SMOKY WHITE CHEDDAR MAC AND CHEESE — Elbow macaroni is tossed in a creamy smoked cheddar and Fontina cheese sauce with fresh thyme, then baked until hot and bubbly in this gourmet-style macaroni and cheese.
This decadent pasta dish is loaded with four kinds of cheese and a hint of nutmeg and thyme. I wish I could say it was healthy and low-calorie, but it’s definitely worth the indulgence!
Big hit at home! Big hit at the fire station! I like using the smoked cheddar instead of smoked gouda. The thyme really pops too. Can’t wait to try it with bacon crumbles on top! ~ Erika
The smoked cheddar might be a bit strong for some tastes, especially kids, so feel free to use more of the regular white cheddar if you prefer.
But don’t skip the fresh thyme! It’s the perfect accompaniment to the slightly smoky flavor of the cheese sauce. The flavors in this mac and cheese are pretty much perfect.
I’ll definitely be making this version of mac and cheese again–possibly with a breadcrumb topping or some cooked, crumbled bacon. Maybe both!
This would also be fabulous with some grilled chicken or roasted veggies mixed in! It’s a great basic recipe that is just begging for your favorite additions.
Did I mention I’m going to try adding bacon? Because that would seriously put this already amazing pasta dish over the top. Even as is, I can say with confidence that this is a restaurant quality meal.
Be warned, this recipe makes enough Smoky White Cheddar Mac and Cheese to feed a small army, so you may want to consider making half if you’re not feeding a crowd. Or just make it all and enjoy the leftovers!
Be sure to save this Smoky White Cheddar Mac and Cheese recipe to your favorite Pinterest board for later.
Tips for Cooking Pasta
Use a big pot: Cook pasta in a large pot–big enough to hold 6 quarts of water per pound of pasta.
Salt: Generously season your cooking water with salt. A few teaspoons per quart of water is a good place to start. Although a little more or less is fine, depending on your preference.
Don’t overcook: Boil your pasta to until it is al dente, which means it’s cooked, but still a bit chewy. You’ll want to test your pasta for flavor and texture every 20 seconds or so during the last few minutes of cooking.
If you’ll continue cooking the pasta in a sauce, or baking it in the oven, remove the pot from the heat a few minutes before it’s done to prevent overcooking.
Here’s what you’ll need to make Smoky White Cheddar Mac and Cheese
- Elbow macaroni
- Half and Half
- Cream cheese
- Dijon mustard
- Fresh thyme
- Spices: onion powder, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper
- Fontina cheese
- White American cheese
- Smoked cheddar cheese
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 quart (4 cups) half and half
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 ounces Fontina cheese, grated and divided
- 6 ounces white American cheese, grated or cubed
- 2 ounces smoked cheddar cheese, grated
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni according to package directions; rinse with cool water and drain.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir to mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Gradually whisk in half and half and simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Stir in heavy cream, cream cheese, Dijon mustard, fresh thyme, onion powder, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Pour pasta into a large bowl. Add half of the Fontina cheese, the white American cheese and the smoked cheddar. Toss to mix well.
- Stir the sauce into the pasta and cheese.
- Pour the pasta into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Top with remaining Fontina cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 568Total Fat: 42gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 133mgSodium: 740mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 8gProtein: 20g
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Who Dished It Up First: Adapted from The Vintage Mixer.