Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese

from 15 votes

Add a flavor-packed twist to a comfort food classic with a tried-and-tested recipe for extra-creamy Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese.

A hand holding a spoon in a baking dish of Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese

As a mom of three boys ages 5 and under, mac and cheese is undoubtedly a food group in our house. My boys are noodle super-enthusiasts and will gobble up the carb covered in any sauce I can whip up, from bolognese to pesto to, of course, creamy cheddar cheese.

A heard of roasted garlic in foil

I’m all for a classic, but it was about time I elevated the ordinary into a loved-by-all casserole starring none other than Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese.

How to Make Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese

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

A large pot containing milk, parmesan and shredded cheddar cheese

The beauty of roasting the garlic before whisking it into the cheese sauce is that it both mellows the sharpness and intensifies the earthy richness of the garlic flavor. It’s subtle but oh-so-complimentary to ooey, gooey noodles and cheese.

A large pot containing mac and cheese

What Are the Best Noodles for Mac and Cheese?

Opt for any type of short pasta so that it can stand up to the thick and creamy cheese sauce. Any of the below options are all great noodles for mac and cheese:

  • Shells
  • Penne
  • Elbows
  • Cavatappi (a.k.a. corkscrew)
  • Rigatoni
A side view of a baking dish with breadcrumbs

How to Make a Breadcrumb Topping for Mac and Cheese

I love the added textural contrast of crispy, toasted breadcrumbs atop a bed of creamy garlic mac and cheese. A simple mix of Japanese Panko breadcrumbs (superbly crunchy!), unsalted butter and freshly chopped chives makes for the ultimate mac and cheese topping.

Toasted breadcrumbs in a baking dish

Ready to get cooking? Bring the water to a boil and read on for my go-to recipe for Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese that can be made in advance and baked until bubbling right before serving.

More Macaroni and Cheese Recipes You’ll Love

A hand holding a spoon in a baking dish with Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese

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Main Course

Roasted Garlic Mac and Cheese

Add a flavor-packed twist to a comfort food classic with a tried-and-tested recipe for extra-creamy Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese.
Author: Kelly Senyei
4.94 from 15 votes
A hand holding a spoon in a baking dish of Roasted Garlic Macaroni and Cheese
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 12 servings


For crumb topping:

  • 4 Tablespoons (½ 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 until golden and soft, about 45 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 ½ cup of the cooking water. Butter a 13×9-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 ½ 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.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!


Calories: 517kcal, Carbohydrates: 44g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 26g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Cholesterol: 78mg, Sodium: 795mg, Potassium: 298mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 870IU, Vitamin C: 0.5mg, Calcium: 562mg, Iron: 1.6mg


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Recipe inspired by Epicurious.

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4.94 from 15 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    My favorite mac & cheese recipe, hands down! So creamy and delicious. Sometimes I add 3/4 lb of crumbled bacon and when I do, I add nearly a cup of the pasta/cooking water.

  2. 5 stars
    A friend made this for a party and I was so blown away I had to get the recipe. Now making it for the 2nd time for a Friendsgiving. I use a mix of three cheddars (regular, sharp, and Irish) and gruyere. Adore this recipe, thank you! :)

  3. Hi Kelly!!
    I want to make this recipe for about 20 people as a Thanksgiving side dish. Would you say to quadruple the recipe? (About 4 one-pound boxes of pasta). Or is that too much?

      1. Hi Kelly,
        I made two boxes, and it made so much that I only brought one huge pan of it with me and there were STILL leftovers because all the other food that everyone brought!

        So, first of all, the recipe was a HUGE hit! My only self-criticism was that I put too much panko crumbs on the dish. Next time, I’ll use more of a dusting of them.

        Second, what is the best way to reheat this? Is there a way to get the mac and cheese “gooey” again? I think it actually tasted better before I put it in the oven!

      2. So glad you enjoyed the recipe, Dave! Best way to reheat it is either on the stovetop over low heat (in a pan; you can add a splash of milk to moisten it and cook it low and slow) OR in the microwave, stirring after every 30-second increment. Enjoy!

