Transform a classic soup into an easy, cheesy entrée with this crowd-friendly recipe for French Onion Mac and Cheese.
If ever there was a comfort food to be named King of All Comfort Foods, this pot of cheesy goodness would get my vote … again … and again … and again.
I’ve taken one of my all-time favorite soups and swapped the broth for a luxuriously thick and creamy cheese sauce.
Something magical happens when cheese sauce and caramelized onions join forces. It’s an unexpected marriage that leads to the perfect balance of savory and sweet flavors. But this wasn’t an easy recipe to perfect.
I’m often asked how many times I’ll attempt a recipe before giving up (Japanese pancakes, looking at you!). I attempted this recipe from a very different approach two other times and neither was worthy of this webpage.
Once I went back to the basics, everything just clicked. Slowly caramelized onions made with fresh thyme and a not-so-secret ingredient (beef bouillon!) guarantee that intense French onion soup flavor. Set those beauties aside while you whip up a silky bechamel sauce starring mozzarella and cheddar cheeses. The melt factor is a 100.
Add in pasta shells (a.k.a. the best noodle for mac and cheese ever) and the result is the ultimate French Onion Mac and Cheese that’s every adult’s dream spin on a childhood favorite.
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- 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 2 small yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup dry sherry or white wine
- 2 teaspoons beef bouillon paste
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pound uncooked pasta shells
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan set over low heat. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 35 minutes.
- Increase the heat to high then add the sherry, and cook while scraping up any browned bits, for 1 minute. Add the beef bouillon and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Set the mixture aside.
- Bing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, warm the milk until it is simmering then set it aside.
- In a large heavy-bottomed stock pot set over medium heat, melt the remaining 8 tablespoons butter. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until it turns light brown in color and has a slightly toasted aroma, about 3 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the warm milk. Continue whisking constantly to avoid any lumps.
- Cook the mixture while whisking constantly until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses until they are
melted and the sauce is smooth.
- Add the pasta, stirring to combine, then fold in the onion mixture and serve.
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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.
OMG! This is ridiculously good! Only issue was that the sauce, made to directions, was way to thick and required addition of a fair bit of 2% milk to get a good consistency. Next time I may try adding some sliced, sautéed mushrooms to the onion mixture. Thank you for sharing your terrific recipe.
You are so welcome, Linda! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the recipe!
The cheesy sauce came out grainy. I followed the instructions and went back to check to see if I messed up, couldn’t find out what I did wrong.. any ideas?
Hi Sarah! It sounds like your roux didn’t thicken properly. You can fix the graininess by streaming in additional liquid. Hope that helps!
This was so delicious! The family said it was a keeper. Will be making again soon! Only used one big pot and I just warmed the milk in a large measuring cup in microwave. Made the pasta earlier and it worked out perfectly.
Amazing! I’m so glad you and your family enjoyed the recipe, Corrine!
This was so bomb!! My only complaint is it requires a lot of pans lol especially if you cook up chicken to go with it like we did! Maybe I can premake the sauce next time in the afternoon or bake the chicken to cut down on the pots/pans I need!
I’m thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Sidney!
Can I make this without the wine?
Hi Amanda! You could use any type of broth or omit it completely. :)
Just made this and it was 100% fantastic!! This will be my go-to mac and cheese!
Woohoo! I’m thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Jeremiah!
Oh YES!! King of Comfort food it is. I tasted it as soon as it was done and it is a winner. I am also adding buttered toasted Panko bread crumbs on top to bake a little in a 375F oven, along with chicken thighs.
YUM! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Renee!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Tara!
I added smoked chicken and zucchini to this and it was delicious! So flavorful and we would make again!
YUM! I’m so glad you enjoyed the recipe, Becca!
This Recipe For French Onion Mac And Cheese Is Delicious
I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Aaron!
For those wondering about bouillon paste, look for Better than Bouillon in your grocery store soup aisle. Comes in a jar and is worlds better than the cubes.
French onion soup & mac n cheese. Two of my absolute favorites, so how could they not be better together? Made exactly as written, and will do so many, many more times!
Woohoo! I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Steph!
I would like to make this but I don’t cook with wine. What could I use in place of the wine?
Hi Colleen! You could use any type of broth or omit it completely. :)
There’s just two of us so I cut everything in half but the onion part.. that I doubled. I froze 3/4 of the onions after they were done. Next time I want this, the most time consuming part is done!
Amazing! I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Suzie!
I’m obsessed with this mac and cheese! It’s so easy and tastes AMAZING!!
I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Amy!
Hi, this looks yummy! I’m wondering, if I can’t find beef bouillon paste, could I use beef bouillon cubes, and if so, how many?
Hi Linda! I’d use one cube, however the cubes need to be dissolved in water, which will dilute the sauce.