The Perfect Macaroni Recipe

Mac and Cheese single servingIngredients

  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
  • 6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-in. pieces
  • 5-1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. coarse salt, plus more for water
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups (about 18-oz.) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups (about 8-oz.) grated Gruyère
  • 1 lb. elbow macaroni


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a three quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium mixing bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, for one minute.

While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8-12 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, three cups of cheddar cheese, and one and a half cups Gruyère; set the cheese sauce aside.

Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, two to three minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar cheese, Gruyère, and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer the dish to a wire rack and cool for five minutes; serve.

Serves: 12

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen