Cozy up to this Ultra Creamy Garlic Parmesan Mac and Cheese. It’s the ultimate comfort food and is quite possibly my favorite mac and cheese recipe to date. You can keep this as a quick stovetop mac and cheese or slide it into the oven to get bubbly with a buttery crispy top. I love it both ways. This mac and cheese is also perfect for making ahead of time.
Ditch the box stuff and upgrade your mac and cheese game with this ultra-creamy garlic parmesan mac and cheese made with an outrageously cheesy sauce, topped with a buttery crispy golden-brown panko topping, oven-baked to a chef’s kiss perfection.
It’s truly what you deserve today.
The Leftovers are insanely delicious, be sure sure to put aside a plate for tomorrow’s lunch.
This simple-to-make mac and cheese recipe will become your new go-to for dinner (or lunch). You choose. It’s bougie enough for the holiday or Sunday’s dinner table.
It’s a mac and cheese the entire family will enjoy!
Table Of Contents
What Are The Best Cheeses For Mac And Cheese?
Here are a few suggestions to get you started. You are not limited to this list – I encourage you to explore other cheeses and figure out what flavor combination you like best.
- Cheddar is a mac and cheese staple and should always be included and here’s why: Use Sharp cheddar cheese for a stronger taste, this variety takes a bit more heat to melt. I personally love the sharp jolt of the sharp cheddar in my mac…but this is not about me so read on. Mild cheddar has been aged for a short time, giving it subtle flavors and a smooth melting texture. Medium cheddar is the ideal compromise between sharp and mild varieties. It melts well and offers a bit more flavor than mild options. Extra-sharp cheddar cheese offers a strong flavor, but with lower moisture content, it doesn’t melt as well. Save that cheese for a snack and use the other varieties for your mac and cheese recipes.
- Parmesan Cheese is a salty cheese with complex flavors. I love pairing these two kinds of cheese. It’s very creamy and practically disappears into your sauce – or becomes your sauce. … This is because this is a cheese made with rennet – an enzyme that makes the milk cords dissolve very easily when heated. Parmesan is also ideal for grating on top of mac and cheese before you bake it to add golden color.
When purchasing Parmesan choose options that you grate yourself for a smoother melt and better texture. Using pre-grated alternatives may create a less appealing, gritty texture compared to fresh Parmesan.
- Monterey Jack has a similar texture and flavor to Colby and cheddar, making it a familiar swap for mac and cheese favorites. Monterey Jack melts perfectly for this dish, creating a buttery, gooey texture. You can even combine it with Colby and cheddar for a three-cheese mac that everyone will love.
- Smoked Gouda – young aged gouda melts well, resulting in a creamy texture that’s perfect for mac and cheese. Younger versions of this ingredient also offer a milder profile, meaning you can create a dish that everyone in your family will enjoy. Want stronger, more complex flavors for your mac? Opt for aged Gouda, which provides a robust flavor.
- Gruyere is a hard cheese that melts to a smooth and velvety texture, making it the best melting cheese for fondue — but it’s just as delicious mixed with pasta. Gruyere has a flavor that combines nuttiness with earthiness and the slightest hint of sweetness. The result is a complex taste you probably never thought to pair with mac and cheese.
Consider combining Gruyere with white cheddar for a delicious mac and cheese dish. Add a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg to kick the meal up a notch and keep things sophisticated.
- Fontina melts perfectly, putting it among the best cheeses for mac and cheese. Some varieties have a pungent, nuttier profile, while others are lighter, buttery and fruity. Fontina is versatile. Its texture and flavor make it ideal as a table cheese — one you snack on or add cold to dishes — and as a melting cheese. Melt and combine a mid-priced option with pasta for a grown-up macaroni recipe that even kids will love.
- You might have enjoyed this creamy cheese on a cheese board before, but it makes the perfect addition to a macaroni recipe. Brie becomes liquidy and buttery when it melts, making for a gooey and delicious mac and cheese. Depending on what varieties you can find, brie can offer anything from mild to strong nutty and tangy flavors.
Let us know in the comments what cheese you subbed out and how it all went.
3 Ways To Make A Killer Mac And Cheese Every Time!
- The sauce to-pasta ratio is important to get right. After baking there needs to still be enough sauce that’s not absorbed into the pasta so every bite is an ultra-creamy one.
- No mushy or bland pasta! Undercook your pasta. It will finish cooking in the cheese sauce. Add a generous amount of salt to the pasta water before adding the macaroni. The pasta loves it.
- The sauce should be well seasoned — Add some flavor, garlic powder, and onion powder are my staple.
Ingredients To Make Creamy Garlic Parmesan Macaroni And Cheese
Elbow Macaroni – I love elbow macaroni for my mac and chees, but really, any short pasta will work just fine – penne, ziti, twirls etc.
