Newsflash: You don’t need to leave your house to enjoy your favorite fast-food mac & cheese anymore. That super-creamy, cheesy mac that everyone loves at Panera can easily be replicated in your own kitchen. With this recipe you can make it for a crowd and at a fraction of the price of takeout from the restaurant. The key: a combination of white cheddar for that deep cheesiness and white American cheese to impart a silky texture. This isn't the time to skimp on calories—make sure to use whole milk and full-fat cheese here. Reduced-fat dairy won’t give you the same result.
shells or elbows
heavy cream or half-and-half
dry mustard or Dijon mustard
sharp white cheddar, shredded (4 c.)
white American cheese (about 5 slices)
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain.
- Add butter to pot and melt over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to form a thick, smooth paste without lumps. Cook until fragrant but not browned, 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and add milk, cream, mustard, and 1 teaspoon salt. Continue to whisk until sauce begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes.
- Add cheeses and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until all cheese is melted. Add cooked pasta and stir until fully coated.