Top Tips For Baked Macaroni Cheese
Although Mac and Cheese is a relatively straight forward dish to make, a few extra tips and tricks for the best results always come in handy
- Follow the recipe! Everything in it is there for a reason.
- Dont over-cook the macaroni. A minute or two under so that it is al dente is good. The macaroni will continue to cook when mixed with the sauce and baked, so should be perfect when the mac n cheese is done!
- Add the milk to the cooked flour drop by drop to ensure it completely incorporates without any lumps.
- Make absolutely sure to continually stir when heating and thickening the white sauce. Seriously A lapsed moment will result in lumps!
- When adding the cheese to the white sauce, dont put the pan back on the heat. If the cheese is allowed to boil before it hits the oven, the mac and cheese will end up greasy with some separation.
- Top with plenty of extra cheese and dried bread crumbs for the best crunch.
Can I Make This Recipe Dairy
Even though it might sound odd, but you could definitely enjoy this recipe as both gluten-free and dairy-free. First, use vegan cheese, instead of the regular version.
Replace milk with almond or soy milk.
Also, use Earth Balance butter sticks, and unsweetened almond milk. I think it is worth a try, and the flavors will still be pretty delicious!
The Ultimate Creamy Dairy
This Dairy-Free Mac and Cheese is the ultimate macaroni and cheese — without the cheese! Check out my recipe video and print the recipe to make this for dinner tonight!
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I’ve been working on making a dairy-free mac and cheese since becoming dairy-free several years ago. You can read about my food allergy and intolerance testing and get some of my first fave allergy-friendly and intolerance-friendly recipes.
With two kids, macaroni and cheese has been in my dinner recipe rotation regularly for years. It’s also one of those family-friendly recipes that I prefer to make from scratch, because a) it’s SO easy to make from scratch and b) takes just as much time to make from scratch as it does from a box.
Although, rest assured, we still have a box of Annie’s Mac and Cheese in our pantry. You never know when you’ll need it, am I right, fellow parents?
Now that I’m dairy-free, I end up making two different pots of mac and cheese: one with full dairy for the kiddos and my husband, and one that’s dairy-free for me.
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Mac And Cheese Made In The Instant Pot
Before we get to the recipe, have you cooked with an Instant Pot yet? Its basically an electric pressure cooker, but really easy to use. Much easier than a conventional pressure cooker, which I was always scared to use.
What I love about the Instant Pot is that its a 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Cooker including a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute/browning, yogurt maker, steamer and warmer. Plus, it has a stainless steel cooking pot and steam rack LOVE that! I have literally gotten rid of my old slow cooker and yogurt maker because I can do it all with the Instant Pot.
Looking for Instant Pot recipe ideas? Check out my top 50 gluten-free and Paleo Instant Pot recipes. You can also follow my too.
Ready for the Gluten-Free Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe? Its so easy to make. Youll be done from start to finish in about 20 minutes.
Make The Cheese Sauce
Gather the ingredients.
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Whisk in amaranth flour and cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
Slowly whisk in milk or dairy substitute. Increase heat to medium and whisk until mixture thickens.
Remove from heat. Add salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne , hot sauce , 1 cup cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and all of the Swiss and fontina cheeses. Stir until cheeses melt and mixture is smooth and creamy.
Put reserved baking dish with butter in oven and leave just until butter melts. Remove and coat bottom and sides of dish with butter.
Drain, rinse, and pat dry cooked pasta. Pour half of the pasta into baking dish and cover with about 1/2 of the cheese sauce. Distribute remaining pasta on top and evenly cover with remaining cheese sauce.
Lightly salt and pepper and top with remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden and bubbling. Cool for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Note: Always make sure your work surfaces, utensils, pans and tools are free of gluten. Always read product labels. Manufacturers can change product formulations without notice. When in doubt, do not buy or use a product before contacting the manufacturer for verification that the product is free of gluten.
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Can I Freeze This
Yes! Once cooled, you can happily divide this up into portions, pop into an airtight container and freeze for up to 2-3 months.
Try your best to keep the breadcrumbs on top when you put it in the airtight container. That way, when you reheat it, youll still get that lovely crispy top.
