Beer mac 'n' cheese

Beer mac 'n' cheese

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(55 ratings)

Prep: 5 mins Cook: 40 mins


Serves 4

A staple of Manhattan's East Village, Emma Freud's cheddar and pale ale pasta dish is the ultimate comfort food

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Vegetarian

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal589
  • fat35g
  • saturates22g
  • carbs37g
  • sugars8g
  • fibre2g
  • protein27g
  • salt1.4g
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  • 50g butter



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 50g spinach



    Used in almost every cuisine across the world, spinach is an enormously popular green vegetable…

  • 500ml milk



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

  • 250ml pale ale
  • 220g macaroni
  • 100g cheddar, grated



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

  • 200g mozzarella, grated


  1. Heat the grill to its highest setting. In a flameproof casserole dish or metal frying pan, melt the butter and fry the garlic for 2 mins. Add the spinach and cook until it wilts, about 2 mins. Pour in the milk and beer and bring to a gentle bubble. Add the macaroni and stir intermittently for around 20 mins until the pasta is cooked and covered in sauce.

  2. Stir in the cheddar and half the mozzarella. When it starts to melt, sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top and put it in the oven for around 7-10 mins or until browned on top and sensational underneath.

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Comments, questions and tips

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16th May, 2020
I've made this numerous times in the last few years. Exactly as per recipe, although doubled (to feed six). A firm family favourite. Unlike some others, I've never had it split. It can vary in bitterness depending on what beer you use. But part of the fun, to me, is trying a different beer each time! Original recipe is based on a classic American pale ale, but most British IPAs or other pale ales will do. Tasty!
Fiona Gillman's picture
Fiona Gillman
26th Nov, 2019
I wish I had read the reviews before making this. I fancied getting kennel'd in after working in the rain with a comforting macaroni and thought this could be a refreshing take on the 'usual'. Mine too has just split and I am finding the ale adds a bitter after taste, also, I think a cheese sauce starting from a roux is far richer and silky and moreish. Cross with myself for not reading the reviews and there's LOADS of the gloopy not quite sure what it is mess, that I am about serve the family. Oops.
littleones59's picture
5th Mar, 2018
made this for my family of five. thumbs up from everyone. used more pasta though ( i usually go on 75g per person) and 500ml beer and extra 200 ml milk. no problems with curdling. added 1 tsp mustard too.
sharonandrew's picture
21st Jan, 2018
made this alot love love it.
7th Jun, 2017
A recipe should taste better than the sum of it's parts. This tasted worse than any individual ingredient. I'd have rather eaten them all uncooked than this monstrous combination. Far too much beer left a bad after-taste (definitely use less than the 250ml if you're brave enough to try). Definitely one to avoid. Also, it'd be nice if the recipe had things like the oven temperature and didn't use American terminology (A hob is not a grill).
18th Jan, 2017
After reading the comments I wasn't sure how this recipe would turn out but it worked really well and was a big hit in our household. I added a teaspoon of english mustard and used gruyere cheese instead of cheddar. As per previous advice I mixed the full fat milk and pale ale together before adding. Served with a green salad and garlic bread, great comfort food.
23rd Dec, 2016
Disappointing. I used full fat milk so didn't have a problem with it curdling but we all found that the ale gave the dish an unpleasant bitterness. It also wasn't particularly saucy, just very cheesy. We'll stick to traditional macaroni cheese!
11th Dec, 2016
This was completely gank. The beer made the cheese curdle even though done at a low temperature. Dreadful.
Sara Brown
13th Nov, 2016
This was really easy to make but was missing something and would no way feed 4 people and we don't eat huge portions. I cooked it for 2 adults and 2 children and would probably add 300g of macaroni. I wouldn't increase the amount of cheese though as it was very very cheesy. I will try again but add a spoonful of mustard and increase the amount of pasta slightly. I saw another comment about curdling when beer and milk added separately but ok when combined in a jug. I had added milk and beer in a jug too and it didn't curdle either.
6th Oct, 2016
Interesting recipe! We liked the flavours, and it is lighter than a traditional mac and cheese. Be careful with the beer and milk - mine curdled on the first go and not entirely sure why? With the second attempt I mixed the beer and milk together in a jug first before adding to the pan and heating. This seemed to do the trick, as well as heating very gradually. It took a lot longer than expected, but I think this was due to me being over-cautious in heating the milk/beer mixture! I would make again.


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