Ultimate macaroni cheese

Ultimate macaroni cheese

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(27 ratings)

Prep: 40 mins - 45 mins Cook: 25 mins


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)

stellaf's picture

Hi can I freeze this or get it ready a few hours before a party of 60 people - up until the topping stage??

veggietastic's picture

I made this on Sunday for my housemate and I. I wanted to try an alternate recipe to the one I have used for years and I was delighted with the results. As a vegetarian I am just as interested in colour, texture and flavour as omnivores and yet so much veggie food is presented as bland and uninspiring. This however was tasty and with it's crunchy cheesy topping with tomatoes was exciting and of course led to seconds with still plenty left over. Should easily serve four.

odelle's picture

Great standby dish to have in the freezer, it's delicious!
Good with fried bacon, leeks, spring onions ,mushrooms, what ever you've got in the fridge, a great way of using up 'bits & pieces'!
Love the crunchy bread-crumb mixture to top to add nice texture!

shiftyblue's picture

Excellent recipe ... swapped out the tomatoes and breadcrumbs and replaced with pepperoni, chopping some up and putting it in the sauce, and used the rest of the pepperoni as a topping for a change and tasted wonderful ... so simple to put together as well

bluesnicket's picture

Lovely recipe, a little involved but worth the effort. I didn't add the extra 5tb milk in step 5, I didn't think it needed it. I also used panko breadcrumbs as I had them to hand. The recipe feeds 6 easily.

emmasfood's picture

I can't find how many servings this recipe is supposed to feed, only that it's easily doubled

pariss's picture

I used some leftover crusty brown bread for my topping and added crispy bacon to the pasta mix. Absolutely gorgeous! will definately make again and again..

mbrenland's picture

I thought this recipe was going to be quite hard but i fount it easy i done everything the recipe said and it came out great my family loved it i will be making this again.

notmum's picture

I thought this was a very simple dish and very tasty even though I only used a fraction of the amount of cheese, I just couldn't bring myself to add so much and to be honest it really didn't need that much.

purpleflufff's picture

I have made this following the ingredients exactly but I can see how it can easily be changed slightly to good effect. I will be making this again though its not an ideal mid-week dinner as it is quite a lot of effort. I liked BARBARAS idea and will add leeks next time too!

timlettany's picture

Added some taleggio for those cheesy wires!

manara's picture

the mustard is the key thing here! before this i was always confused as to why my macaroni cheese didn't have a strong kick but the mustard brings it. you can't taste it but it brings out the cheesy flavours! mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

teachuk1's picture

This was a lovely dish and one i would make again.. I used the cheeses i had in my fridge which was a mature cheddar and some blue cheese and also added some cooked leeks and mushrooms. I adapted the amount of ingredients and served this to 9 hungry people and they all came back for seconds.

gem090383's picture

Definitely worth the preparation, nice for a chance, I would make this again!

patto4795's picture

Quite involved preparation, but well worth the effort. Next time i make this i am going to add another layer of tomatoes in the middle for more sweetness against the strong cheeses. Definitely a winner though.


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