A single serving should take 4-5 hours to defrost at room temperature.
What Gluten Free Thickener Should I Use
I know a lot of mac and cheese recipes use some blend of cream, eggs, and cheese and just stir it together and toss it in the oven and thats finesorta. But my version is going to require that you make a roux or white sauce first and that means youll need a thickener.
In my original baked macaroni and cheese I use flour of course but here I recommend an all purpose gluten free flour blend with xanthan gum in it. I LOVE King Arthurs Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour blend. It works like a champ. You should be able to buy it just about anywhere these days or online as well.
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Living With Him Has Meant That Ive Had To Learn The Ways Of Gluten Free Pasta Tackle Some Gluten Free Baking Recipes And Remember Not To Leave Flour Residue All Over The Worktop On A Positive Note It Also Means Ive Perfected A Recipe For Quick And Easy Gluten Free Mac And Cheese
This quick and easy gluten free mac and cheese is a must-have recipe if you have a gluten dodger in your life. A sauce so thick and creamy youll wonder how on Earth it cant have been made with a flour-based roux. Pasta with actual texture, somewhere between soft and chewy, perfectly cradling the sharp cheddar sauce in all of its curves and edges. Basically its so good, you wont miss the gluten.
Cornflour is the secret ingredient in the sauce of this quick and easy gluten free mac and cheese. It thickens the mixture beautifully, as it does with pastry creams and custards. Plus it is much more forgiving to an amateur cook, producing far less opportunity for lumps than regular flour.
Dairy Free Gluten Free Mac And Cheese
I have never tried to make this mac and cheese recipe myself dairy free. But I think its worth trying for 2 of the 3 methods.
Here are the substitutions I would try, dairy ingredient by dairy ingredient:
- For the milk: unsweetened almond milk
- For the shredded cheese: Violife brand or Miyokos Kitchen brand blocks, shredded
- For the sliced cheese: Daiya sliced American-style cheese
- For the butter: Miyokos Kitchen or Melt brand vegan butter
The dehydrated cheese, almost instant recipe cant be made dairy free. For the cheddar cheese powder in the third variety, I really like Hoosier Hill Farm brand
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Southern Baked Macaroni And Cheese
That was until I moved to the South. Yes, my friends, there is nothing better than southern macaroni and cheese. Southerners love macaroni and cheese like family. Theres even an old joke about it: You know youre in the South when restaurant menus list mac and cheese as a vegetable.
My gluten-free southern baked macaroni and cheese recipe is loaded with three kinds of cheeses and is made super creamy with the addition of evaporated milk.
How Do I Reheat Gluten Free Mac And Cheese
As varieties #s 1 and 2 mac and cheese cool down, the cheese may become a bit grainy. To restore some of the creamy consistency, just add a little milk when reheating.
You can reheat the dish in the microwave, but I think youll have better results in a saucepan over low heat.
Variety 3, the almost instant gf mac n cheese, if made with Rummo brand gluten free pasta, is literally good cold, right out of the refrigerator. You can also reheat it gently in the microwave, if you like.
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Easy Swaps For This Gluten Free Mac And Cheese
This Gluten-Free Instant Pot Mac and Cheese recipe uses gluten-free elbow macaroni but you can swap it out with wheat pasta if you like. The time to cook should be the same Ive had a friend test this with regular wheat elbow macaroni and she said it was all good.
You can also swap out the cheese. This recipe calls for 1 cup of pepperjack cheese but you can just replace it with sharp cheddar cheese that means 3 cups of sharp cheddar cheese total.
You can also replace the garnish with parmesan cheese and broil it in the oven to get a crispy crust my kids especially love this.
Be sure to follow the directions, step by step including the quick pressure release. If you allow it to do a natural release it may overcook the pasta.
Baked Mac And Cheese Faqs
Can the Mac and Cheese be Made Ahead?
I wouldnt recommend making this too far in advance, but if you want to assemble it and keep it in the fridge for a few hours prior to serving, that would be fine. Any longer than that and the sauce will absorb too much into the macaroni. Youll need to add a few minutes to the bake time due to the cold temperature of the entire dish.
Can I Halve or Double the Recipe?
