HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Hi Everyone,

I'm looking for a macaroni and cheese recipe. I've never had it growing up, and I've tasted "fancy" versions in in restaurants a few times. I want to make the best macaroni and cheese for my husband next week.

Here's the catch- I keep kosher, so no Velveeta or hard to find cheeses (b/c I prob can't get them kosher). Also, I avoid milk, so if I could use unsweetened Almond Breeze it would be great. I'm not allergic, just sensitive, so I'm willing to suffer for a great mac and cheese.

Please help and let me in on the macaroni and cheese secret!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. 1# macaroni (I use Barilla Pipette)
      5 Tbsp unsalted butter
      6 Tbsp flour
      1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
      1/4 tsp cayenne
      5 cups whole milk
      8 oz. monterey jack
      8 oz. sharp cheddar

      cook macaroni, in large pot melt butter and sautee onions until translucent, add flour, mustard and cayenne, whisk constantly for 2 minutes, slowly add milk whisking constantly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until thickened (about 5 min) add shredded cheeses and stir until fully melted. Fold in macaroni and pour into buttered 9x13 pan.

      Toast 2 cups panko bread crumbs in 3 Tbsp butter and spread over mac and cheese.

      Bake in a 375 oven until bread crumbs have browned. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.

      1. I keep kosher as well and have used alton browns recipe with greate success - http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al... - I do make some slight changes - instead of Panko - which can be tough to find I use corn flakes and if I feel adventurous instead of the cheddar - will use a mixture of muenster and swiss -

        1. Hi cheesecake17
          I'm also kosher. First, I think you'll have trouble with the dairy aspect. You could certainly use the almond milk but a) it will alter the taste and b) there's so much dairy in the recipe, you aren't really going to spare yourself much. There are a lot of great recipes out there - the one from Lenox637 looks fairly similar to the one I use as a reference - and I find that I like my mac n cheese best when I toss in a little of the different cheeses I have at any given time. I usually use some cheddar (Cabot is labeled) +/- mozzarella +/- parmesan +/- american. Depending on what else is in the house other stuff has also made an appearance in the recipe - including gouda, swiss and monterey jack. I do not use panko; I use a good ciabatta, crusts removed, put through the processor to make fresh breadcrumbs. Technically you are supposed to toast the crumbs with butter but I never do. Occasionally I toss them on a pan with a little olive oil. Add a little salt & black pepper to the crumbs +/- seasoning of your choice (e.g. thyme, fresh parsley) and sprinkle over top of the finished macaroni and voila! Delicious. America's Test Kitchen is a good reference for this.

          3 Replies
          1. re: doc_k55

            Thanks to all of you! I think I'm going to try Lenox's recipe. Has anyone tried it with skim or 1% milk? I would like to try it with the milk, but I can't have whole milk.

            Weinstein - Kikkoman brand makes the panko bread crumbs and they have an OU or an OK. I buy them from ShopRite and Wegman's has them too.

            Doc- I like the idea to use bread instead of the dried breadcrumbs. Do you use day old or fresh bread? Does it matter?

            1. re: cheesecake17

              cheesecake17, you can easily make this with non-whole milk of any stripe. I've done it for years. As Anna Thomas, author of my guiding recipe said, there is so much fat in the cheese, you can get away with using low fat or skim.

              As far as crumbs, I love to use a whole wheat bread, fresh works fine. I break it into pieces and rub between my palms over the dish--easy way to distribute crumbs. They do not need to be buttered, they stand well on their own. I sometimes sprinkle about 1 T. parmesan over them for more flavor, but that isn't necessary.

              Try the combo of Fontina and parmesan for awondrful sharp flavor, rather than the common cheddar variety.

              The recipe I follow also calls for a generous amount of thyme and a couple of bay leaves in the white sauce, plenty of fresh cracked pepper, along with some sauteed minced onion.

              here is a recipe using rice milk, haven't tried it.

              1 cup (240mL) rice or soy milk
              2 Tbsp (30g) cornstarch
              1 Tbsp (15mL) soy sauce or 1/2 tsp (2g) salt
              Freshly ground black pepper

              likely be bland, but perhaps adding some sauteed minced onion, pinch of thyme, etc., would give it a zip. It is really just a carrier for the flavor of the cheeses. Several posters at Epicuious reported good results with a flour thicked white sauce made with low fat milk (no butter involved) to use as a base sauce ot carry other flavors.

              Please let us know how it works out.

              1. re: cheesecake17

                It doesn't matter if it's day old or fresh; you can dry the crumbs out in the oven if you wish or just use less-stale ones for the topping. I agree with the addition of Parmesan to the crumbs; I've done that too with some success.

