Baked White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Baked white cheddar mac and cheese with onion jam in a 6 inch cast iron skillet.

After many, MANY attempts, I finally have a creamy, baked white cheddar mac and cheese recipe to add to the blog! I definitely did not almost give up three or more times while trying to figure this recipe out.

Baked White Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Recipe by Dee

Ingredients

  • 2 oz penne pasta

  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter

  • 1 tbsp. all purpose flour

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 1 1/2 cup grated white cheddar cheese

  • 1 tbsp. stone ground mustard

  • 1 tbsp. onion jam

  • 1/2 tsp. ground paprika

  • 1/4 tsp. chili flakes

  • Fine sea salt

  • Bread crumbs

Directions

  • Set the oven to 375 F or 190 C
  • Fill a 1.5 quart Dutch oven with water, place over medium high heat, and bring to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt to the water and add the pasta. Cook for 5 minutes and drain. Set the pasta aside and wash the Dutch oven.
  • Put the Dutch oven over medium low heat. Once the pan is hot, add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and stir constantly until the mixture turns a very light brown, about 1-2 minutes.
  • While stirring, pour in 1/2 cup of the milk, a little at a time, stirring after each pour. The mixture will bubble rapidly and thicken. Stir until there are no clumps left, and then stir while slowly pouring in the rest of the milk. Continue to stir the bechamel until it thickens and bubbles, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir the cheese into the bechamel, and once it has melted, turn off the stove and stir in the mustard, onion jam, paprika, and chili flakes. Taste and add salt as needed. Stir the pasta into the cheese mix, then pour the mac and cheese into a 6 inch cast iron skillet and top with bread crumbs.
  • Bake the mac and cheese for 20 to 25 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Remove the mac and cheese from the oven and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Enjoy!

Notes:

  • You can use traditional macaroni pasta or rigatoni instead of penne, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try making fresh penne or rigatoni.
  • Trust me on the onion jam. It’s delicious in this dish. You can make your own or buy some from the grocery store. You should be able to find it near the fancy cheeses in the deli aisle.
  • Be careful of how much salt you add to the mac and cheese. It can go from delicious to way too much very quickly.
  • Use whatever plain bread crumbs you have. I used brioche breadcrumbs that I made a little while ago but you can use panko breadcrumbs if you prefer. 
  • Use an oven thermometer to ensure your oven is at the right temperature. If the oven is too hot, the sauce will break. A broken sauce doesn’t change the taste, but it’s still frustrating when it happens.
Baked white cheddar mac and cheese with onion jam in a 6 inch cast iron skillet.

Ramblings: This Recipe Didn't Take Long To Figure Out At All...

Insert sobbing emoji face here.

I’ve wanted to post a mac and cheese recipe here for years.

YEARS!

And I haven’t because I couldn’t figure it out. 

Either the sauce didn’t taste right, the pasta was too mushy, or the sauce would break.

The sauce always broke. 

I finally got stubborn with this recipe and decided not to give up.

(I totally almost gave up.)

It took six or seven tries, and by the end, I was sick of mac and cheese, but it turned out well in the end, so it’s fiiine.

Did I say it took three times to get this recipe right at the very top of this post?

I did, didn’t I?

Ha.

Hahaha.

I was incorrect. It was six or seven.

Yeah.

It’s going to be a while before I make another mac and cheese recipe, so I hope you enjoy this one!

The end!!

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