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Summer Side Series-Mac 'n Cheese

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Summertime is the best time for Bar-B-Ques with family and friends. When at work, anytime is a good time for a potluck! With that in mind, let's welcome a series of some of the best summer side dishes that will be a welcome addition to any get-together, on duty or off.

First up - the best Mac 'n Cheese ever! This ooey-gooey dish with its toasted crispy topping is a great addition to every gathering.

Make this and you're sure to become an MVP —

(Most Valuable Potlucker).

A picture of ooey gooey macaroni and cheese with a crispy topping
Best Mac 'n Cheese


16 oz. elbow macaroni

1tbsp. olive oil

6 tbsp. butter

1/3 cup flour

3 cups whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

4 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded

2 cups Gruyere cheese shredded

salt & pepper


1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

4 tbsp. melted butter

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese shredded

1/4 tsp. smoked paprika


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 13" baking dish.

2. Combine the shredded cheddar and Gruyere cheese in a large bowl and set aside

3. Cook the macaroni one minute less than al dente (according to the package directions)

4. Remove from heat, drain, and place in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil and set aside.

5. Melt the 6 tbsp. of butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour over medium heat until bubbly and golden.

6. Gradually whisk in the milk and heavy cream until smooth. Continue whisking until you see bubbles on the surface and then continue for another two minutes. Whisk in the desired amount of salt and pepper.

7. Add 2 cups of the shredded cheese and whisk until smooth, then add another 2 cups of the shredded cheese and continue whisking until the sauce is smooth, creamy, and slightly thick.

8. Stir the cooled pasta into the sauce and continue stirring until the pasta is thoroughly coated in the cheese sauce.

9. Pour half of the mac 'n cheese into the baking dish, top with the remaining 2 cups of shredded cheese, and then the remaining mac 'n cheese.

10. Prepare the topping by tossing the Panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, melted butter, and paprika together in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the top and bake until bubbly and golden brown (about thirty minutes). Enjoy!

Note: You can play around with this one by trying different cheeses. Gruyere (although delicious!) is pricey, so I recently switched it out for Pepper Jack cheese. You lose the rich flavor of the Gruyere but add a little southwestern flair with the Pepper Jack. You could also add jalapeno or mild chili peppers to step it up another notch. I made this recently and added chopped, pre-cooked bacon, and caramelized onions - it was a big hit!

A picture of someone shredding cheese with a grater.

Here's something interesting, I read that packaged pre-shredded cheese (although convenient) isn't the best idea because it's coated with "something". Concerned, I looked it up and found that "something" is cellulose. An insoluble complex carb, cellulose isn't actually bad for you, but you never know how much of it you're getting. The healthier and more economical approach is to buy block cheese and shred it yourself. You can shred it by hand or with a food processor and store the shredded cheese in the freezer. (I did not know that!)

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