This six-cheese macaroni and cheese recipe is truly the ultimate! There are 3 kinds of cheese in the sauce and 3 more layered between the noodles. If you are looking for a creamy, cheesy, flavorful macaroni and cheese you have found it!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
Soooo Creamy: This is a super creamy, gooey mac and cheese recipe! There is plenty of cheese sauce to coat the noodles, so even leftovers won't be dry!
Great Flavor: Different types of cheese are mixed together to give delicious, flavor along with maximizing the melt factor. This is the best macaroni! You are going to crave it!
Crowd Pleaser - This is the perfect recipe to take to a potluck or to serve as one of your side dishes on Thanksgiving! I also love serving this with breaded chicken cutlets. And it is filling enough to be the main dish on a regular weeknight.
See the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the full list of ingredients, including measurements.
Noodles - I used traditional elbow macaroni noodles, but penne, rotini, bow tie, and other shaped pasta may be used.
Flour - All-purpose flour is used to thicken the sauce. Bread flour can also be used.
Half and Half - Half and half adds creaminess and body to the sauce, without being too heavy. You can use a mix of regular milk and heavy cream if you prefer.
Cheese - It is very important that you use shredded cheese off the block and not pre-shredded that comes in a bag. The pre-shredded has a drying agent so that it does not clump together. This agent prevents the cheese from melting smoothly. For the creamiest macaroni, you need to shred the cheese yourself.
Seasonings - Salt and pepper are common in most macaroni recipes. This recipe has garlic powder and paprika for even more flavor.
Types of Cheese
You can change up the flavor of your mac and cheese by mixing up the types of cheese that you include. I have my favorite combination in the recipe, but feel free to mix it up and combine your favorites into 6 total cups of shredded cheese! I recommend selecting a few for flavor and a few for creaminess, to give you the ultimate macaroni that is flavorful with gooey deliciousness.
Cheddar: I love to use a blend of sharp and medium Cheddar, to build flavor complexity and richness. Mild Cheddar melts creamier than extra sharp Cheddar. I recommend using 2 cups of Cheddar, as it provides a great foundation.
Parmesan: Adds a tangy, sharp flavor. A little goes a long way.
Asiago: Similar to Parmesan cheese, but Asiago cheese is nuttier. I recommend adding ½ cup if using.
Romano: This one is similar to Parmesan as well, but Romano cheese is even sharper in flavor! Once again, just ½ cup works well.
Colby: Colby is similar to Cheddar but with a sweeter, buttery flavor.
Swiss: Another sweet cheese is Swiss, which also has a nutty flavor. The larger the holes the sharper the flavor.
Pepper Jack: Add a little heat with Pepper Jack cheese. I recommend using 2 cups for a spicy undertone.
Gruyere: Gruyere is nutty and mild.
Gouda: Even though this is a harder cheese it has a higher fat content, which means it melts really well. Gouda has a caramelly sweet flavor.
Provolone: Provolone is sharp with a buttery flavor. It is one of the best melting cheeses and will give you yummy pulls of cheese from the dish as you serve it up.
Fontina: Mild in flavor. Fontina is often used for fondue.
Monterey Jack: Monterey Jack is very mild in flavor and melts beautifully.
Mozzarella: Mozzarella has a milky, delicate flavor.
American: Creamy, salty, and mild in flavor.
Velveeta: Known for its meltiness, Velveeta is a popular choice for macaroni. But I prefer the other options, which will still give you a really creamy dish.
This is not an exhaustive list! Try adding your favorite cheese into the mix!
1) Cook the Noodles
- Salted water will help make the most flavorful macaroni, so add at least a tablespoon of salt to the water with the noodles.
- Cook to al dente, following the package instructions. The pasta will continue cooking in the oven.
2) Prepare the Sauce
- Melt butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute while stirring continuously.
- Pour the half and half in slowly while whisking. This will help the flour mix into the milk and not be lumpy.
- Cook until the mixture thickens. Stir often so that the bottom of the sauce does not scorch.
- Mix in the spices and the Cheddar-Jack cheese blend, stirring until it is completely melted.
- Pour the sauce over the noodles and mix until the pasta is completely coated.
