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Rachel Ray’s Ultimate Mac and Cheese

When you want truly indulgent mac and cheese, this is it!

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When I see a Rachael Ray recipe, I expect one of two things — it’s either going to be a quick and easy recipe that’s done in under 30 minutes or it’s a fun twist on a classic recipe. Sometimes it’s both. Her Ultimate Mac and Cheese is more of the latter since it clocks in closer to 45 minutes, but it’s definitely a fun twist on classic mac. Stuffed with bacon, shallot, garlic, truffles (and/or) truffle oil, a few kinds of cheese, and fresh herbs, it’s delicious. And it’s definitely not your mom’s mac and cheese.

We made this mac and cheese as a part of our Celebrity Mac and Cheese Recipe Showdown. It’s a fun thing where we take four celebrity recipes — some celebrity chefs, some not so much — cook them, and then taste and compare them to see how they stack up. This match-up included Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, John Legend, and Patti LaBelle. They were all very different and delicious in their own right.

Rachael’s starts with rendering some chopped bacon and then cooking down onions (or shallots!) and garlic in the fat. You then build a bechamel in the same pot (bacon, onion, garlic removed first) and then stir in Gruyere, dry mustard, and either truffles or truffle oil (or even both). It’s a lot of flavor for sure!

She then has you top the mac and cheese with just parm and then bake it for thirty minutes. There’s no breadcrumbs, but it honestly might have been too much if there were. Instead, there are fresh herbs, which you sprinkle over the top after it comes out the oven and let it sit for ten minutes or so.

When it comes to mac and cheese I am generally a purist and only include, you know, cheese and forgo add-ins like bacon and such. But this recipe might have changed that. The cheesiness does get lost a bit amongst the strong flavors of the bacon and the truffle and such, so it reads as more of a casserole to me than a true mac and cheese, but in any case, it’s a delicious one. The herbs add brightness to the indulgent richness so it’s balanced and it really does taste “ultimate” even if it ultimately doesn’t feel like mac and cheese.

To see how this staked up with the other celebrity mac and cheeses, see our Celebrity Mac and Cheese Recipe Showdown article!

Yield(s): Serves 4-6

15m prep time

30m cook time

Rated 5.0 out of 5
Rated by 2 reviewers

Allergens: Milk, Gluten, Eggs

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  • 1 lb short-cut pasta, such as macaroni, penne or medium shells
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 small onion or 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Fine black pepper or white pepper
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 3 cups whole milk, at room temperature or warmed
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded Gruyere cheese or a combination of Gruyere and white cheddar
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated truffle (optional), white or black, and/or 2 teaspoons truffle-infused oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chives and parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta for 5 minutes, then drain.
  2. In a skillet or a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add bacon and render for 5 minutes, then add onions and garlic and cook until tender, 2-3 minutes. Remove to a plate.
  3. Add butter to pan, and once foaming, whisk in flour, dry mustard, salt and pepper, followed by the milk. Let thicken to coat a spoon slightly, then stir in Gruyere cheese.
  4. Add truffles and/or oil, if using. Add bacon and pasta back to pan and stir to combine.
  5. Transfer to a baking dish and top with parmesan. Bake until brown and bubbly, 30-35 minutes. Top with herbs, then let stand 5-10 minutes before serving.

Recipe from Rachael Ray Show.