What is better than macaroni cheese? Three Cheese Macaroni Cheese, of course! Made with a combination of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan and finished with a crispy parmesan and panko breadcrumb topping, this version definitely takes mac n cheese to the next level!
I have to admit…I am a comfort food girl at heart and there are few dishes in this world that tick the comfort food box better than good ‘ole mac n cheese. My standard version is always a real hit (well except for my daughter who quite inexplicably doesn’t like macaroni cheese – I KNOW!!!) and is pretty popular on my blog too.
But I am always looking for ways of making good dishes better and I have a particular obsession when it comes to macaroni cheese…I have already brought you my Super Simple Macaroni Cheese, my Leek and Bacon Macaroni Cheese (which is INSANE btw) and my Butternut Squash Macaroni Cheese, plus I have a few other ideas in the pipeline, but this is my latest creation: Three Cheese Macaroni Cheese.
Because how to improve on macaroni cheese? Well add in more cheese of course! I typically make my family favourite mac n cheese with cheddar – it has just the right amount of creaminess to sharpness in my mind and is something I always have in the fridge…so perfect for throwing together when my dinner plans fall through or if we have unexpected guests.
So when dreaming about other cheeses to put in macaroni cheese, I tried to work on how my standard version could be improved. The thing about cheddar is it’s not oozy and stretchy…the best cheese for that, in my humble opinion, is mozzarella – so that needed to go into the mix. It adds a wonderful extra creaminess too.
And the other thing about cheddar is, although it’s OK as a topping, it’s not quite as good as parmesan, which for me is the best cheese to use as a topping, especially when mixed together with my absolute storecupboard favourite: panko breadcrumbs…so in that went too! And of course I kept the cheddar for flavour. I love a good strong cheddar, but go for a milder one if you prefer.
Of course, you could go to town with the three cheese theme if you like…I did toy with the idea of adding a blue cheese and I may still try that in the future…and I also quite like the idea of adding Red Leicester – mostly for the colour – orange mac and cheese would look pretty special wouldn’t it? And then of course you could go all out and stir in some soft garlic cheese like Boursin – I’m not at all sure how that one would turn out, but I feel it needs trying, don’t you?
But for now I am sticking with this cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan version because I think it’s pretty awesome! It’s also filled with cheeses that most people can actually get hold of (always a bonus!) and…well, it just works!
With regard to the mozzarella, make sure you buy the hard, dry mozzarella (usually sold pre grated for pizza), not the soft, squishy mozzarella that comes in a ball, packed in liquid. The soft, squishy version doesn’t work at all well in this (I did try – it just sticks together in globs and doesn’t do that cute picture-perfect stretchy thing, but rather that get in a total tangle stretchy thing. Not a good look!)
And if you are wanting to make sure this mac n cheese is suitable for vegetarians, you will need to use an Italian style hard cheese suitable for vegetarians as ‘proper’ parmesan is not veggie friendly. It is possible to buy mozzarella and cheddar that are suitable for vegetarians, but do obviously check the label!
I like to serve this Three Cheese Macaroni Cheese with a simple green salad tossed in my all-time favourite Honey, Mustard and Cider Vinegar Dressing. But other great options could be my Easy No Mayo Coleslaw or this rather awesome 5 Minute Mexican Salad! (Or you could just have this with baked beans like my son…who would cry if I served macaroni cheese with anything else!)
My favourite wine match for this Three Cheese Macaroni Cheese is a lovely crisp unoaked Chardonnay, which cuts beautifully through the richness of the cheeses, but a soft, ripe red, such as Grenache or Merlot would work well here too.
If you like this recipe…
…you might also like:
Three Cheese Macaroni Cheese
- 300 g macaroni (NOT quick cook)
- 30 g butter
- 25 g plain flour
- 500 ml milk
- Black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 100 g hard mozzarella cheese grated
- 50 g mature cheddar cheese grated
- 100 g parmesan cheese grated (75g for the sauce, 25g for the topping) or vegetarian equivalent
- 50 g panko breadcrumbs
- 100 g salad leaves to serve
- 1 quantity Honey, Mustard and Cider Vinegar dressing to serve
- Pre heat your oven to 220C / 200C / gas mark 7 / 425F.
