Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese is rich and creamy and finished with a buttery, crispy bread topping. If you like super creamy macaroni, this recipe is for you! The smokiness from the gouda is not overpowering but just adds a perfect smoky hint of flavor that goes so well with melty white cheddar.
You might be wondering:
Is smoked gouda good for mac and cheese?
The answer is YES! Gouda is a soft cheese that melts beautifully. The smoked variation of gouda adds such a unique flavor to macaroni! It’s actually the reason this macaroni recipe stands out above the rest in my opinion!
How to make smoked gouda mac and cheese:
Aside from boiling your pasta, the cheese sauce is what you’ll work on first. It’s a pretty standard cheese sauce: butter, flour, milk as the base.
One of the great things about this mac and cheese recipe is that it’s made with milk and not cream. I always have milk in my fridge so it just makes things a little easier. Once you’ve added the milk to the pot, in comes the cheese!
Now if you don’t have one of these…I would HIGHLY suggest purchasing this cheese shredder! It has saved me so much time in the kitchen! I hate shredding cheese but this thing takes about 30 seconds to shred a block of cheese. I also placed my smoked gouda in the freezer for about 15 minutes to firm it up a bit which made it less sticky in the grater…totally optional! The white cheddar is firm so I didn’t worry about that one.
Can you use pre-shredded cheese for mac and cheese?
I would not for this recipe. I’m all about making things as easy as possible but pre-shredded cheese almost always contains an ingredient called an anti-caking agent. It prevents the cheese in the bag from clumping It also prevents you from getting a super smooth creamy sauce so for this macaroni, I’d shred your own cheese. (I’ve also never seen pre-shredded smoked gouda!)
Once your cheeses and seasonings have melted into the sauce, it’s time to add the cooked pasta. Make sure to under-cook your pasta. It will continue to cook in the oven so you don’t want it to turn into mush. You can subtract 2 minutes from whatever your box of pasta suggest for the cooking time.
Now hear me out…it’s going to look like there’s way too much cheese sauce but in my opinion, there’s no such thing! The cheese sauce will soak into the pasta and the bread topping as it bakes in the oven and you’ll be left with the creamiest, cheesiest macaroni! So it’ll look like a lot but you’re doing it right!
Now we can’t just leave this glorious smoked gouda macaroni with no topping! It needs it’s BFF…the buttery breadcrumb topping! It’s so simple to make. It’s just melted butter tossed with some plain white bread that’s been cut into cubes – crust and all!
The bread pieces almost turn into little croutons (only not as hard). The bottom soaks into the smoky, creamy cheese sauce while the top stays golden and crispy.
Once you’ve baked the macaroni, you’re ready to dig in! I do like to let this sit out for about 10 minutes before serving because that sauce is piping hot! It also gives the cheese sauce a chance to set and thicken back up a bit.
Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound cavatappi pasta (or shape of your choice)
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 5 and ½ cups milk (whole or 2% is fine)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 16 ounces smoked gouda cheese (not bagged or pre-shredded)
- 8 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese (not bagged or pre-shredded)
- 6 slices white bread (cut into small cubes)
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
Cooking the pasta
- Set a pot of water to boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Once boiling, add the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the package but subtract 2 minutes from the cooking time on the package. (It will finish cooking in the oven)
- Drain the pasta once it has finished cooking.
Making the cheese sauce (while the pasta is cooking)
- Pre-heat the oven to 375°
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. (The pot needs to be large enough to hold the cheese sauce and all of the pasta.)
- Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in the pot.
- Add in the ½ cup of flour and whisk until combined. Cook for 2 minutes.
- Warm the milk for about 45 seconds in the microwave or on a small pot on the stove. It should be just a little warmer than room temp. This will help prevent lumps when adding it to the flour.
- Once warmed, slowly add the milk to the flour/butter mixture. I like to add about a cup at a time, whisking between each cup until fully combined.
- Bring the sauce to a low and slow boil until it thickens. Be sure to keep whisking so the bottom doesn't burn. This should only take about 3-5 minutes.(If your sauce is not thickening, it's not warm enough. It needs to be bubbling in order to thicken)
- Once the sauce has thickened, add in all of the shredded cheese and the seasonings. Whisk until it's fully melted into the sauce.
- Add the drained pasta to the pot with the cheese mixture and stir to coat the noodles. (it will seem like too much sauce but it will absorb more as it bakes)
- Spray a 9x13 dish with non-stick spray or coat with butter
- Pour the pasta into the prepared dish.
Making the bread topping
- Cut 6 slices of bread into small ½ inch cubes.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large bowl and toss the bread pieces to coat them.
- Add the coated bread to the top of the pasta and bake the entire dish, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until the bread is toasty and golden colored.
- Once finished cooking, allow to set for about 10 minutes before serving.