Chef Thomas Keller's Mac n' Cheese Recipe on Honest Cooking (2024)

If you really want to impress with your next Mac n’ Cheese, try this amazing recipe from Chef Thomas Keller.
By Kalle Bergman

Chef Keller describes the dish “ – This pasta is cooked in the manner of a risotto, first toasting the pasta and then adding the liquid in batches. It takes about 25 minutes to cook and produces a rich and creamy consistency similar to risotto. I think it is best just after cooking, but if you want to make it ahead of time, it can be poured into a gratin dish and refrigerated. On re-heating, it may lose some of the original creaminess, but it will be made up for with a crusty border of orzo around the gratin dish.

It is best to have all your ingredients prepped before beginning the recipe. The amount of cheese you add is also a matter of taste. Panko crumbs are Japanese breadcrumbs and can be found in the Asian section of the supermarket.

This can be served as a first course, side dish or as a main course with a salad.”


Chef Thomas Keller’s Mac n’ Cheese

  • Author: Thomas Keller for All Clad
  • Total Time: 55 mins
  • Yield: 4-8 1x
Print Recipe


If you really want to impress with your next Mac n’ Cheese, try this amazing recipe from Chef Thomas Keller.



  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (1/4 ounce) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 8 ounces orzo (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/4 cup minced yellow onion, minced almost to a paste (optional)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken stock, homemade or shop-bought low-sodium
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons crème fraiche
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups white cheddar cheese, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon minced Italian parsley


  1. Melt the 1 1/2 teaspoons of butter in a small non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the crumbs and sauté, moving the crumbs constantly until they are a rich golden brown. Remove to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in an All-Clad Copper-Core Windsor Pan over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and stir constantly to toast the orzo for about 2 to 3 minutes or until about half the orzo pieces are lightly browned. Remove the pot from the heat and immediately stir in the onions to incorporate. Steam will rise from the moisture of the onions. Stir until the steam subsides and any liquid from the onions has been absorbed by the orzo.
  3. Add 3/4 cup of the chicken stock and return the pan to the heat. Stir until the stock is almost evaporated and add another 3/4 cup of stock and a pinch of salt. The liquid will become thickened and creamy from the starch in the orzo. When the mixture has thickened and you can see the bottom of the pan as a spoon is drawn through the orzo, add the milk. Cook until the milk reduces but the mixture is still creamy. Taste the orzo, it should be cooked but still have a bit of firmness, as when cooking pasta al dente. Do not let it become mushy. If the orzo needs more cooking, add 1/4 cup of the remaining stock and continue to cook. When the orzo is done to your liking, remove the pot from the heat.
  4. Stir in the butter, if desired, the crème fraiche and 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Stir to incorporate. Taste and add more cheese or salt as desired. Check the consistency. If needed add a bit more of the remaining chicken stock to loosen the mixture. Stir in the herbs.
  5. Spoon the orzo on individual serving plates and sprinkle with the panko crumbs.
  6. If you are making the orzo ahead of time, pour it into a gratin dish and smooth the top. Cover and refrigerate. When you are ready to cook the gratin, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature before reheating.
  7. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Sprinkle the panko crumbs over the top of the gratin and place in the oven to heat for about 15 minutes, then increase the heat to 400°F. for an additional 10 minutes or until the top is crispy and the orzo is hot.
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 25 mins
  • Category: Side
  • Cuisine: American

Chef Thomas Keller's Mac n' Cheese Recipe on Honest Cooking (2)

Kalle Bergman

Kalle Bergman is a food writer and media entrepreneur who is the founder of Honest Cooking and PAIR Magazine. As a food writer, his writing has been regularly featured in publications like Gourmet, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post and Serious Eats. He is obsessed with simple food, more often than not from his native Scandinavia.

Chef Thomas Keller's Mac n' Cheese Recipe on Honest Cooking (2024)


How does Gordon Ramsay make the best mac and cheese? ›

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the pasta and milk. ...
  2. Once the pasta is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, cheddar cheese, salt, and pepper. ...
  3. Divide between serving bowls and top with the bread crumbs.
  4. Enjoy!
  5. All your favorite recipes, stored in one place.
May 4, 2023

Can I use yogurt instead of milk for mac and cheese? ›

Finally, using a plain yogurt is one of the best options for replacing milk in kraft mac and cheese! A plain whole milk yogurt or a greek yogurt would work well. Mix it in the same way you'd mix in sour cream, until it is well incorporated. This may have a slightly tangier flavor, but that is a personal preference.

