Five cheese macaroni and cheese is made with 5 varieties for a rich, decadent, ultra cheesy side dish. Serve this for Sunday dinner, on casual weeknights, or with a holiday feast!
Ultimate 5 Cheese Mac and Cheese
I’ve made baked macaroni and cheese too many times to count. But the first time I made a five cheese macaroni and cheese recipe was on a whim for a last-minute invite to a summer BBQ. The host requested mac and cheese so I went to gather the usual ingredients from the fridge.
But I didn’t have enough cheddar cheese so I added whatever cheese I had to make up the difference and what resulted was this delicious baked 5 cheese mac and cheese! I’ve made it this way ever since. This dish is loaded with flavor and the addition of the smoked gouda and gruyere cheeses adds a depth of richness that makes it hard to stop eating once you start!
- Ultimate 5 Cheese Mac and Cheese
- Why You’ll Love This Five Cheese Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- Ingredients for 5 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
- How to Make Five Cheese Mac and Cheese
- Tips for the Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Recipe Variations & Substitutions
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Five Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
Why You’ll Love This Five Cheese Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- Great for Groups: This recipe is going to make a lot of mac and cheese, suitable for a large party. Make it for family dinners or holiday feasts!
- Easy to Make: I made this recipe with simple ingredients stocked in my fridge and you can too! You will need a pound of elbow macaroni noodles for this dish and lots of cheese. Learn how to make a roux for creamy baked macaroni and cheese and the rest comes together very easily.
- Versatile: Serve this dish with a variety of other side dishes and entrees. It works with turkey or baked ham on Thanksgiving or Christmas or with a casual family weeknight meal.
Ingredients for 5 Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
This easy baked macaroni and cheese comes together with an assortment of cheeses, butter, flour, and seasonings.
- Macaroni noodles: Cook to al dente.
- Cheddar cheese: Cheddar has a rich, sharp, and distinct flavor that adds a bold and savory taste to mac and cheese.
- Parmesan cheese: While it might not be the primary cheese in traditional mac and cheese, it adds a salty, savory flavor.
- Asiago cheese: This cheese has a nutty, slightly sweet taste.
- Smoked Gouda cheese: This cheese is smoky with a subtle sweetness. It melts down beautifully, contributing to the creaminess of the dish.
- Smoked Gruyere: Nutty, earthy, savory, and smoked, this cheese becomes incredibly smooth when melted, creating a luscious and cohesive texture for the cheese sauce.
- Milk: This creates a creamy and velvety cheese sauce, enhancing the overall texture of the dish. It also helps distribute the flavor of the cheese evenly, ensuring a rich and satisfying taste in every bite. You can use whole milk, half and half, or heavy cream, depending on how thick you want the cheese sauce to be.
- Roux: Use butter and flour to make a super creamy baked mac and cheese. It thickens the sauce and helps it stick to the pasta.
- Seasoning: Season with garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and parsley flakes.
See recipe card for quantities.
How to Make Five Cheese Mac and Cheese
For this easy five cheese macaroni and cheese, I used an aged white cheddar as the main cheese and added parmesan, aged asiago, smoked gruyere and smoked gouda.
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet, without adding salt to the cooking water (cheese has enough salt for my taste). While the noodles cook, prepare the cheese sauce (bechamel sauce if you want to be fancy).
Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Then add 1/2 cup of flour to the melted butter and cook for about 3 minutes. Add 3 cups of warm milk to the cooked flour and butter.
Let the sauce come up to a slow boil while continuously stirring to prevent the sauce from sticking. When the sauce is thick enough to coat a wooden spoon, remove it from the heat.
Once you remove the sauce from the heat, add the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and parsley flakes (you can use fresh parsley if you prefer). Use a whisk to bring it all together and get rid of any lumps from the powdered seasoning.
Then add all of the shredded cheese. Reserve about a cup of cheese to use as a topping. Mix the cheese into the sauce then add the cooked macaroni noodles one cup at a time to the sauce and mix well.
Pour the macaroni and cheese mixture into a well-greased oven-safe baking dish. Then top it with the cheese reserved earlier. Bake the macaroni and cheese for 40 minutes at 325°F.
Once it is golden brown on the top and bubbly, remove it from the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before serving.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Reheat them in the microwave.
Tips for the Best Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Always shred block cheese for mac and cheese. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with an anti-clumping agent that prevents it from melting down smoothly.
- Cook the pasta to al dente. It will continue to cook as it bakes and no one wants soggy noodles. So undercook the pasta by about 1 minute for the best results.
- Check your mac and cheese 30 minutes into baking just to make sure the cheese on the top isn’t burning.
- The middle rack is ideal for this dish but not necessary.
Recipe Variations & Substitutions
- Macaroni: Use any tube-shaped pasta you prefer. Macaroni is the classic choice but you can use penne, cavatappi, or ziti.
- Cheese: Swap any of the cheeses for another like pepper jack, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Colby, or Swiss. (I recommend keeping the cheddar as a foundation of flavor and texture.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Baking the cheese at a lower temperature (325°F) ensures it doesn’t dry out. Topping it with additional shredded cheese also adds a protective layer that makes for a crispy topping, and a moist creamy macaroni and cheese just beneath it.
The choice of cheese for 5 cheese macaroni and cheese depends on personal preference, but a blend of cheeses often works best. Sharp cheddar cheese is a common choice because it has a bold flavor and melts well. Add other cheeses like gruyère, Monterey Jack, and parmesan for depth of flavor and a richer texture.
Some baked macaroni and cheese recipes include eggs to enrich the dish and make it creamier. This recipe does not include eggs because it uses 5 different cheeses.
When making macaroni and cheese, avoid cheeses that don’t melt well. Hard cheeses like parmesan melt down to a grainy texture while fresh cheeses like mozzarella are too wet to develop the smooth, creamy consistency needed for this dish. Also, stay away from strong-flavored cheeses like blue cheese or gorgonzola, that overpower other ingredients.
Five Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
- Oven safe baking dish
- 1 lb Macaroni noodles
- 1 lb Cheddar cheese shredded
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese shredded
- 2 oz Asiago cheese shredded
- 2 oz Smoke Gouda cheese shredded
- 2 oz smoked Gruyere cheese shredded
- 3 cups of milk
- 6 tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp parsley flakes
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Follow instructions on the packet to cook the macaroni noodles.
- While noodles are cooking, make a cheese sauce by melting the butter in a sauce pan on medium heat.
- Then add the flour to the melted butter and cook for approximately 3 minutes.
- Warm the milk (in the microwave is fine) and add warmed milk to the flour and butter mixture.
- Bring sauce to a boil, constantly stirring to prevent sticking, and remove from the heat when sauce is thick.
- Add garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and parsley flakes to the sauce and whisk together.
- Then add the shredded cheese (reserve 1 cup for later) and mix until all the cheeses are incorporated.
- Next add the cooked pasta, one cup at a time and mix well with the cheese sauce.
- Finally add macaroni and cheese mixture to a greased oven safe baking dish, then sprinkle the reserved cheese on top.
- Bake at 325 °F for 40 minutes.
- When top of the macaroni and cheese is golden brown and bubbly, remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
2. Check your mac and cheese 30 minutes into baking just to make sure the cheese on the top isn’t burning.
3. Middle rack is ideal for this dish but not necessary.
The information listed in the recipe card is an estimate provided by an online nutrition tool. The tool evaluates ingredient names and amounts then makes calculations based on the number of servings listed for the recipe. It is provided as a general guideline and not as a precise calculation. For precise nutrition information please feel free to add the ingredients to your preferred nutrition calculator or consult a doctor or licensed nutritionist.