I’m a firm – FIRM – believer in mac and cheese being a mandatory element of a successful and delicious Thanksgiving spread. I’ve found two parties here: people that are with me and see it as a necessary accompaniment just like stuffing or mashed potatoes, and then the people who never include it with their other sides.
If you are in that second group…why? Who hurt you?
Jk. BUT let’s talk about some life changes you need to make, starting with bookmarking this mac and cheese recipe and sliding it into your folder/note/Pinterest board of Thanksgiving recipes you WILL make this year. Kay? Kay.
This mac and cheese is so perfect, creamy, cheesy, flavorful, and delicious that it’s verging on straight up wrong. We’ve got perfectly cooked mac and cheese folded into a sauce that we make from scratch. Before you get intimidated by that, don’t get intimidated by that. See? Wasn’t that easy?
The reality is, mac and cheese sauce is one of the easiest things ever to make from scratch, and once you learn how, you’ll buy those boxed mixes way less often. Sometimes you just are craving the fake cheesy taste of some Easy Mac, and in those situations, do your worst, my friend. But on a normal mac and cheese night, you’ll make it from scratch and won’t go back!
All you do is make a roux (butter and flour), add milk, let it thicken, and add cheese. Done. So easy.
In this case, we go fancy with the cheese. Because it’s Thanksgiving and this holiday deserves the most delicious combination of cheeses to be melted luxuriously into our mac and cheese sauce. We’ve got:
- Straight up cheddar
To be exact and even fancier, the gouda and gruyere are both aged. One was “cave” aged. Like…what does that even mean? Who knows…but I am SO DOWN.
And then the topping…ahhh, the topping, my friends. We’ve got some extra cheese + crushed ritz crackers that have been lovingly tossed in melted butter. LIFE. We bake it in the oven until it is hot and bubbly and the top is golden brown and crunchy.
Serve this mac and cheese this year and be LIVING your best Thanksgiving life.Print
Baked 3 Cheese Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 40 mins
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
- 1 pound box elbow macaroni
- 1 cup each of fresh grated cheddar, gouda, and gruyere cheese + a little extra of each (a few tablespoons of each for topping at the end)
- 1 stick of butter, divided
- 6 tablespoons flour
- 5 cups whole milk
- 1 sleeve of ritz crackers, crushed (about 1 1/2 cups when crushed)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Get a pot of salted water (it should taste like the ocean) boiling for your pasta. When boiling, add your macaroni and cook on the low end of your package instructions (if it gives you a range of 6-7 minutes, for example, boil it for 6 and drain immediately)
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 6 tablespoons of your butter over medium – medium high heat. When melted, whisk in your flour. Let this cook for about 30 seconds and then whisk in your milk (this goes faster if you microwave your milk first until it’s warm, but that step is totally optional)
- Bring this to a simmer and cook until the sauce has thickened. Once it’s simmering, it won’t take more than 5 minutes to thicken. Remove the sauce from the heat, season with salt and pepper, add your nutmeg, and stir in your cheese until everything has melted together (only the 1 cup of each cheese – not the extra few tablespoons of each – keep that set aside for now)
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
- Add the pasta back into your pot and pour in the cheese sauce. Stir to combine and season to taste
- Add the mac and cheese into a 9×13 baking dish
- In a bowl, melt your remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add your crushed ritz crackers to the bowl and stir until the butter is coating the crackers evenly
- Sprinkle your remaining cheese evenly across the top of the macaroni and add your buttered crushed ritz crackers on top of the cheese in an even layer
- Bake in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes
You can switch up your cheeses here to be whatever you are feeling, but I recommend doing a mixture of different cheeses for some delicious variety in flavor!
If you make this or any of my other recipes, be sure to Instagram it and hashtag #thegarlicdiaries!
In the mood for more yummy mac and cheese ideas? Check these out: