Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipe

You’ll never crave the box version again
April 1, 2019Words by Mychael HenryPhotos by Mychael Henry

All mac-n-cheese recipes were judged on two criteria: How much does it taste like the box kind? And how close does it come to “mom’s” version? That’s because all mac-n-cheese, but especially the best ones, conjure memories of childhood. This elevated version will bring out the kid in you. Make it for the next big game, potluck, or a rainy Sunday afternoon.

Mac and cheese


(makes four to six servings)

• 1 stick unsalted butter (divided into 8 pieces)

• 1 tsp cayenne

• 1 tsp black pepper

• 1 tsp dry mustard

• 5 tbs all-purpose flour

• 1 cup whole milk

• 2 oz gruyere

• 2 oz parmesan

• 2 oz medium cheddar

• 1 pound elbow or shell pasta

• 2 tbs olive oil

• ½ cup panko bread crumbs

• chives chopped for garnish

Tools for mac and cheese recipe


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the broiler to 350°F.

2. In the cast iron skillet, toast olive oil and panko until lightly golden, then remove from heat and set aside.

3. On the stove, cook pasta until just tender and drain water, reserving two cups for later. 

4. In the dutch oven over medium-low heat, add 2 tbs of butter and the cayenne, black pepper, dry mustard. Cook until fragrant.

5. Whisk in butter and flour–cook for 1 minute. Next, slowly whisk in milk. Then, with a wooden spoon, whisk in half the cheese.

6. Add pasta, tossing to coat evenly.

7. Add remaining cheese and pasta water while still stirring until homogenous. 

6. Pour mixture into a cast iron skillet, top with toasted panko, and bake until the cheese is bubbly hot—should be 3-5 minute. Then, let cool and enjoy.

Mac and cheese

>>Next: Cast Iron Bourbon Brownies Recipes


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