spices, grated cheese, and UNCOOKED noodles!!! I stirred every now and then. Finally, after an hour and a half or so, the noodles were very close. I turned off the crockpot and took off the lid. THIS WAS WONDERFUL! I will always make it this way now!! :0)

  201. Hi Deb,
    Do you think thus version of Mac and cheese will hold it’s shape if baked in a muffin tray and served room temp at a picnic?

  202. I made this around Christmas time and I’m making it again tonight! It is a tad pricey but if you use any other cheeses it just is NOT the same. This is the greatest Mac and Cheese recipe ever!

  203. WOW! This was my first homemade try mac-n-cheese, and it rocked. I used whole wheat pasta and bread (and 1% milk) to try to make this a bit more healthy. Some thoughts for those who might want to try something similar: the wheat croutons seemed to overwhelm the cheesy flavor that can be delicate next to a strong whole-grain-y taste. Next time I’ll omit. Also, prior to mixing with pasta, I tasted (and tasted and tasted) the cheese sauce, and the subtle flavor of cayenne, nutmeg with the cheeses was *awesome.* While the wheat-ness of the pasta doesn’t come through as strongly as the bread in the final dish, I found these softer notes were lost (which I attribute to the stronger taste of the wheat). I’ll up the nutmeg, cayenne (if I’m feeling brave), and black pepper next time. Thanks for a wonderful recipe!

  204. Instead of using the bread cubes the better and easier and more crunchy way is just getting soft cubed stuffing. Put on top of Mac and Cheese then add remaining cheese and bake. Another hint is a touch of onion powder. yum and what a hit…

  205. Thank you thank you thank you for this recipe!!! I made it this weekend for a BBQ and everyone absolutely LOVED it! It was all gone and I was so sad there weren’t any leftovers. I will NEVER use another recipe for Macaroni and cheese again!! I used panko bread crumbs instead of the home made ones in the recipe and it was just perfect. So delicious!!!!!!! Thanks again!

  206. I made this tonight for the second time. It was a big hit, even with my nieces – one of whom is a self-proclaimed mac & cheese connoisseur. She rated it 2nd on her all time favorites list. On a whim, this time I doubled the nutmeg and cayenne and that gave it a nice extra kick.

  207. Deb, I made this tonight and am just finishing up bowl #1. You’re right, it is ohmysoyummy. It’s a good thing that summer’s done, because this sure is a ton of cheesy goodness. Thanks! :)

  208. This is in the oven right now. Damn you and your gorgeous pictures. I’m killing myself with this stupid Turbofire program and this’ll be my calorie limit for a week. But I think it’ll be worth it. ;)

  209. Love it! BUT what are your recommendations for reheating?? We’re having a guest over tonight and we want to reserve it. I don’t want the perfectly brown top to turn to mush! Oven? What temp, and for how long?

    1. becky — I don’t think it would turn to mush. In general, I like to reheat things quite slowly, at about 300 degrees, so not to cook them an additional time. I’d do that here. If you’d like, you can keep it covered with foil for half the time so it doesn’t overly brown on top. Can’t tell you how long; it will have to do with how cold it is, how deep your dish is, how much you have leftover, etc. But it’s good to have 45 minutes in mind, even if you don’t need it all.

  210. I’m pretty sure I posted before raving about this recipe but I have to say it again… I made this for the work the first time yesterday and it was so popular!! Thank you so much :-)

    I absolutely cannot wait until your book arrives… yayyyy pre-order :-) Hoping I can also make it to one of your readings in Jersey.

    Thanks again for such an awesome site with amazing recipes. Think I’m going to make your mushrooms with butter and garlic tonight.

  211. I just made this for dinner. OHMYGOD it is so good. Thanks for the recipe! Everything I’ve made of yours so far has surpassed expectation.. You’re the best! Never stop posting!

  212. FYI, adding 1.5 tbsp of white truffle oil (to the entire recipe for 12) and shaving 4-6 pieces of bacon on top is wonderfullll. Just add the truffle oil to the milk when you add the cheese — incredibly decadent.

    1. Hi Jen — I don’t remember which one I used the day I posted this, but I have done it each way since and both are lovely. Gruyere is nuttier; Romano is saltier. You could also use half of each and meet them in the middle.

