Em's Mac n' Cheese

Total Time:
1 hr
10 min
5 min
45 min

6 to 8 servings

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 2 1/2 cups grated Cheddar (about 6 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Essence, recipe follows
  • Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.

Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons butter in a heavy 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well. Add the noodles and stir well. Pour into the prepared dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese with the bread crumbs and Essence. Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William Morrow, 1993.

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    This is hands down the best Mac & Cheese recipe I've ever had. We've been making it for years. It is 5 stars as written (I'm not about to rate a recipe and then reveal that I've changed it a million ways, thereby rendering my rating completely worthless) however as the years have gone on I have somehow managed to double the amount of pasta the recipe calls for, and I actually like it even better. 5 stars either way. No, that doesn't make sense to me either, but since it feeds more but loses nothing in the way of quality I do it. Everything else I keep the same. This will definitely become my hand-me-down family M&C recipe. I've even written it down in The Book. In ink, people. Ink.
    This was super easy and FANTASTIC! any time I have ever tried making anything that requires a rue I have failed miserably. Woot for my first rue success! 
    Thanks, Emeril!
    This was good. I used unseasoned breadcrumbs for the topping but next time I would use seasoned breadcrumbs instead. I substituted 1 cup of Colby jack cheese for the cheddar and combined with 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese. The essence adds a nice spice to the top.
    I've been searching for years for the perfect mac and cheese. Finally found it! This has just the extra lil' something one looks for in a mac and cheese that's not only creamy but flavorful.
    My whole family loved it, this is the 3rd time we have made it since discovering it.
    Made this for ten people tonight with beef brisket sandwiches. I doubled the recipe. It would have made four to five small portions with the regular recipe. I used 3 1/2 cups of shredded mild cheddar and 1 1/2 cups of NY extra sharp cheddar cheeses. I put Italian Style Croutons in my food processor to make the bread crumbs and it was great! Got a lot of compliments.
    Love this recipe - more importantly kids love Em's Mac n Cheese.
    This recipie is not my favorite. I dont know if I did something wrong or not but basically what I got out of this was baked mac and cheese soup.
    I LOVE this mac and cheese--- BEST EVER! We don't call this Em's mac and cheese though, we call it Jess's mac and cheese bc she is known for always making it :) We usually double the recipe when we make it and we do 2 cups cheddar and 2 cups white american. We also add essense in the cheese mixture. My friend Jess likes to top it with bacon and it's AWESOME! You're guests will be looking forward to it at every gathering!
    I liked this recipe, especially the touch of cayenne pepper - that definitely made it tasty. I have yet to find a recipe, though, that is really cheesy tasting. This dish was very good and I'd make it again but it was a mild tasting dish even though I used sharp cheddar. I wouldn't say this is the best I've ever tasted, but it was easy to make, didn't take long and everyone in the house enjoyed it. 
    I used panko bread crumbs instead of normal ones for a crunchier texture and like it just as much as regular crumbs.
    It's the best mac and cheese recipe we have tried so far from food network! There are a few things we are going to change though for next time. We aren't going to put the topping on and put the essence in the cheese mix. And my husband said there was too much garlic in the essence so we're going to toss what we have and make a new one with half the garlic powder.

    Also, we messed up the roux and so we dumped our milk/roux mixture in a bowl and started the roux over and it ended up fine (with double roux mixture.

    On a side note, the person that said it wasn't enough for three people, that person is CRAZY! It fed two in our house and we didn't even eat half!
    I made this tonight and it was soooo good.
    I made a few minor changes to the recipe to make it as close to grandma's as possible:

    -First I used 3 different cheeses Muenster (1st time use-I felt lucky), Extra Sharp and Sharp and also I added another half cup of cheese (or more) before I mixed the cheese sauce with the pasta.


    -Last I omitted the Cayenne Pepper and breadcrumbs (Mac and Cheese in the south isn't made with breadcrumbs) and instead of putting Essence on top I put in the cheese mix.

    It was so good I coached my aunt into making a pan of mac and cheese over the phone and she loved it also.
    It is a very easy recipe to follow and my family loved it. I would suggest that you double the recipe because it does not go very far. It barely fed three of us, but very very good
    This recipe was recommended by my friend Denise, who said it was fantastic!! So I thought I'd give it a try. My first mistake was to make another meal while trying a new one...my husband does not like Mac & cheese, so I was making him Beef stew. I mixed all the ingredients for the main part, then all the ingredients for the Essence. Following the recipe (?), I procedded to dump the WHOLE amount of topping on the macaroni!!!!! Never giving a second thought that that much Cheyenne Pepper could bring down an army.... I carried my first ever attempt of Mac & Cheese to the table, looking prouder than a peacock, and procedded to dish it out for my daughters. Well...the first mouthful was kind of hot, but no one said anything. By the second mouthful, my nose started run, and my throat was scorched!!! My daughters both started clearing their throats and looking at each other, as if to say, you tell her first! Oh, and was it dry! The topping had soaked up all the liquid in the macaroni!! Needless to say, we all pushed our dishes away and procedded to looked at my hubby enjoying his beef stew with a huge smirk on his face!!! My first thought was, I followed the recipe correctly, so I called Denise...after her & her husband stopped laughing, they told me what I did wrong. That was about 2 weeks ago, my ears are no longer red and our lips are just starting to feel normal again..I will be giving it another try tonight. Wish me luck!! BTW, my daughters and I ended up having the stew!



