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Southern Baked Mac and Cheese with Breadcrumbs
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5 from 6 votes

Southern Baked Mac and Cheese with Breadcrumbs

This Southern baked mac and cheese has a gooey, cheesy sauce and pasta with a crisp crust of golden breadcrumbs on top for dinner in under 1 hour. Vegan + Gluten-Free options.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Keyword baked, casserole, cheese, classic, creamy, easy, food, homemade, indulge, lunch, mac + cheese, recipe, southern, vegetarian, weeknight meals
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea

Ingredients

MAC + CHEESE:

  • 1 (16 oz.) box medium shells or elbow pasta
  • 6 Tbsps unsalted butter (You can also use salted butter, if desired; Just omit sea salt)
  • 3 Tbsps organic all-purpose flour
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups Almond milk, room temp. (You can use whole milk, if desired)
  • 1 cup Smoked gouda cheese
  • 2 1/4 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Mild cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese
  • 1 tsp finely-ground sea salt
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground yellow mustard

BREADCRUMBS TOPPING:

  • 2 cups breadcrumbs, homemade or store-bought (See Notes!)
  • 4 Tbsps unsalted butter, melted (You can also use slated butter, if desired)
  • 1 tsp dried parsley leaves
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

Instructions

MAC + CHEESE:

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a standard 9x13 baking dish with butter.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add shells or elbow pasta and cook according to packaging. Once cooked, drain, and lightly toss in olive oil (to prevent sticking together), cool and set aside.

HEAT CHEESE OVER STOVETOP:

  • In a large dutch pot or deep skillet over medium-high heat, add butter and let it melt. Once melted, add minced garlic sauté for a minute or so, until fragrant.
  • Whisk in the flour and seasonings until combined. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking frequently until lump-free, about 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and add in the smoked gouda, 2 cups mozzarella, mild cheddar, and Gruyere cheeses, stirring until fully melted and smooth, about 4-5 minutes.
  • Add in the cooled shells or elbow pasta and stir together until well coated and combined.

BREADCRUMBS TOPPING:

  • In a small bowl, add in the melted butter, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic powder, and smoked paprika, tossing them together until combined.
  • Scoop the macaroni-cheese mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with additional 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese followed by the breadcrumbs, evenly spreading it out.
  • Bake on the center rack for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden brown, the sides are bubbly, and the mac and cheese center has set. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
  • Bon Appetit!

Notes

  • STORAGE: Leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days and reheated when ready to serve.
  • HOMEMADE BREADCRUMBS: To make your own breadcrumbs, simply grind 1-2 cups of cubed bread into a food processor until finely chopped. Place crumbs onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake for 5-6 minutes in the oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. Once brown + crisp, remove from oven and let cool. Continue recipe steps and store remaining breadcrumbs in a tightly sealed container. 
  • FLOUR: If you don’t want to use all-purpose flour, feel free to substitute with regular starch or arrowroot starch, tapioca flour, which all act as a thickening agent.
  • VEGAN OPTION: To make this Mac + Cheese vegan, simply substitute cheeses with dairy-free shreds and use vegan butter. Also, check out my Vegan Mac + Cheese recipe.
  • GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To ensure that this recipe is GF, be sure to use GF-friendly pasta, breadcrumbs, and flour.