Mac and Cheese

6 to 8 servings
  • Kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyere, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 pound fresh tomatoes (4 small)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling salted water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don't boil it. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large (4-quart) pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere, Cheddar, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the fresh bread crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

View All

Cooking Tips
More Recipes and Ideas
4.5 876
Made this tonight for an easy Saturday meal. Yes, I used what I had on hand, which was five different cheeses in the deli drawer of the refrigerator. This recipe of Ina's was my guide to a terrific dish that my husband loved. In Northwest Kansas, Gryere is not available (no matter how many times I have requested my store to get it), so substitutions are just a matter of course. Ina, you are the best! Thank you. BTW, if the flour is cooked the correct two minutes, and the milk is heated as instructed, the result is amazing. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Loved it! I made this for Christmas dinner with ham and it was a hit. I used gluten free elbows, gluten free bread crumbs and Jarlsberg cheese (to save on cost) instead of Gruyere. I also added garlic to the b├ęchamel and omitted the nutmeg and tomatoes. Cabot Extra Sharp worked just fine for the cheddar. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I have made this recipe many times and decided to add it to my holiday celebrations this year and it is a HUGE hit with kids and adults alike. Adults think it's the best mac and cheese they've had and kids love the taste. I leave out tomatoes and have added bacon at times but it's good as is! item not reviewed by moderator and published
I usually love Ina's recipes, but I found this one -- followed exactly -- was an unflavorful dud. Given the expense of the cheeses, it was so disappointingly bland. After I made the sauce and tasted it, I followed the advice of one reviewer and added a dash of Worcestershire, but even that didn't perk it up. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I've been making this recipe for years but I've tweaked it a bit. I leave out the nutmeg and add fresh minced garlic to the melted butter before I add the flour. You can also add some garlic to the bread crumb topping. For those of you who think the recipe is a little bland, this will do the trick! item not reviewed by moderator and published
So disappointed . Bland , Bland . Followed it to a tee and even added some fresh garlic. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Why the hate for nutmeg? I leaned long ago that nutmeg is good in anything milky..for sweet AND savory. So anytime I add more than a cup of milk to something, nutmeg is in there too. It is sort of like when you add a touch of coffee flavor to chocolate don't taste the spice itself, but it just enhances the flavor. I made this mac n cheese, and it was good, not amazing. I don't really want to fault the recipe too much as I did use 4 to one ratio of cheddar to gruyere. The gruyere was just a little pungent for my guests (some were kids.) I also thought there was too much crumb topping, even in a 13x9 pan mine was like a complete crust. I like it more thin with some filling showing. I could have just not used it all though. The texture of the mac n cheese was very nice, not too dry, not too wet. I just didn't get that "oooooh, cheesey" mouth feel. Maybe I need to experiment more with cheeses. This is a good starting place though! item not reviewed by moderator and published
Absolutely delicious! I get the idea that those who have ingrained memories of mac & cheese don't like this one because it deviates from the traditional in a way that strikes them as unsettling. Because I never had mac & cheese until I was an adult & always felt funny about eating what looked like cheese wiz, I never really loved this dish, until Ina Garten's version with gruyere and cheddar, two of my favorites. The flavors are BIG -- always something I love in any dish. I followed this recipe almost to a T. The only modifications was that I added slightly less salt and slightly less nutmeg (because I was influenced by other reviews). I'd guess that slightly = 85% of what Ina recommended. Next time I'll add all of the nutmeg but still keep the salt at a reduced level. In my neck of the woods, this dish costs approximately $20 to make with top of the line cheeses. While somewhat expensive, I'd say this is DEFINITELY worth the expense if you and your people like big flavors. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Too much nutmeg for my taste. I added exactly 1/2 teaspoon as called for. Will try again without it or try 1/4 teaspoon instead. Wish I would have read the reviews before I made it for Christmas dinner. item not reviewed by moderator and published
I love all the comments about how this is a "GREAT recipe" from people who go on to say how they substituted, omitted, or altered the proportions of most of the ingredients. Sounds like you folks have some great recipes--if this one was so great you wouldn't have to make so many diversions from it. Maybe this is a great inspiration for your own recipe. Personally, I don't think this recipe is a good choice if you're going for classic/traditional. It may be good to serve to your own household or entertaining friends with more adventurous tastes, but for holidays I think it's best to go with traditional and this receipt isn't the one. Tomatoes, nutmeg, and Gruyere are all great things, but not together and not in a mac n cheese recipe. item not reviewed by moderator and published
Me and my kids love this. item not reviewed by moderator and published

This recipe is featured in:

Ina Garten's Thanksgiving Menu