Homemade Mac & Cheese – Perfect for the Holiday Potluck!

The perfect holiday potluck dish. It’s an elusive item. Actually, any potluck dish is always a tough choice, especially for a food blogger. You want to show off your cooking skills and style, but you don’t want to make anything too crazy so that it scares noshers away.

This is especially true over the holidays. This Thanksgiving, I was lucky enough to make my way home for the holiday for the first time in the 6 holidays that I have lived in Boston.  This was also the first time I would be cooking anything for my family in years. The perfect dish needed to be planned.

Since moving to Boston, my family has blended. We now celebrate the holidays combined with my dad’s wife Michelle’s family. Not knowing how adventurous they are in the culinary realm, I wanted to keep it simple, but delicious.

I consulted my handy (and amazing) Cooks’ Illustrated Cookbook, which really has something for everyone. It only took me a minute to decide on Homemade Mac & Cheese. Who doesn’t like homemade Mac & Cheese??

I am happy to report, this dish was absolutely amazing! It was surprisingly easy, and the results were perfect. I made it again for dinner last week…and almost kicked myself for packaging up the leftovers and forgetting to put them in the fridge!

This is what the beginning of a roux looks like.

And, I am also happy to report, I will be making it again for the Beaulac Family Christmas Eve Potluck! So, family, if you are reading this, you have this deliciousness to look forward to!

Happy Holidays!

Homemade Mac & Cheese

(Closely adapted from Cooks’ Illustrated Cookbook)


  • 1 lb elbow or shell noodles
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups 1% or whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • salt to taste
  • 1 lb of your favorite cheeses – grated (I used a combo of Havarti, cheddar and Dubliner. For Christmas I am using Havarti and cheddar)
  • 1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs


  • Cook  the noodles to al-dente. You don’t want to over cook them since they will simmer in the sauce
  • Set noodles aside
  • In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat
  • Once butter is melted, add flour and stir constantly until mixture forms a dough ball. (This is how you make a roux! Adding liquid, as you will do below, and this is the base of most cream sauces!)
  • Add 1/2 a cup of milk and stir well until all lumps are gone
  • Add another 1/2 cup of milk and stir well until all lumps are gone
  • Add the remaining 4 cups of milk and stir well
  • Add nutmeg, pepper and mustard, stir
  • Add salt to taste, stir
  • Bring to a slow simmer, stirring frequently
  • Allow to simmer, while stirring, for 5 minutes
  • Add the one pound of cheese you grated
  • Stir well
  • Allow to simmer for 3 minutes while stirring constantly
  • Add pasta and stir well
  • Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Pour the pasta into a 9 x 13 pan (or if your skillet is oven safe, you may keep it in that)
  • Sprinkle the one cup of cheese over the top of  the dish
  • Sprinkle an even coating of bread crumbs over the top of the dish
  • At this point you may set the dish aside until 10 minutes before you are ready to serve
  • Pre-heat the broiler of your oven
  • Place the dish, uncovered, under the broiler
  • Broil until the top of the dish gets brown and bubbly, but do not burn
  • Remove from oven and serve!

7 Replies to “Homemade Mac & Cheese – Perfect for the Holiday Potluck!”

  1. Pingback: The Best Restaurant Dishes and More of 2014 | Eat.Live.Blog

  2. I haven’t tried your recipe though I am doing a Mac and cheese for a work potluck. I just wanted to say that you are the only person I have ever ever ever encountered who knows about Dubliner cheese. Oh gosh that stuff is heavenly. Unfortunately my local stores don’t sell it anymore. 🙁

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