            2. Last week, I tried the NYTimes "Creamy Macaroni and Cheese" that was published a couple years ago. It was AWESOME. The best part? No making a bechamel sauce or pre-boiling the noodles! Everything goes into the oven raw, easy as pie. And it was the best mac and cheese I've ever made.


              16 Replies
              1. re: operagirl

                Wifey made this recipe this evening. WOW it is good.

                Previously we had been using a Craig Clairborne/New York Times recipe that involved making a bechamel sauce and precooking the pasta. NO MORE!!!

                Well now our house has a new "standard recipe" for mac & cheese

                Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

                Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
                2 tablespoons butter
                1 cup cottage cheese (not lowfat)
                2 cups milk (not skim)
                1 teaspoon dry mustard
                Pinch cayenne
                Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
                ½ teaspoon salt
                ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                1 pound sharp or extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated
                ½ pound elbow pasta, uncooked.
                1. Heat oven to 375 degrees and position an oven rack in upper third of oven. Use 1 tablespoon butter to butter a 9-inch round or square baking pan.
                2. In a blender, purée cottage cheese, milk, mustard, cayenne, nutmeg and salt and pepper together. Reserve ¼ cup grated cheese for topping. In a large bowl, combine remaining grated cheese, milk mixture and uncooked pasta. Pour into prepared pan, cover tightly with foil and bake 30 minutes.
                3. Uncover pan, stir gently, sprinkle with reserved cheese and dot with remaining tablespoon butter. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes more, until browned. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
                Yield: 6 to 8 servings.


                1. re: rich in stl

                  Yay! I'm so glad you tried this recipe! Here's to spreading the no-boil-mac-n-cheese gospel!

                  1. re: rich in stl

                    I ended up making this recipe Tuesday night. My husband LOVED it and said it was the best mac and cheese he ever tasted. I used lowfat milk and cottage cheese and regular cheddar cheese. The only thing I added was panko during the last 20 min of cooking.

                    Thanks so much for the recipe!! I'm making it again next week!

                    1. re: rich in stl

                      I made this, and I too was pretty impressed! Any guesses on the calorie count?

                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                        Made with 2% cottage cheese and milk, full fat cheddar and unsalted butter (all Lucerne brand), 1/8 of a recipe contains:

                        391 calories
                        22 g. fat
                        562 mg. sodium
                        28 g. carbohydrates
                        1 g. fiber
                        23 g. protein

                        1. re: operagirl

                          Wow! What service! How did you do that? Would it be too much to ask what about if it's made as written? Full fat cottage cheese and milk?

                          I just noticed it didn't actually say full fat, just not skim. Ooops! And I better tell my husband about the 1/8 of a recipe part....

                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                            I'm a member of a calorie-tracking website that lets you create your own "meal" out of a database of ingredients, thedailyplate.com. So I just had to plug in amounts and then divide the recipe into portions.

                            Surprisingly, switching from 2% to whole milk and full fat cottage cheese only ups the calories by about 10 per serving, all in fat.

                            If you want to know the calories of the whole casserole, just multiply my number by 8 then divide by however much you consider a serving.

                            Glad to help!

                    2. re: operagirl

                      Wow, operagirl, I've been making mac and cheese all of my life and this is the easiest ever! I admit to being a bit sceptical at first (figured it'd be good, but would it be *really* good?) but I just made it for our lunch today and it is creamy and delicious. Panko at the end gave it a nice, crispy crust.
                      A new favorite here, I'll be making it again and again. Thank you for posting!

                      1. re: fern

                        You're welcome! Man, I'm so glad you (and rich and cheesecake) tried the recipe -- it's really something how all the ingredients coalesce into a gorgeous mac and cheese without parboiling the noodles. I was also skeptical at first!

                        May I ask, what % fat dairy products did you use? I've been making it for someone who is trying to gain weight, so I've been using full fat everything. But if I made it for myself and friends, I probably wouldn't want to use full fat cottage cheese and milk.

                        1. re: operagirl

                          Hi operagirl,

                          I used 2% milk and cottage cheese. The other cheeses were full fat. I usually buy 1% cottage cheese but have been sending one of the kids to shop lately (time to learn!) so sometimes things are slightly different.

                          I'm so grateful to you for posting this recipe. Can't believe I don't have to make a sauce and boil noodles! Amazing, but true.

                          1. re: fern

                            My husband liked it so much that I'm cooking a double recipe wednesday night for his whole family! I'm going to try one with regular dairy and one with lowfat dairy- but not tell them which is which..