Can you substitute Greek yogurt for butter in mac and cheese? ›

While I was cooking the pasta, I noticed a tip listed on the very bottom of the box: If you want a creamier mac and cheese, try replacing the butter and milk with a few spoonfuls of Greek yogurt.

How to fancy up mac and cheese? ›

8 Ways to Elevate Your Macaroni and Cheese Dinners
  1. Add extra cheese to your dish.
  2. Mix in some hot sauce and chicken to make buffalo chicken mac n' cheese.
  3. Add in vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and spinach.
  4. Sprinkle some bacon bits or breadcrumbs on the top of your dish.
  5. Add spices and fresh herbs to your dish.
May 21, 2022

What are the 3 best cheeses for mac and cheese? ›

What Is the Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese? Sharp cheddar is the overwhelming popular choice, but for extra-creamy results, we think medium cheddar is even better. Other delicious options include Gruyère, smoked Gouda, and Monterey Jack.

Is milk or evaporated milk better for mac and cheese? ›

Key #2: Use Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is a highly concentrated source of milk protein micelles—bundles of proteins that can act as powerful emulsifying agents—which help to keep the sauce creamy and smooth.

Is regular milk or evaporated milk better for mac and cheese? ›

Any milk is fine. I usually use whole milk, then add some cream, sometimes, just to make it richer. Then you add the cheese of your choice, and melt that, then put the cooked macaroni in. If you are used to using evaporated milk, it's because it makes the sauce a little creamier/richer.

What kind of milk is best for mac and cheese? ›

Milk: Keeps our cheese sauce super creamy. I use whole milk or reduced-fat milk. Mustard and spices: A combination of Dijon mustard, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt makes this macaroni and cheese extra delicious. Cheese: I use white cheddar and parmesan or pecorino cheese.

What happens if you add extra butter to mac and cheese? ›

You could start by adding double the butter called for on the box and adjusting as needed -- it may require some trial and error the first time around, but it will be worth it. The result will be a bowl of mac and cheese that is so rich and creamy that you may even forget that it came from a box.

What can I sub for butter in mac and cheese? ›

Several different types of fat can stand in for butter when you make the sauce for macaroni and cheese. Use an equal amount of each fat in place of butter. For example, if the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of butter, use 2 tablespoons of margarine or oil. Margarine should do.

What does butter do in mac and cheese? ›

Richness and Creaminess: Butter adds a rich, creamy flavor and mouthfeel to the mac and cheese sauce. It enhances the overall taste, making it more indulgent and satisfying. Smooth Texture: Butter helps create a smoother and silkier texture in the cheese sauce.

What not to do when making mac and cheese? ›

The 5 Biggest Mac & Cheese Mistakes
  1. Using Only Cheddar cheese.
  2. Not Adding Spice and Seasoning with Salt.
  3. Choosing the Wrong Pasta. There's a reason why elbow macaroni is the classic shape for macaroni and cheese. ...
  4. Overcooking. No one wants grainy cheese sauce and mushy pasta. ...
  5. Skimping on the Toppings.
May 21, 2020

What is the best flavor to add to mac and cheese? ›

Black Pepper: Always a must! Nutmeg: This is also optional but trust me, a dash of it goes a long way to balance the tangy cheese flavor and all the fats. Cayenne Powder: A little sprinkle makes all the difference. It does not make this spicy – it just balances the flavors.

What is the most common thing added to mac and cheese? ›

Crispy and golden breadcrumbs are the most traditional addition to mac and cheese. The interplay of texture between soft pasta and rich, buttery breadcrumbs is the reason why this combination has endured the test of time.

What are the ingredients in Gordon Food Service mac and cheese? ›


What is the most perfect cheese to use on Mac & cheese? ›

Gruyere is a classic addition because it melts much like Cheddar, but has a lovely nutty flavor. Other classics include Gouda, Muenster, Parmesan, fontina, Havarti and Monterey Jack. Brie works well too, just make sure you remove the rind before mixing it in.

What makes mac and cheese taste so good? ›

Great mac n' cheese needs one or more cheeses that melt well, and one or more cheeses that bring the flavor. The best melters include monterey jack, fontina, baby swiss, asiago, provolone, mozzarella, and alpine-style.

What kind of cheese does Gordon Ramsay use? ›

Ramsay's recipe calls for Romano cheese with Pepperberry, Asiago cheese, thick slices of country bread, and kimchi. Some standard butter, olive oil, and salt are also in the mix. I went to my local grocery store, Foodtown, to see if I could find the slightly upscale ingredients. I had to purchase a few alternatives.

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