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 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!

  13. Absolutely delicious; only two of us in the household…. would freezing the leftovers be advisable….. or not
    Thank You,
    Kathy n Bob

    1. Hi Kathy and Bob! I’ve never tried this freezing the macaroni and cheese so I can’t say with certainty if it would work. Let me know if you give it a shot!

      1. I have frozen Mac and Cheese in FOOD SAVER BAGS, and a year later I’m still enjoying the Mac n Cheese. Food Saver is a small appliance that sucks air out of your bag and seals it before you toss it into the freezer. It doesn’t get frost bitten, or come out with all those crystals over it. The cost is about $100+ and worth every penny. I use it mostly for the fresh fish my hub catches, and the fish is still good THREE years later—–Not as fresh as the two year, but it truly knocks my socks off. Forget the zip lock bags or Tupperware.

  14. This recipe is AH-MAZING, except I agree with another commenter that there were too many breadcrumbs. Many add half of the recommended amount.

  15. I followed the recipe to a T. I think there were way too many bread crumbs. Perhaps I’m not very fond of them. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  16. 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! :)

  17. 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

  18. 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.

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

    1. 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!

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. I’m so glad you shared this on G+ today because I had missed it, and I’m in love with it, and I’m going to make it…soon!

  24. 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!

    1. 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!

  25. 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!

    1. 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!

  26. 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:)

    1. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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 :)

  29. 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.

  30. 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?

  31. I have no problem with a whole head of garlic. In fact, the more, the merrier for me! And roasted garlic mac ‘n cheese? I know this is awesome!!! My kids will think me a hero when I make this for them!

  32. 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!

  33. Is there anything better than roasted garlic? I think not. I’m now wondering whether I have the ingredients on hand to make this for lunch. Immediately. WOW!!

  34. I am so thankful to have found your blog via kitchen simplicity! Great posts, great photos, will keep reading!

  35. Oh man, as if mac and cheese wasn’t already good enough, you went and added one of my favorite ingredients ever, lots of garlic!

  36. Oh my garlic – looks fantastic! Nothing better than roasted garlic, right? I can’t wait to try this! Yum!

  37. I could add roasted garlic to everything, I love that you added it to mac n cheese. And I love how gigantic that garlic is, it makes me happy ;)

  38. Roasted Garlic is a thing of beauty. I love the fact that you threw it in this pan of mac and cheese!

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

  40. The roasted garlic in this mac & cheese sound awesome! I am a big mac and cheese fan so I have to add this to my list. Worth waiting for!

  41. 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!

  42. Ahhh – a perfect marriage – roasted garlic + mac ‘n cheese. After this insanely trying week, I might have to make a dish of this and curl up on the couch – it looks comforting.

  43. 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!

  44. 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

  45. Did you say “Roasted Garlic” in the same breath as “Macaroni and Cheese”? Will you marry me? Or wait, can I marry the Mac? lol. This looks and sounds amazing. Thanks for sharing such a great idea!

  46. Even if it took you this long to get a mac & cheese recipe up it was worth the wait! Sounds amaaaaaaaazing!

  47. this looks amazing! What took you so long ;) I love garlic, and mac and cheese! This is a total winner for me!