Rating: 3.6 stars
678 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 178
  • 4 star values: 201
  • 3 star values: 177
  • 2 star values: 93
  • 1 star values: 29

When it comes to comfort food, nothing tops mac 'n' cheese, especially Martha's easy-to-make version.

Martha Stewart Living, January 2001

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Read the full recipe after the video.

Recipe Summary

Yield:
Serves 12
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour butter into bowl with bread, and toss. Set breadcrumbs aside.

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  • In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, whisking, 1 minute.

  • While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

  • Remove pan from heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup Pecorino Romano; set cheese sauce aside.

  • Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 minutes less than manufacturer's directions, until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce

  • Pour mixture into prepared dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and breadcrumbs over top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes; serve hot.

Cook's Notes

You can divide this recipe in half; use a 1 1/2-quart casserole dish.

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Reviews (66)

678 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 178
  • 4 star values: 201
  • 3 star values: 177
  • 2 star values: 93
  • 1 star values: 29
Rating: 5.0 stars
12/31/2019
I've been making this recipe for YEARS since I saw it for the first time in one of the Martha Stewart magazines. I still have that original magazine issue where I've riddled the page with cheese and white sauce over it's life. It has always been a favorite!! My kids loved it when they were young but when they grew up and moved out, I started making it for my second husband. He was adamant when he stated that he didn't like "mac n cheese" AT ALL but I knew better than to heed to that notion. He has since been converted of course and now I am making for this as his 1st choice of dinners tonight at home on New Year's Eve. I have gone vegan since last October but allow myself a few cheat days on Christmas and now...New Years;) LOL! Thank you soooooo much Martha for all you do for so many of us!!! Happy New Year!!
Rating: 5.0 stars
12/29/2019
My go-to Mac and Cheese recipe. Everyone loves it!! I’ve been making it for at least 15 years now, maybe 20. Try it, you will love it!!
Rating: 5 stars
11/21/2018
My "go-to" mac and cheese recipe for every occasion. I make this recipe exact with a few recommendations on details: use day old bakery bread and cut them into small cubes, and my family prefers a mix of gruyere and gouda with the sharp cheddar. I don't understand others who comment that boxed is better - probably the same people who prefer processed foods over fresh ;-) Enjoy this one - it's a recipe box keeper.
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Rating: 5 stars
11/20/2018
Best mac and cheese ever. I followed the recipe exactly and used gruyere and old cheddar. Served it with a big green salad and there isn't a crumb left over.
Rating: 5 stars
07/22/2018
Awesome recipe! The Real Thng! I also loved the article that intoduced this recipe, very interesting indeed!
Rating: 5 stars
03/11/2018
This is a fantastic baseline recipe, though over the 10 years or so I have been making it, I have adjusted numerous things ... In the early years I did
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Rating: 5 stars
11/20/2017
The best Mac & Cheese. The only one I make. Only it used to be called Mac & Cheese 101....
Rating: 4 stars
07/22/2017
This recipe was too spicy with the cayenne pepper so when I made it the second time I omitted it. Now, it's excellent!
Rating: 5 stars
05/04/2017
Super great dish. Congratz Martha.
Rating: 5 stars
01/25/2017
This took me three hours to make (mostly grating the cheese) and I thought the ingredients were expensive (over $25), but in the end *it was worth it!* This is the BEST M&C I've ever had AND we got 8 servings out of it! That $25 went a long way! I'm going to freeze several servings for dinners and packed lunches.
Rating: 5 stars
01/19/2017
My daughter requests this for her birthday EVERY year! We love it and you will too! :)
Rating: 5 stars
02/07/2016
I have made mac and cheese many times in my 60+ years on this earth and after so many different recipes, we (hubby and I) have decided that Martha Stewart's is by far the very best of the bunch. I think the gruyere and the torn bread topping mixed in butter is what makes this dish so special. Whenever I bring this to a pot luck or event, there is never any left over! I have given this recipe out dozens of times and I always credit Martha with it. Love it!!
Rating: Unrated
05/22/2015
Looking for a very basic but good recipe. Can't wait to try it. Is this freezeable?
Rating: Unrated
11/28/2014
