For a bowl full of comfort and satisfaction, this creamy, homemade white cheddar mac and cheese is perfect. We begin by by creating a smooth and velvety cheese sauce that will tantalize your taste buds. To achieve the ultimate baked mac and cheese consistency, we top it off with a crispy breadcrumb layer, and then bake it to perfection in the oven. This easy-to-follow, family-friendly recipe takes less than an hour from start to finish.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Elbow Noodles: Feel free to substitute with other pasta shapes like shells, fusilli, or even penne in this white cheddar mac and cheese recipe.
- Butter: If you prefer, margarine can be used as a substitute.
- All-Purpose Flour: This helps thicken our cheese sauce to just the right consistency. For those on a gluten-free diet, a gluten-free flour blend can work just as well.
- Whole Milk: If you like 2% or skim milk, it can also be used, but the sauce won’t be as rich. Alternatively, for an extra creamy white cheddar mac and cheese, you can use half and half or heavy cream.
- Sharp White Cheddar Cheese: Feel free to experiment with other types of cheddar or even a blend of your favorite cheeses. Gruyere cheese is a nice substitute for part of the cheddar.
- Smoked Gouda Cheese: Adding a subtle smoky flavor smoked Gouda perfectly complements the sharpness of the white cheddar. Can't find smoked Gouda? Try substituting with smoked mozzarella or provolone.
- Cream Cheese: You could try substituting it with another soft cheese like Boursin or Neufchâtel.
- Dried Mustard: If you don't have any on hand, use a tablespoon of Dijon mustard.
- Sea Salt: Table salt or kosher salt can also be used.
- Fresh Ground Black Pepper: White pepper can be used for a milder taste.
- Cayenne Pepper: If you're not a fan of heat, this can be omitted. If you do wish to omit it, feel free to add onion powder or garlic powder for an extra pop of flavor.
- Olive Oil: Canola or vegetable oil can be used as a substitute.
- Breadcrumbs: Panko breadcrumbs can be used for an extra crispy finish or gluten-free breadcrumbs for those with dietary restrictions.
Step by Step
For the full recipe with measurements, see the recipe card at the end of the post.
First, preheat your oven to 350° F. This is also a great time to prep your 13 x 9 casserole dish with a quick spray of cooking spray.
Tips and Tricks
- Cheese Choices: While this recipe calls for white cheddar, gouda, and cream cheese, don't hesitate to switch things up. You could try using Monterey Jack, Gruyere, or even a bit of blue cheese for a tangy twist.
- Sauce Secrets: When making your roux (the butter and flour mixture), be patient. It's important to let it cook for the full three minutes to get rid of any raw flour taste.
- Milk Matters: For a more luxurious dish, try using half-and-half or even heavy cream instead of milk. It'll make your mac and cheese extra rich and creamy.
- Bread Crumbs Boost: Don't skip the breadcrumb topping! It adds a delightful crunch that contrasts perfectly with the creamy pasta. For an extra flavor boost, you could mix in some grated Parmesan cheese or a pinch of garlic powder with your breadcrumbs.
How do you upgrade white cheddar mac and cheese?
There are many ways to upgrade white cheddar mac n cheese, including adding different types of cheese (such as blue cheese or gruyere), mixing in additional ingredients like bacon or veggies, or experimenting with different types of pasta.
You can also play with the spices and seasonings used, adding more heat or depth of flavor. The possibilities are endless!
Is white cheddar the same as cheddar?
While white cheddar is made from the same base cheese as orange cheddar, it has a slightly different aging process and does not contain annatto (a natural food coloring used to give orange cheddar its color).
So while they are similar, they do have some minor differences in flavor and appearance. Some people may prefer one over the other depending on their taste preferences. However, both are delicious in mac and cheese recipes!
Store leftover mac and cheese with white cheddar in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop, adding a splash of milk if needed to make it creamy again.
More Mac and Cheese Recipes to Try
- For the busy bees, our Crockpot Mac and Cheese recipe is a time-saving wonder, turning simple ingredients into a mouthwatering meal while you're out and about.
- Calling all veggie lovers! Our Veggie Mac and Cheese infuses your favorite comfort food with a rainbow of fresh, nutritious vegetables for a healthy twist.
- Add a satisfying crunch to your meal with our Macaroni and Cheese with Breadcrumbs recipe, where golden, toasty breadcrumbs meet creamy pasta in perfect harmony.
- Quick, easy, and delightfully creamy, our Instant Pot Mac and Cheese with Cream Cheese is a game-changer, proving that great comfort food doesn't have to take hours to prepare.
White Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- 16 ounces elbow noodles
- ¼ cup butter
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 ½ pounds sharp white cheddar cheese
- ½ pound smoked Gouda cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon dried mustard
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- Preheat your oven to 350° F. Spray a 13 x 9 casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain.
- While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and cook for three minutes.
- Add the milk, and cook for about 6 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the cheddar cheese, gouda cheese, and cream cheese. Cook for 3 to 4 more minutes until the cheese melts.
- Stir in the dried mustard, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Toss the drained noodles with the cheese sauce. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish.
- Stir the breadcrumbs and oil together in a small bowl and sprinkle over the mac and cheese.
- Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden and bubbly.