  213. I made this last year for Christmas dinner and it was DELISH beyond belief!! and yes it is totally forgiving. I used panko sauteed with butter and mixed with grated asiago and a dash of cayenne for my topping. I also used put some asiago in the cheese sauce. This is seriously one of the best things I have ever eaten (and I’ve eaten alot!) Enjoy you will get accolades and requests for more more more!

  214. I’ve made this mac and cheese twice. The first time I overcooked the pasta (cooked it to al dente) and didn’t heat the milk (ended up with lumpy bechamel). The finished product was kind of mushy and bland.
    The second time I corrected these mistakes by undercooking the pasta (you can bite through it but it tastes uncooked) and heating the milk to a boil. I also made the following adjustments: more cheese (32 oz), less milk (about 4 cups, didn’t measure), 1 whole stick of butter for roux (I misread), doubled all spices and seasonings. I baked on 350 (I misread again) for 28 minutes because I had less liquid in my sauce.
    I was happy with the result. The bread cubes had the texture of toasted bread, which contrasted perfectly with the cheesiness and chewiness of the macaroni (which is how I like my mac, cheesy and chewy). Serving the mac also left strings of cheese trailing on the serving spoon, a characteristic that was noticeably missing from my first attempt.
    All in all, this recipe was a good starting point for me (a beginner cook) to customize the way I like my mac.

  215. Made this today for my nephew’s birthday. It turned out amazing! I used 1 1/2 cups Gruyere and about 1/4 cup of Romano. Nice combination. Thanks for the recipe!

  216. Made a big batch of this today (the full recipe), hoping to eat it with salad for lunches throughout this very busy and very cold week.

    It is DELICIOUS! While I didn’t make something that calls for 5+ cups of cheese any healthier, I did use whole wheat pasta (following the same rule of initially undercooking it), some whole wheat bread, and 1% milk to cut calories wherever I could. I added 2 Tbsp of truffle oil at the end mixing the cheese sauce and it gave it a lovely (not overwhelming) truffle taste. I also added two cloves of minced garlic to the butter that goes into the breadcrumbs for the garlicky kick that my partner requested.

    Overall, a truly excellent recipe when you’re feeling a little decadent and want a lot of food in a pretty short amount of time!

  217. Just made this tonight and: O.M.G! I’m only sorry that I halved the recipe since there are only 4 of us. Sadly, no left overs. This is the best mac n cheese recipe I’ve ever made. I mean, eyes-roll-to-the-back-of-your-head quality. Perfectly crunchy topping, wonderful savory filling, and just enough heat to make it adult but not over powering for the kids (teenagers). Thanks for sharing this recipe. I’ve tried several of your recipes and have loved them all!

  218. This looks delicious! Just wondering.. I have a lot of gouda and some blue cheese in my fridge at the moment, do you think these will substitute well?

    Also, I was given your cookbook as a gift for Christmas (I was quite pleased), and since peaches aren’t around, do you think pears would work instead for the dessert that uses peach halves wrapped in a pie crust? Thank you!

  219. I love this recipe. I do make three alterations: First I sub half the cheese with Three Alarm Colby Jack Cheese from Sam’s Club (it has jalapeno, chipotle & habanero). Then I stir in one pound of diced Eckrich Jalapeno Cheddar Smoked Sausage. Lastly I top it with crushed Cheez-It Hot & Spicy Crackers mixed with melted butter for the crust.

  220. ummm Tim, that’s more than just an alteration, that’s a completely different recipe with a completely different taste… lol

  221. Used smoked gouda with panko in individual ramekins- huge dinner party success! Thanks for another great one, Deb!

  222. Hi Deb! I am going to be making this for a crowd on Saturday and was thinking of making 1.5x the recipe. The only consideration is that I think I will be forced to use one of those cheap, disposable aluminum pans because I don’t think my regular 9×13 will fit it all. Do you have any tips for baking it in there? I am a little worried about burning the bottom since the pan is thin. I saw somewhere where a water bath was recommended, but thought I would check with you! Thanks!

  223. I made this for Shavuot dinner and made it in the morning, put it in the fridge, and re-heated it to serve to my guests. I was so excited because in the morning it looked and smelled like the most amazinnnng thing on earth but it was so dry when I served it!! Re-heating did not work for me :( but great recipe if serving right away -I had too many other things to majestic so made that first.

  224. I have never liked M & C until I tried this recipe for a party. AMAZING! The 2nd go around I added crumbled up crispy bacon on top . . .holy smokes, DELICIOUS!