Since I first tasted mac&cheese at 12 I've tried many recipes, but since the discovery of this at 16, none has come close! I usually do more cheddar and less gruyere and it is too yummy. The topping is the best! This year I did a gluten-free version for Thanksgiving. I basically halved the recipe, used .5lb quinoa pasta and half a head of cauliflower. I couldn't find my gf bread, so used gf pretzels ground in a food processor. Also used all cheddar (red leicester). No one was the wiser! The hit!
Rating: Unrated
03/11/2014
I've always wanted to learn how to make a real Mac and Cheese. This recipe was super easy and so delicious! The gruyère cheese adds a nice nutty flavor, it definitely elevates this recipe. The only Mac and Cheese I've had before this is "Kraft Dinner" and now I definitely won't be going back.
Rating: Unrated
02/04/2014
Delicious! I added a cup of chopped fresh basil, 2 cloves of fresh garlic and 1 diced shallot, 4 chanterelle and 4 cremini mushrooms sautéed with 3tbs of unsalted butter and some dry sherry wine (coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste) - mix this all in with macaroni and cheese, bake - DELICIOUS!
Rating: 2 stars
01/05/2014
Way too much strong cheese, and too much work for a dish that is not as good as a box mix with added bread crumbs.
Rating: 5 stars
04/20/2013
Delicious and rich Macaroni cheese! I live in Australia so I used Plain flour in place of All purpose flour and 5 cups of shell pasta in place of 1lb of elbow pasta. I also used 3 cups of grated Mainland 'Epicure' cheese - strong and bitey flavour and 1 cup of chopped Maasdam cheese. Everything else I followed closely and it was just fabulous! Best served with steamed veges as this dish has a strong flavour. Yum yum!
Rating: Unrated
02/24/2013
I love this recipe. I do make three alterations: First I sub half the cheese with Three Alarm Colby Jack Cheese from Sam's Club (it has jalapeno, chipotle & habanero). Then I stir in one pound of diced Eckrich Jalapeno Cheddar Smoked Sausage. Lastly I top it with crushed Cheez-It Hot & Spicy Crackers mixed with melted butter for the crust.
Rating: 5 stars
01/15/2013
Everyone loved this. It is my new go to mac and cheese recipe. I added 2tbs country dijon mustard (was out of dry mustard). Also added 1 cup cream (and shorted milk by a cup). Was excellent. Be sure to undercook pasta by several minutes, and don't skip the breadcrumbs on top. I used all cheddar cheese and it was great. It is easy as well.
Rating: Unrated
09/17/2012
i love your recipe.. :-)
Rating: Unrated
09/02/2012
I make a mac n cheese weekly. I always! add a can of stewed tomatoes and plenty of chopped celery. Just before baking, I pour a can of evaporated milik around the edges. For topping, I sometimes sprinkle bread crumbs before adding my torn-up bread. You just might like mine better, martha! Love!
Rating: 4 stars
02/21/2012
I had a lot of Kraft brand box of Mac and cheese, so I measured out a pound of the noodles only and used them for this recipe, it came out great! And no Gruyere or Romano cheese, I substituted with parmesan. Tasted creamy and mild, baked well. I also added 2 tablespoons of Grey Poupon Dijon mustard. I recommend using a very large high sided skillet for the sauce; I kept spilling mine onto stove. I also suggest using the white bread; I used wheat and could taste the sweetness in the crumb top.
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2011
Huge crowd pleaser, adults and kids alike. I made it again and used seasoned salt instead of nutmeg, and it still tasted great. I also used whole milk and half the bread 2nd time with great results.
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2011
Anyone who doesn't LOVE this recipe did something really wrong (or took cheap shortcuts) when they made it, Until I tried this recipe, Patti LaBelle's was my favorite. I have not made hers since. One way to improve this recipe is by using larger pasta (holds more of the delicious cheese sauce) and pasta of a really good quality. I buy the imported stuff for cheap from the food aisles at Home Goods or TJ Maxx. You'd be surprised by the difference it makes. This recipe is pure perfection.
Rating: Unrated
10/25/2011
Way too much work for just a so-so flavor. I actually found a recipe from a favorite author (Jan Karon) called Puny's Macaroni & Cheese that tasted better.
Rating: Unrated
10/22/2011
This is the best mac & cheese ever, I used 1/2& 1/2 instead of milk and jalapeno jack cheese instead of guyere. IT WAS FANTASTIC!!!!
Rating: Unrated
09/29/2011
This mac & cheese is excellent! It is definitely a family favorite. The leftovers heat up very nicely. Variation: I make it only using cheddar cheese, and it is wonderful. I highly recommend this recipe!
Rating: 5 stars
07/29/2011
this is the best recipe for baked mac & cheese.
Rating: Unrated
12/26/2010
This was the BEST mac and cheese recipe I have ever tried. The whole family agreed- we will definitely make this again. It's a little more work than my normal recipe, but certainly worth the extra time.
Rating: Unrated
07/13/2010
I added the chicken and it was a great hit! I diced the chicken in cubes and cooked them before adding to the final stage of baking.
Rating: Unrated
