Win an Instant Vortex Plus 10 Quart Air Fryer, Rotisserie, and Convection Oven! →

There’s no other comfort food quite like a bowl of mac & cheese. Rather than grabbing a box of pre-packaged noodles, try opting for the “grown-up” version of this family favorite: macaroni & cheese made with only whole ingredients.

The perfect blend of cheeses is equal parts sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack. Don’t buy them pre-shredded, though. Use whole blocks of the cheese and shred them down yourself to avoid the additional ingredients (like cellulose) used to stop the cheese from sticking. Additionally, you can enhance the dish’s flavor with some mustard powder and cayenne pepper for that extra kick. Keep reading below for this delicious recipe…

Grown-Up Macaroni and Cheese

(makes 14-16 servings)


  • 1lb elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon salt for boiling water, plus 1 teaspoon for the dish
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons set aside for bread crumbs
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 8oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 8oz Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs


  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. In a large pot or dutch oven, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil, then add macaroni noodles and 1 tablespoon salt.
  3. Cook until noodles are tender (just past al dente).
  4. Drain pasta and set aside.
  5. In the same pot or dutch oven, melt 5 tablespoons butter until foaming.
  6. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne pepper. Whisk until well incorporated, about 1 minute.
  7. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring the mixture to a boil.
  8. Continue to whisk until mixture has thickened to about the consistency of heavy cream, then remove from heat.
  9. Whisk in the cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt, whisking until cheese is melted.
  10. Stir in the pasta, then cook on low, stirring often until the mixture is steaming (about 5 or 6 minutes).
  11. Transfer the pasta mixture to a broiler-safe dish (9″x13″) and spread evenly.
  12. Melt two tablespoons butter and mix with panko bread crumbs.
  13. Spread the bread crumbs evenly over the pasta, and transfer the dish to the oven.
  14. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until bread crumbs brown.
  15. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  16. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from the Food Network

Subscribe to 12 Tomatoes