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  • Bella Belizaire

4 Tips for the Perfect Mac 'n' Cheese

Nothing can beat the anticipation building up to a yearly Thanksgiving dinner. Whether it be mashed potatoes, stuffing, or the classic Thanksgiving turkey, there’s undoubtedly something you're looking forward to eating every year. One of these dishes is globally acknowledged as the indisputable highlight of the dinner table. 

An iconic meal that is a household essential to any good Thanksgiving: whether it is the catalyst or savior of an evening, the cause of family disputes, or just a solid thing to eat, mac ‘n’ cheese is the staple of the holiday.

Credit: Noah Fecks for Food & Wine Magazine

The sight of a perfectly presented dish, surrounded by various complimenting decorations, will have you rushing to get your portion. The first bite out of a crunchy and creamy plate of steaming, cheesy pasta is indescribable. Not long after clearing your first plate, you’ll find yourself getting seconds. Then thirds. Maybe even fourths. Then, to your surprise, there’s one more piece left, and a group of your family members is eyeing it. You make eye contact with your cousins, siblings, uncles, aunts and others alike.

It occurs to you that you all have the same mission. Get. More. Mac ‘n’ Cheese. The series of events that happen next are too fast paced to keep up on. Weave flying there. A shoe zips past your ear. Shirts swooshing in every possible direction. You manage to find your way back to the plate, but the food is gone! It turns out your uncle managed to sneak the last bite.

Well, if you want your mac ‘n’ cheese to taste that good, good enough for even the fifth portion to cause a civil war in the dining room, I advise trying these game-changing tips. 

“Marry Me Mac ‘n’ Cheese” is not only a cohesive name, but a recipe so good you’ll undoubtedly have someone ready to propose by the time they’ve taken the first bite. These tips, tricks, and additions to your Mac ‘n’ Cheese will revolutionize what you’ve had in the past.

  1. Be Generous with the Cheese! Good Mac ‘n’ Cheese is dependent on the cheese. You can’t get the iconic, cheesy pasta if you’re not cheesing accordingly! Different types of cheese should be incorporated. And don’t even consider buying pre-shredded cheese from the store, you should always be grating your own cheese. This small difference elevates the cheesiness of your pasta. My personal favorites are Colby Jack, Sharp Cheddar and Mozzarella for a perfect flavor pairing.

  2. Season, season, season! While it should be self-evident, you can’t get a diverse flavor profile if you’re simply using salt and pepper. Instead, consider using at least four different seasonings. Try adding the following, depending on taste: paprika, garlic powder, along with salt and pepper to reinvent your meal’s flavor and really introduce a profile that’ll have the table asking for seconds.

  3. Try using corkscrew-shaped pasta! One of my favorite tips so far is to use corkscrew-shaped pasta. It gets all that delicious cheesy goodness in its grooves, allowing the flavor to be perfectly evened out across the whole dish.

  4. Make a roux! A good roux is the key to having great Mac ‘n’ Cheese. To a pan, add butter and half of your seasoning and bring to a simmer. Next, add some flour and allow it to cook for a while. Then add half a can of evaporated milk and whisk immediately to avoid clumping. Once thickened, add heavy cream and the other half of your seasoning mixture and Dijon mustard. Allow it to thicken and incorporate cheese and allow it to melt. Add your cooked pasta, toss it in a glass pan, cover with more cheese, throw it in the oven, and voila! You have delicious Mac ‘n’ Cheese that you can serve to your family with pride.

Note from the Editor: One of the most spectacular parts of mac ‘n’ cheese is that you can enjoy this blessing of a dish year-round. Although it may be after Thanksgiving, dishes like these are a staple for any American kitchen, and this is definitely a series of tips you can take to heart the next time you’re preparing this family favorite— I’m doing so myself, right now.

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