Ultimate macaroni cheese

Ultimate macaroni cheese

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(27 ratings)

Prep: 40 mins - 45 mins Cook: 25 mins


Serves 4 generously, with enough for seconds

Learn how to make perfect macaroni cheese every time with this recipe

Nutrition and extra info

  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal819
  • fat42g
  • saturates26g
  • carbs78g
  • sugars12g
  • fibre3g
  • protein36g
  • salt2.03g
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  • 175g mature cheddar, such as Denhay



    Once cheddar was 'Cheddar', a large, hard-pressed barrel of cheese made by a particular…

  • 50g Gruyère



    Gruyère is an undoubted pinnacle of traditional Swiss cheese-making, a culinary masterpiece as…

  • 50g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)



    Parmesan is a straw-coloured hard cheese with a natural yellow rind and rich, fruity flavour. It…

  • 50g white bread, crusts cut off
  • 3 medium tomatoes



    A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…

  • 280g good-quality macaroni
  • 700ml full-fat milk, plus a bit extra



    One of the most widely used ingredients, milk is often referred to as a complete food. While cow…

  • 50g butter



    Butter is made when lactic-acid producing bacteria are added to cream and churned to make an…

  • 50g plain flour, minus 1 tsp
  • 1 rounded tsp Dijon mustard


  1. Making macaroni cheese is a bit of a juggling act, so it’s easier if you get a few things prepared ahead. Finely grate all the cheeses, keeping them separate. Tear the bread into pieces and whizz in a food processor to coarse crumbs. Mix 25g of the cheddar and one-third of the Parmesan into the breadcrumbs. Toss the rest of the cheeses together and set aside. Thickly slice the tomatoes. Butter a dish, about 30 x 20 x 5.5cm. Heat oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5.

  2. Put a pan of water on to boil. Tip the macaroni into the boiling water, stir and bring it back to the boil. Simmer for 8 mins, or cook according to pack instructions, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking. While this is cooking, start the sauce.

  3. Warm the milk in a jug in the microwave (or in a pan). Melt the butter in a pan (big enough to take the macaroni as well), then stir in the flour. Cook for 1 min, stirring, then take off the heat. Pour in one-third of the warm milk and beat well with a wooden spoon until smooth – it is quite thick at this stage. Add another third – it may go a bit lumpy, but keep beating well and it will go smooth again. Pour in the final third of milk and keep beating until smooth.

  4. When the macaroni is done, tip it into a colander and put it briefly under very hot running water to keep it separate. Drain. Put the pan of sauce back on the heat and cook, stirring, until thickened and smooth. Lower the heat and simmer for about 4 mins until glossy, stirring every now and then. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese and mustard, then beat in 5 tbsp milk, or enough to give a slack coating consistency. Taste and season (you shouldn’t need much salt). If the macaroni is sticking at all, put it under the hot tap again, then stir to separate. Drain well, then gently mix it into the sauce and stir to coat completely. If necessary, adjust the consistency again with milk. There should be enough sauce to coat the macaroni thickly and liberally.

  5. Tip the macaroni cheese into the buttered dish, scatter over the cheesy crumbs and lay the tomatoes casually over the top. Heat through in the oven for 12-15 mins until beginning to bubble around the edges. Grill for 3-5 mins to brown the crumbs. Let it all settle for 1-2 mins, then serve while still piping hot.

