Mac n Cheese with Parmesan Crumb Topping

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As fall approaches, I can’t help but settle into some of my favorite comfort foods. One-pot stews, creamy soups, and cheesy bowls of classic mac n cheese are just a few of my go-to indulgences.

As a child, Mom often made spaghetti with bolognese sauce; she wasn’t a fan of mac n cheese. On the occasional night where it was just my older sister and I, we’d excitedly whip out a box of store-bought Macaroni and Cheese from the pantry and call it dinner. 

mac n cheese

This day and age, I prefer my mac n cheese made from scratch, rather than a box. This doesn’t mean the meal is any harder to make than it used to be, but it definitely does mean I can customize it each time to my own preference.

For example, I’ve made this mac n cheese with gruyere cheese and truffle oil before when I’ve felt a little fancy. Most of the time, I make this mac n cheese the old-fashioned way, with some quality cheddar cheese. 

The parmesan crumb topping is one of my favorite parts about this mac n cheese because it provides a pleasant contrast in texture.

Plus, the topping tastes delicious after the toasted bread crumbs are mixed with some melted butter and parmesan. How can anyone go wrong there?

Even Mom approves of this mac n cheese, which says a lot! As the weather begins to cool down, I look forward to putting this meal on the dinner menu more and more. 

mac n cheese

Mac n Cheese with Parmesan Crumb Topping

Yield: 2
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Creamy mac 'n' cheese topped with a crisp parmesan-panko topping. 

Ingredients

  • 4 oz tubettini pasta
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, your choice: sharp, aged, etc.
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp smoked paprika, or regular paprika, optional
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tsp grated parmesan
  • pinch of salt
  • parsley to garnish

Instructions

  1. Cook the pasta in a medium saucepan with a heavy pinch of salt, according to the package instructions. Drain and run under cool water to prevent sticking. Temporarily set aside.
  2. Transfer your saucepan back over to the stove over medium heat and add the unsalted butter. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and stir for a minute to form a paste-like mixture.
  3. Pour in the milk and continue to warm until steam arises from the milk. Add in the cheese and stir until the cheese has melted and the mixture is smooth.
  4. Add the nutmeg, cayenne, and paprika (for color) to the sauce and continue gently stirring the mixture as it thickens up a bit.
  5. Add the pasta to the pan with the sauce, and stir everything together until all the pasta noodles are coated in the sauce. Divide the pasta among one medium small, or two small, oven-safe casserole/soup-type dishes. Temporarily set aside.
  6. Melt the salted butter in the microwave, then toss with the panko crumbs and grated parmesan. Sprinkle this mixture evenly on top of the pasta.
  7. Set the pasta in the oven under the broiler just until the crumbs are golden and crisp. Make sure to keep a careful eye on the pasta the entire time as this will occur rapidly. Garnish the finished pasta with fresh chopped parsley.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 2 Servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 581
mac n cheese

16 thoughts on “Mac n Cheese with Parmesan Crumb Topping”

  1. I love to know how much guryere cheese and the only truffle I know of is truffle oil ( lol ). I am a pretty basic cook but look to experiment & LOVE guryere. Look forward to your help

    Reply
    • Hi Carol! Do you have a Trader Joe’s near you? If so, they carry a nice gruyere-cheddar mix that I would just sub in for the cheddar mix outlined here in the recipe. I love using that! I’m also pretty sure that Trader Joe’s sells truffle butter, which would be a tasty substitute for the tablespoon of regular butter in this recipe. 🙂 If you don’t have the gruyere-cheddar mix, then I would just buy a block gruyere and a block of aged cheddar and mix an equal ratio of the two. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Made this the other week but must say I found it rather bland and tasteless. Perhaps a more robust cheese or combination of cheeses would make it tastier.

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth! Thanks for visiting the blog. Most of the flavor in a simple recipe like this comes from the ingredients you use, so you’re definitely right, a more robust cheese would be best! I love using aged cheddar or extra sharp cheddar cheese (from Trader Joe’s!) when I go for the cheddar route. Otherwise, like I mentioned, gruyere is a wonderful cheese that’s strong and flavorful in taste. It’s all up to your own preference! 🙂 Warm regards xx

      Reply
      • OK. I’ll give it a whirl again with a more flavorful cheese. Have very much enjoyed your site. Now all I need is more time to cook and bake!!

  3. I’m really excited to try this, Beeta. It looks like the perfect amount of decadence. Often mac and cheese is simply too rich, but you’ve found a way to make it just right – so your style. xo

    Reply
  4. Oh my goodness! I hear you, Beeta. Nothing beats home made mac n cheese, especially when comfort food is calling, like this transition to Fall. With a bit of gruyere, truffle oil… yesssss!! But the most basic never ever gets old; reason for its classic status! LOVE that panko parm topping, for flavor and texture! Such a delicious and crave-worthy recipe!

    Reply
  5. YES!!!! Did you know Mac n cheese is like one of my FAVORITE foods!!! I am still PERFECTING mine because i love it so much that before I post it I just want it so perfect!!! This look so warm and gooey and lovely. You really do show all the love in food that you have in your pictures 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks so much, Mila! You are so, so kind! You always make my day. And I cannot wait until you post your recipe because I just KNOW it will be off the charts good! XOXO

      Reply
  6. Rien de mieux qu’un plat de pâte dans une soirée d’automne! J’adore tes coquillettes, simples, gourmands et très très appétissants ! Un classique indémodable qui fait toujours du bien.

    Reply

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