macaroni & cheese, roux-based


This roux-based dish is a bit more complex recipe that requires about 20 minutes more cooking time than the cream-based macaroni & cheese, but it is more traditional. Fewer calories, but  still a family favorite. For the smoothest sauce, be sure to take care and don’t overheat the sauce, so it doesn’t curdle.

Macaroni & Three Cheeses

This recipe calls for 12 ounces total of cheese. You may choose to use different cheeses, or possibly a bit more total cheese
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 6 tablespoons butter divided, plus a little for the baking dish
  • 2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika divided
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • ½ small carrot minced
  • ½ small celery rib minced
  • 1/4 cup Wondra flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 2-1/4 cups milk
  • small bouquet garni a parsley stem, a sprig of thyme, a bay leaf
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • 4 ounces grated extra-sharp white cheddar cheese divided
  • 4 ounces grated Gruyère or Havarti cheese divided
  • 4 ounces grated Romano cheese divided
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or penne, or pennette


  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish or eight 1-cup ramekins. Place on parchment lined baking sheet; set aside.

For the breadcrumbs:

  1. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan parsley, thyme and 1/2 teaspoon paprika; toss with melted butter. Set aside. Heat the milk - microwave on high for about 2 minutes.

For the sauce:

  1. In large skillet or Dutch oven, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Sweat the mirepoix until the onion is tender. Whisk in flour, mustard, salt, nutmeg, remaining paprika and white pepper until smooth. Cook over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Add hot milk, whisking until smooth. Add bouquet garni and garlic clove, return to a simmer, and simmer about 10 minutes, until mixture thickens. Remove saucepan from heat. Strain sauce through a fine sieve to remove and discard mirepoix, bouquet garni and garlic clove. Return the strained sauce to the pan. Stir the cheeses into the sauce until melted. Whisk in sour cream.

For the pasta:

  1. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add about 2 tablespoons salt, then add the pasta and stir immediately. Cook until pasta is al dente. Drain.


  1. Add hot macaroni to the cheese sauce in the skillet, stirring to coat all of the macaroni with sauce. Let mixture stand 3 to 4 minutes, stirring frequently, and adding water from the pasta pot to control consistency of the sauce. Place mixture in greased baking dish or ramekins. Sprinkle with half the breadcrumb mixture, then remaining cheese, then remaining breadcrumbs. Bake uncovered about 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Allow mixture to stand 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Makes 8 servings.

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