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Sep 21, 2010 04:14 PM

Mac and cheese

I'm elderly and a great cook. Now, for some reason when I make mac and cheese or even scalloped potatoes, etc, with cheese. The sauce turns out great on the stove and I add it to the casserole, but the problem is, after it's baked, it comes out with the cheese curled. Whats going on?
Please help

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  1. Need more info as to what your ingredients are (e.g. type of cheese, amount of other fats, etc.)

    But that said, try some of these tips in this post -- all very helpful and relevant:

    1. Milk curdles; cream doesn't. If you use milk you must do it in a bechamel. The easiest thing is to use evaporated milk, which will keep the cheese smooth without any flour.

      3 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        Tried different types of cheese. I do make a bechamel adding the cheese off the heat. The sauce is smooth and nice. Pour it over the mac and put in oven. When it comes out the sauce is separated and curled. I just let it come to the bubbling point and then remove it. ???? Thanks for helping.

        1. re: llaurie99

          I have the same problem! Maybe the sauce is too thick? Once I think I accidentally made it thin and it was nicer.

          1. re: llaurie99

            If it comes to bubbling and separates, you've overheated the sauce and it broke. Bake it at a lower temperature. For creaminess, I prefer Alton Brown's sauce (actually similar technique to Cooks Illustrated) that is made on the stove. After mixed, if you want the crunchy topping, put mac and cheese into pan, top w/ bread crumbs/butter, bake about 5 minutes until top is browned. It shouldn't ever bubble/boil.


        2. What types of cheeses are you using? Some cheeses melt better than others. Also, if the roux is too hot, the fats will separate from the cheese. Make sure your roux/bechamel is nice and thick and fully cooked (no flour taste), then take it off the stove and add your cheese. I've also noticed that some recipes call for egg. I wouldn't do that.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jindomommy

            i second the "no egg" rule: it would be more like a custard and likelier to separate. One thing you can do is omit the baking altogether. Make your cheese sauce and boil your macaroni; draiin well and mix with med.-thick cheese sauce. If you must bake it do it briefly in a 375 oven, w. a buttered panko topping, but I like mine as is, creamy and cheesy from the pot. Try other cheeses than cheddar too: comte, emmenthaler, baby swiss, a touch of cream cheese, and believe it or not, velveeta; not enough to taste, but as an awesome binder for your casserole.

            1. re: mamachef

              I had this problem, too, and people on CH told me to add velveeta or cream cheese. I add about 1/2 lg pkg cream cheese and that solved the problem!

          2. Yesterday on Ina Garten's afternoon show she made a macaroni and cheese that looked easy and lucious. Although she topped off the dish with sliced tomatoes before baking one could omit them. Here's the exact recipe at


            1. Hi Llaurie......Not knowing your recipe ingredients, nor your method of combining it would be hard to tell what could have gone wrong.

              Here is my favorite recipe. Have used it several times, and have never experienced the problem you described.

              From Culinary Arts Institute/ The Cheese Cookbook - Page 30

              3 quarts water
              1 tablespoon salt
              2 cups uncooked macaroni, elbow or tubes
              1/2 pound sharp cheddar cheese, abt. 2-cups shredded (½ Cooper's Sharp/½ Cheddar)
              2 cups white sauce
              1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs, buttered -- abt. 1 hamburger roll
              1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
              Grease 1½-qt. casserole

              Heat to boiling the water and salt, in a large sauce pan. Gradually add the two
              cups of uncooked macaroni (or your choice of pasta form). Boil rapidly, uncover-
              ed, 10 to 15 minutes. Test tenderness by pressing a piece against side of pan
              with fork or spoon. Drain macaroni by turning into a colander or large sieve;
              rinse with cold water to stop cooking and remove loose starch. Set macaroni

              While macaroni is cooking, shred the Cheddar cheese. Set aside.

              Add all the cheese, >at one time<, to the slightly cooled white sauce with the dry

              Turn one half the macaroni into casserole and pour half the cheese sauce over it.
              Repeat forming layers. Sprinkle crumbs over top.
              (Bread Crumbs Sauteed in Butter)
              Bake at 350 degrees F. 20 to 30 minutes, or until crumbs are a golden brown.
              White Sauce makes about 1 cup sauce
              Thin: 1 tablespoon butter
              1 tablespoon flour
              ½ teaspoon salt\
              1 cup milk*

              Medium: 2 tablespoons butter
              2 tablespoons flour
              ½ easpoon salt
              1 cup milk*

              Thick: 3 or 4 tablespoons butter
              3 or 4 tablespoons flour
              ½ teaspoon salt
              1 cup milk*
              * Can be replaced with ½ cup evaporated milk and ½ cup water

              3 Replies
              1. re: Lisbet

                Putting all the replies together, I've come to believe that the problem is letting it come to a boil in too hot of a oven. But still, I thought you let it bubble. Maybe my heat too high. Thanks to all of you.

                1. re: llaurie99

                  Actually, Laurie this is good info for me. I sometimes have the same problem and it confuses me.

                  1. re: llaurie99

                    There's a fine line between just bubbling and boiling, like simmering and boiling on the stove. The easiest way to tell is when it's too late, and it separates like yours did (though not helpful). SInce it's like a custard, it's better to have it too low than too high.