  225. This is a very simple recipe with outstanding flavor!
    I served it as one of the side dishes for a summer party and three days later people are still raving about it.
    Don’t delay, make this. The taste is worth every calorie!

  226. I’ve been making this recipe (cheers to Deb!) for years. Everyone always requests it and mac and cheese has always been a guilty pleasure food for me.

    I wanted to add this comment today for other readers that may have a milk allergy! One of my good friends was recently diagnosed as having a milk allergy and she was distraught over never eating mac and cheese again. (Yes, there is vegan mac and cheese with nutritional yeast which actually isn’t terrible, but it’s not nearly the same).

    Most people with milk allergies can have hard cheeses since the protein is cooked out/removed (whatever) in the process SO I’ve been thinking for weeks on how to tackle making a fantastic mac and cheese without milk/butter. Instead of making a béchamel sauce (which is what this is, cream based) I thought about using the hard cheeses in a velouté like sauce- stock based.

    Total success! I add-libbed a bit here and there but basically followed the recipe exactly by replacing the butter in the roux with light flavored vegetable oil and replaced the milk with vegetable stock (I think chicken would be delicious but I wanted to make this vegetarian as well). The sauce thickened up much quicker than it does when using milk so I only simmered for maybe 8-10 minutes. Olive oil/salt/pepper croutons on top, yum!

    I hope someone else with similar allergies will try this!

  227. I made this for a pot luck at work. Everyone loved it. I did replace the topping by Panko mixed with some of the cheeses set on the side and the 2 tbsp. melted butter. It was delicious.

  228. I would like to make this for my 18-month-old, mac and cheese loving son. . . but he’s not big on cheddar, and prefers his mac with milder cheese. Is the flavor of this dish relatively mild given the combination of cheeses? What cheese could I use instead of cheddar to make this more kid-friendly?

  229. Made this for my 15 year old daughter and her friends tonight…huge hit and gone within minutes. I used sharp yellow cheddar with spectacular results. Ridiculously rich, decadent and delicious. Looking forward to making this on a cold winter’s night (tonight it’s a “balmy” 95 degrees).

  230. I made this recipe for an office baby shower, and it was a smash success! I used Anna’s tip to cook in a slow cooker, which worked like a charm. I doubled the recipe and, for a 4PM party, started at 12:30 which was perfect timing. Great recipe!

  231. I am literally dying…heavenly!! I added 2 minced chipotles in adobo to the cheese sauce and diced chicken andouille sausage to the entire mixture…topped with panko. Amazing.

  232. Just made it. Just ate it. :) Hoping leftovers freeze well ’cause it’s WAY too much to hold over in the fridge. Perfect on this cool, rainy Seattle night. Thanks! There were a LOT of dishes and IT required some time, but the payoff was PDG (pretty darn good)!!

  233. I made this dish the other night and it was the best thing that’s ever happened in the history of mac & cheese. As a result,my boyfriend officially thinks that I’m the best thing that’s ever happened now that fed him this delicious dish. Worked like a charm. Now I can’t wait for my Smitten Kitchen cookbook to arrive in the mail in time for Thanksgiving!

  234. I can’t seem to find a macaroni and cheese like grandma’s but this has been recommended over and over. It’s different than our usual egg custard based family Southern style recipe but I don’t think I can go wrong with this recipe. Is the casserole dish a deep dish?

  235. Deb, I never had mac n’ cheese growing up, but for the last two years, this has become a family favorite. I made a few tweaks:
    The first time I made it, I accidentally used full amounts of all the cheeses, none of this gruyere “or” pecorino for us. :) That’s nearly 8 cups of cheese if you’re counting! And now we wouldn’t have it any other way.
    I also add a spoonful of dijon mustard, and almost twice the black pepper.

    I love your site, always have, always will.

  236. If freezing before baking, what temperature and time to use? Saw freezing mentioned in the comments but would appreciate anyone’s advice on the specifics. I used a half portion of sauce and bread with the full pound of pasta in a 9×13. Thanks!