Water – for cooking the pasta. For an even creamier mac and cheese you can also cook the macaroni in milk.
Salt – adds flavor to the macaroni.
Cheeses – Sharp cheddar – Add that sharp flavor.
Monteray Jack Cheese – melts perfectly, creating a buttery, gooey texture.
Mozzarella cheese – for that drool-worthy cheese pull.
Parmesan cheese – It’s very creamy and practically disappear into your sauce – or become your sauce.
Creamed cheese – adds flavor and creaminess.
Butter – for sauting and to add flavor. You can use salted or unsalted butter.
Heavy Cream, Evaporated milk and All-purpose flour – Used to build our bechamel sauce (white sauce).
Cajun seasoning and garlic powder – adds a flavor.
Fresh garlic cloves – I recommend fresh garlic over all other varieties. You can also use dehydrated garlic, garlic paste or the stuff from the bottle in a pinch.
Yellow Onion – I recommend using fresh onion. You can also use dehydrated onion bits in a pinch.
Panko breadcrumb (or plain breadcrumb) – This is will give the mac and cheese that deliscious crispy topping.
*** The full recipe, including all ingredients, measurements, instructions, and recipe video (coming soon) is located in the recipe card below.
What Other Milk Can I Use Instead Of Heavy Cream?
You can use half and half or plain milk. For a lactose-free option, you can use your favorite plant-based milk. I’ve repeatedly substituted the dairy milk for oat milk in this recipe (and other mac and cheese recipes) and loved it. The cream sauce is still super creamy and indulgent.
What Other Cheeses Can I Use For My Mac And Cheese?
You can keep things basic and use a mix of any of the cheddar cheeses mentioned above and pair it with the parmesan cheese to build your mac and cheese. I’ve detailed a few options additional options above as well. I’ll list them here for a quick recap:
- Smoked Gouda
Experiment with different cheeses and see what flavor combinations YOU like.
Do I Have To Bake My Mac And Cheese?
No, you do not. I love the golden brown edges and buttery crispy top that baking the mac and cheese creates, but you don’t need to bake it if you don’t want to. If time doesn’t allow, you can opt for the stovetop version instead.
For a stovetop mac and cheese, simply add the pasta to the cheese sauce and then let it sit, covered for a few minutes. This time gives the pasta a chance to absorb some of the sauce.
What Goes Well With Garlic Parmesan Macaroni And Cheese?
Your creamy garlic parmesan mac and cheese is amazing on its own, it can be served with sides as part of a filling and comforting meal.
Pair it with your favorite protein or add it as a side dish with our
Easy Garlic Butter Chicken Bites for a cozy meal.
You can also repurpose it and create mac and cheese bites or follow the latest food trend and create a mac and cheese grilled cheese sandwich.
Make sure the leftovers have cooled down to room temperature before storing.
How To Store Leftover Mac And Cheese In The Fridge?
You can store your leftover mac And cheese in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Leftovers can be kept for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. After that, the risk of food poisoning increases. If you don’t think you’ll be able to eat leftovers within four days, freeze them immediately.
How To Store Leftover Mac And Cheese In The Freezer?
Store your leftovers covered in airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags, or wrap tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil or freezer wrap.
Cut individual portions, label and date the portions before freezing.
How Long Does Mac And Cheese Last In The Freezer?
Mac and cheese freeze very well. Properly stored, it will maintain the best quality for about 6 months but will remain safe beyond that time.
Need To Reheat?
How To Reheat Leftover Mac And Cheese In The Microwave?
The microwave is quick and convenient for reheating your leftover mac and cheese, You can follow these steps for the best results:
- Place a damp paper towel over the plate to add moisture and prevent the mac and cheese from drying out too much.
- Reheat for about 4-5 minutes until your meal has heated all the way through.
- The actual time varies depending on your microwave.
How To Reheat Leftover Mac And Cheese In The Oven?
- Set the oven to 350°F and remove the mac and cheese from the fridge.
- While you wait for the oven to come to temperature, take the chill off your mac and cheese by letting it rest at room temperature on the counter.
- Place mac and cheese in an oven-safe dish. To keep the mac and cheese moist and from drying out, cover the dish with foil and place it in the oven.
- Let the mac and cheese heat for approximately 25 minutes.
- Remove the foil and let toast up for an additional 5 minutes so the crispy topping can get nice and crisp.
- Remove mac and cheese from the oven and enjoy.
***If your mac and cheese are frozen if possible remove it and place it in the fridge the night before to defrost.
4 servings per container
- Amount Per Serving% Daily Value *
- Total Fat
- Sodium 3100.44mg 130%
- Amount Per Serving% Daily Value *
- Total Carbohydrate
- Dietary Fiber 2.69g 11%
- Sugars 7.64g
- Protein 49.23g 99%
* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
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