White Cheddar Mac and Cheese Recipe

This white cheddar mac and cheese recipe is creamy, packed with flavor, and easy to dress up or down to suit whatever you are serving it alongside. It’s great on its own, but through unique toppings, you could punch it up for a bolder experience. How to Use Cheese in Mac and Cheese Pairing Cheese Flavors Different cheese varieties offer unique flavor profiles that come forward at two specific times. Some cheeses that shine immediately. These are what I call “opener” cheeses. While their flavor makes its appearance known as soon as you bite into it, it also fades away quickly. Other cheeses take a few seconds to develop, but the flavor carries through to the end of the bite. In order to be sure your mac and cheese is well rounded, you should include cheeses whose flavors come through at different times. A mac and cheese with only opener flavors will taste flat at the end of the bite, while closer-only cheeses are lacking at the beginning. This recipe makes use of both an opener and closer cheese, so there is consistent cheesy flavor through the entire time you eat it. Cooking with Cheese While pre-shredded cheese is convenient, you should avoid cooking with it. Cheese manufacturers add anti-caking agents to pre-grated cheese to ensure it won’t clump on grocery store shelves. Which is great for shopping, but not so great when you want it to melt cohesively into a dish. You should plan to grate your cheese before cooking with it. A rotary cheese grater is a great investment to make this process a little easier. Let the cheese come to room temperature so it’s easier to grate. How much Cheese to Buy 4 ounces of cheese will grate into 1 cup. This should be around 1/2 standard bar of cheese you can find in the grocery store. A cheesemonger will be able to cut 4 oz of cheese for you if you go to a specialty store. White Cheddar Cheese Cheddar is naturally white or off-white, but tradition dictates that cheese producers add a naturally occurring dye in order to give it that quintessential orange color. The only difference between white and orange cheddar is the addition of this dye. It is almost always an opener cheese, but pay attention to the age of your cheddar. Longer aged cheddars can cross the line from opener to closer. It’s best to taste your cheddar before committing to a pairing cheese, but you stand a good chance of your cheddar being an opener cheese. In today’s recipe I used 5 year aged cheddar from Cabot, but any white cheddar you can find should be great to use. Parmesan Parmesan is a nutty, aged Italian cheese that is easily accessed from most grocery stores. It’s also one of my favorite closer cheeses to use in a mac and cheese recipe. Fusilli Pasta in White Cheddar Mac and Cheese The type of pasta you use in your mac and cheese makes a huge impact. If your noodle shape is too large, it will be cumbersome and difficult to eat. On the other hand, if your pasta is too small, you run the risk of your dish becoming a soupy mess. Fusilli, like I used in this dish, is in the perfect middle ground between too large and too small. This specific version of fusilli comes from Trader Joe’s and you get an extra texture punch from the bucatini that forms this pasta. It offers plenty of ridges to hold onto the sauce and is a great mac and cheese noodle. Toppings for White Cheddar Mac and Cheese The amazing thing about this recipe is that you can serve it as-is for a mellow but flavorful dish that would be perfect for a cozy night in or as a side for something more substantial. Or you can punch up the flavor by adding interesting toppings. This would be a great recipe to top with pulled pork or buffalo chicken. Today, I used green onions. They add a pop of color and brightness that takes the dish up a notch. Reheating Mac and Cheese Mac and cheese is notoriously difficult to reheat. It generally yields a greasy mess if you don’t eat it fresh. However, I’ve seen with roux-based mac and cheeses like this one, you don’t see issues in reheating. A minute or two in the microwave and you’ll have delicious creamy mac and cheese. In fact, if you let the ingredients mingle in the fridge overnight you’ll have even better mac and cheese than the day before. Add a Fork This White Cheddar Mac and Cheese Recipe is creamy and packed with flavor. It can be dressed up for a bolder meal or dressed down to let a more substantial entree shine.