The Best Mac & Cheese Ever - Really!

Mary Beam


So,Emeril had this national mac & cheese contest and this is the winning recipe. Yes, it takes a bit longer to make, but it oh so worth it. Got rave reviews every time I've made it and will never use another mac & cheese recipe again.


★★★★★ 1 vote

12 - 16
1 Hr
15 Min


  • 1
    head of garlic roasted
  • 1 tsp
    olive oil
  • 1 lb
    cavatappi pasta
  • 1/2 lb
    applewood smoked bacon
  • 1 1/2 c
    fresh white bread crumbs, 5 slices, crusts removed
  • 1/2 c
    grated parmesan cheese
  • 8 Tbsp
  • 1/4 c
    minced shallots
  • 1/2 c
  • 1 qt
    whole milk
  • 6 oz
    gruyere cheese, grated
  • 8 oz
    extra sharp cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 tsp
    black pepper
  • 1 tsp
  • 1/4 tsp

How to Make The Best Mac & Cheese Ever - Really!


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. To roast garlic: Slice ½ inch off the top of the entire head of garlic. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap garlic head tightly in a square of heavy foil and roast until tender — about 45 minutes. Remove garlic pulp by squeezing garlic head. Smash cloves with a fork to form a paste.
  3. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  4. Cook bacon completely. Drain on paper towels. Reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon fat. Crumble bacon when cool.
  5. To make topping: Combine breadcrumbs, crumbled bacon, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Set aside.
  6. Turn the oven up to 375 degrees.
  7. Sauté shallots over low heat in reserved bacon fat for one minute. Add remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and continue to sauté shallots in butter and bacon fat until translucent.
  8. Add flour and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. Increase heat to medium. Stirring constantly with a whisk, add milk and roasted garlic paste.
  9. Cook until sauce is thickened (coats the back of a spoon). Remove sauce from heat then add salt, pepper, nutmeg, Gruyere and Cheddar cheeses. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
  10. Stir in cooked pasta. Pour into baking dish. Sprinkle topping to cover entire top. Cover with foil and bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until sauce is bubbly and topping is browned. Enjoy!
  11. Hints: ....Roast the garlic well ahead, because you'll need to let it cool, or you'll burn your fingers squeezing out the pulp. Learned this the hard way!
    Also, I baked mine for 15 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered and it was perfect.

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About The Best Mac & Cheese Ever - Really!

Course/Dish: Pasta

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