  237. Question from a Smitten Kitchen virgin! :) Recipe calls for a 3-quart dish, and from the photos it looks like Deb used a rectangular one. I have a square *4-quart dish I’m hoping to use – how might that affect the timing of the dish? Should I do it longer in the oven, maybe with foil on top for the first 15 minutes? Would love any insight – trying this for the first time for (gulp) the in-laws at Christmas. Knock on wood…

  238. Just took it out of the oven half an hour ago and my oldest daughter COULD. NOT. WAIT. To be perfectly honest, neither could I. :) I must admit I added a tad more – OK, a LOT more – cheese and included both gruyere and Romano as well as the cheddar plus a bit of ricotta. I added so much cheese I could barley lift the dish to put it in the oven! :) The buttery bread crumbs are the perfect touch. I LOVED it hot but can’t wait for it cool completely because I like my mac ‘n cheese once it’s solid in the dish and I can use a spatula to cut it and get it out. So happy I found your recipe and I plan to make this for years to come. And I for one do not mind an “all-mac, all-the-time diet” for a few days when the mac is THIS good. Thank you ever so much for sharing!

  239. For all those who think there is too much sauce/not enough macaroni; that’s exactly what makes this so good! You really have to under cook the pasta; then when you bake it the pasta finishes cooking in the sauce and soaks up the extra moisture.
    Added used spicy smoked paprika as I didn’t have cayenne, and some dried mustard

  240. In my opinion this is half gravy half macaroni and cheese…. not at all what I was hoping for when I sought out and tried a new recipe.

  241. I made this for a potluck and doubled the pasta because I like a firmer, less liquidy mac-n-cheese. It turned out fine – all the cheese flavor still there, just mostly soaked up into the noodles – but next time I might try 1.5 lbs instead for a little more creaminess. Putting extra grated cheese on top helped to keep it melty even though there was less liquid this in the mix. However, doing it this way will probably make it more prone to drying out if it were reheated. Luckily, I expect there will be no leftovers from the potluck :)

    Also, I only had rye bread in the house, but the bolder flavor complemented the cheddar flavor really well when it toasted in the oven. I recommend it!

    I also agree with Deb that it takes longer than 30 minutes in the oven. Mine took closer to an hour, so you may want to plan accordingly. Regardless, excellent recipe, as usual!

  242. I made this recipe for our family beach vacation! It was SUCH a hit. Kids and adults alike loved it. I made it a few days before vacation and froze it as you suggested Deb, but it did take a LONG time to cook (400F for almost 2 hours…. though it was an oven in a house we rented so may have not been as hot as it claimed, as I don’t know how old it was) so I think next time if I froze it, I would just put it in earlier in the day at the lower temp so that we could eat at a reasonable time. But regardless of eating at 9pm, no one complained because it was THAT good! It will be my new go-to mac and cheese for sure. Your site is my fav <3 thanks for always posting such great stuff.

  243. I have been using this recipe for years. There is none better. I sometimes top it with panko mixed with melted butter rather than cubed bread. I offered a huge baking dish of this for a mac n cheese throwdown at work and walked away with no other coming even close.

  244. Made this yesterday for the first time and it turned out amazingly delicious and perfect! I used whole milk & a combo of extra sharp white cheddar, gruyere & pecorino. Also mixed in crumbled bacon and topped it with panko tossed in bacon fat for extra decadence. Creamy, rich, and crunchy: a total crowd-pleaser (and possible heart attack haha). Definitely one of the best mac & cheeses I’ve ever had.

  245. This recipe has probably been sitting in my Mac & Cheese notebook In my Evernote since you posted it. It was towards the bottom of 90 mac & cheese recipes. That was the problem. Today though the grandchildren were coming over for the afternoon and then to spend the night so that mom and dad could have some quality time. I went scrambling to find a recipe for something for dinner. Of course I started with m & c notebook. Today I kept scrolling down until I landed on this recipe. I didn’t look any further. No I did not question your ratio of sauce versa pasta, because this is Deb people. This was posted I believe in May of 2008. If there was a typo don’t you think she would have corrected it by now? Deb what I’m telling you is I wish I hadn’t buried this and had made it years ago. I didn’t want to go to the store and I had everything I needed except for the Gruyere so I substituted a high end Swiss I had on hand. The fresh grated nutmeg and that teeny bit of bite from the cayenne is what puts it over the top. I have as of yet ever had a problem with one of your recipes. I’ve been with you almost from the beginning and I have to say it…your cookbook is beginning to look like a cookbook. You know the ones that really get used. So it has grease marks and splash marks and opens and stays open now. Just say’in, it’s loved.

  246. How long do you think this can sit premade but not baked in the fridge? Made up today for Christmas dinner. Trying to decide if should be frozen before baked on Thursday?

    1. Beth — I think a day or two, safely. The bigger concern for me would be the noodles getting too soggy, but cooking them only until al dente in the beginning would offset that.