  4. 5 stars
    The best garlic macaroni recipe I’ve ever made! I make this for every family event and company party, all my friends request it for their birthdays. Definitely an absolute favorite of mine+

      1. 5 stars
        Fantastic! My son wanted Disneyland garlic Mac and cheese (DCA food festival) for his birthday – I swapped out 1 cup of cheddar for smoked Gouda. He said it is perfect! Just like Disney! In fact he thinks i asked for their recipe. I think they swiped it from you! This is a wonderful recipe. Clear, complete directions. Creamy and favor packed. Really the best Mac and cheese recipe I have ever made. My son is very grateful for making his birthday meal dreams come true. Thank you!!

  5. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious. So much so, that we had it for dinner and I had it for leftovers for lunch and dinner the next day ( can’t let good food go to waste you know). I’d recommend it to anyone who loves tasty recipes. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! Thanks!

  6. 5 stars
    Thank you for this superb recipe Kelly ! It came out perfect. Loved the garlic flavor in it too !

    Have 2 queries for you :
    1. My cheese curdled a bit when melting it in the pot . The milk was hot enough when I added the cheese, and I was stirring it consistently .

    Why do you think it curdled ? Is it because the cheese I used was a bit cold due to being in the fridge ? Or the milk being too hot ?

    2. My oven temp limit is 400 F. So every 7/8 mins it shuts off due to the temp slightly crossing 400 F. I had to restart the cooking a couple of times due to this . So would it be okay if I cooked it at a slightly lower temp, e.g. 380 F, but for a slightly longer period ?

    1. Hi there! Make sure you’re using whole milk, as lower fat milks are more likely to curdle, especially if the sauce is brought to a boil. And yes, feel free to cook at a slightly lower temp until it’s golden brown and bubbling.

  7. 5 stars
    WOW this is an unreal recipe! I’ve always made homemade mac and cheese with DISMAL results and this is the first one that has been unreal good! I think it’s a combination of the amazing added flavour of the roasted garlic (vs the powdered that most recipes call for) and the extra liquid that’s added from the pasta water. This was AMAZING!

    I also added some broccoli to my recipe (cooked it in the last few minutes with the pasta) so I felt like I was at least getting SOME veggies!

    Thanks so much for the recipe! I will definitely be making again!

    1. Woohoo! I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the recipe, Allison! And I love your addition of broccoli :)

  8. I absolutely love your recipe! I am writing vegetarian recipe round ups on my blog in 2019 for people who are trying to make more meat-free meals (everyone has to start somewhere). I would love to feature you. You can check out my blog (for beginner environmentalists) Sunshine Guerrilla. Is it alright if I share this link to your recipe?

  9. 5 stars
    I used this recipe to make a vegan mac and cheese and it turned out sooo freaking YUM! Used Earth Balance vegan butter, Califia almond milk and Follow Your Heart cheddar and parmesan cheese to replace all the dairy ingredients. It was my first time making it from scratch but your recipe was so quick and easy to follow I shocked myself with how good it was lol. Thank you!

  10. Could I possibly make this entirely a day ahead and refrigerate, and then bake before serving?

    1. Hi Patty! 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. Would love to hear your results if you give it a shot!

  11. This recipe was simple and delicious! I’ve tried a lot of I LOVE roasted garlic macaroni with garlic recipes, and with this one I feel like I finally hit gold! Full taste, beautiful colour, perfect salt, That is exciting! I am so happy for you!Thank you for this delicious recipe.

  12. 5 stars
    Made this last night, my husband and I LOVED it! The garlic was such a delicious touch. I plan on making this for Christmas this year mmm!

      1. 5 stars
        Quick question: would you be able to make these the night before, and reheat the next day? I would wait to put the breadcrumbs on top until I was reheating them. Thanks!

      2. Hi Kelly – 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 if you give it a shot!

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