You’ve never had macaroni like this before.
Many people claim to have the best macaroni and cheese recipe, but this extra creamy French mac and cheese recipe is the winner in my book. Of all the recipes I’ve tried this one has the most complex, richest, savoriest flavor and texture I’ve come across. And coming from a mac and cheese aficionado that’s not nothing.
There’s cheddar in the ingredients as well as a few heavy-hitter ingredients that are common to France. Every single bite of this mouthwatering dish was delicious, from the lightly crunchy topping to the noodles on the very bottom of the pan.
After you cook your pasta to al dente you’re ready to get started on the rest of the recipe. I just used the regular small elbow macaroni for this one, but cavatapi, penne, and ditalini are all good for this recipe as well.
The sauce is made from cheddar, onion powder, minced garlic, and cheddar. There’s also shredded Gruyère cheese in there, as well as some crème fraîche. The cheese I had to grate myself since it usually only comes in blocks. I was lucky to find the crème fraîche in the deli area not far from the specialty cheeses.
It’s becoming more popular in the US thanks to the rich and distinctive flavor it imparts to so many dishes. Crème fraîche is a cultured sour cream with some butterfat added to it. Unlike sour cream it’s not entirely tangy and has a deeper flavor and a silkier texture. If you can’t find it you can use Mexican crema or sour cream instead. But, the latter doesn’t always mix as well as crème fraîche does when baked in the oven.
I also added some white pepper to the sauce mixture for a little extra kick of flavor. You could add some red chili flakes or some nutmeg instead if your prefer.
Mix it all together then top it with some sliced Brie cheese for an added dimension of flavor. I like to cut off most of the rind before doing adding this cheese to my recipes. I also think it melts better without the rind on.
The topping is made from bread crumbs and I always buy the Italian kind since the herbs add more flavor to every dish I make with them. Bake this all up and serve while it’s stringy, gooey, melty hot for a mac and cheese experience like no other.
Extra Creamy French Mac & Cheese
- 16 oz elbow pasta
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 12 oz crème fraîche (or sub sour cream or Mexican crema)
- 2 cups grated Gruyère cheese, divided
- 2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
- 8 oz Brie cheese
- 1/3 cup herbed breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. Prepare and drain pasta to al dente. Pour drained pasta into greased 11"x13" baking dish.
- Add garlic, onion powder, crème fräiche, 1 1/2 cups Gruyère cheese, and 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese to pasta and stir well. Sprinkle with salt and peppers, then add breadcrumbs and remaining Gruyère and cheddar cheeses evenly on top. Remove most of the rind from the Brie. Dot with torn pieces of Brie and pour remaining butter on top.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Increase oven to 375˚F and bake for 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and is starting to brown around the edges. If it darkens too quickly cover with foil part way through baking.
Recipe adapted from The Spruce Eats.