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Black Pepper Gouda and Cherrywood Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese Recipe

Our second recipe from the 2023 Aldi cheese advent calendar is a black pepper Gouda and cherrywood smoked cheddar mac and cheese. This may be one of my favorite mac and cheese recipes I’ve created. It’s packed with flavor and would easily be customizable through toppings.

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Using Cheese in Mac and Cheese

When you take a bite of cheese, pay attention to how long the cheesy flavor takes to develop. Some cheeses hit you immediately, but slowly fades away. These are what I refer to as opener cheeses. They welcome you to the bowl by offering flavors that start immediately Other cheeses take a few seconds to develop but carry throughout the end of the bite. These are closer cheeses. Using a closer cheese in your mac and cheese will help the flavor carry through the end. Well rounded mac and cheese recipes use both opener and closer flavors.

Black Pepper Gouda

You have to be careful with Gouda. Depending on how long it was aged, Gouda can cross the line between opener and closer cheese, so it is necessary to taste it before committing to another cheese in your recipe. However younger aged Gouda, like what we see in this advent calendar, are almost always opener cheeses so you can pretty confidently pair it with a closer cheese.

The black pepper in this Gouda is subtle but it blends beautifully with other spices in a mac and cheese.

Cherrywood Smoked Cheddar

So many people write off cheddar as boring, but it’s one of my favorite cheeses, especially for a mac and cheese. It’s easy to get your hands on good cheddar and there are so many unique varieties that you are guaranteed a unique experience if you know how to look for it.

Sartori’s lineup of cheddars is spectacular for branching out to unique cheddars. Their Montamorè cheddar is a cheddar with Parmesan notes, so it can both serve as its own opener and closer. It’s a great choice on its own, but they stepped it up a notch by smoking their cheddar in cherrywood for a sweet, smoky finish that balances beautifully with a Gouda opener.

Wagon Wheel Pasta in Black Pepper Gouda and Cherrywood Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese

The pasta you use in your mac and cheese recipes can make or break it. You have to strike the perfect balance between pasta that is too large or unwieldy and pasta that is too small. If your pasta is too large, your dish will be difficult to eat and more effort than it is worth. On the other hand, if your pasta is too small, you run the risk of your mac and cheese becoming a soupy mess. The perfect mac and cheese pasta sits right in the middle. You want your pasta to be easy to pick up with a fork and offer plenty of texture to hold onto the sauce.

In this recipe I used wagon wheels. It’s a perfect size so it’s easy to eat and it has plenty of pockets for sauce guaranteeing every bite is full of flavor.


Toppings aren’t necessary for a great mac and cheese, but they add fun pops of flavor, texture, and color. Toppings will make your dish more interesting and by layering them instead of stirring them into your dish you maintain interest and keep each bite unique.

I topped my mac and cheese with fresh chopped green onions. They add a brightness to mac and cheese and a great fresh green color.

Sauces add another dimension to mac and cheese. Drizzling a flavorful sauce on top of your dish adds more interesting flavors, keeping each bite unique. In this recipe I used the roasted garlic drizzle sauce from Hellman’s. It packs a ton of garlic flavor that compliments the rest of the mac and cheese beautifully.

Reheating Black Pepper Gouda and Cherrywood Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese

Reheating mac and cheese is generally a lesson in futility. When you reheat standard mac and cheese recipes, you wind up with a greasy soggy mess. However, béchamel based mac and cheese recipes tend to reheat well. In fact, giving the mac and cheese ingredients a few hours to mingle together will elevate your dish to new levels.

Add a Fork

This black pepper Gouda and cherrywood smoked cheddar mac and cheese recipe is a beautiful blend of flavors that balance fantastically together.

Black Pepper Gouda and Cherrywood Smoked Cheddar Mac and Cheese Recipe

This black pepper Gouda and cherrywood smoked cheddar mac and cheese recipe is a beautiful blend of flavors that balance beautifully together.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Entree, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6


  • 1 Pound Wagon wheel pasta Or other medium sized pasta
  • 3 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Flour
  • ½ Tbsp Better than bullion Chicken flavor
  • 3 Cups Whole milk
  • 4 Oz Black pepper gouda
  • 4 Oz Cherrywood smoked cheddar Sartori brand
  • Salt To taste
  • pepper To taste
  • 3 Stalks Green onion Chopped
  • Roasted Garlic Drizzle Sauce Hellmann’s brand


  • Cook the pasta according to package directions in well salted water. If you think it’s salty enough, add more.

Prepare the Sauce

  • Pre heat your milk in the microwave for 45 seconds – just enough to take the chill out of it.
  • Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat and let it heat until it becomes foamy.
  • Mix in flour. Cook it for a minute while stirring constantly
  • Slowly add warmed milk to the butter mixture 1/4 cup at a time. Whisk it continually until combined. Stir in mustard powder and Better than Bullion
  • Once all of the milk is added, cook for a few minutes while whisking it. Do not let it boil. You will feel the sauce start to thicken. It’s ready for cheese when you rub a small amount between your fingers and it feels silky.
  • Remove from heat and stir in your cheese until it’s melted and mixed into the sauce.
  • Once the cheese is incorporated, use a cooked noodle to taste your sauce. If it doesn’t taste cheesy enough try adding a little more salt to bring out the flavor.
  • Combine the pasta and sauce.

Plate Your Mac and Cheese

  • Layer pasta with green onions and a drizzle of roasted garlic sauce. Serve immediately.
Keyword aged cheddar, black pepper gouda, cherrywood smoked cheddar, gouda