Mac and Cheese

4.64 from 11 votes

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Indulge in the ultimate comfort food with my favorite 20 minute Mac and Cheese🧀recipe. This classic dish is a go-to option for many because it’s not only delicious but also easy to make. With my recipe, you can whip up a batch in 20 minutes, making it perfect for busy weeknights or lazy weekends. When it comes to Thanksgiving, mac and cheese can be a delightful addition to your holiday spread, offering a warm and familiar side dish that complements the traditional dishes on the table.

Why You’ll Love Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese is a favorite dish for a reason. Its appeal lies in the perfect combination of creamy cheese sauce and pasta 🍝. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, the comforting flavors and simplicity of mac and cheese are hard to resist. It’s a reliable go-to meal that brings a smile to everyone’s face. During Thanksgiving, this classic comfort food can provide a sense of familiarity alongside your turkey and stuffing.

How to Prepare Mac and Cheese

In a saucepan or a stovetop pan, melt the butter and incorporate the flour, giving it a quick stir. Next, you can choose to add either raw or roasted garlic. Gradually whisk in the milk (or a combination of milk and cream) until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.

Then, gently fold in a blend of cheeses. I used Parmesan and cheddar. Meanwhile, cook the elbow pasta separately until it reaches the perfect al dente texture. Once ready, add the cooked pasta to the creamy sauce, pouring a splash of pasta water to reach your desired consistency. Finish by seasoning the dish to your taste with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.

Nonna’s Tip

While pre-shredded cheese is convenient, it will not melt as smoothly as freshly grated cheese. Using freshly grated cheese will give your mac and cheese a creamier texture and the best overall taste.

Variations and Substitutions

Customize your mac and cheese experience with these creative twists and ingredient substitutions. If you’re looking to cater to dietary preferences or simply want to try something new, we’ll provide suggestions for gluten-free options, different cheese combinations, and exciting mix-ins like crispy bacon or sautéed vegetables.

  • Make this macaroni and cheese baked; top it with breadcrumbs or additional cheese and bake until golden and bubbly for a crispy texture.
  • Boost the nutrition by adding sautéed vegetables like broccoli, spinach, or peas.
  • If you’re gluten-intolerant, opt for gluten-free pasta and 1-1 gluten-free flour for the sauce.
  • Try other cheese combinations, like gouda, Swiss, or mozzarella.
  • Add cooked bacon bits or crumbled sausage to your mac and cheese.

Other Thanksgiving Recipes

Common Questions

Can I make mac and cheese in advance?

Yes, you can certainly make mac and cheese ahead of time, and then store it covered in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, bake it until it’s heated through.

How do I reheat leftover mac and cheese?

Reheat mac and cheese in the microwave, in an oven at a low temperature, or on the stovetop. If it’s too thick, add a splash of milk or cream to maintain creaminess.

What type of pasta is best for mac and cheese?

Elbow macaroni is the classic choice for mac and cheese due to its small size and ability to hold the cheese sauce. However, other pasta shapes like penne, shells, or rotini work well too.

Can I use pre-shredded cheese for mac and cheese?

While pre-shredded cheese is convenient, it will not melt as smoothly as freshly grated cheese. Using freshly grated cheese will give your mac and cheese a creamier texture and the best overall taste.

What can I do if my cheese sauce is too thick or too thin?

If it’s too thick, add more milk gradually until you reach the desired consistency. If it’s too thin, simmer it uncovered to allow some moisture to evaporate or mix in a slurry of cornstarch and cold water to thicken it.

How can I make my mac and cheese more flavorful?

Experiment with seasonings like garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, or mustard. Adding a dash of hot sauce or Worcestershire sauce can also enhance the flavor.

Nonna's Top Pick!
Perfect Medium Pot
Favorite Salt
5.0
4.9
5.0

I can't live without this gadget. 500/10 must have!

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$28.97$26.07
$54.50
$20.99 ($0.40 / Ounce)
Nonna's Top Pick!
5.0

I can't live without this gadget. 500/10 must have!

$28.97$26.07
Perfect Medium Pot
4.9

This is the perfect medium sauté pot!

$54.50
Favorite Salt
5.0

This is the salt that I have used for years in all my cooking!

$20.99 ($0.40 / Ounce)
03/19/2024 03:16 pm GMT

Mac and Cheese

This classic dish is a go-to option for many because it's not only delicious but also easy to make. With my recipe, you can whip up a batch in 20 minutes, making it perfect for busy weeknights or lazy weekends.
4.64 from 11 votes
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon butter, 22 grams
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon flour , 12 grams
  • ½ teaspoon salt, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper, to taste
  • 1.5 cups milk, 375ml
  • ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, 40 grams
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, 50 grams
  • 200 grams pasta, I used elbow pasta

Instructions 

  • In a saucepan or a stovetop pan, melt the butter and incorporate the garlic. Add the flour, giving it a quick stir.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk (or a combination of milk and cream) until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.
  • Then, gently fold in a blend of cheeses. I used grated Parmigiano Reggiano and cheddar.
  • Meanwhile, cook the elbow pasta separately until it reaches the perfect al dente texture. Once ready, add the cooked pasta to the creamy sauce, pouring a splash of pasta water (if needed) to reach your desired consistency.
  • Finish by seasoning the dish to your taste with a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Enjoy!

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 880kcal, Carbohydrates: 90g, Protein: 42g, Fat: 39g, Saturated Fat: 22g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 9g, Trans Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 111mg, Sodium: 1473mg, Potassium: 591mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 1235IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 953mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

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2 Comments

  1. Question: How much does this make and can I make a day ahead of event ( Thanksgiving for Grandchildren) Thank you ❤️

    1. HI Alice, thank you for the great question. I would make the sauce ahead and just cook the pasta the same day 🙂