National Mac & Cheese Day Recipes

National Macaroni Day is July 14th! If you love macaroni and cheese, this day will be your favorite day of the year. Chefs across the country make legendary mac and cheese. In fact, there is even an annual Macaroni & Cheese Recipe Contest held by the Tillamook County Creamery Association, where participants compete for 25 lbs of cheese and a $5,000 cash prize. Judges include local luminaries, food critics, and TV personalities.

From this contest, we have gathered the best recipes for you to try. You can have your mac and cheese with crab, lobster, chicken, Tex-Mex style, Florentine style, or classic.

The Menu:

  • Apple, White Cheddar and Gruyère Macaroni and Cheese
  • Cheesy Lobster Bake Mac and Cheese
  • Crab & Macaroni Bake
  • Four Cheese Chicken Florentine Tortellini
  • Tex-Mex Mac ‘n’ Cheese
  • The Ultimate Comfort Food Macaroni & Cheese

Apple, White Cheddar and Gruyère Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe was created by Tim Hutchinson, the 2006 Grand Prize Winner. He was inspired by the tasty combination of cheese with apples, and adapted the concept to his recipe.

Serving Size: 8

  • 6 slices French bread
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cups apple cider
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 ½ cups medium white cheddar
  • 1 cup gruyère cheese
  • 4 cups medium shell pasta
  • 3-4 quarts water for pasta
  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Butter a 13″ x 9″ or 3-quart casserole dish. Remove crust from bread, cut into ½ ” cubes and place in bowl. Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Pour melted butter over bread and toss to coat. Put bread cubes into a food processor and process until fine crumbs form. Set bread crumbs aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat milk, cream and apple cider until hot.
  3. While milk mixture is heating, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted and bubbling, add flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  4. Pour hot milk mixture slowly into skillet with flour-butter mixture, whisking constantly. Continue cooking and whisking over medium heat until sauce bubbles and becomes thick.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in ½ teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, mustard, 2½ cups cheddar and ½ cup gruyère. Combine and set aside.
  6. Fill a large saucepan with 3 to 4 quarts of water, add remaining 2 tablespoons salt and bring to boil. Add pasta and cook slightly less than what the package calls for. Pasta should be slightly underdone. Pour pasta into colander and rinse under cold water draining well.
  7. Stir pasta into cheese sauce and transfer to prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1½ cups cheese over pasta and spread bread crumbs on top to cover. Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Cheesy Lobster Bake Mac & Cheese

Anne Jones was the 2005 Grand Prize Winner, and accomplished this honor by combining lobster and mac and cheese.

Serving Size: 6

  • 7 ½ tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ¼ cups Tillamook Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 ¼ cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 ½ cups Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded
  • ½ cup gruyère cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 pound packaged dry gnocchi-shaped pasta
  • Non-stick cooking spray 1 pound lobster meat
  • 2 teaspoons chopped green onions, green tops only
  • 1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon each paprika, dried basil and dried thyme
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Add flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and, with a wire whisk, gradually add the half and half. Cook 3-5 minutes, or until thickened, stirring often. Remove from the heat, and add ½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, ½ cup gruyère, garlic, 3⁄4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Stir until cheese is melted and well combined. Cover and let stand.
  2. Fill a large pan with water and bring to a rolling boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt.  Add pasta, return to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until just under cooked. Drain water from pasta and return to the pan. Add the béchamel sauce and 2 tablespoons butter; stir until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine the Tillamook Sharp Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, and 1 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
  4. Spray a 3-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place one half of the pasta in the baking dish. Top with half of the mixed cheeses. Top with the other half of the pasta, followed by the remaining mixed cheeses. Bake in a preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the visibly bubbling and hot.
  5. While pasta is baking, combine 1½ tablespoons butter and lobster meat in a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, or until lobster is heated through.
  6. Remove from heat; add bread crumbs, green onions, paprika, basil and thyme, and 1 ounce of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Toss lightly to combine. Remove the baking dish from the oven and spoon the lobster mixture over the top of the pasta. Spread evenly.
  7. Turn the oven to “Broil” and return the baking dish to the oven. Broil 10-12 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. 

Crab & Macaroni Bake

Elizabeth Guise create this 2006 Grand Prize winning recipe. If you love crab, this mac and cheese is for you!

Serving Size: 8

  • 10 ounces rotini pasta
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic and herb Old Bay seasoning
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 ounces medium Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 6 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • ½ cup finely diced red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 8 ounces fresh crab meat
  • 3 slices white bread
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic and herb Old Bay seasoning
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Boil pasta in salted water until tender, drain and set aside.
  3. Place slices of bread on baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with seasoning, and bake for 5-7 minutes until golden brown. Turn over and bake an additional 5 minutes until golden on both sides. Remove from oven and let cool.
  4. Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Continue stirring butter and flour mixture over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour in milk while whisking and whisk until smooth. Cook while stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes until mixture thickens. Add salt, pepper, granulated garlic, and Old Bay seasoning. Add cream cheese and whisk until smooth.
  5. Remove from heat and add the grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese. Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in peppers, onions, shallots, and cilantro. Stir in pasta and gently fold in crab meat.
  6. Spray a large shallow (12″ x 1 1/2”) ceramic casserole dish with pan spray. Pour in filling and spread out evenly. Grate toasted bread slices and sprinkle over filling.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and bubbling around the edge. 

