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    You are in: Home / Recipes / Cook's Illustrated Classic Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
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    Cook's Illustrated Classic Macaroni and Cheese

    Cook's Illustrated Classic Macaroni and Cheese. Photo by chogan2011

    1/1 Photo of Cook's Illustrated Classic Macaroni and Cheese

    Total Time:

    Prep Time:

    Cook Time:

    45 mins

    40 mins

    5 mins

    AmyZoe's Note:

    I skipped the bread-crumb topping, and this was still to-die- for delicious. Cook's Illustrated says it's critical to cook the pasta until it is tender--just past the al dente stage. For this recipe, overcooking the pasta is better than undercooking because undercooked pasta will release starch into the sauce and make it gritty. Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all work in this recipe (I used evaporated milk and loved it--some was low fat evaporated). You can halve this recipe and broil in an 8-inch square, heatproof baking dish. If desired, serve with celery salt or hot sauce. Recipe courtesy of Entertaining by Cook's Illustrated, February 2011.

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    Units: US | Metric

    Bread-Crumb Topping

    • 6 slices white sandwich bread (hearty and torn into rough pieces)
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold and cut into 6 pieces)

    Pasta and Cheese


    1. 1
      For the bread-crumb topping: Pulse bread and butter in food processor until crumbs are about 1/8 inch, ten to fifteen 1-second pulses. Set aside.
    2. 2
      For the pasta and cheese: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler.
    3. 3
      Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat.
    4. 4
      Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt. Cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander.
    5. 5
      In now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming.
    6. 6
      Add flour, mustard, and cayenne and whisk well to combine.
    7. 7
      Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute.
    8. 8
      Gradually whisk in milk and bring mixture to a boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken).
    9. 9
      Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes.
    10. 10
      Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted.
    11. 11
      Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes.
    12. 12
      Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 13x9 inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs.
    13. 13
      Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning.
    14. 14
      Cool about 5 minutes, then serve.

    Ratings & Reviews:

    • on August 11, 2012


      Been making this for several years. Always a hit and being asked for the recipe. I use a generous cup of panko bread crumbs mixed with 3 TBS melted butter for topping. Generally don't use cayenne because of kiddos. Never bake it - stays creamier, doesn't dry out and flavor is better I think. Just put under broiler for a few minutes for Panko to brown.

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    • on March 06, 2012


      I also skipped the topping. This is very good. My 4 1/2 year old didn't like the spices. Next time, I think I will bake it longer. Probably 30 min. to 60 min.

      people found this review Helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes | No
    • on September 17, 2014


      I am a little surprised that this got any good reviews. I subscribe to and use the site often. Most things come out delicious but this was completely tasteless. I had to throw in a bunch of salt and other spices just to add some flavor. The only reason I gave it three stars is that my 2 year old liked it and I pretty much made it for her so I guess there was some success in this recipe.

      people found this review Helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes | No


    Nutritional Facts for Cook's Illustrated Classic Macaroni and Cheese

    Serving Size: 1 (306 g)

    Servings Per Recipe: 8

    Amount Per Serving
    % Daily Value
    Calories 706.6
    Calories from Fat 335
    Total Fat 37.3 g
    Saturated Fat 22.8 g
    Cholesterol 108.4 mg
    Sodium 513.4 mg
    Total Carbohydrate 63.4 g
    Dietary Fiber 2.4 g
    Sugars 2.6 g
    Protein 29.0 g

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