What’s in This Mac and Cheese Recipe
We all know the secret to a stellar mac and cheese is using a combo of cheeses. Typically you see two or three different cheeses in most recipes, but what makes this one so special is the fact that it has not two, not three, but FIVE different types of cheese! Each one lends unique flavor and creamy, melty texture to this dish. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Elbow noodles
- Milk (we use whole milk here for a richer cheese sauce)
- Mascarpone cheese
- Gruyere cheese
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- Fontina cheese
- Parmesan cheese
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Bacon (thick-cut)
How to Make This Baked Mac and Cheese
This mac and cheese takes about an hour from start to finish (but most of that is just the time it takes to bake). It comes together easily on the stove, then gets baked for the ultimate crispy crust on top.
Here’s how to make this baked mac and chees recipe:
What Kind of Cheese is Good in Baked Mac and Cheese
What I love about this recipe is all of the distinctly different cheeses in it—each one serves a purpose, working together to impart the best, cheesiest flavor and texture. Mascarpone is sweet and creamy, Parmesan lends a salty bite, Fontina has great meltability, Gruyere delivers a slight nuttiness and delicious sharpness. But regardless of what combo of cheeses you use, for the best flavor, you should buy a block of cheese and shred it yourself. The pre-shredded cheese that comes in bags is often coated in cornstarch to prevent the cheese from sticking to itself. That added cornstarch can make the cheese sauce grainy, which you definitely don’t want.
Is it Better to Bake Mac and Cheese Covered or Uncovered
In this recipe, it’s best to bake the mac and cheese uncovered (that ensures the Panko breadcrumb topping will get nice and golden brown and crispy.
Why is My Baked Mac and Cheese Dry
As long as you don’t overbake your mac and cheese, it should not be dry at all.
Can I Prep Mac and Cheese Advance?
I’ve found mac and cheese tastes best when it is baked fresh rather than baked and reheated so the cheese doesn’t break and get greasy. If you want to make this baked mac and cheese ahead of time, assemble it all but DO NOT BAKE, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. You can also freeze it (wrapped well!) for up to 1 month. Then, pull out of the refrigerator or freezer and bake. Allow extra baking time if it’s coming straight from the fridge or freezer.
How to Reheat Mac and Cheese
If you wind up with leftover baked mac and cheese, I recommend reheating it, covered, in the oven. You can also reheat mac and cheese on the stove with a little milk to prevent it from drying out. You’ll want to use a heavy-bottomed saucepan for this and should reheat the homemade mac and cheese over low heat.
How to Freeze Mac and Cheese
You can either freeze it after it’s baked and reheat it when it’s time to eat or prepare your mac and cheese and freeze it before baking which will come out creamier and less grainy after cooking since it hasn’t been heated twice.
How to cook frozen macaroni and cheese: Do not thaw the frozen macaroni and cheese before baking. Cover the frozen macaroni and cheese with aluminum foil and bake in a 375°F oven for 60-75 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for an additional 15 minutes or until bubbly.
What to Serve with This Baked Mac and Cheese
- THE BEST Roast Turkey Breast
- Green Bean Casserole with Onion Rings
- 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
- Pigs in a Puff Pastry Blanket
- The Best BBQ Baked Beans
- Instant Pot Pork Ribs
- The BEST Meatloaf recipe
- Cheddar and Jalapeño Skillet Cornbread
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Obsessed With Cheese Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 1 pound elbow noodles
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , (½ stick)
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese , freshly grated
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , freshly grated
- 8 ounces Fontina cheese , freshly grated
- 2 ounces Parmesan cheese , freshly grated
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon , cooked and crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 275°F. Spray a 9 X 13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and prepare the pasta according to the directions, shaving 1 to 2 minutes off the cooking time. Drain the pasta once it's finished and set aside.
- For the cheese sauce, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it is sizzling, add the garlic and cook for 15 seconds, then whisk in the flour to create a roux. Stir the roux until it is golden in color and fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the milk in slowly and stir constantly until the liquid is slightly thickened, another 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the mascarpone, Gruyere, 6 ounces of cheddar, 6 ounces of the Fontina, and Parmesan cheese. Stir the sauce constantly with a heatproof spatula until the cheese is melted, then add the pepper, salt, and nutmeg. Stir to combine.
- Add the pasta to the baking dish and pour the cheese sauce over the top. Mix to combine and disperse the sauce throughout the noodles. Cover the top with the remaining cheddar and Fontina cheeses, breadcrumbs, and bacon. Bake until golden and bubbly on top, about 30 minutes.
More Mac and Cheese Recipes to Try
- The BEST Baked Mac and Cheese
- Skillet Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
- Fried Mac and Cheese Balls
- Truffled Gnocchi Macaroni and Cheese
- Chicken Divan Macaroni and Cheese
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