02/27/2010
Made this last night, used less than a lb. of pasta (14.5 oz. box), used less cheese, less milk (I used half skim and half lite cream), less flour, and less butter and it still was delicious. I also cheated and used panko breadcrumbs which saved on using even less butter. Great flavor with both cheeses and the spices. I used cheddar and gruyere, very creamy with the cheese and milk. Alot of food for 3 of us. We had half a dish left.
Rating: Unrated
01/29/2010
Really delicious, I used extra macaroni (about 3 cups more), sooo good. I also added a bit of blue cheese, it gave it a nice flavor.
Rating: Unrated
06/27/2009
I made this for lunch today, and it's very yummy! It is quite creamy and heavy. I halved the recipe, but I still needed to bake it in a larger casserole dish (I put it in a 1 3/4 quart dish and it was full to the top, without the crouton
Rating: Unrated
05/04/2009
This is one of the best mac and cheese recipes I have ever tried. The bread on top is so good. The nutmeg and cayenne really add such great flavor. This is in my collection and will be one of my go to recipes for potlucks.
Rating: Unrated
01/09/2009
I have made this for years. SOmetimes I add veggies, have added left over ham or chicken. Never leave out the bread crumbs, the best part!!!! Have also put sliced tomatoes on top and then the crumbs. Why anyone would make boxed mac and cheese is beyond me.
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2008
This is so so good. I also skip the bread and I add croutons (the good gourmet kind) I smash them up and sprinkle them on top it is so good. Everyone and I mean everyone that has tried this dish just loves it. Goes great with a side salad and some red wine!
Rating: Unrated
11/15/2008
Can this recipe be frozon at any point? I am considering adding it to my Thanksgiving table for my adult children who LOVE this recipe. Thanks
Rating: Unrated
11/01/2008
You ladies have talked me in to it! I am going to make this for a dinner party tomorrow!!! Wish me luck!
Rating: Unrated
10/13/2008
This is such a delicious recipe, the only one I will ever make. I didn't bother with the slices of bread, just used premade breadcrumbs. I sprinkled the cheese over the top and then covered it with a thin layer of breadcrumbs, super crunchy and yummy.
Rating: Unrated
10/12/2008
In response to SOMERSIZING ... if you are concerned about weight, I can not imagine why you would be considering making mac and cheese.
Rating: Unrated
10/12/2008
This is one of my most popular dishes, and typically make it for adults. When I am entertaining I make the following "changes": 1. instead of bread, I use crumbled low sodium Ritz crackers - may sound tacky... but is really amazing and if you crumble them up enough you can not tell they are crackers. It makes the topping very buttery and rich. 2. I add some Worcestershire sauce to taste * note...use higher end cheese, it makes all the difference.
Rating: Unrated
09/21/2008
I've made this 2 more times since my last comment. The recipe is perfect as is. If you omit the buttered bread crumbs you are missing out on the best part, IMO. While I'm not a giant fan of straight up gruyere, it's a must in this recipe, the flavors of the cheeses are so complimentary. BTW, I froze it with terrific results.
Rating: Unrated
08/11/2008
I can't wait to try this.
Rating: Unrated
06/24/2008
This is one of my favorite recipes. It seemed daunting to make at first, but now it's committed to memory. I often omit the bread crumb topping and have also subbed in other pastas with no trouble. I have used all cheddar in the event I am out of Gruyere, but didn't find it as satisfying.
Rating: Unrated
06/18/2008
Very good! I used Cabot brand sharp white cheddar cheese from Vermont and the Gruyere! I omitted the nutmeg and cayenne pepper since these spices are not a favorite in our house. I also used crushed potato chips for the topping. Yum Yum!!
Rating: Unrated
05/23/2008
Perfection! It is a family party favorite. The full recipe is perfect for a buffet table and the half recipe is good for 2 dinners. I use sharp cheddar and gruyere. I've also substituted gemelli and other small pastas and it works great and dresses it up a little.
Rating: Unrated
05/09/2008
My other favorite Martha recipe. Goes great with the Maryland crab cake recipe!
Rating: Unrated
05/07/2008
This recipe was wonderful. The instructions were easy to follow. I actually omitted the bread crumb topping and it was stil great.
Rating: Unrated
04/05/2008
I made this last weekend for guests and didn't have any leftovers. It was so delicious; I was craving it today so I made it again! I used whole wheat pasta this time with great results, the pasta held the sauce nicely. I like to use the Gruyere and a good quality cheddar. This time I froze half of my mac and cheese before baking and am looking forward to leftovers next time I'm craving my favorite comfort food!
Rating: Unrated
03/31/2008
