Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese

Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese

It’s taken me 4 years, 4 months and 18 days to publish a recipe for macaroni and cheese. That’s 1,602 days or 38,448 hours. And that, my fellow noodle gurus, is outrageous. I can assure you it’s not for a lack of pasta passion. I’ve dabbled in the Cacio e Pepe, gotten my layer on with Lasagna Bolognese, whisked (and drank) my way to Penne Vodka, but nowhere in that flurry of culinary chaos did I even contemplate the comfort food to end all comfort foods: macaroni and cheese.

The debut of this iconic dish merited more than a classic preparation. Someone cue the whole head of roasted garlic. Yes, a whole gargantuan head of garlic that’s roasted, mashed and then whisked into the easiest, cheesiest cheddar sauce.

Outrageous ideas often have rewarding outcomes. And unlike my decision to cut blunt bangs 3 months ago (how does Zooey Deschanel even see where she’s walking?), this not only sounded like a good idea, but actually proved to be a good idea, bite after creamy bite.

Roasted Garlic

Roasted Garlic


Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese

Toasted Crumbs

Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese

Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese

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Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese

Yield: 12 servings

Prep Time: 30 min

Cook Time: 1 1/4 hrs


For crumb topping:
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups Panko Japanese bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons chopped fresh chives

For pasta and sauce:
1 head garlic
Olive oil
1 pound uncooked pasta (such as cavatappi, shells or rigatoni)
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
6 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 cups whole milk
5 1/2 cups coarsely shredded cheddar cheese (white, yellow or a mix of both)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper


Make the crumb topping:

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and chives, stirring to combine. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until toasted slightly. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Make the pasta and sauce:

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Slice the top one-third off the head of garlic. Place the bottom portion on a piece of foil, drizzle it with olive oil, and season it with salt and pepper. Place the top portion back on the head of garlic and crumple the foil to create a sealed packet. Roast the garlic for 30 minutes.

Remove the roasted garlic from the oven and squeeze the cloves into a bowl. Using a fork, mashing the cloves into a paste. Set aside.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of well-salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Butter a 13x9-inch shallow baking dish.

In a large, heavy saucepot (such as a Dutch oven), melt 1 stick butter over medium-low heat. Stir in the flour and reserved garlic paste. Cook the roux, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes until golden. Whisk in the milk. Bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly, then reduce it to a simmer and let it cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the shredded cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, mustard powder, salt and pepper until well combined.

Add the pasta and the reserved 1/2 cup of pasta water to the pot, stirring to combine. (It will be soupy.) Transfer the macaroni and cheese to the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle it with the reserved crumb topping and place it on a sheet tray (in the event it bubbles over while baking). Bake the macaroni and cheese for 20 to 25 minutes until it's golden brown and bubbling.

Kelly's Notes:

The garlic head can be roasted, and the garlic gloves mashed, 1 day in advance. Store the garlic paste, covered, in the fridge.

The macaroni and cheese can be baked in a large baking dish or several smaller ramekins for individual servings.

Recipe inspired by Epicurious.


  1. 11


    YUM! You have combined two of my most favorite things in the world – roasted garlic and mac & cheese! Wow. This dish was definitely worth the wait. I can’t wait to try it! : )

    Danielle xo

  2. 15


    Oh my goodness. Two of my favorite foods…together at last. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of this! Thank goodness you did. Making this as soon as I can. My life can’t be without roasted garlic mac n cheese any longer. Pinned!

  3. 17


    this looks SOOO good. i feel like i don’t even have words for this, but all i know is that i need to make this happen in my house ASAP! the fact it’s got so much roasted garlic goodness in it, it’s making me swoon!

  4. 20

    Noma says

    Kelly, your recipes and photos are insane, but your way with words cracks me up every time. You need your own cooking show!

  5. 36

    MsMartini says

    This is an excellent dish. It makes enough to have for a few days. Just cut up and put into individual micro-wave dishes and it is just as good or better(garlic delicious!) the next day. Mmmmmm!

  6. 38

    Doris says

    Each time I made mac and cheese I always make a white sauce first and then add cheese to the sauce. but as soon as I add the cheese the sauce will turn grainy and curdle on me. I have used all different kind of cheese but it always turn out the same. My daughter-in-law love mac and cheese and I would like to make it right for her. Can you tell me what brand of cheese you use? What do you think the problem is if it is not the cheese?

  7. 39


    This recipe is to die for!! Just made it for a work thing and I’m sure it will make it there! Too good to share!

    @Doris – you are not getting your white sauce hot enough to melt the cheese. It absolutely HAS to boil in order for the cheese to melt and not curdle.

