Easy Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Since Thomas Jefferson first brought it to the United States, Macaroni and Cheese has grown to become one of America’s national dishes. When Kraft Foods introduced their boxed mac and cheese in the 1930′s it was an instant hit as it was cheap, filling, and quick to make. But if you’ve ever tried to make macaroni and cheese from scratch you know it’s anything but quick. The process usually involves making a roux, which then goes into making a sauce, which is then mixed with the macaroni before it’s baked in the oven.

I’m not a huge fan of baking mac and cheese because it makes the pasta mushy on the inside and chewy on top. Also, the dairy solids and fat in the cheese tend to separate in the oven leaving you with a greasy mess. For me, the only redeeming part about an oven baked mac and cheese is the crispy bread crumb topping.

That’s why I set out to make a macaroni and cheese that still has the crispy topping but can be made in around the time it takes to prepare the kind the comes out of a blue cardboard box. To accomplish this, I decided to do two things. The first was to the simplify the cheese sauce. The second was to pan fry the bread crumbs in butter so you don’t need to bake the whole thing.

I know it may sound odd, but the inspiration for this simple cheese sauce came from techniques used to make chocolate ganache and cheese fondue. Normally a cheese sauce is made by cooking flour in butter and creating a roux. This not only thickens the sauce it adds richness. Chocolate ganache is made by adding chocolate directly to hot cream. I figured if you can do it with chocolate, why not do it with cheese.

Because melted cheese is already pretty thick, it doesn’t need a ton of help in that department, however it does have a tendency to clump when shredded and it also tends to separates when melted. This is where the fondue technique comes in. When making fondue, you toss the shredded cheese with starch. This keeps the cheese from clumping but it also helps keep it from separating when melted. The starch also provides just a bit of thickening power to keep the sauce draped around each elbow of macaroni. The best part of doing it this way is that it eliminates the need to make a roux, which not only speeds things up, it cuts out a few steps were novice cooks often make mistakes.

I use a mixture of Cheddar and Gruyere for my mac and cheese because I like the flavor, but you could really use just about any kind of cheese that melts. I’ve also kept the seasonings to a minimum to really bring out the flavor of the cheese, but you can add things like sautéed onions and mushrooms or nutmeg to dress it up a bit. If you happen to end up with leftovers, try turning this into into these Fried Mac and Cheese Balls the next day.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

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    Easy Macaroni and Cheese
  • Macaroni and a rich cheesy sauce with crispy buttery breadcrumbs on top in under 10 minutes. This quick macaroni and cheese recipe is as simple as it is delicious.
ServingsPrep TimeCook Time
4 2 minutes 10 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon parsley minced
  • 1/3 cup panko Japanese bread crumbs
  • 340 grams dry macaroni
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 140 grams Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 60 grams Gruyere cheese shredded
  • 2 teaspoons potato starch


  1. To make the breadcrumb topping, just melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the parsley and fry until the sizzling has subsided. Add the panko and fry, stirring constantly so it browns evenly. It's done when it's about the color of the crust of sandwich bread. Transfer the toasted bread crumbs to a plate and wipe out the frying pan with paper towels so you can make the sauce in it.
  2. Boil the macaroni according to the package directions in well salted water. In a small bowl, add the two cheeses along with the starch and toss with you fingers to evenly distribute.
  3. When there's about 3 minutes left on the clock for the pasta, add the cream and milk to the frying pan, and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, then sprinkle in the cheese a small handful at a time, using a silicone spatula to stir the mixture until each addition of cheese completely melts. Continue adding the cheese in small batches and melting until its all incorporated. Salt to taste.
  4. When the macaroni is done, drain it, then add it to the cheese sauce. Stir to coat with the sauce. Plate the mac and cheese and sprinkle on the toasted bread crumbs.
  • Pingback: Easy macaroni and a rich cheesy sauce with crispy buttery breadcrumbs on top in under 10 minutes… « Your Local Market Blog

  • Pingback: Easy macaroni and a rich cheesy sauce with crispy buttery breadcrumbs on top in under 10 minutes… « Your Local Market Blog

  • http://ilovebluesea.com/ Martin

    This looks awesome.  Can’t wait to try it next time I make dungeness crab mac n cheese!

  • easyweeknightdinners

    What a great idea. We made some chocolate fondue last night with friends and I can totally see how the concept came together. We’ll have to give this a try for lunch this weekend.

  • http://vanillasugarblog.com vanillasugarblog

    need to remember the potato starch for next time
    never tried but now am curious

  • http://chattanoogarestaurantreviews.wordpress.com/ Heather

    This looks delicious!! Sounds sort of like a hybrid between Elise’s version (no-bake) and Martha Stewart’s (using the Gruyere and Cheddar mix) with your own twist of the fried panko breadcrumbs… That would definitely make the overall dish much more appealing.

    I also have difficulty with it drying out and absorbing all the cheesy flavor when baked. It comes out tasting pretty bland if I don’t have it overloaded with cheese sauce (and sometimes even when I do).

    Thanks for the recipe!!!

  • michael h.

    Your recipe says to halve if using corn starch, but it should be the other way around since potato starch is a stronger thickner

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I’m wondering if this has something to do with brand. I’ve tested this with American cornstarch and Japanese katakuriko (made with potatoes these days) and it definitely has half the thickening powder. What kind of potato starch are you using.

  • chicagosdomesticdiva

    Looks simple and yummy

  • http://mariacaipirinha.wordpress.com/ Maria Caipirinha

    Marc, I tried this dish for dinner tonight. I must say, normally, I don’t really like mac and cheese, so I intended this dish to be for my two kids, but I always taste my food before I serve it to them and I must say it was addictive! I ended up having a whole bowl of it! Love the panko and parsley technique. I also loved that this dish was not greasy whatsoever, and it was amazing to see how even with less cheese than other recipes call for, it still tasted quite cheesy and deeeelicious!

  • snappygourmet

    This looks SO good and easy to make! Yum!

  • Erik

    looks really good, but, why did you write 1/2 pint instead of 1 cup?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      1/2 pint = 1 US cup. But cream comes in pint and 1/2 pint containers in the US, so it’s easier when you’re grocery shopping than having to do the conversion. 

  • Deb

    Can’t wait to try this as an Easter dinner side…looks so good!

  • http://www.flanboyanteats.com/ Bren @ Flanboyant Eats™

    oh how I like the way you think, Marc. I”m not a fan of Mac n Cheese either, but my cousin makes a 7 cheese one that just may convert you. Hers is the only one I ever eat, once a year! :) This is easy and fast! Love it!

  • http://www.redrocknoodlebar.com.au/our-menu/brisbane-catering/nu/ brisbane catering

    Hehe now i have good idea for today’s menu. Thanks! :)

  • Pingback: No Bake Mac and Cheese « Very Yang

  • http://veryyang.wordpress.com/ VYang

    Just tried this over the weekend.  Delish!  Thanks for the recipe!

  • Kelly

    This was really good when served right away but after sitting for an hour before serving at a pot luck it got a bit dry.  I added a squirt of Sriracha to mine for a little kick.  Will make again for home.

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  • boocat

    Wish I could find plain cream without Carrageenan in it. *sigh* I’m going to try this.

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  • Laura

    Quick and simple… I’m making this one for the kids for sure!!
    They love mac n’ cheese but I’m not cool with that “powder” in the blue box!

    Thank you!!!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      You’re welcome! Hope your kids enjoy it:-)

  • mekko

    Just made this! Realized I didn’t have any parsley, and went ahead with fresh thyme…it was delicious. Thanks for the recipe!


I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!