Carbs and cheese, what’s not to love about this classic dish? This recipe is bounds above anything you could get in a box, and honestly, not a whole lot harder. Boil some noodles, make a cheese sauce, and if you like you could just stop there, or top with cheese and bake it for even more cheesy goodness. What are you waiting for?
One of the things Derek misses most from our gluten days is boxed mac and cheese. It’s convenient, cheesy and cheap. Well, as most gluten-free-ers know, being GF is anything but convenient and cheap, but at least we still have cheesy! This mac and cheese isn’t too hard to whip up. It’s easy to make in a big batch and reheat for meals throughout the week or to feed a crowd. This recipe is also great to add toppings to, mix up the cheeses, and really make something you’ll taste buds will love.
This recipe was adapted from Ree Drummond (The Pioneer Woman). I’ve always loved her recipe for mac and cheese, but have made it my own and GF.
Additions & Substitutions
This recipe is super flexible and great to add toppings to or try different cheeses with.
Feel free to substitute the classic sharp cheddar for something more refined like parmesan and gruyere or a three cheese blend of your favorites. Derek always loves pepper jack and sharp white cheddar for a spicy kick.
If you want a little extra in your mac, add in some bacon, diced jalapeno, or anything else you can think of. If the addition doesn’t need to be cooked (like cooked bacon), then add in after the cheese. If the item does need to be cooked (diced jalapeno) add in with the milk so it can cook while the sauce thickens.
Baked Mac and Cheese Changes:
If you don’t want to bake the mac and cheese, cook the noodles until completely done and don’t reserve any cheese for the top, just chuck it all in there. Once the cheese has completely melted remove the pan from the heat, add the noodles, mix, and serve.
I don’t know what else there is to say about noodles covered in cheese, so let’s just get cooking!
Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese
It's cheese and noodles. I mean just look at that deliciousness, nuff said.
See above for additions, substitutions, and general changes.
This recipe was adapted from Ree Drummond
- 3 cups dried GF elbows (I use 1 whole box of Barilla’s GF Elbows)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons gum-free GF flour (2 tablespoons white rice flour, 2 teaspoons potato starch (not flour), 1 teaspoon tapioca starch/flour)
- 2 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 to 1 1/4 teaspoon dry ground mustard (don’t add any of that hotdog accompaniment, it’s nowhere near the same)
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- 1 whole egg
- 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese (freshly grated, not pre-shredded), reserve one cup for the top if baking
- 1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt (I used Red Robin’s)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon black pepper (or more to taste)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Directions1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cook the pasta. Cook the pasta about 1-2 minutes less than the recommended time or until it is still slightly firm as it will finish cooking when it bakes (Barilla recommends cooking the elbows for 7 minutes, I only cooked mine for 5 minutes and 30 seconds). Once the pasta is done, drain and set aside.
3. Make the roux. After the pasta has finished boiling, start making the cheese sauce. Begin by making a roux in a large saucepan (big enough to fit the cheese sauce and all the pasta). Over medium-low heat melt the butter. Once the butter has melted, sprinkle the GF flour over the melted butter and immediately begin whisking. Continuously whisk and cook the flour and butter mixture (roux) for 5-7 minutes until the flour smells slightly toasty (if it starts to darken, stop cooking, but GF flour has a hard time browning, so I go by smell). Once the roux has browned or begins to smell toasted, add in the milk.
4. Thicken the sauce. Once you have added the milk, add the mustard, nutmeg, paprika, and pepper while the milk heats. Let the milk heat and stir occasionally until the sauce has thickened noticeably (about 5-7 minutes, should be the thick enough to coat the back of a spoon).
5. Add an egg. Once the sauce has thickened, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk. Take a few spoonfuls of the sauce mixture from the pan and add to the egg while whisking (this tempers the egg so it will be warm enough to not cook when added to the sauce directly). After tempering the egg, add the egg mixture into the sauce whisking the whole time.
6. Finish the cheese sauce. Once the egg is well incorporated, add in the cheese (reserve one cup of cheese to sprinkle on top if baking). Add the cheese to the sauce in quarters and mix for 30-45 seconds after each addition to make sure it is melted into the sauce and doesn’t reduce the temperature of the sauce too drastically. Once all the cheese is in, add the salt and taste. Remember, this is going over unsalted noodles, so the sauce should be a bit salty when you are done. After tasting, feel free to add more spices to fit your needs.
7. Add noodles. Once the cheese is all melted and the sauce is smooth, add in the noodles and mix to coat. Once the noodles are evenly mixed in, pour the cheese and noodle mixture into a lightly greased/buttered casserole pan and evenly top with the reserved one cup of cheese.
8. Bake. Place the casserole dish into the center of your preheated oven and bake uncovered for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.
9. Enjoy! Remove the mac and cheese from the oven and let cool for 7 minutes before cutting and serving. Immediately devour and make mental plans to make this again in the immediate future.
That’s it. An easy recipe for some seriously delicious cheese pay-off. If you’re interested in other wonderful weeknight dinners, check out these recipes:
Thanks so much for reading and as always, I hope you have a wonderful day!