This dish has been - hands down - my all-time favorite meal for pretty much my whole life. When I moved out on my own, I immediately asked for the recipe, which I think my mother got off of a macaroni box many years ago. It was usually the first (and sometimes only) meal I would make for boyfriends or even just my friends for special occasions. I remember making this mac & cheese in the kitchen of my college dorm when I was away at school. Mom has been making this for as long as I can remember. And now, I make it too.
The recipe has been tweaked a bit over the years - to make it a bit healthier. Now it has been tweaked to be completely gluten-free! It still retains all of its original charm and deliciousness, trust me. Even my husband approved! The hardest lesson I had to learn was not to over bake it. A lesson that only had to be learned once. When cooked right, this dish will maintain the consistency of a stovetop mac and cheese straight out of the oven. It should not be dry...eww.
This recipe uses a simple roux - don't be afraid! And uses regular old store bought gluten-free macaroni and gluten-free flour as the thickener. I also use light butter, lower fat cheese and fat-free milk, but you could certainly use regular fat cheese and whatever type of milk you want. I've even made this recipe in a pinch with arrowroot starch as the thickener and almond milk - so this recipe can easily be made dairy-free with soy cheese if you please.
The cracker crumbs on top really make this dish special.
Do not give me mac and cheese topped with breadcrumbs.
In addition, do not give me mac and cheese made with orange cheese - save that for the boxed stuff. Whoever decided that cheddar cheese needed to be orange was simply insane. I only use the sharpest white cheddar I can find. It gives the best flavor.
My mom always used Ritz crackers - full of buttery deliciousness. Unfortunately, Ritz has not hopped aboard the gluten-free train yet. Shame really. So, this time around I used Glutino Original Gluten-free Crackers (the Multigrain or Cheddar ones would work nicely too). They're not Ritz...but they'll work for now!
Feel free to reheat any leftovers in a small saucepan on the stovetop - don't forget to add a little bit of extra milk to loosen it back up. Delish.
Baked Macaroni & Cheese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6-8 servings
- 2 cups Gluten-free Elbow Macaroni, uncooked
- 1/4 cup Light Stick Butter
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 cup Gluten-free Flour
- 2 cups Skim Milk
- 1/2 cup Half & Half
- 10 oz. Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
- Reserve 1/4 cup and set aside
- 20 Gluten-free Crackers, crushed
- 3 Tbsp Light Stick Butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease or spray a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside.
- Cook macaroni according to package directions, less one minute - this is important, the macaroni will finish cooking in the oven! Drain, rinse, and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once melted completely, blend in salt, pepper, and flour - whisk quickly, it will form a light roux, or paste. Slowly add milk and half & half while continuing to stir constantly. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir for one minute; remove from heat.
- Stir in the shredded cheese until melted and slightly thickened. Add the cooked macaroni and fold in to combine.
- Pour half the macaroni mixture into the casserole dish and top with half of the reserved cheese. Repeat with remaining mixture and cheese.
- Combine the cracker crumbs and melted butter until well coated. Sprinkle along the edges of the casserole (see pictures above).
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until casserole is bubbly around the edges and cracker topping has browned nicely.
Nutrition per Serving (Based on 7 servings): 324 Calories; 15g Fat; 9g Saturated Fat; 35g Carbohydrate; 2g Fiber; 14g Protein
Happy gluten-free cooking!