Mac & Cheese with Sausage Meatballs

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 35 min
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

Kosher salt

12 ounces cavatappi or other corkscrew pasta 

1 cup crushed cheese crackers

2 1/4 cups whole milk

10 ounces bulk sweet Italian sausage 

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese 

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

2 ounces processed cheese (such as Velveeta), cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚ F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain. Reserve the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup crushed cheese crackers and 1/4 cup milk in a medium bowl; let sit until slightly softened, about 10 minutes. Add the sausage and 2 tablespoons Parmesan and mix well to combine. Form the sausage mixture into 1-inch meatballs (about 28); arrange on the prepared pan. Bake until golden and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. 
  3. Add the flour and the remaining 2 cups milk to the reserved pot and whisk until smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook, whisking, until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the cheddar and processed cheese and stir until smooth. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon salt and the mustard. 
  4. Add the pasta and 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water to the cheese sauce and stir to coat. Add the meatballs and stir to coat; thin with the remaining 1/4 cup cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. 
  5. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup crushed cheese crackers and 1 tablespoon Parmesan in a small bowl. Divide the mac and cheese among bowls and sprinkle with the cracker mixture.