  8. 40


    I made this for dinner tonight and I just had to tell you that it is quite possibly the best mac and cheese I’ve had to date! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe :)

  9. 41

    AnnaD says

    this looks scrumptious! i plan on making this dish for my boyfriend’s family this weekend. were frying chicken, and of course you gotta have all the goodies to go with it and that definitely includes mac-n-cheese. i am curious though, which cheese do you prefer to use? i’d like to go with a healthy mix between the white cheddar and sharp cheddar. just thought i’d ask if you have a personal favorite! thanks for sharing kelly!

  10. 43

    Katie says

    Hi Kelly, do you think this would split nicely into 2 8×8 dishes to bake? I hate 2 thanksgivings to take Mac n cheese to:)

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — November 24th, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

      Hi Katie! I’ve actually never tried splitting the recipe, so I can’t say for certain. But as long as you have an inch of room between the top of the mac n’ cheese and the top of the baking dish, you should be OK and it shouldn’t bubble over. Hope this helps!

  11. 45

    Nina says

    Hello Kelly,

    I am new to cooking in general, but followed the directions for your Roasted Garlic Mac & Cheese and it came out fantastic!! It was literally the best I’ve ever had. I have a gathering coming up this month at my home and wanted to make this in advance. Is it possible to get this dish to the point of being ready to bake but keep in the fridge and then bake in the morning? Thanks!

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — December 8th, 2013 @ 7:33 pm

      Hi Nina! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! I’ve never tried that before, but I think as long as you keep it covered securely with plastic (so it doesn’t dry out). It should work to make it, refrigerate it and then bake it. Let me know how it goes!

  12. 46

    Liz says

    This looks so yummy and I’m going to try it for dinner tonight! I have one question…do I bake the entire thing at 400f? Thanks!

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — January 6th, 2014 @ 12:19 pm

      Hi Liz! Yes, the oven temp stays the same after you’ve roasted the garlic and the whole dish of mac’ and cheese goes into the oven at 400F. Enjoy!

  13. 48

    Deborah says

    Oh Kelly. This was amazing. I made it for Easter and it was a HUGE hit! This will be my mac & cheese recipe forever! It can definitely be made in advance – mix the cooked mac with the cheese sauce in the baking dish, cover and refrigerate. Make the bread crumbs too and put them in a separate container. When ready to cook, let it sit out for 1/2 hour, put on the bread crumbs and bake. Comes out perfect!

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — April 23rd, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

      Awesome! So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Deborah!

  14. 49

    Ayesha says

    I had loads of mac and cheese recipes. I was craving comfort food today so decided to make this one a try. And ohmygodofoooeygooeygoodness. This dish is amazing. Roasted garlic adds a very flavourful twist to the old classic. I am going to cut down the crumb topping next time as I’m not a fan of heavy breaded crusts and maybe add some grated cheese to crust. I also added some extra garlic powder for added taste. Super delicious.

  15. 51

    Dena says

    Do you think this is something that can be made in a slow cooker? Would love to make this for a pot luck, and reheating could be an issue.

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — November 12th, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

      Hi Dena! I’ve never tried this recipe in a slow cooker so I can’t say with certainty if it would work. Let me know if you give it a shot!

  16. 52


    i sow this recipe a week ago! And I made this Mac & cheese today
    Very very good! Dynamite Mac&cheese! The Roasted garlic it’s totally a great idea! What can I say!? Super super delicioso!!
    My kids loved it! Que delicia!

  17. 53

    Valerie says

    This is in the oven right now as I type this. It smells absolutely DELICIOUS in our house right now. I can’t wait to dig into this. I’ll post again after we have gotten our NOM NOM NOM on.

  18. 54

    Robyn says

    This recipe sounds absolutely amazing!! I was all set to make my own Mac and cheese recipe, but you’ve tipptthe scales in favor of this!! My own recipe is almost identical, but your roasted garlic just put this over the top!! Thank you for sharing!! YUMMMMMMM

    • Kelly Senyei replied: — April 28th, 2015 @ 5:17 pm

      Awesome! I hope you enjoy the recipe, Robyn :)

  19. 56

    Lola says

    If you need 5 and 1/2 shredded cheese, does that mean you need 5 and 1/2 blocks of cheese? 1 block is 8 oz so I thought that would be it but that seems like a lot. Could you please help me? Thank you! :)


  1. […] a sealed packet. Roast the garlic for 30 minutes or until it has softened. (See this recipe for Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheesefor additional step-by-step photos for roasting […]

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