3) Layer in the Pan
- Half of the noodles go into the pan, then half of the cheese. Top with the remaining macaroni and sprinkle the rest of the cheese over the top.
- The macaroni is mostly cooked, so you just need to bake it long enough to melt the cheese. During that time the noodles will soften a little bit more.
- If you like a golden brown crust on top of your macaroni, turn the broiler on for the last minute or two of baking.
Vegetables - Add 2-3 cups of broccoli, cauliflower, peas, butternut squash, or your favorite vegetable. I recommend cooking them to crisp-tender before adding them to the dish.
Bacon- Cook and chop 12 ounces of bacon. Stir half of it into the macaroni and sprinkle the other half over the top.
Lobster - Stir 6 ounces of cooked lobster into the pasta and top the baking dish with another 6 ounces.
Sausage - Cook 1 pound of Italian sausage. Stir it into the sauce with the noodles.
Breadcrumbs - Stir ½ cup of dried breadcrumbs with 4 tablespoons of melted butter. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta before baking.
Stovetop - If you don't want to mess with baking, this recipe can be made on the stovetop. It only uses 4 cups of cheese. Stir all of the cheese into the sauce, then add your warm macaroni noodles and serve.
Truffle - Add 2-3 teaspoons of truffle oil to your finished sauce, before stirring in the noodles. For extra flavor, top the macaroni with shaved truffles carpaccio before serving. https://amzn.to/3SdXZyn
We are cooking our way across the United States and made this recipe for our Oregon state dinner! Tillamook cheese is famous in Oregon and it makes excellent mac and cheese!
For a true Oregon-themed dinner, serve this with a classic Marionberry Pie for dessert!
Place leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
If you have a large amount of leftovers I recommend reheating it in the oven at 350°F (177°F) for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. For individual portions, add a splash of milk to the top of the macaroni and microwave at 50% power. Stir the macaroni every 60 seconds, and cook until it is hot.
If you want to do some steps ahead of time then I recommend making the recipe up to the point of finishing the sauce. Instead of layering it in the pan, store the cooked noodles, sauce, and shredded cheeses in the refrigerator separately for up to 3 days. When you are ready to bake, heat up the sauce (add some milk if the sauce is too thick), stir in the noodles, and layer the macaroni.
Let me know how you like this recipe by leaving a review! And follow along on Instagram @stateofdinner for behind-the-scenes and to be among the first to know when new recipes post!
6 Cheese Macaroni and CheeseRecipe by:
- 1 pound elbow macaroni noodles uncooked
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
- 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (4 ounces)
- 1 cup shredded medium Cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
- 1 cup shredded Provolone cheese (4 ounces)
- ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (1.5 ounces)
- ½ cup butter (113 grams)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (65 grams)
- 4 cups half and half
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Butter a 9x13 baking dish or spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- Fill a large pot with water and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Cook the macaroni noodles according to the package directions for al dente. When cooked, drain the pasta and set aside.1 pound elbow macaroni noodles, 1 tablespoon salt
- Meanwhile, mix the sharp Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Gruyere cheese in a medium bowl.1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, 1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, 1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
- In a separate bowl, mix the medium Cheddar, Provolone, and Parmesan cheese. Set aside.1 cup shredded medium Cheddar cheese, 1 cup shredded Provolone cheese, ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
- Melt the butter in an 8-quart stock pot over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring continuously.½ cup butter, ½ cup all-purpose flour
- Slowly pour in 2 cups of half and half, whisking continuously until the flour is blended in. Then add the remaining half and half, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the black pepper, garlic, and paprika. Whisk frequently and continue cooking for several minutes until the sauce has thickened.4 cups half and half, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Remove the pan from heat and stir in the sharp Cheddar, Monterey Jack, and Gruyere. Stir until the cheese is completely melted.
- Add the macaroni noodles and mix until the noodles are well-coated.
- Pour half of the noodles into the prepared casserole dish. Then sprinkle 1 ½ cups of the medium Cheddar, Provolone, and Parmesan mixture over the noodles. Top with the remaining macaroni, then add the rest of the cheese over the top of the dish.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the sauce is bubbling.