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Mac n Cheese Bar

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 50 min
  • Active: 35 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

16 ounces small elbow macaroni 

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the baking dish 

1 small onion, finely chopped 

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika 

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1/2 cup all-purpose flour 

6 cups whole milk 

8 ounces Brie, rind removed 

8 ounces Gruyere, shredded 

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs 

1/2 cup grated Parmesan 

Ideas for serving:

Kale chips

Hot dogs, cut into bite-sized rounds 

Chopped cooked bacon



Hot sauce 

Everything bagel seasoning 

Chopped roasted red bell peppers

Ranch dressing 


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil; add salt. Cook the macaroni for 1 minute less than the timing listed on the package instructions. Drain the macaroni and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with butter; set aside.
  3. In a large skillet or saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, 4 to 6 minutes. Stir in the cayenne, paprika, nutmeg and several turns of black pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add 3 cups of the milk and cook, stirring and whisking frequently, until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes; repeat with the remaining 3 cups milk. (I like to use a whisk if I see any lumps. Otherwise, I stir with a spoon or spatula.) Add the Brie and Gruyère, stirring until the cheese is completely melted. Take the skillet off the heat and stir in the cooked macaroni. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the panko and Parmesan. Bake until golden brown on top, about 15 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Serve with a bar of ingredients on the side for your guests to choose!