                      2. re: operagirl

                        Tried this recipe last night to satisfy my pregnant wife's craving. Awesome. She loved it (so did I). Thanks for the posting.

                        I did one thing different though, which I think made a difference for me. I added some goats cheese to the blender mix. Not too much - but enough to impart that extra tangy flavour. IMHO it's a good addition...

                        1. re: tochipotle

                          That sounds great! Maybe I'll try some goat cheese in the mixture next time I make it.

                          Just a note- last time I made the mac and cheese, I was at my mom's house and she didn't have a blender. I mixed the milk/cottage cheese with a large whisk in a bowl. The dish turned out great, and I didn't even have to wash a blender, just one bowl!

                          1. re: cheesecake17

                            Yes! I have also done it without the blender and ended up with great results. Might be a problem with large curd cottage cheese, but small curd melts just fine.

                          2. re: tochipotle

                            Ooh, goat cheese sounds wonderful. I'll have to try that sometime!

                        2. This recipe was developed by my friend Mike DiBenneditto. I play with the flavors, I always add some ground mustard. It is creamy but firm and rich with a crunchy top.

                          “TELL ME IF THIS IS NOT THE BEST MAC & CHEESE” MAC & CHEESE

                          SERVES 6 TO 8



                          2 Tbs. unsalted butter
                          2 cups crumbled Ritz crackers or bread crumbs or Panko

                          The Mac & Cheese:

                          3 Tbs. unsalted butter
                          1 medium onion, peeled and finely minced
                          3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
                          3 cups light cream
                          Salt and freshly ground white pepper
                          12 oz. extra-sharp white cheddar or a mixture of cheddar and Gouda
                          2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
                          6 oz. pasta, cooked and drained
                          Butter for baking dish


                          1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

                          2. Start by making the topping: In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the crackers or bread crumbs and cook for 2 minutes or until the crumbs absorb the butter, stirring constantly. Set aside.

                          3. The mac & cheese: In a 4-quart casserole, melt the butter over medium to medium-low heat. Add the onion, stir to coat with the butter, cover and cook until soft but not browned. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, uncovered, stirring constantly. Whisk in the cream, bring the mixture to a simmer, lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes, whisking often. Season highly with salt and pepper.

                          4. Add the cheese to the casserole and stir until all the cheese has melted. Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in the eggs, until well blended. Fold in the pasta and pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with the topping and bake in the center of the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until topping is golden and casserole is bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes and serve hot.

                          1. I'm sort of new here, so forgive me if my post is in poor taste, and off topic, but since the thread is called "Macaroni and Cheese Recipe", I'm mentioning what I call "Black Peoples Macaroni and Cheese". It's got dairy (maybe skim evap milk), so it's off topic, but it's the one I was raised on. No white sauce, more of a custard, with 2 or 3 eggs lightly beaten with maybe 2 cups milk (usually evaporated-one article called this "trashy"!, maybe skim evaporated), poured over abot 4 cups cooked macaroni tossed with margarine (okay, butter), and maybe 2 cups (probably a pond!) grated cheddar. Season with Lawry's.Top with canned buttered/toasted crumbs, and baked. My" "bougie" touch is panko crumbs, and baking in a water bath. Just Sayin'

                            A link cobining bechamel and custard style mac and cheese.


                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Shrinkrap

                              Well, maybe the Lawry's is trashy, but the rest of it is very similar to the Alton Brown creamy stovetop mac and cheese recipe (which is a total winner and dead easy). You don't have to mess with white sauce or roux. I bet you could use soy or rice milk, and anyway there isn't much milk in it compared to recipes that use white sauce.


                              I highly, highly recommend this recipe. It's easy, it's fast, it's delicious. Furthermore, it's a recipe that's easy to play with: you can use any kind of cheese you want, or a combination of cheeses, as long as it comes out to 10 ounces; I've made it with a squirt of sriracha instead of hot sauce and mustard; I've made it with penne instead of elbow macaroni. You can eat it as it comes out of the pot, or spoon it in a casserole dish (some times I use ramekins to make individual servings), put some crumbs on top and bake it until it gets crusty. Etc.! The only problem is that the recipe is so easy and good I eat mac and cheese way more often than I should!

                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                This is pretty much how I learned to make American style macaroni and cheese. Except replacing the milk with just-expired buttermilk so everyone can digest it.

