Best Mac ‘N Cheese

So it’s a very busy week this week, cooking-wise, for me. There’s Easter, of course, but also Passover and Phoenix’s First Birthday Party on Saturday. The inspiration for his party was “The Ants Go Marching One by One”, his favorite song and it’s a Camping Theme. So, there will be my Mom’s Deviled Eggs, Smoked Meats, My Mom’s Baked Beans, Shorty’s Coleslaw, Birthday Cake (of course) and a special S’Mores Ice Cream I made for the occasion.

Since I have to host one party and turn around and pivot to Easter the next day, I wanted a super easy meal. I considered getting Honeybaked Ham with the sides from there, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So, I got a Spiral-Cut Ham, Asparagus I will Roast, Fresh Tomatoes I will slice and I made Mac ‘N Cheese ahead and froze it.

This is my favorite Mac ‘N Cheese recipe and it’s very adaptable. Although it lists Cheddar and Gouda cheeses, it could easily be subbed for whatever cheese you have on hand, even blue or goat (assuming you like them). It is from cooking teacher Carole Kotkin and came from an Ocean Reef newsletter. For me, it has saved the day many a time when I didn’t know what to make, but had plenty of little remnants of cheese and pasta around.

This also reminds me of a meal my Mom used to make when my Dad was away on trips, but she would make Kraft Mac ‘N Cheese, with ham patties (out of a can) she fried and sliced tomatoes. The recipe has breadcrumbs on top, but I have skipped that step as I don’t want anything getting in the way of me and that beautiful cheesy topping. Enjoy!

Best Mac ‘N Cheese

Recipe by Carole KotkinCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Moderate


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 3/4 cups milk

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour

  • 5 tablespoons butter

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

  • 2 1/4 cups grated cheddar cheese

  • 1 cup grated Gruyere (or Swiss) cheese

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 pound elbow or penne macaroni

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  • Heat the milk, either on stove top or in microwave.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring 1 minute.
  • While whisking, slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
  • Remove pan from heat and add salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne, 1 cup of Cheddar cheese and 3/4 cup Gruyere. Set cheese sauce aside.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a generous amount of salt to water and add macaroni. Cook 2 to 3 minutes less than package instructions.
  • Drain pasta in colander. Stir macaroni into reserved cheese sauce.
  • Pour mixture into a 9 x 13″ buttered baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheeses over the top and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes, or until top is browned.


  • Note that the cheese is divided, so don’t dump it all into the cheese sauce as you need some to top the Mac ‘N Cheese.

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Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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