(6 to 8 servings)
- 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 8 oz small elbow macaroni (about 2 cups)
- 2 cups coarse, fresh breadcrumbs, preferably homemade
- 2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup), or use pecorino Romano
- 5 Tbsp butter, divided, plus more for baking dish
- 3/4 cup finely diced yellow onion (about ½ medium onion)
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole or reduced fat milk
- 1 cup heavy cream or whole milk
- 6 oz medium or aged cheddar, coarsely grated (2 cups), divided
- 6 oz Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (2 cups)
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/8 tsp powdered or freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
Butter an 8 x 8 (1½ quart) baking dish or pan (or eight 6-ounce ramekins). Set aside.
Fill a 4- to 5-quart pot about ¾ full with water and add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil and add the pasta. Cook, stirring once or twice, until tender but firm, about 4 minutes, and drain. Reserve pot.
While the pasta is cooking, in a medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Turn off the heat and add the breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir until mixed well. Set aside.
Using the same pot you used to make the pasta, melt remaining butter over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Slowly whisk in the flour and stir constantly until the onion is coated with the flour, 30 to 45 seconds. Continue stirring for about 2 minutes or until the mixture starts to darken slightly and smell a bit nutty.
Slowly whisk in the milk, cream and remaining salt and cook until the mixture is just beginning to thicken and bubble around the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. It should be similar in texture to cake batter. If it’s soupy, continue cooking until it thickens.
Add 2¼ cups cheddar, Gruyère, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper and stir until the cheeses have melted and the sauce is smooth but not too runny. It should be similar in texture to cake batter. If it’s soupy, continue cooking, stirring constantly, until it thickens.
Turn off the heat and add the pasta. Stir to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Let cool 15 minutes before serving.
You can add some of your favorite ingredients to this Classic Mac & Cheese.
Bacon: Cook 6 to 8 slices bacon. Crumble and add after the cheeses have been added and the sauce is smooth
Oven-roasted tomatoes (see recipe within Pizza Mac & Cheese recipe on our site): Add after the cheeses have been added and the sauce is smooth
Arugula: Add 6 cups, one handful at a time, after the cheeses have been added and the sauce is smooth
Roasted red peppers – Add ¾ cup coarsely chopped peppers from a jar along with the pasta.