Yes, this recipe works well for reducing or increasing for your needs. Just halve everything or double everything accordingly, making sure to scale up or down the size of your saucepans and casserole dishes.
How is Mac and Cheese Stored?
This macaroni and cheese will keep in the fridge, covered, for 3-5 days. It can be reheated in the microwave in short bursts or in a low oven , covered with foil so it doesnt dry out, for 15-20 minutes. You can also freeze it and then thaw it in the fridge overnight before proceeding as above.
Can I Use Other Cheeses?
Feel free to mix up the cheeses in this mac and cheese. Using cheeses like gruyere, fontina, or mozzarella in addition to one of the cheddar cheeses or to replace both of them would work very well. I would, however, at least use the Velveeta in the sauce because it creates a texture like no other.
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How Do You Make Mac And Cheese Creamy Without Dairy
This ultimate dairy-free mac and cheese happened thanks to a lot of trial and error.
How can macaroni and cheese be so rich and creamy and, well, cheesy, without the – you know, the most important ingredient: the cheese?
There are so many different ways you can make macaroni and cheese without dairy. The trick is finding one that suits your personal tastebuds.
I’ve tried using butternut squash, and while I liked the results, I can’t always find fresh butternut squash year-round.
What has worked for me time and time again is a combo of these ingredients.
Be sure to read this in-depth article about the Best Dairy-Free Cooking and Baking Products. In it, I also explain some of the confusing terms surrounding dairy-free food.
How To Reheat It
First, its best to gobble it all up while its hot! That way you know its good.
If you plan to make it ahead, its best to keep the macaroni and the cheese sauce separate if you know youll be reheating it later.
Some types of gluten-free pasta get soggy or weird when mixed with sauce and then refrigerated.
If you know that your macaroni wont get soggy, then you can reheat this gluten-free mac and cheese just like any other mac and cheese.
I really dont recommend reheating gluten-free pasta, and neither does Barilla because it can go south pretty quickly. Gluten-free pasta when heated a second time has a reputation of turning tasteless and mushy, so keep that in mind.
If you have a fabulous gluten-free pasta that you reheat with success, please let me know which brand, so I can try it out and update this post.
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Best Cheese For Mac And Cheese
I love cheddar and parmesan, but there are plenty of others to choose from.
Smoked gouda, brie, gruyere, fontina, cream cheese or goat cheese melt terrifically and add modern flavor profiles.
What I wouldnt use is pre-shredded cheese because the additives that are added keep it from melting and the mac and cheese will most likely be gritty.
Feta is too dry and crumbly. It wont melt smoothly and will leave clumps of cheese. So thats not good.
Go Vegan Mac And Cheese Thats Dairy Free And Plant Based
Although I dont generally choose to use vegan cheese alternatives or to make our Macaroni Cheese dairy free, this recipe works fine with alternative vegan ingredients. If you havent checked recently, there are now some amazing and ever-improving plant-based cheeses on the market. So this is what you need to sub to make it Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Make sure the macaroni used is dairy and egg free. The award-winning Tesco brand I use is fabulous and holds together well. Barilla gluten free elbow pasta is also recommended.
- Butter and milk Sub with your usual favourite dairy free and vegan brands.
- Cheese Choose a vegan option that you know melts well and tastes super-cheesy. Applewood Vegan Smoky Cheese Alternativetastes good, melts well and is widely available in supermarkets.
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Topping Macaroni Cheese With Breadcrumbs
For the crunchiest contrast between the cheesy, velvety macaroni and the topping, breadcrumbs are a must. Added with a sprinkling of extra cheese, the combination melts and crisps in the oven to create the most delectable marriage of flavours and textures.
However The type of breadcrumbs you use matters. If using crumbs from bread which is dark in colour, the surface may look dirty. Equally, using fresh, quite moist bread crumbs, will be less likely to result in a crunchy top Fresh breadcrumbs have less resistance to absorbing moisture from the underlying cheese sauce and hence, dont crisp as much in the oven.
The answer? Use bread crumbs made from white bread that are dried and preferably PANKO. And if you didnt think gluten free Panko breadcrumbs were a possibility, think again! And head over to my post on how to make Panko Breadcrumbs at home.
Or For standard dried breadcrumbs, we have a post for that too!