Best Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

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This is it! Our four-cheese macaroni and cheese recipe is here to make your cheese-filled dreams come true. The classic version of our best macaroni and cheese is absolutely irresistible, but you can also customize it with our four different flavor variations including butternut squash, truffle oil, and more.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
20 mins
Broil Time:
2 mins
Total Time:
37 mins
Servings:
6
Yield:
about 9 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray

  • 1 16 ounce package dried cavatappi or corkscrew-shape pasta

  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • cup finely chopped onion (1 small)

  • 3 tablespoon all-purpose flour

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 ½ cup milk

  • 8 ounce Gouda cheese, shredded* (2 cups)

  • 4 ounce sharp cheddar cheese, shredded* (1 cup)

  • 4 ounce Swiss cheese, shredded* (1 cup)

  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted

  • ½ cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)

  • Snipped fresh parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler. Coat a 2 1/2- to 3-quart broiler-safe au gratin or baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.** Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boiling. Add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain and return to the warm pot.

  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan melt the 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir for 3 minutes. Stir in flour, kosher salt, and pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Cook and whisk for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

  3. Add Gouda cheese, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese, whisking until cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth. Add the cheese sauce to cooked pasta; stir to coat. Transfer mixture to prepared dish.

  4. In a small microwave-safe bowl melt the 1 teaspoon butter. Stir in panko and the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle panko mixture over pasta mixture. Broil 5 to 6 inches from the heat about 2 minutes or until top is browned. If desired, garnish with parsley.

Bacon-Blue Macaroni and Cheese:

Prepare Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese as directed, except stir 3 slices crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled bacon and 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (1 ounce) into panko mixture before sprinkling over pasta mixture.Nutrition analysis per serving: 781 calories, 39 g protein, 72 g carbohydrate, 37 g total fat (22 g sat. fat), 120 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 9 g total sugar, 21% Vitamin A, 2% Vitamin C, 1029 mg sodium, 80% calcium, 18% iron

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese:

Prepare Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese as directed, except preheat oven to 450°F. Coat a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes, in the prepared baking pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over squash pieces; toss to coat. Roast, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir cooked squash into pasta with the cheese sauce.Nutrition analysis per serving: 822 calories, 37 g protein, 83 g carbohydrate, 38 g total fat (21 g sat. fat), 111 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 11 g total sugar, 213% Vitamin A, 30% Vitamin C, 862 mg sodium, 81% calcium, 21% iron

Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Macaroni and Cheese

Prepare as directed, except use dried rigatoni or ziti for the pasta, omit salt in the White Sauce, and omit Parmesan cheese in the cheese sauce and in the crumb topper. In a 6-inch skillet heat 2 tsp. vegetable oil over medium. Add 1/2 cup each chopped red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and celery; cook and stir 5 minutes or until softened. Remove from skillet. Add 8 oz. sliced, cooked andouille sausage to skillet; cook and stir over medium heat until browned. Whisk 8 oz. shredded Gouda cheese, 4 oz. shredded Swiss cheese, 2 oz. each shredded sharp cheddar and torn American cheeses, and 2 tsp. Cajun seasoning into White Sauce. Stir pepper mixture, sausage, and 8 oz. peeled and deveined, small fresh shrimp into pasta mixture. Continue as directed. Makes 6 (1 2/3-cup) servings.Per serving: 849 calories, 46 g protein, 71 g carbohydrate, 42 g total fat (23 g sat. fat), 188 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 10 g total sugar, 36% Vitamin A, 29% Vitamin C, 1107 mg sodium, 59% calcium, 20% iron

Jalapeño Popper Macaroni and Cheese

Prepare as directed, except omit cheddar, Swiss, and Parmesan cheeses. Whisk 8 oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeño peppers, 4 oz. shredded Gouda cheese, and 4 oz. cut-up cream cheese into White Sauce. Stir 3 to 4 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and thinly sliced or chopped,* and 6 slices crumbled, crisp-cooked bacon into pasta mixture. Continue as directed. If desired, top with 2 slices additional crumbled, crisp-cooked bacon before serving. Makes 6 to 8 (1 1/2-cup) servings. *Tip: Chile peppers contain oils that can irritate your skin and eyes. Wear plastic or rubber gloves when working with them.Per serving: 753 calories, 31 g protein, 70 g carbohydrate, 39 g total fat (22 g sat. fat), 115 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 9 g total sugar, 26% Vitamin A, 10% Vitamin C, 925 mg sodium, 43% calcium, 16 g iron

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese:

Prepare Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese as directed, except substitute white cheddar cheese for the sharp cheddar cheese and fontina cheese for the Swiss cheese. Stir one 15-ounce can pumpkin and 1 tablespoon snipped fresh sage into cheese sauce before adding to pasta.Nutrition analysis per serving: 765 calories, 37 g protein, 77 g carbohydrate, 34 g total fat (21 g sat. fat), 116 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 11 g total sugar, 242% Vitamin A, 8% Vitamin C, 977 mg sodium, 74% calcium, 23% iron

Truffle Macaroni and Cheese:

Prepare Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese as directed, except drizzle crumb topping with 1 to 2 tablespoons truffle oil before broiling.Nutrition analysis per serving: 759 calories, 36 g protein, 72 g carbohydrate, 36 g total fat (20 g sat. fat), 111 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 9 g total sugar, 20% Vitamin A, 2% Vitamin C, 858 mg sodium, 77% calcium, 17% iron

*Tip:

To ensure a smooth, creamy dish, our Test Kitchen recommends buying chunks of cheese and shredding the cheese just before using. Using preshredded cheese did not work as well.

**Tip:

Baked Four-Cheese Macaroni and Cheese: If you don't have a broiler-safe baking dish, preheat oven to 450°F. After sprinkling pasta mixture with panko mixture, bake about 10 minutes or until panko mixture is golden brown.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

739 Calories
34g Fat
72g Carbs
36g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 739
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 34g 44%
Saturated Fat 20g 100%
Cholesterol 111mg 37%
Sodium 858mg 37%
Total Carbohydrate 72g 26%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 36g
Vitamin C 1.1mg 6%
Calcium 767mg 59%
Iron 3.1mg 17%
Potassium 418mg 9%
Folate, total 206.5mcg
Vitamin B-12 2.1mcg
Vitamin B-6 0.2mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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