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Chef John's Macaroni and Cheese

Rated as 4.38 out of 5 Stars

"This easy-to-make old-school macaroni and cheese has a perfectly crispy crust."
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1 h servings 695
Original recipe yields 6 servings


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  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  2. Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the macaroni, and return to a boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is cooked through but still slightly firm, about 8 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter starts to foam and bubble, stir in the flour; cook on medium heat until flour just begins to turn pale yellow, 3 to 4 minutes. Add thyme, cayenne pepper, and white pepper; cook and stir another minute, then whisk in 1 cup of milk until smooth. Pour in remaining milk and whisk again. Bring the sauce just to a simmer.
  4. Stir in nutmeg, Worcestershire sauce, and salt; simmer on medium-low heat until thickened, about 8 minutes, whisking often. Turn heat off, then add 2 1/4 cups of Cheddar cheese; stir until melted and combined. Add Dijon mustard.
  5. Transfer the macaroni into a casserole dish, then pour in the cheese sauce; stir to thoroughly combine sauce with pasta. Mix panko bread crumbs and 1 tablespoon melted butter in a small bowl, and sprinkle crumbs on top of macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle remaining 3/4 cup of Cheddar cheese on top.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven until bread crumbs and Cheddar cheese topping are golden brown, about 20 minutes.


  • Partner Tip
  • Reynolds® Aluminum foil can be used to keep food moist, cook it evenly, and make clean-up easier.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 695 calories; 32.3 72.8 29.4 95 928 Full nutrition

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  1. 1590 Ratings

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Most helpful positive review

I made this for the boys before I went to work last night. I did not try this myself but based on the message I got at my break--they absolutely loved it. To be honest, there were no leftovers f...

Most helpful critical review

Tried this recipe because I was starting to think my tried and true mac&cheese was a little bland. I was skeptical of the thyme so only filled the 1/4 tsp about 2/3 full. Followed everything e...

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I made this for the boys before I went to work last night. I did not try this myself but based on the message I got at my break--they absolutely loved it. To be honest, there were no leftovers f...

Oh boy! I finally found the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had. I followed the recipe exactly, except I used only 12 oz. of macaroni, to make it more cheesy. It was a perfect ratio. I ...

Lordy, all anyone wanted was the crust. New rule, take what's UNDER the crust, too. This was the closest to my mom's, and all kidding aside, a terrific success.

My family really loved this dish. The only changes I made was 1/8 cayenne (because of kid), made only 12 oz. of macaroni and used black pepper. I didn't have panko crumbs so I made my own crum...

Very good. I am thinking that the people who commented that they were overpowered by the taste of thyme must have used ground thyme instead of dried thyme leaves. 1/4 tsp. of dried thyme leave...

The best mac and cheese I have made in a long time. My family all stated the same. I followed the recipe with the exception of a couple of changes. After reading the reviews, I cut the pasta by ...

Tweaker alert. I used the basic recipe but changed the seasonings due to my "NON-Gourmet" children who will never eat Thyme flavored anything. The sauce recipe works fantastic & I was quite prou...

EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT! I don't review much recipes, and this is one worth to review! Please read! :) I wanted to use the 16 oz. of elbow macaroni, but also wanted it cheesy as well. So I "a...

I have tried this recipe and it was good. For those who thought it was a little dry, I have found over the years that mixing hot pasta with hot sauce only ends up with a very dry pasta after bak...