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5 from 17 votes

Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese

A creamy mixture of Fontina, Parmigiano Reggiano, and cheddar cheeses are combined with elbow macaroni, topped with a smoked paprika panko mixture and baked until bubbly.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
resting time5 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 cup half and half
  • 3 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese divided, shredded
  • 2 cups Fontina cheese divided, shredded
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Breadcrumb topping (optional)

  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika


For the breadcrumb topping (optional)

  • Melt the butter in a microwave until just melted.
  • Combine the breadcrumb ingredients together and set aside.

Baked macaroni and cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350f and set the rack to the middle level. Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt per gallon of water) to boil. Rub a touch of butter (to prevent sticking) all over the inside of a (9 by 13") baking dish.
  • Meanwhile, melt 7 tablespoons of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute until the flour is dissolved and lightly golden in color. Slowly add in the milk and half and half 1 cup at a time while whisking.
  • Whisk the milk and flour mixture over medium heat until slightly thickened (about 7-9 minutes). The mixture should just coat the back of a wooden spoon.
  • While the flour and milk are thickening begin boiling the pasta. Cook pasta 1 minute less than package instructions. Drain and mix 1 tablespoon of butter into the pasta and set it aside.
  • Once milk and flour have thickened, turn the heat off and remove the pan from heat. Add in 2 cups cheddar, 1 1/2 cups Fontina, and the Parmigiano. Stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper. Make sure to taste test and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Add the just drained pasta into the pot and mix together well. Immediately pour into the baking dish. Top with the remaining cheddar and Fontina cheese then sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture evenly over the top.
  • Cover with parchment paper, then foil (the parchment paper will prevent sticking). Bake for 10 minutes then remove the cover and bake for 5-7 more minutes until bubbly. To brown the breadcrumbs, broil for the last 1-2 minutes but watch carefully. Let the baked mac and cheese set for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!



  • The recipe makes 8 normal-size or 6 very large servings.
  • Undercook the pasta by about 2 minutes, since it will cook longer in the oven.
  • Covering during the baking process prevents the mac and cheese from drying out.  If you like it a bit firmer feel free to bake uncovered the whole time.
  • American, Gruyere, Gouda, Havarti, or Monterey Jack can be subbed for Fontina cheese.  Basically, any soft melting cheese can be used.
  • The breadcrumb topping is completely optional but does give a wonderful texture.  
  • Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.


Calories: 799kcal | Carbohydrates: 42.4g | Protein: 35.3g | Fat: 54.6g | Saturated Fat: 33.6g | Cholesterol: 207mg | Sodium: 1429mg | Potassium: 397mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 5.9g | Calcium: 811mg | Iron: 3mg