This fancy mac and cheese recipe is made with gruyere and fontina cheese for an elevated flavor profile that’s both refined and sophisticated. Topped with toasted garlic cornflakes, this gourmet macaroni and cheese is made in a single pan and requires no baking or draining.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I LOVE macaroni and cheese. Clearly I’m not the only one who feels this way given that one of the most popular recipes on Frydae is the Outback Steakhouse Copycat Mac-A-Roo and Cheese. It’s a simple recipe made with classic Velveeta cheese sauce. Well today, friends, we’re going on the complete other side of the cheesy spectrum with this recipe for Fancy Mac and Cheese with Gruyere.
Now to be clear, fancy doesn’t mean difficult. It also doesn’t mean time-consuming. Or, at least, today it doesn’t. Today fancy means: simple, quick and totally delicious.
The best part about this gourmet macaroni and cheese (other than all of the cheese) is that it comes together in a single pan. Yes, you heard me. This recipe requires no draining or baking. It’s just a vat of indulgent cheesy-goodness in under 30 minutes. I use a large, shallow cast-iron skillet when I make this recipe typically, but any large pan or pot with room for stirring will do just fine. Want to learn how to make it? Keep reading.
How to Make Macaroni and Cheese without Draining.
Step 1: Measure Your Water
This is perhaps the most important step to the entire recipe. If you’re like me, I usually just fill a pot with water when making pasta and just boil away. In this recipe, you want to use exactly 5 cups of water. 5 cups is the perfect amount that will let the pasta absorb and cook to al dente while leaving just enough pasta water in the pot to help make a thick, smooth luscious cheese sauce.
Step 2: Cook the Pasta but DO NOT DRAIN
The next step is fairly straight-forward. Simply cook your chosen pasta as direct by the package to al dente. For most macaroni and penne it’s usually about 8-10 minutes. The critical step here is to not drain off the excess water when the pasta is cooked through.
Step 3: Make the Cheese Sauce in the Same Pot
To finish the macaroni, you’ll want to turn the heat under the pot down to low. Then toss in the butter and cream cheese. It’s best to cut the butter and cream cheese into small, 1-inch cubes to help them melt quickly. Then add the milk, salt and pepper.
Gradually add in the grated cheeses a half cup at a time. Making the cheese fully melts before each addition will help ensure the sauce develops smoothy without any lumps. Continue stirring until all the ingredients are melted and the noodles are evenly coated with the cheese sauce.
In this recipe, we’re using a blend of fontina, gruyere and mild cheddar cheese. Fontina is an excellent melting cheese that makes a perfectly smooth sauce. Gruyere has a buttery, sharp taste that really makes this mac and cheese taste fancy. The mild cheddar also adds a slight bite and also gives the macaroni a nice, pale yellow color.
Step 4: Top with Toasted Garlic Cornflakes
Now I know breadcrumbs of any kind on macaroni can be controversial. You’re welcome to leave them off of this macaroni entirely but if you’d like an extra layer of fanciness…keep reading.
While the pasta cooks, I like to toast some gently crushed cornflakes on the stovetop in a little melted butter and garlic powder. As the cornflakes toast, they absorb the garlic butter and get extra crispy and golden. Just before serving, add a generous sprinkling of these garlic crumbs over the mac. It’s seriously such a great topping for this macaroni and cheese—try it if you’re on #teambreadcrumbs!
One other finishing touch I like to sometimes do to this fancy mac and cheese is to drizzle just a hint of truffle oil over the finished pasta. I’ve also used truffle salt in place of regular salt in this recipe too when I’m feeling extra fancy. It’s a splurge that’s totally worth it.
When it comes to macaroni and cheese there’s really a broad spectrum of recipes. I think it’s safe to say that I love them all almost equally, but this Fancy Mac and Cheese may be my new favorite. What about you? Do you like your macaroni and cheese to be gourmet or are you more of a “blue box” type of person? Let me know in the comments below.
If you try this macaroni recipe, snap a photo of the cheesy goodness and tag me on social media. It’s @frydaeblog and #frydaeblog absolutely everywhere! Also, don’t’ forget to leave the recipe a rating below.
Looking for another great macaroni and cheese recipe? Try this Copycat Outback Steakhouse Mac-A-Roo and Cheese next.
Fancy Mac and Cheese
- 5 cups water
- 1 pound macaroni, penne or cavatappi pasta
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt, Pro Tip: substitute truffle salt for an extra special treat
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups whole milk
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 1 cup gruyere cheese, grated
- 2 cups fontina cheese, grated
- 1 cup mild cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 1/2 cups corn flakes, slightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons black truffle oil, optional
- Bring a large stockpot filled with 5 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and cook 8-10 minutes, or until al dente. If the pasta start looking dry, add another 1/4 cup of water, if needed.While the pasta cooks, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a skillet. Once melted, add the crushed cornflakes and garlic powder. Toss the cornflakes in the melted butter and toast until they’re golden and fragrant. Remove from heat.When pasta is ready, DO NOT DRAIN. The remaining pasta water will help thicken the cheese sauce. Reduce the heat to low and then, to the pasta, add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and the cubed cream cheese. Stir until melted and creamy. Then add the milk, salt and pepper and mix until incorporated.Remove the pot from the heat and gradually stir in the gruyere, fontina and cheddar cheese a half cup at a time. Mix until each addition is melted and a smooth before adding the next. If the sauce is thicker than your care for, add a few tablespoons of milk to thin the sauce to the desired consistency.Finally, top with the toasted garlic cornflakes and chopped fresh parsley. Drizzle lightly with truffle oil, if desired. Serve immediately.