crispy creamy 5 cheese macaroni and cheese

I know it’s summer and you probably don’t want to turn the oven on.

But if you do, then I can promise you that this macaroni and cheese it totally worth it.

I’d endure hot kitchens over and over again for another creamy bite.

Our out of town friend (Hi Chris!) wanted me to make this again.

I didn’t though. Only because I wanted him to try other, new things!

I’m all about trying new experiences here, people.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to make macaroni and cheese. Each attempt was frustrating since I had bought a bunch of wonderful cheese only to get dried out macaroni and cheese. Or a cheese sauce that broke and so it looked kind of like scrambled eggs. Or just didn’t taste cheesy enough. I’m glad to have finally figured out my cheesy problems! This recipe is based on Martha Stewart’s version, but with a few tweaks of my own.

You probably don’t need to use five cheeses. But why would you not? It’s cheese, for heaven’s sake. Beautiful, glorious, delicious cheese. I got the idea for the brie because it’s one of the cheeses added in for the mac n cheese at Urban Eats. Splendid idea, I thought!

Oh, Cheese. I love you so much.

I need to also be in a good mood to make this, as it requires a serious arm workout grating all of that cheese.

You could, of course, buy the already grated cheese. I won’t judge you if you do. You can avoid the arm workout.

But grating it yourself is a bit satisfying. You worked hard for this delicious meal!

I also cook pancetta into my macaroni and cheese. It gives a bit of a salty porky delicious flavor to the whole dish.

Also: this make a lot of sauce so it looks soupy and runny. This is what you want!

Soupy = extra creamy macaroni and cheese.

Buttered panko crumbs. Do it.

Crispy, crunchy top. Creamy, delicious and extra cheesy on the inside. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.

Make this! If not now, then at least bookmark it and stow it away for the fall. But I really don’t think you should wait that long. Hot kitchens be damned!

Crispy Creamy 5 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for dish
  • panko bread crumbs (about a cup)
  • 5 ounces of diced pancetta
  • 5 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 8 ounces grated medium cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 6 ounces grated gouda cheese
  • wedge of brie cheese (cut into pieces)
  • 1/3 of a block of cream cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter and mix with panko crumbs. If desired, toast panko crumbs in a pan. Set aside. Butter a large casserole dish, too – you’re gonna need it!

Prep macaroni – boil for 3 minutes less than the package directions. Run under cool water and set aside.

Cook and brown diced pancetta. When crispy and brown, remove from pan and set aside. Strain fat from the pan – leave about a tablespoon in the pan. Add remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and red pepper flakes. Melt butter and cook until bubbly. Add flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring.

Add milk slowly to the pot and continue to whisk and cook until it starts to bubble and the sauce begins to thicken.

Important! Turn off the heat before you add the cheese at this point – otherwise the sauce will break and make you very sad. Add handfuls of cheese and mix after each addition until all of the cheeses are fully incorporated into the sauce. Stir in salt and pepper.

Add in cooked macaroni and pancetta into the cheese sauce and stir until well blended. Pour into prepped casserole dish. Top with panko crumbs.

Bake until the top is golden brown with little crunchy looking spots – about 30-35 minutes. Serve while still hot and bubbly.

5 thoughts on “crispy creamy 5 cheese macaroni and cheese

  1. I made a version of your recipe this weekend, and you’re right.. the more cheese, the better. Unfortunately, Vons didn’t have any diced pancetta, so I went without it.. mistake, gotta make sure it makes it in the next time.

  2. Hi Vicky – Yes – more cheese is always better if you ask me! I get my diced pancetta from Fresh & Easy – it’s 3.99 for one package but they also sell it uncut. I was feeling lazy though, so I just get the already diced one. Bacon would also be a good substitute!

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