Cook’s Illustrated Baked Macaroni and Cheese

I love Cook’s Illustrated. I honestly don’t know why I ever attempt making recipes out of other cookbooks when the lovely people at America’s Test Kitchen have the best version of everything. Everyone loves mac and cheese and I am not an exception. I’m also the girl always on the search for the very best recipe for everything. I have several mac and cheese recipes in my recipe book and although they are each really great recipes they weren’t the recipe. The one that makes you throw the others away and stop searching. The problem with most baked macaroni and cheese recipes is they often come out rather dry. And they never reheat well for leftovers. This recipe is perfectly creamy and reheats really well. When I poured it into my casserole dish for baking it honestly looked way too soupy but the finished product was absolutely perfect. My husband loved it and so did all the boys. So very yummy…. macaroni and cheese perfection!


4 slices white sandwich bread, torn into quarters
2 T butter, melted

Macaroni and Cheese:
1 pound elbow macaroni
6 T butter
1 medium pressed garlic clove
1 t dry mustard
1/4 t cayenne pepper
6 T flour
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
3 1/2 cups whole milk
16 ounces colby jack cheese, shredded (about 5 1/3 cups)
8 ounces extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 2/3 cups)
Ground black pepper

1. For the topping: process the bread and butter in a food processor fitted with the steel blade until coarsely ground, about six 1-second pulses; set aside.
2. For the macaroni and cheese: adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 400 degrees. Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a dutch oven over high heat. Stir in 1 T salt and the macaroni; cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander; set aside.
3. Wipe the pot dry. Add the butter and return to medium heat until melted. Add the garlic, mustard, and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until golden, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and milk; bring to a simmer and cook, whisking often, until large bubbles form on the surface and the mixture is slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the cheeses gradually until completely melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
4. Add the drained pasta to the cheese sauce and stir, breaking up any clumps, until well combined. Pour into a 9 x 13″ baking dish and sprinkle with the bread crumb topping. Bake until golden brown and bubbling around the edges, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

2 comments on “Cook’s Illustrated Baked Macaroni and Cheese

  1. I love cooks illustrated stuff like crazy. This macaroni and cheese is so good. I only found one place that carried the original cheese recipe called Colby . Worth trying to find this cheese. It makes the recipe so creamy and delicious . I have not found it recently so I will use the other Colby jack you had recommended. Worth trying to find. Best recipe .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *