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The Best Mac and Cheese Recipe

A creamy baked mac & cheese made with three types of cheese - cheddar, gruyere & parmesan. A few extra ingredients help to amp up the flavour and the sauce stays creamy when baked!
Course Pasta
Cuisine American
Keyword egg free
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 to 8 people
Author Izy


For the Sauce & Pasta:

  • 45 g (3 tbsp) butter
  • 3 tbsp plain white flour
  • 620 ml (2 1/2 cups) milk (I use semi-skimmed or whole milk)
  • 200 g Mature cheddar cheese grated
  • 200 g Gruyere cheese grated
  • 60 g Parmesan cheese (or vegetarian hard cheese) grated
  • 2 tsp lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp marmite/vegemite, white miso or dark soy sauce optional
  • 1 tsp American yellow mustard or Dijon mustard optional
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika optional
  • 1/2 tsp MSG optional
  • salt to taste
  • 500 g dry pasta I like macaroni or cavatappi (fusilli corti bucati)

For the topping:

  • a large handful panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • black pepper freshly ground


For the sauce

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (225 degrees C).
  • Add the butter to a medium pot and melt over a medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often, to toast the flour slightly.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk until you have a smooth sauce. Cook until the sauce is gently steaming and has thickened slightly (it will still be quite thin). Remove from the heat.
  • Mix together all of the grated cheese and set aside a couple of large handfuls of the cheese mixture for sprinkling on later. Take the remaining grated cheese and add to the pot of sauce. Stir until the cheese has melted.
  • Add the lemon juice/vinegar, marmite (or miso/soy sauce), mustard, smoked paprika and MSG (if using) into the sauce. Taste and season with salt, as needed (remember that once the cooked pasta is mixed in it will taste less salty).
  • Cook the dry pasta in a large pot of boiling water until al dente (usually 2 minutes less than instructed on the packet). Drain, and tip into a deep baking dish (I use a 9 x 13 inch metal roasting dish).
  • Pour the hot sauce over the cooked pasta and stir together to coat. Sprinkle the reserved grated cheese on top followed by the breadcrumbs. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with black pepper.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until the topping has browned and the mixture is bubbling.



Tortellini Mac & Cheese: reduce the amount of dry pasta to 300g. Mix one (250g) pack of your favourite flavour of fresh tortellini, uncooked, to the tray with the sauce and pasta just before sprinkling with the grated cheese & breadcrumbs.
Creamy flavour boost: if you have some on hand when making mac & cheese, add 50 to 80g of cream cheese, sour cream or creme fraiche to the sauce. 
Cauliflower mac & cheese: cut 1 head cauliflower into florets and mix with 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt. Roast on a tray for 30 minutes at 180C until soft & golden. Mix into the sauce along with the pasta.