I made this for Easter... I used sharp cheddar and then colby jack for the second cheese... It was soooo delicious! my kids devoured it and got compliments all around! We had 4 adults and 2 children...I made in 2 pans, one went right into the freezer (before baking) and the other fed all of us as a great side and still had leftovers!
Rating: Unrated
02/21/2008
I have been making this since it first appeared in the magazine years ago - and always use different cheese combinations. I agree - you have to keep in the white cheddar (sharp is also key, if you want there to be enough flavor - too many mild cheeses make it more bland) - but the second cheese can be anything extra you have on hand. You can also 'southwestern' it a bit - and add meat protein - by adding diced garlic and jalepenos to the roux (when you put in the butter) and frying some chicken lightly dusted in cornmeal and add a layer of that...always a hit. I tend to use a sharp yellow when I do that, as opposed to the white. We also freeze it just as is in individual servings, and it tastes great when defrosted to take to work, etc.
Rating: Unrated
02/01/2008
I too agree. Every time I serve this, I get rave reviews. I did make a slight change wihich I would like to share. I use Japanese Panko Bread crumbs in place of the fresh crumbs. The topping is extra crispy and everyone looks forward to the topping.
Rating: Unrated
01/17/2008
I have been making this recipe for years. Every time I serve it, people rave. Bonnie Louise, as far as freezing goes, you are right on the money. Prep it up until the point of baking, freeze, then defrost, add bread crumbs and bake. This is by far the best mac-n-cheese recipe. It always looks like too much sauce for me, but, the pasta absorbs a lot in baking and it's always perfect!!
Rating: Unrated
12/25/2007
Best ever tasting macaroni and cheese! The leftovers even taste better .
Rating: Unrated
12/17/2007
My family loves this recipe, this is our third season making it. We prefer the Pecorino Romano (tried both ways) and you do need to budget a full 90 minutes from grating cheeses to washing and drying the last pan but it's worth it and tastes even better the second day. We just make it with 1/2 cup more milk so it's not dry when reheated in a low oven.
Rating: Unrated
12/16/2007
I plan to make this for a family gathering on December 26th and want to do as much prep as possible ahead of time. So, I thought I would prepare up to step of adding bread crumbs and freeze. I would defrost over night in the fridge, add the bread crumbs and bake as usual. Anyone have any thoughts as to how this would work?
Rating: Unrated
12/08/2007
This is a great recipe. Regarding cheese, Martha might shudder, but I use grated cheese from a can in addition to the cheddar and in lieu of the more expensive cheeses. It's fabulous. I then cut the milk down a bit to thicken up the sauce, and add a little extra cayenne for a bit more kick. YUM. I've used rotelle instead of elbows, and it makes for a pretty presentation. As far as freezing it is concerned - I bake it first and then freeze it. I then defrost it overnight in the fridge.
Rating: Unrated
12/05/2007
We can't get enuff of this stuff!! My kids beg to eat it before it goes in the oven and they want to lick the pot of cheese sauce!! I use cheddar and about 1/2 cup "real" parmasean (only 1/2 cup cuz it's pretty expensive). I have even had sliced mild gouda in the fridge and threw that in too, it was really good. Tastes as good hot or room temp., so it's perfect for picnics.
Rating: Unrated
11/28/2007
We LOVE this mac and cheese. The most difficult part is shredding the cheeses. I use Romano and it is fabulous. We eliminate the breadcrumbs because the kids don't like them. Now, for the person that freezes it, do you bake it before you freeze it?
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2007
I agree with everyone. This is a phenomenal recipe for kids and adults. The cheese can get expensive, but it is worth it! I usually serve this at BBQ's and picnics. yum!
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2007
I have made this for two years already and it is my favorite mac n cheese ever. The gruyere can be expensive but I buy a small chunk and a small chunk of the pecorino. I dont buy the most expensive white cheddar either so it doesnt break my pocket. Its always a hit. That bechamel sauce is the key, so you can pretty much experiment with the cheeses as you see fit, but keep the white cheddar for the smoothness.
Rating: Unrated
11/20/2007
This is by far the best mac
Rating: Unrated
11/07/2007
Can this be frozen and if so, how do you defrost/reheat it? Thanks!
Rating: Unrated
11/03/2007
This is my absolute favorite macaroni and cheese recipe, it's decadent and delicious! I never cut the recipe in half, I just use two 1 1/2 quart baking dishes and freeze one. That way, I have an extra meal ready whenever I don't feel like cooking.
Rating: Unrated
11/03/2007
This is my absolute favorite macaroni and cheese recipe, it's decadent and delicious! I never cut the recipe in half, I just use two 1 1/2 quart baking dishes and freeze one. That way, I have an extra meal ready whenever I don't feel like cooking.
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