The Best Mac and Cheese

Claudia's Cookbook - Mac and Cheese 21A couple years ago I was on the hunt for a really great mac and cheese recipe. The first thing I did was do what most people do, search Google. It brought up a lot of recipes that touted “the best mac and cheese recipe ever” title. I didn’t know where to begin. All of them looked great and I couldn’t narrow the search results down far enough to the point where I wouldn’t be making and eating mac and cheese for weeks. I then surveyed my former coworkers. That’s where I was introduced to this beauty of a dish. After scanning the ingredients and seeing that it used 3 different cheese, crunchy panko breadcrumbs and penne pasta (my absolute fav!), I knew this would be a serious contender. My former coworker was right – this is by far the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had. I’ve made it three or four times since discovering, and it’s a big crowd pleaser. I’m confident you will feel the same way.

You will need:

6 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
3 slices bacon, diced
1 cup of finely chopped yellow onion
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
3 cups coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
4 oz cream cheese
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 pound Penne

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In a deep pot or skillet, melt 1 tbsp of butter over medium heat.

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Place bacon in skillet and cook until crisp.

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Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon and place on some paper towels.

Leave bacon grease in the pan (no more than 3 tbsp of grease – remove rest if you have more)

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Add your onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes or so.

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Next, add your red pepper flakes and garlic.

Saute for about 1 minute.

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Next, melt 2 tbsp of butter.

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Once the butter is melted, mix in your flour.

Your mixture should thicken slightly.

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Slowly whisk in your whole milk.

Bring mixture up to a simmer.

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Simmer until the mixture can coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.

Ensure you stir frequently so your milk does not burn.

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Remove the mixuture from heat and add 2-1/4 cups of your sharp cheddar cheese, all your Parmesan cheese and all the cream cheese.

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Add your bacon back to your delicious cheese sauce.

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How amazing does this look?!

Cover the sauce to keep warm and cook your pasta.

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Cook penne in boiling salted water until very al dente.

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Drain and add to your cheese sauce.

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Mix well.

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Place your penne and cheese into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Top with your remaining sharp cheddar cheese.

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In a non-stick pan, melt 3 tbsp of butter over medium heat.

Add your panko breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

Keep stirring, you don’t want your breadcrumbs to burn.

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Remove from heat and add all your chopped parsley.

Stir well to incorporate.

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Top your mac and cheese mixture with the panko parsley breadcrumbs.

Bake in a 375 degree fahrenheit oven for 30 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and golden brown.

Remove from oven and let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.

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Cheesy, creamy and rich with the crunchy panko crumb top.

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This recipe is so simple. Why would you ever do boxed mac and cheese again?

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Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Lottie + Doof

11 comments

  1. Tina says:

    I have been making Mac and Cheese for many years and today I decided to try this recipe. Wow, it was delicious. Best Mac and Cheese ever!!!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      So happy you liked the recipe Tina!! There are so many Mac and Cheese recipes out there but I love this one the best. Thanks for your comments!! :)

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      So glad you liked it Sharon! The weather here has been terrible too. Makes me want to cook comfort food :)

    • Claudia's Cookbook says:

      So happy you enjoyed the Mac and Cheese Mimi!! Thanks for sharing and Happy New Year to you and your family! :)

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