Macaroni and Cheese

Mastering macaroni and cheese

Is there a more perfect food than macaroni and cheese? As you savor a chewy bite of pasta coated in melted cheese and sprinkled with toasted breadcrumbs and parmesan, you get the feeling that with this classic comfort food, cheese has found one its most important purpose in life.

The beauty of macaroni and cheese is that there's a million ways to make it, and everyone gets to choose their own favorite. Here in Wisconsin, we're fortunate to have more than 600 varieties of cheese at our fingertips as we consider what kind of mac to whip up today.

If you're looking for some cheesy inspiration, our website is chock-full of terrific recipes. And if you want a few tips on mastering your own take on this world-favorite phenom, read on.

Making your ideal macaroni and cheese

Here's a tip straight from our Master Cheesemakers: it takes more than one kind of cheese to make great macaroni and cheese. You need cheeses that melt well to get that creamy flow, but melters often have milder, subtler flavors that get lost in a big, hearty dish. But if you use big-flavored cheeses that don't melt well, you may pull a rubbery, clumpy, oily mess out of the oven. Pairing two or more cheeses to get the perfect balance of gooey warmth and bold flavor is the key to killer macaroni and cheese.

Here are some of the Wisconsin cheeses that we think can help you find your own macaroni and cheese nirvana.

For melting:

  • Monterey jack melts like a dream.
  • Fontina is a crowd-pleasing melter that's a natural for any pasta dish.
  • Baby swiss is a natural creamy melting cheese.
  • Mozzarella, with its oozy, stretchy texture, is a perfect for any pasta.
  • Mascarpone is an Italian-style double- or triple-cream soft cheese that can help create an unbelievably velvety finish.
  • Oaxaca cheese, a Wisconsin made favorite, often called the mozzarella of Mexico, adds a Mexican or Southwest vibe.

For flavor:

  • Cheddar brings sharp, complex flavors and a smooth creamy texture – you can never go wrong with mac and cheddar.
  • Havarti comes with herb and spice blends that bring eclectic flavors with buttery meltiness.
  • Gouda - the aged varieties have stronger, pungent flavors, while a smoked Gouda can take your mac up a notch or two.
  • Gorgonzola adds zing and punch.
  • Parmesan makes a great cheesy crust when sprinkled on top before baking.
  • Pepper jack cheese adds a kick of spice, but not so much that the kids will complain.
  • Feta brings a tangy Mediterranean feel.
  • Limburger –ages.
  • Brick, a Wisconsin classic since the 1800's, offers a mild and nutty flavor as a young cheese, and increases in pungency and tanginess as it ages.

Cheeses that melt and bring flavor

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese FAQs

Who invented macaroni and cheese?

Recipes for cheese and pasta casseroles were recorded as early as the 14th century in Italy. The first modern recipe for macaroni and cheese comes from an English cookbook in the 18th century. Thomas Jefferson and his che are often credited with bringing macaroni and cheese to prominence in America after having dined on the dish in Paris.

How do you make homemade macaroni and cheese?

You'll find tons of great recipes on our website with all the details you need to make a fantastically delicious mac at home.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Choose at least one cheese that melts well, and one cheese for great flavor.
  • To create a smooth cheese sauce, be sure to melt the cheese slowly.
  • When cooking the pasta, undercook it by a minute or so before adding the cheese sauce and putting it in the oven, so it won't get too soft when the dish is baked.

Wisconsin: welcome to macaroni-and-cheese heaven

If you love macaroni and cheese, you gotta love Wisconsin. As the #1 cheese state, we produce one-quarter of all the cheese in America, and nearly half of the nation's artisan cheese. We're home to 1200 licensed cheesemakers as well as the only Master Cheesemaking program in the world outside of Switzerland. And our 600 varieties of cheese have won more than 5,500 awards for excellence, including many for the coveted Best Cheese in the World.

All that's to say, you'll find the best cheese in the world in Wisconsin. Which makes it easy to take your mac and cheese to a whole new level. So grab a few of your favorites, and let's make some mac and cheese magic.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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