  247. Hi Deb–I have a question: the last couple of times I’ve made this, the sauce has ended up a little grainy, and I’m wondering how to fix it. It’s still serve-able, but nowhere near the anticipated mac and cheese nirvana. I will admit that both times I *may* not have been stirring bechamel *constantly* as the recipe states, and right now that is my best hypothesis for the cause. (The last two times I’ve noticed some of the bechamel browned and stuck to the bottom of the pan I make the bechamel in). My second is that the cheese I use (sometimes I’ll buy fancier white cheddar to see if it makes a difference) isn’t suited to melting. Curious what your thoughts here would be. Apologies if this was addressed in another comment–I read them all so clearly missed it if so!

  248. Hi Tim — It could be the stirring, but I bet it has more likely to do with the cheese. Those fancy aged cheeses just don’t melt as smoothly, I learned the hard way when creating a mac-and-cheese recipe for a fancy cheese purveyor. I say stick with the above-average blocks of Cabot cheddar or the like, which I have had good success with.

  249. Aha–thank you, Deb! I just moved from NYC (how I miss thee!) to San Francisco and really, utterly, desperately miss Cabot cheddar, but it’s super helpful knowing to avoid the fancy stuff. I’ll turn fancy-cheese-purveyor-mode off next time I’m shopping for mac-and-cheese.

  250. This is my go-to macaroni and cheese recipe. The only modifications I do are: (1) a little less cheese sprinkled on top (mainly because the cheese blocks I purchase don’t quite add up to the suggested amount), and (2) Cheez-Its instead of bread crumbs. Yes, it is amazing. I’m planning on writing a post on my blog about the mac n cheese sometime in the near future, so feel free to check that out when it’s up!

    Cheers,
    Julia

  251. Oh my goodness! Made this last night, and it was amazing! Made the full recipe hoping for leftovers, but our dinner party of 5 adults and a toddler took the whole thing down. The toddler particularly loved it, and I have hilarious video to prove it. :)

    Added a glug of white wine to the bechamel right before the cheese as someone recommended above; it was a nice addition!

  252. This is one of my go-to party recipes, because it’s easy to transport and tastes great even after sitting out for a few hours. Just a few hopefully helpful notes, in case anyone is scrolling down this far…

    (1) Availability may vary, but the Trader Joe’s near me (Los Angeles) actually have a white cheddar/gruyere mix cheese that is perfect for this recipe, and it’s only $5.99/lb! I’m not sure the exact mix of cheeses in the block (probably heavy on the cheddar due to cost?), but it works great.

    (2) I’ve also subbed emmentaler and cheap swiss for the gruyere in a pinch, and it still tastes great.

    (3) I usually cut down the salt because I find the recipe a little salty as-is – maybe just me!

    (4) I’ve found that when buying cheese by weight for this recipe I always have way extra by volume. I bought about 3.3 lbs of cheese to double the recipe this past time, and had a little under a pound of cheese left over. So, you can probably err on the side of under-buying? I’ve never had a problem with it not being cheesy enough.

  253. I have to admit, I flipped past this recipe many times while on the search for the ‘perfect Mac & cheese’ recipe. I didn’t like the looks of it with the bread cubes. One day I finally read the ingredients and realized, wow this sounds amazing. I followed the recipe and for the topping, just mixed about 1 to 1.5 cups panko with a couple tablespoons melted butter. The results? It’s the only Mac & cheese I’ve made in the past 3 years for any family celebrations. Thanks for the recipe!

  254. Martha Stewart is a greedy, lying CRIMINAL and has more money than any hundred people would ever need. Do you think this is really HER recipe? Or do you think her staff of underpaid kitchen drones came up with it, so she could pretend it’s hers and reap the benefits? Honestly, do you think she spends a day of her life in the kitchen? GET REAL.

  255. This looks amazing! I would like to halve this recipe and freeze it unbaked to give to some friends with a new baby. However, I’m not sure what that would do to the baking instructions. Should they thaw it or put it in the oven frozen? Do the oven temp and time need to be changed?

    1. Brittany — Almost 100% of the time, it’s better to defrost things before rewarming them in the oven, and here too. Maybe fridge for 1 day or so to defrost, then rewarm at 300 or 350.

  256. Deb, thanks. However, I was planning on freezing it unbaked, as you recommended in comment #174, so it would be baking for the first time, not rewarming. Would you still recommend 300 or 350? For how long?

