Arguably one of the best baked mac and cheese recipes out there, Martha Stewart’s baked macaroni and cheese uses classic cheddar and gruyere to make a velvety sauce and is topped with delicious buttery croutons.
There is nothing that screams love more than a big homemade bowl of carbs and melted cheese.
Mac and cheese is what I made on my first Valentine’s Day date with with the husband, and every year since! And I think it’s worked out?? I mean, we’re still married (happily), so……
It’s been a different version of mac and cheese every year. The first time was definitely something with the word “best” or “ultimate” in it’s title, and probably from either Bon Appetit or Gourmet or Saveur or Food & Wine.
He was like…thanks, but where’s the artificial orange powder box stuff?
You guys. We’ve come a long way.
Since then I’ve experimented with different versions of mac and cheese that are a little off the beaten path. Think harissa mac and cheese, pimiento mac and cheese, Mexican street corn mac and cheese. But no just straight up, classic, no frills version.
Then a few months ago, Remy came home from school and requested mac and cheese. She talked about it for the whole 6 block walk home and then at 3AM the following the night, which in 2 year old time is basically an eternity. It’s rare that she makes any dinner requests that don’t involve cookies or dried mango, so obviously I had to accommodate. Also, ANY EXCUSE TO MAKE MAC AND CHEESE, please and thank you, I’ll take it.
I’ve had Martha’s version of baked mac and cheese bookmarked for moonnnthhs now. It was labeled as a Genius Recipe by Food52, so it was the first place I turned.
Guys, it’s good. Really good.
The base is just your classic mac and cheese with cheddar and gruyere making up the cheese sauce, but what really takes this above and beyond are the buttered croutons on top. They have that buttery toasty flavor that bread takes on in a really good grilled cheese sandwich and it is magic. Next time I would probably add some finely chopped broccoli florets or peas just to sneak a veggie in there, but otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing!
Make it for your V day celebrations or just DINNER. Can’t go wrong here.
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 slices good white bread (I used brioche), torn into ½-inch pieces
- 5½ cups milk
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 4½ cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese (about 18 ounces)
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 8 ounces)
- 1 pound elbow macaroni (or other small pasta shape)
- Heat oven to 375F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan and set aside.
- Melt 2 tbsp of the butter. Combine it with the bread cubes in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.
- Separate out 1½ cups of grated cheddar and ½ cup of gruyere and reserve.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni for 2-3 minutes less than the box calls for, so that it is very al dente. Transfer to a colander, rinse under cold water, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the butter in the same pot you used to cook the paste. Once it is bubbling, add in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, for 1 minute. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk. Continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture starts to bubble and thicken. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups of cheddar cheese, and 1½ cups gruyere. Stir in the cooked macaroni and mix until combined, then pour into the prepared baking dish. Top with the remaining 1½ cups cheddar cheese and ½ cup gruyere. Sprinkle the bread cubes over the top.
- Place in the oven and bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.