Four Cheese Chicken Florentine Tortellini

Jenny Flake was awarded the 2006 First Runner Up with the creative concept of making macaroni and cheese with tortellini. 

Serving Size: 8

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cups white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • ½ cup oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • ½ tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon roasted garlic seasoning
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 cups Italian blend shredded cheese
  • 1 ½ cups white medium cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • ½ cup smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast (lightly seasoned with salt and pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ cup plain panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add dry tortellini to boiling water and reduce heat. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, bell pepper and mushrooms. Sauté for 4-5 minutes or until tender. Add spinach, sun dried tomatoes and oregano; sauté for 3-4 more minutes or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat.
  3. Melt butter in a separate large pot over medium heat. Remove from heat and whisk in flour, salt, pepper and roasted garlic seasoning until smooth. Slowly whisk in half and half and milk. Bring to a boil while continuously stirring. Reduce heat, and then simmer for 1 minute. Stir in Tillamook Italian Blend, Vintage White Medium Cheddar, Mozzarella and Smoked Cheddar cheeses until melted and smooth.
  4. Stir in cooked tortellini, sautéed vegetables and chicken breast. Pour tortellini mixture into a greased 3-quart casserole dish. In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and bread crumbs. Toss to coat and sprinkle crumbs and pine nuts over top of tortellini. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and crumbs browned.

Tex-Mex Mac ‘n’ Cheese

This recipe was prepared by Suzy Weaver, the winner of 2006 Pasadena Regional. You don’t have to be a Texan to love your mac and cheese Tex-Mex style.

Serving Size: 8

  • 8 ounces uncooked corn pasta large
    macaroni noodles
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoon chipotle flavored hot sauce (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 tablespoon freshly minced cilantro (stems only)
  • 4 cups Mexican blend cheese
  1. Butter the bottom and sides of a large ceramic or glass-baking dish, 10″x 20″x 2” deep. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt butter in 4 quart, heavy-duty, non-stick pot over medium low heat. Add onion, garlic and lime zest and sweat over medium-low heat for 1-2 minutes: Do not allow this to brown. Add Worcestershire and Tabasco Sauces and cook for 30 seconds, scraping up any browned bits in the bottom of the pan. Add cumin and celery salt. Stir in flour and cook over low heat for 3-4 minutes, continuously scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Whisk in cream until mixture is smooth and bring it up to a low simmer. Add oregano and cilantro. Stirring frequently, cook cream sauce over low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in Tillamook Mexican Blend Cheese until thoroughly melted.
  3. While sauce is reducing: In a separate large pot, bring 4 quarts of water and 1 tablespoon salt to a boil. Cook corn macaroni according to package directions (about 7-8 minutes), until cooked but still a little firm. Drain and set aside, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.
  4. Carefully stir cooked macaroni into the cheese sauce until combined, adding the 1/2 cup of cooking water to thin the sauce a bit. Very carefully, pour entire hot mixture into baking dish and lightly smooth out the top with the back of a spoon.

The Ultimate Comfort Food Macaroni & Cheese

The 2005 Phoenix Regional announced this recipe as the Grand Prize Winner, created by Cheryl Hart. If you prefer the classic mac and cheese with a rich cheese blend, you have to try this recipe.

Serving Size: 12

  • 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
  • 3 cups (about ½ loaf) white bread, cut into ¼ to ½ inch pieces
  • 4 cups (1 quart) half & half
  • 1 cup milk
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground or whole red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 2 cups white Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 ¼ cups Romano cheese, shredded
  • 1 pound penne rigate (large macaroni tubes with grooves)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Butter and set aside a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. Place bread in a medium bowl. In the microwave, melt 4 tablespoons butter and ½ teaspoon garlic powder. Pour butter into the bowl with bread and toss. Set bread crumbs aside.
  2. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When butter melts, add flour. Cook, whisking, for 1 minute. While whisking, slowly pour in milk and add 1 ½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon red pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder and nutmeg. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.
  3. Remove pan from heat. Stir in 2 cups Tillamook Sharp Cheddar, 1 cup Tillamook Vintage White, 1 cup Tillamook Swiss and 1 cup Romano; set cheese sauce aside. Blend the remaining cheese together.
  4. Fill a large saucepan with water; bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is just slightly under cooked. Transfer macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water and drain. Add salt and pepper and add 2 tablespoons butter. Stir the cheese sauce into the macaroni.
  5. Pour mixture into the casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup Tillamook Vintage White Cheddar, ½  cup Tillamook Swiss and ¼ cup Romano, add bread crumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool 5 minutes. Serve.

Recipes from The Nibble