                              2. i pretty much go along with everyone else. I have used instant dried milk when making my white sauce. Something I do that I did not see mentioned, forgive me if I missed it, is to butter the baking dish and then coat it with freshly grated parmesan cheese. It gives the finished dish a good cheesy crust after baking. I also do that when i make a cheese souffle. It gives the souffle something to cling to and helps stablize the rising.

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Candy

                                  Thanks so much everyone for all the advice! The bad news is that I won't be able to make any of these recipes for a while. This week is totally booked up with family dinners and my birthday dinner. Then I'll be away till the end of January. But all the suggestions are great, and mac and cheese will be my first home cooked meal!

                                  Candy, I love the suggestion of the grated parm to line to pyrex.

                                  Operagirl, that recipe looks awesome! Did you use full fat cottage cheese and milk?

                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                    Sure did. I was actually cooking for my client -- I cook and freeze meals every week for an elderly man in town. He's trying to gain weight, so it was a full fat affair! All the dairy products I used, including the sharp cheddar cheese, were Safeway's Lucerne brand. The elbow pasta was Barilla ($1/box). Nothing fancy, but it sure turned out fantastically.

                                    1. re: cheesecake17

                                      Just an update -- I was over at my client's house today. Without prompting from me, he mentioned that the macaroni and cheese was the best he's ever had! He doesn't normally like macaroni and cheese a whole lot, but he's been eating mine almost every night this week. Can't ask for better praise than that =)

                                      1. re: operagirl

                                        That's awesome! Does it freeze well?

                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                          Most definitely. I actually cook his whole week's worth of dinners once a week, and he defrosts them each day. So he was eating it after it was reheated in the microwave.

                                          1. re: operagirl

                                            Great, thanks! I'm going to try to make it this week to take on vacation! I just have to give in and buy full fat dairy..

                                            1. re: cheesecake17

                                              Which recipe did you end up trying out? Did something work well for you?

                                              1. re: operagirl

                                                I didn't try anything yet- I just got home this morning. I'm going to try the nytimes recipe later this week... prob thurs night.

                                    2. re: Candy

                                      Hmmm, I do sprinkle the buttered dish with parm for souffles but have never thought to do it with mac and cheese! Will do it next time. Great tip.

                                    3. I'm going to try it when I get home from vacation. We'll see if it works with lowfat dairy. `

                                      1. Hi!

                                        Here's my favorite Mac and Cheese recipe. Like the NY times version, you don't have to make a separate cheese sauce. It's so easy and very tasty. I use rigatoni for the noodles because I like the bigger shape, but you can use any noodle you like. I also sometimes use H&H instead of the heavy cream and 2% instead of whole milk to bring down the fat, and it turns out good. But, surprisinygly enough(!), I like the full fat version the best. Enjoy!

                                        Macaroni and Cheese

                                        Butter, for greasing dish
                                        12 ounces rigatoni
                                        1½ cups heavy cream
                                        1 cup whole milk
                                        1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
                                        ½ teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water
                                        ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
                                        2 cups (packed) grated Fontina (about 7.3 oz.)
                                        ¾ cup (packed) finely grated Parmesan (about 2.5 oz)
                                        ¾ cup (packed) grated mozzarella (about 4.1 oz)

                                        Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

                                        Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside. Cook the rigatoni n a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Drain well, but do not rinse.

                                        Whisk the cream, milk, flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl to blend. Stir in 1 cup Fontina, ½ cup Parmesan and ½ cup mozzarella. Add the rigatoni and toss to coat. Transfer the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Toss the remaining 1 cup Fontina, ¼ cup Parmesan, and ¼ cup mozzarella in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the noodle mixture. Bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


                                        1. I go roughly by the NY Times Crusty Macaroni & Cheese recipe, which is fantastic and easy. Also, I often use greek yogurt instead of milk - gives it a richer flavor and it's easier to digest if you're lactose sensitive.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Emmmily

                                            Thanks! Do you use the same amount of yogurt as milk?

                                          2. Made the Ottolninhgi-The Cookbook recipe tonight. added some lobster claws. OMG, great stuff, The Ottolenghi book is featured in the January edition of Gourmet.Riht now it has to be ordered through Amazon UK, wow what a book. Don't wait for the US edition. Just get a scale and get cooking.

                                            1. Is there such a thing as kosher evaporated milk? The Cook's Illustrated (America's Test Kitchen) recipe I saw on their tv show about a month ago was very good and didn't call for any strange cheeses you couldn't find kosher (except for possibly evap milk). A very classic cheddary style with precooked noodles, a bechamel, a variety of cheeses, and a crunchy topping baked. It was good. I'm not a fan of mac n cheese with eggs at all. Blech.