    I used rotini instead of the macaroni. It turned out wonderful. Best mac and cheese ever.
    I read through the reviews before I made this dish. I can see how it might be bland with out a little extra seasoning. Here is how I made it and "kicked it up a notch!"

    1rst, I used medium shells instead of elbow macaroni. I thought it would hold more cheese sauce! I like my food seasoned so I used 3 teaspoons of essence in the sauce instead of one, I didn't have cayenne so I used a couple of shakes of hot sauce instead. Also I added WAY more cheese...at least another cup in the sauce and another 1/2 cup on top. I used a combination of sharp cheddar and white cheddar. I think next time I will use an extra sharp cheddar and maybe some gouda...something to give it some more punch. I thought it all looked pretty liquidy when I put it in the casserole dish, but it came out nice and firm. I only used 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and the topping came out nice and crunchy. I would be tempted to add a little more pepper next time, but all in all this mac & cheese was really good and a big hit with the family
    I made the recipe using 2% milk and mild cheddar. I didn't have the Essence and didn't feel like making it so I omitted it. EXCELLENT. It is now the only Mac n Cheese recipe in my recipe box. Can't wait to make it again.
    even better if u put a half a cup of mozz cheese
    This Mac and Cheese is a good base to start with. Made as printed it is good but venture out and try multiple cheeses to add different flavors and tastes. I use 4 or 5 cheeses and have used as many as 7. Try Asiago, Gruyere, Fontana, Extra Sharp Cheddar, Pecorino Romano and I have even use Stilton. Top with bread crumbs, grated parmesan and a few dabs of butter to make a nice topping. Usually end up with a bit more cheese than the recipe calls for.
    This is one of my "go to" Mac 'n Cheese recipes. Emeril's seasoning adds just enough flavor and the 3 cups of milk makes it creamy! You must use at least 2% milk to get it to thicken--whole milk works the best. And the other reviewers are right, you need to add some extra cheese. I use 8 oz in the sauce and at least 4 oz in the topping...depending on what I have on hand, I'll add even more to the sauce! I also usually cut back a little on the bread crumbs to 1/4 of a cup. Overall, it's a winner!
    I love this recipe. So easy to make. I used sharp cheese (makes the difference). I also used low fat milk and it came out perfect (just make sure it thickens). And I also (like some below) used crumbled garlic croutons on top. I'm a garlic lover so it topped it off just right! Definitely a recipe to add to the dinner repertoire!!
    With the reviews that were on here I thought I would give it a try, the crumb topping ruined it for me and my family. It didn't have the flavor I was hoping for, if I make this again I will add different kinds of cheese.
    This recipe is great, and I recommend to everyone. Every other baked mac and cheese recipe i've tried is so dry. Instead of the bread crumb topping I take garlic & butter croutons...throw them in the food processor and add the essence to it. SOOO much better than using breadcrumbs.
    I followed the recipe exactly the first time, and my husband did not like the bread crumb topping. So, the next time, instead of using bread crumbs, I topped it with essence but then added grated muenster cheese on top and baked it ill it was all melted and crusty! My husband loved it the second time, and I did too! I will definitely be making again in the future!
    At first, I found the recipe to be a bit bland, like many others stated. However, the recipe was so easy that I decided to try it again with a few tweaks. I ALWAYS use whole milk, lower fat just doesn't add the right amount of richness. I also use sharp or extra-sharp cheddar. One of the problems with my first version was that it didn't taste cheesy enough. I have since started adding at least 1 extra cup of cheese, sometimes more if I'm feeling heavy-handed. =) The essence is so tasty that I throw in a tablespoon of it to the cheese sauce. The topping got a few tweaks, too. I add more essence than the recipe calls for. I also use Italian bread crumbs and add freshly grated parmesan along with the cheddar. Now that I've created this dish to my liking, I am always asked to bring it to potlucks and holidays! I love it!
    I have made this several times and each time it got rave reviews.

    I'm not one to leave a perfectly good recipe alone so I did some tweaking.

    I added more cheese and I used silk brand Soy milk instead of whole milk It gave it a rich flavor and didn't contain near the fat.

    Silk brand Soy milk can be obtained from Sam's club.
    it is the only one I would recommend
    I enjoyed this dish tremendously. Here are some of the variations I have tried: Since I do not keep whole milk on hand, I use equal portions of 2% milk and heavy whipping cream. This gives the cheese a delightfully smooth and rich texture. The Essence is such an excellent contribution to the dish that I often use more than what is called for in the recipe. In place of plain breadcrumbs, I prefer Italian breadcrumbs in this dish. For those of you who find the cheese to be a bit bland, add fresh grated Parmesan. I always add Parmesan to my cheese sauces to prevent blandness, particularly when using mild cheddar. Just be sure to wisk in the Parmesan as a last ingredient to your cheese sauce while at a high temperature to ensure smoothness. Otherwise the Parmesan will separate and glob up.
    I like this recipe. It's easy and yummy. I agree that it can be a bit bland. I also use extra sharp cheddar cheese. It might be bland because no cream is used. We still love it at my house though.
    Okay so i might have messed this one up but ..it was pretty blah. no real taste other people in the house liked it. i used another cheese, and 2% MILK, would that effect the taste???
    My family all gave this macaroni and cheese a thumbs up. I did follow another reviewer's suggestion and added more cheese. I used about 8 oz. rather than the 6 recommended. I also intend to use sharp cheese next time (I only had medium) for a little extra flavor. Next time I make this dish I plan to mix the bread crumbs with a little melted butter rather than the cheese as the cheese ended up getting hard and crunchy and looked rather unappetizing.
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