Creamy Mac & Cheese
Mac & Cheese is the ultimate comfort food with its creamy goodness. What’s not to love, right?…pasta, cream, cheese and absolute deliciousness 😋
I also love that you can choose your own adventure with mac & cheese, adding buffalo chicken (check out my Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese) like the Dover Brickhouse does or adding pulled pork, like I do ❤ Choose a fun protein topping (like my pulled pork) and have fun 👍.
And finally, I love adding smoked sausage or hot dogs to mac & cheese because it feels like a throwback to childhood ❤
Now onto my recipe and the preparation 👍
Everyone has their favorite way to make this classic and when I indulge, I try for a slightly healthier version with milk versus cream. There’s 1lb of cheese in my recipe and I find that milk helps cut some of heaviness 😉 I use pasta shells or penne because that creamy goodness sits in those cushions 😋 To create the cream-like texture I create a roux, which is equal parts butter and butter and why I avoid the cream 👍 For my cheese, I like Cabot Cheeses (I live in New Hampshire afterall), e.g. Pepper Jack and various Cheddars, but I also love the creaminess cream cheese provides. Finally, a crispy topping is needed and I typically use leftover bacon from Sunday morning and add panko and green onions ❤
I hope you enjoy my version of this delicious classic!
- I would suggest cooking your pasta to al dente since it will continue to cook with the warm cheese sauce and during your final bake.
- You can certainly eat your mac & cheese once mixed (i.e. stove top), but I prefer to add a topper and cook the pasta from al dente!
- You can make mac & cheese ahead of time and the cheese sauce will absorb into your pasta, which makes it extra creamy 👍. The photo on the left was taken first and a 1/2hr later you can see that the cheese sauce was absorbed into the pasta on the photo on the right 😋
- If you make your mac & cheese the day before, you’ll want to add 15 minutes to the cook time and wait to add your topper until you’re ready to bake.
- Use the cheese you love, some of my favorites include:
- Cheddar, is a childhood favorite
- Smoked Gouda, adds smokiness
- Gruyère, adds nut flavor
- Gorgonzola or blue cheese, if you want funk or you’re creating buffalo mac & cheese
- Mozzarella, creates the pull effect and of course adds creaminess
- Pepper Jack, will kick it up a notch
- I’d use block cheese versus shredded cheese because you’ll get more of the cheese flavor.
- Use cream, if you desire, and that will add extra richness and creaminess ❤
- You’ll want to add some of the cheese sauce to the top before you bake because this will help create extra creaminess.
- I always finish my mac & cheese under the boiler because I like to brown my panko topper.
- 2TBS of butter
- 5 green onions, sliced thinly and separate the green tops from the white bottoms (Note: the green tops will be used for the topper)
- 2TBS of flour
- 2 cups of 1% milk, or cream, if you desire
- 5 dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
- 5 dashes of Louisiana Hot Sauce
- 8oz of cream cheese, cubed
- 4oz of Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese, cubed
- 4oz of Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, cubed
- Salt & pepper, for seasoning
- 8oz of macaroni shells
- For the mac & cheese topper:
- 1TBS of butter
- 1/4 cup of panko bread crumbs
- Green onion tops from your 5 green onions
- 1TBS of cooked bacon or bacon bits
1. Begin by preparing your pasta to al dente. Set aside your pasta once it’s cooked until you’re ready to combine with your cheese sauce.
2. Melt your butter in a medium size saucepan and add the green onion bottoms to the butter and allow the onions to become aromatic.
3. Once the onions are ready, begin to build your roux and add your flour. Cook for a bit, ~3 minutes.
4. Now time to create your bechamel, once the flour becomes brown, begin to add your milk and whisk.
5. Now add your Worcestershire Sauce, Hot Sauce, the pinch of salt & pepper and whisk together.
6. Once the milk becomes thick (~15 minutes), begin to add your cheese and continue to whisk. Add your cheese in small-ish batches and continue to whisk until all the cheese is melted.
7. Once the cheese sauce is ready, add some of the sauce to your pasta. Note: I would add half of the cheese sauce at the start and stir together and add more sauce as needed. You want a slightly soupy mixture.
8. Now add the mac & cheese to a 1.5 qt baking dish and top with the remaining cheese sauce.
9. Meanwhile, add your topping butter to a heat resist small bowl and microwave until melted. Now add your panko, green onions and bacon to the butter and combine together.
10. Add your topping to the mac & cheese.
11. Cook for 1/2 hour at 375 degrees and make sure you finish under the boiler if you want a crispy brown topper.
12. Serve warm with your favorite main dish or on its own with some added goodness (e.g. hot dogs, buffalo chicken (check out my Buffalo Wings)) and enjoy, cheers 🍻