                                              12 Replies
                                              1. re: junglekitte

                                                I can definitely get evaporated milk that's kosher. Most brand are actually kosher.. even the store brands. I'll definitely check out that recipe! thanks!

                                                1. re: junglekitte

                                                  I never had eggs in mac and cheese until a chef friend of mine made me try his recipe, It has two whole eggs in it and what a difference, The mac and cheese was creamy and rich, but just firm enough to cut into squares. It looked like the cheese wanted to run out onto the plate, but it stayed put, as if by magic, creamy, soft, hot, rich goodness.

                                                  Until I was convinced I would have gagged at the idea, but now I am a convert.

                                                  1. re: gardencub

                                                    The eggs are just there to bind the sauce instead of using a flour roux -- you can't taste them, although the egg yolk might add a little richness.

                                                    A true carbonara sauce is made with just cheese and egg. Cheese, egg, pasta -- isn't that basically the same as mac and cheese?

                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                      I understand the reason behind eggs. I love eggs... But I think I've never had a mac and cheese w/egg at a restaurant or friend's house that wasn't a curdled mess. Not a thick gooey sauce like gardencub describes. And carbonara isn't baked either! :O

                                                      I would definitely try a recipe that was a smooth sauce with egg in it. Gardencub, did your chef friend give you their recipe?

                                                      1. re: junglekitte

                                                        I tried John Thorne's method ( my "recipe", but with periodic stirring) for macaroni and cheese (in Simple Cooking Penguin, 1989) and it turned out smooth. And sure enough, I could cut squares!

                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                          I use the Alton Brown recipe (in my post above), which I think was based on the John Thorne recipe. I've never had a problem with it curdling.

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            Ahhh...I didnt pay attention to the recipe you posted above. It's not baked! That must be why its not curdled. Any baked mac I've had with eggs in it always seemed to be curdled.

                                                            1. re: junglekitte

                                                              I sometimes put it in a baking dish when it's done, to get a brown crust, and it comes out fine. It's so much easier than making a bechamel, and the ratio of cheese to other ingredients is much higher (six ounces of milk rather than a couple of cups, no flour, etc.) that the cheese flavor really comes through. Plus, it can be done in not much longer than it takes to boil the macaroni (grate the cheese and assemble the other ingredients while the mac is cooking, add them and stir for a couple of minutes).

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                I'm sold! I'll copy that recipe and give it a try. :)

                                                                1. re: junglekitte

                                                                  Be sure to report back on whether you liked it. I should note that I hardly ever make it with plain cheddar. Sometimes I use a combo of cheeses (cheddar and gruyere is good) and/or a flavored cheese (I made it with Trader Joe's truffle cheese for New Year's; I've made it with horseradish cheddar and Trader Joe's Moroccan spiced cheddar and Sonoma Blue Jack). I've even made it with all the leftover ends of cheese in the cheese drawer.

                                                              2. re: junglekitte

                                                                Mine was baked. Every 10 minutes or so, I took it out and stirred. I also used a water bath.My link also said that leaving it in the oven more than 20 minutes, and fresh milk curdled, but the evap did not.

                                                          2. re: junglekitte

                                                            I did post the recipe in my original post Junglekitte. I make it all the time and it never curdles, it is smooth and creamy. My recipe is baked, it does not curdle, and I have overbaked it twice and it only got better.

                                                            There are only two eggs in my recipe, it just helps to emulsify the cheese and cream and it helps to thicken things, as in a custard sauce.

                                                    2. I'm very fond of Martha Stewart's recipe, made with aged gruyere and white canadian cheddar.

                                                      Note, that does not mean I am very fond of Martha Stewart.

                                                      1. In the ICA 'battle milk' that FN has repeated this week, the challenger made a mac-and-cheese using almond milk. At least that's how she described it during the tasting. I didn't see the cooking of this dish.

                                                        Does anyone know anything more of her almond mac-and-cheese?

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          Looking again at the episode, I saw that it was IC Cora who made the mac-n-cheese. She apparently made the regular MnC with a bechamel and cheese, but added a splash of the almond milk that she'd cooked her pork in. This was then baked in individual ramekins. So it was a normal MnC with some almond flavoring.

                                                        2. Well, I'm way down but soy milk works fine, made it before for a friend who was lactose sensitive but could use some cheese, used everything right from the grocer, nothing special, rich creamy, great flavor, a little cayenne for a bit of spice, fresh herbs, creamy sauce, lots of cheese, a little bacon in the background and onion just as an accent but not overwhelming. Best mac and cheese ever. Oh yeah, the crispy cracker crumb crust.