Crowd-Sourced Mac and Cheese

“Macaroni and cheese holds a special place in my heart. I grew up on my mom’s recipe, which she made only on special occasions; in between she made the pinch hitter from the blue box. As an adult, I developed a recipe for Spicy Mac and Cheese that I credit with making my former catering company successful. That catering company led me to Food Network — so my love affair with mac and cheese is real! During a 2016 episode of The Kitchen, my cohosts, two guests and I attempted to make the ultimate Thanksgiving macaroni and cheese, a group effort in which each person secretly added an ingredient. The result was a stovetop version with a creamy cheddar and gruyere bechamel. Our pasta was cavatappi (my addition) and we added brussels sprouts, squash and a toasted breadcrumb topping. It wasn’t bad, but viewers thought there were too many cooks in the kitchen. People started debating what the perfect macaroni and cheese should be, so I thought it would be fun to post a Twitter poll inviting passionate mac and cheese eaters to share their preferences for the “grater” good. Here’s what you came up with. Whether or not to top it was a tie, so the test kitchen made it both ways — you can pick a side!” says Sunny.
Save Recipe
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
Share This Recipe



  1. Preheat the oven to 400 ̊ F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook as the label directs for al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, melt 6 tablespoons butter in a large pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking, until smooth and lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth, then add the mustard powder, cayenne, nutmeg and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the sauce simmers and thickens slightly, 7 to 8 minutes.
  3. Whisk the cheeses into the sauce one at a time, letting the cheese melt before adding more. Stir in the pasta to coat, adding the reserved cooking water as needed to loosen. (It’s OK if the sauce is loose — it will thicken as it bakes.)
  4. Transfer the mac and cheese to the baking dish. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, then mix with the crushed crackers and chips. Sprinkle over half of the mac and cheese. Bake until the top is browned, 20 to 25 minutes.
Macaroni and Cheese Pancakes
9m Easy 97%
Gruyère Mac and Cheese
10m Easy 97%
Mac 'n' Cheese Bites
27m Easy 99%
Stovetop Mac and Cheese with Five Stir-In Ideas
12m Easy 99%