Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Panko Crust

Made this Mac and Cheese for Thanksgiving dinner when my niece visited with her two girls. I always believe Mac and Cheese is a dish for children but surprisingly, it received lots of rave reviews from the adults. I was really too busy to savor and appreciate the dish. Made it again tonight – adult version with Toscano cheese soaked in Syrah 😛, It is indeed really good! This recipe is a keeper, but be prepared to run 5 miles after eating! It is loaded with butter, heavy cream and cheese! I already made it twice back-to-back! Will try again next Thanksgiving.

Recipe adapted from


  • 1 lb macaroni or similar pasta
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded (I used Trader Joe’s Wisconsin unexpected cheddar)
  • 1 cup Toscano cheese, shredded (I used Trader Joe’s Toscano cheese soaked in Syrah)
  • 2 cups Gruyere cheese shredded (I used Emmi Le Gruyere Cheese, also from Trader Joes)
  • 1/4 tsp salt, adjust to taste
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, adjust to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups panko
  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp dried parsley (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Toss all shredded cheese together and set aside.
  3. Cook pasta according to package instructions less a minute to make sure it is al dente. Drain and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.
  4. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour until bubbly.
  5. Add the milk and heavy cream and keep whisking until thick and creamy. Stir in the salt and pepper.
  6. Stir in 2 cups of cheese until blended. Add another two cups and stir until cheese is melted and mixture is thick and creamy.
  7. Stir in the cooled pasta until evenly coated with the cheese sauce.
  8. Spoon half the pasta into the baking dish. Cover with remaining shredded cheese and then top with the other half of the pasta.
  9. In a bowl, melt the 4 Tbsp butter and stir in the Parmesan cheese and panko until crumbly.
  10. Cover the top of the pasta with the panko crumbs.
  11. Sprinkle the smoked paprika and parley over the panko.
  12. Bake uncovered for about 30 minutes until crust is golden brown.
  13. Remove and cool slightly. Serve hot.
Make the roux. Melt butter and whisk in the flour until bubbly.
Whisk in the milk and heavy cream until thick and smooth.
Stir in 2 cups of shredded cheese until melted.
Add another two cups and whisk until cheese sauce is thick and creamy.
Nice consistency.
Add drained pasta.
Stir until pasta is evenly coated with cheese sauce.
Transfer half the pasta to baking dish. Cover with remaining shredded cheese, and top with remaining pasta.
Cover with panko crumbs.
Sprinkle with smoked paprika and parsley.
Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown.
Mmmmm! Just beware it’s loaded with milk, cream, and cheese!
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