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Comments (35)

littlejones's picture

My first ever attempt at macaroni cheese was a tad disastrous, quite dry with none of the silky richness you expect from the dish, so I was a bit worried about trying again. Well, this recipe was a revelation. A bit fiddly, but very easy with a great consistency and lots of flavour. I was a bit dubious about the tomatoes on top, but they're a lovely touch and prevent it being too salty. The only change I made was to add some smoked bacon, which I pre-fried for crispiness and mixed in along with the pasta, which was very nice. Clean plates all round and I will definitely be making it again.

jimsuter's picture

Best recipe I've tried. Followed the recipe exactly and added some pancetta which I mixed in with the cooked macaroni when I added the sauce. The breadcrumbs on top are a great addition and adds a lovely crunch. Definitely making this again :)

winter9371's picture

Amazing absolutely delicious recipe! My family and friends loved it. I added 200gms smoked bacon to it the second time and it was double delicious! Wow!

eleanor73's picture

Made this last night for my cheese mad sister. It went down really well. Didn't have gruyere but did add a little blue wensleydale into the sauce and on the topping which gave it a good savoury taste. Will do again.

rhiannon93's picture

This is the second time I've made this, and it goes down a storm at my house. I opted for no tomatoes on mine though. This time round I swapped gruyere for Emmentaller and it tastes just as lovely

lovetoentertain's picture

Made this dish after thinking of ways to use up the remains of our cheese board! I used the same quantity of cheese but used different cheeses including a goats cheese. I used long Thick macaroni and didn't add the breadcrumbs on the top but did grate extra cheddar on the top instead!
My other half LOVED this dish and said it was the best macaroni cheese he ever has had. A 10/10 dish! I served it with a Salad tossed in sesame oil mustard and lemon juice vinergeatte which i thought worked well against the cheesy dish.

sandypandy77's picture

Kids thought it was the best macaroni cheese they'd ever had. Didn't have gruyere or Parmesan in so just added a bit extra cheddar. Added some veggie bacon that needed using to the sauce before adding the pasta. Used wholemeal breadcrumbs and halved a few cherry tomatoes for the top. Tasted delicious and plenty of leftovers for tomorrow night too. Would very easily serve 4 adults.

traceybrain's picture

Absolutely sublime!

lynneblandford's picture

sorry forgot to rate it!

lynneblandford's picture

Great comments from the whole family last night!

alexandrab's picture

Yummy! I hadn't made macaroni cheese before but the prep for this is totally worth the effort. Like Patto I would add more tomatoes next time for the contrast. I froze the leftovers, the sauce had disappeared a bit but it was still nice. I think this would generously serve 4 or 5.

ruaux7137's picture

Amazing! We loved it. We didn't have any gruyere so used some strong cheddar in its place, and added some bacon (it needed using up).

gjmcminn's picture

Lovely macaroni cheese; the only thing I would change is to discard the tomatoes as they stop the top from crusting underneath them

piesanivy's picture

As am disabled it has to be easy. Used a Cheese sauce mix, just added extra grated Chedder, what really makes the dish, is the lovely crunchy cheesy topping. And it uses stale Bread which I am always trying to use up. 10 out of ten.

leason's picture

Easy to make, delicious, fussy kids really liked it and everyone wanted seconds

issikle's picture

Very easy to follow and wow it tastes great! My first time making macaroni cheese and for a very critical lover of this dish and it was a massive success. Highly recommended.

emilyshort's picture

Made this for a veggie friend and she loved it. There was quite alot of prep, and I thought the cheese sauce turned out runnier after cooking, so would let it thicken more before baking next time!

mirelle1399's picture

Really velvety texture and tasty, it is fattening though :-( but fills you up a treat, it is worth the effort as a winter warmer. I left the tomatoes off, only because i am not a fan of hot tomotoes with pasta. This is definately up there with the best i have ever had!

clairet350's picture

Best macaroni cheese I have ever tasted! Definately worth the effort. Comfort food at its best.

freshcream's picture

the picture looks so awful, i am really surprised so many ppl have given it good reviews...even then im not tempted to make it, the picture has really turned me off!


Questions (3)

Mandyjb1970's picture

Could you tell me if I can make this recipe the day before and then heat it on the day required? Would I require more sauce so it doesn't dry out?

Tamlen's picture

Curious, 800 calories is almost what I can eat in an entire day.
Is that for the whole recipe, or just a serving?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi there, thanks for your question. The calorie count it per serving. Thanks, 

BBC Good Food team

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