- Cook the macaroni in plenty of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes less than you would normally do it. This is important or your macaroni will end up soggy and stodgy. Drain reserving a little of the cooking water.
- Put the butter in an ovenproof saucepan or hob proof oven dish and melt over a low heat until starting to foam.
- Sprinkle over the plain flour and stir well, then add the milk very slowly, stirring constantly until thickened. When the sauce is roughly the thickness of double (heavy) cream, add in a few twists of black pepper, the Dijon mustard and all the cheese except for 25g of the parmesan. Stir until the cheese is melted and then turn the heat off.
- In a small bowl place the panko breadcrumbs and the remaining 25g of the parmesan cheese. Mix together to make the topping.
- Tip the macaroni into the cheese sauce, together with about a tablespoon of the cooking water, and stir to combine. Scatter the panko topping evenly over the top and place in your preheated oven for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve with a green salad.
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Michelle Frank | Flipped-Out Food says
Ooohh, your version of Mac & Cheese does sound yummy! Hilarious: baked beans and mac & cheese—who’d’ve thought?! I like that you reserve the cheddar for the breadcrumb topping—and I’m all about the SHARP cheddar, too!
Eb Gargano says
Thank you! Yes, I know – my little boy is obsessed with baked beans and would have them every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner if I let him! Yep – huge fan of good strong cheddar over here – love the stuff 😀 Eb x
Jo / Jo's Kitchen Larder says
Comfort food at its best! Love how you are using really accessible “common” cheeses lol. These are the holy grail of cheeses for me. In fact I ALWAYS have these in my fridge! Really funny thing with baked beans, my 6 year old is exactly the same. He will have them with anything or failing that it’s ketchup but that’s a different story lol. Love your mac’n’cheese Eb! One to make! x
Eb Gargano says
I thought about it long and hard, Jo, my original idea had been to try using Red Leicester, but I reckon outside the UK that might be a tad tricky to find!! But actually when I started to think about the properties of the different cheeses mozzarella, parmesan and cheddar just made so much sense and, as you say, they are fairly easy to get hold of for most people! I tested it out and I was so pleased with the result. My daughter actually moaned less than usual about eating it, which was a big result! Eb x
Jennifer @ Because Food Is Love says
Yum! Baked macaroni and cheese always reminds me of childhood. It was one of my favorite dishes. Love the three cheese combo. It’s so surprising that your daughter doesn’t like macaroni and cheese! I mean, I’ve heard of kids being picky at the type of mac and cheese but never disliking it all together. Kids are so funny like that! 🙂
Eb Gargano says
It is so strange. My daughter isn’t actually a fussy eater at all usually. She eats almost everything. But she just hates macaroni cheese…which I just don’t get, because she likes pasta and happily has cheese on things like bolognese without complaining! Really not sure what’s going on there – kids, hey!! Eb x
Kat (The Baking Explorer) says
This looks so good! More cheese is always a good idea!
Eb Gargano says
Thanks Kat. Yup, totally agree: cheese good, more cheese better!! Eb x
Kirsty Hijacked By Twins says
Ooooh macaroni cheese is such a comforting meal. I love the extra cheese in this dish! Perfect! Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x
Eb Gargano says
Isn’t it just? Such great comfort food – and even better with extra cheese!! Thanks for your kind comments 🙂 Eb x
Sonia Sanjaya says
Hey, I know that this is an old recipe, but just to let you know, thanks for the recipe.
There’s a very limited types of cheeses available in markets in my country, so this recipe is the one that I’ve been looking for! Thanks a lot! I’ll be using this recipe a lot from now on!
P.S. I used lots of peppercorns…
Eb Gargano says
Yay! I am so pleased you like the recipe. Thanks for taking the time to let me know! Eb 🙂