  257. Hi Deb–I have a measurement question: do you measure your cheese by weight or volume here? I find the volume of shredded cheese to vary based on whether it’s packed heavily, lightly, not at all, or shredded differently. Curious how you do it.

  258. When I ate this, I’m certain I had the face of one whom had seen the gods. This has to be the food of the gods, too.

    I did substitute a panko, parmesan and butter topping. Just couldn’t bring myself to putting white bread on top.

  259. This is a great easy mac recipe, but not our favorite. We prefer Smitten’s other recipe that doesnt call for cooking the noodles first. This does make a TON of mac, but it reheats beautifully for lunches. I skipped the bread on top completely, not even bothering with breadcrumbs.

  260. Love this recipe! This last time I made it, I added a whole head of steamed cauliflower florets and two cups of frozen peas, just for some veggies. Yummy!

  261. This is a favorite–and the only mac & cheese allowed–in our house. We make it with smoked gruyere which is an entirely new level of amazing!

  262. Can you please, please post a weight for the bread. We bake our own – free shape, so I know our 6 slices are different. Thanks.

  263. I’ve made this so many times that I’ve got it down to a science, though I didn’t have the notes about the gruyere so I’ve never made it with that. But also I always have parmesan or romano around the house, so that’s what goes in.

    I’ve also taken to making it in a lasagna pan so that I don’t risk overflow, because my 13×9 is just not good enough. And I also do the homemade bread, like Patricia, but I don’t remember how much I used last time. We use a bread machine… maybe a little less than half of a 2lb loaf?

    I cut the crusts off the bread and use them to mop up all the cheese sauce that gets left behind in the pot after pouring the M&C into the pan. So good.

  264. This is the only Mac & Cheese that I make any more. I use good Italian bread torn up (including the crusts) instead of ‘white bread’ cubes and usually the cheese mix is whatever I have on hand or what was on sale. I have added Lobster to it for a special occasion, thrown peas into a small portion cooked separately – it lends itself to so many additions! And it is always creamy when frozen and then thawed. Thanks Martha and Deb – comfort food elevated to Cordon Bleu…

  265. Patricia — Will update with full weights but I used here and have in the past a bread that’s fairly standard for sandwich stuff and clocks in at 1.5 ounces or 43 grams per slice, so 9 ounces or 258 grams should be about the same. It’s a LOT of crumbs and will seem very wrong but will taste very right.

  266. I saw this in your photo stream this morning and got all excited, thinking you had a new recipe up… I was very disappointed until I remembered to look in the archives, and voila here it is! I see mac and cheese in our future! We usually mix some meat in with the mac n cheese and make it a totally bad for you meal. My husband loves chipped beef mixed into his mac n cheese. My daughter goes for meat balls. I’m good with whatever, but right now I’m thinking of the bacon in our fridge just waiting to be eaten!

  267. I make Mac & cheese fairly frequently (carb and dairy addict right here), and this. This. Is. The. Best. My husband drools when I even mention it. I make with a combo of cheeses (Dubliner and muenster last time). Phenomenal.

  268. i posted as much on IG the other day, but for posterity i wanted to say here that i made this a few weeks ago as a side to some steak tips & A Big Green Salad and it was wonderful. (i’d have this as a main, but boyperson is more the meat-veg-side type…or rather, meat & veg…or even just meat. more sides for me!)

    i used the cheddar & gruyere combo, and couldn’t resist cutting the bread into tiny cubes with a knife rather than tearing it. the half recipe worked out perfectly, and the only other “changes” i made were to add a little dry mustard to the sauce and instead of elbows i used up my mystery pasta box. (does anyone else dump the last little bits of pasta into one jar so as not to have like seven boxes taking up room in their cupboard?) anyway, it was a mix of cavatappi, casserole elbows, & ziti.

    been looking for awhile for a mac & cheese that was simple like my gramma used to make, but still creamy and cheesy. i hate all these baked macaroni dishes (i refuse to call them mac & cheese) where you end up with essentially oiled macaroni and some stringy cheese on top. but no more! this. is. it. thanks again, deb!

  269. Deb- wanted to add that you have me on an ingredients measuring kick! We don’t eat much white bread, so I picked up some rolls from the bakery clearance rack. I googled bread weights and did 300 grams of torn up rolls. I agree it looked like too much, but it was dizzyingly good!