Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese is an ultra-creamy, made-from-scratch, one-pot dish. This Dutch Oven macaroni recipe uses a combination of cheeses, whole milk, and Dijon mustard. It starts on the stovetop and finishes off in the oven, resulting in a no-fuss, comfort food recipe that your whole family will love!
Homemade macaroni and cheese is the perfect pasta recipe for your Dutch Oven.
Thanks to the Dutch Oven's deep, thick walls and the heavy-duty lid, this macaroni and cheese recipe can go straight from the stovetop to the oven, without having to transfer your pasta to a different baking dish.
My Dutch Oven recipes are some of the most popular recipes on my site! After you warm your belly with my Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese, you need to make Dutch Oven Chicken Noodle Soup, Dutch Oven Pulled Chicken, Dutch Oven Beef Stew, and Dutch Oven Chili.
Why you'll love this recipe
- This is a one-pot dish! You can boil your pasta, mix your cheese sauce, and bake your mac and cheese, all in the same pot!
- I use a combination of sharp cheddar cheese, gruyere cheese, and Dijon mustard to give this recipe lots of savory flavors!
- Seashell-shaped macaroni shells scoop up the creamy cheese sauce, trapping flavor in every single bite!
- If you're short on time, you can skip the baking step, and serve this pasta dish straight from the stovetop.
Cheese: My recipe calls for a combination of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and shredded gruyere cheese. I used Cabot Alpine Cheddar, it's one of my favorites and always has a spot in my refrigerator! I chose to also include Gruyere cheese because of its rich, creamy, and slightly nutty taste.
For the roux: A roux is a combination of flour and fat, and is used to thicken sauces. You'll need salted butter, all-purpose flour, and whole milk to make the roux for this recipe.
Pasta: You can make macaroni and cheese with macaroni elbows, cavatappi, farfalle, penne, fusilli, rotini, or shell pasta. I chose to use medium-sized macaroni shells, also known as "shellbows." I love how the shells form a pocket, that is perfect for trapping the creamy cheese sauce!
Flavor boosters: This is where macaroni and cheese recipes can get creative! My mac and cheese recipe calls for garlic powder, kosher salt, ground black pepper, onion powder, and grainy Dijon mustard. You'll want to specifically choose a sharp, grainy, Dijon, not a smooth and mild Dijon mustard.
- Dutch Oven: You'll need a cast iron Dutch Oven with a lid. I use the Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. I know many other bloggers like the Amazon brand of Dutch ovens as well!
- Silicone or wooden mixing spoon: When you're cooking with enameled cookware, you need to use cooking utensils that won't scratch the enamel coating. Silicone or wooden utensils will work best! I recommend this beautiful wooden spoon set from Amazon.
- Measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a box cheese grater
Why make mac and cheese in the Dutch Oven?
A Dutch Oven is the perfect cooking pot for mac and cheese because it allows you to make the entire macaroni and cheese recipe in one pot! There is no need to dirty 2-3 dishes!
My Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese recipe is for cooking mac and cheese at home. If you're looking for a camping mac and cheese recipe, then you'll need to check out this macaroni and cheese from Fresh off the Grid.
How to make Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese
Step 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Fill your Dutch Oven with spring water and bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, salt the water and cook your pasta to al dente or slightly softer. Drain the pasta water and set the cooked pasta aside.
Step 2: Melt the butter over medium to low heat. Add the flour to the melted butter. Continuously mix the flour and butter together until they're creamy and smooth, and no lumps of flour remain.
Do not let the flour and butter mixture burn. It's okay if it browns slightly.
Step 3: Add the whole milk to the butter and flour mixture (the roux). Continuously stir the milk, butter, and flour combination over medium to low heat, until the mix thickens. You'll know when the sauce has thickened enough when it starts to coat the sides of the Dutch Oven.
Bring your milk up to room temperature, or microwave it for 2 minutes, before adding it to the butter and flour. This will speed up the amount of time it takes to thicken the sauce.
Step 4: When the roux has thickened, turn the heat down to low, and add the shredded cheddar cheese and shredded gruyere cheese. Mix the cheeses in until the cheese sauce is creamy and smooth.
Step 5: Add the garlic powder, onion powder, kosher salt, black pepper, and Dijon mustard to the cheese sauce. Mix until combined.
Now's the time I like to taste-test the cheese sauce and adjust any seasonings as needed! You might decide you want to add some more garlic powder, salt, or mustard!
Step 6: Pour your cooked pasta into the cheese sauce and mix the sauce and pasta together until the pasta and sauce are fully incorporated together.
Step 7: Cover the Dutch Oven Mac and Cheese with the Dutch Oven lid. Transfer the mac and cheese to your preheated oven. Cook the macaroni and cheese for 20 minutes covered, and an additional 15 minutes uncovered.
Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and enjoy!
What to serve with
Homemade macaroni and cheese is a versatile main course that can be served with so many different side dishes!
Veggie sides: I would serve this pasta dish with Roasted Asparagus and Brussel Sprouts, Sauteed Kale and Mushrooms, Roasted Green Beans and Carrots, Tomato Cucumber Salad, Caesar Salad, and any other non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, mixed green salads, and vegetable salads.
Protein sides: Sometimes, when I serve a pasta dish that doesn't contain any meat, I like to serve some meat on the side. My top picks are my Dutch Oven Ham, Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Breast, Blackened Pork Chops, Baked Panko Chicken, and BBQ Grilled Chicken Drumsticks.
Recipe variations and substitutions
Substitutions: Substitute the macaroni for any short noodles you prefer. Substitute cheddar and gruyere for any other cheddar cheese, gouda cheese, or Swiss cheese. It's also an option to use a combination of whole milk plus heavy cream, 2% milk, and half and half.
Variations: Get creative and turn this mac and cheese into Taco Mac and Cheese, Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese, Bacon Jalapeno Mac and Cheese, Green Chicken Chili Macaroni, Cheeseburger Macaroni, or top it with crispy panko bread crumbs right before it goes in the oven!
How to store, freeze, and reheat
How to store: Store leftover Dutch Oven Macaroni in a glass, airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
How to freeze: Let the macaroni and cheese cool completely. Once cool, transfer the leftover mac and cheese to a freezer-safe container or plastic bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
How to reheat: Let frozen macaroni thaw in the refrigerator. Reheat in the microwave in 1-2 minute increments, stirring between each increment. You can also reheat it on the stovetop in a saucepan. Add a splash of milk to rehydrate the pasta and cheese sauce.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, allow the macaroni to cool. Transfer it to the aluminum pan. Tightly cover it with a layer of plastic wrap before storing it in the freezer.
You can freeze mac and cheese, both cooked or uncooked. Typically, it's better to freeze homemade macaroni and cheese before it has been baked. Baking can dry the pasta and sauce out slightly, so freezing before baking will help the macaroni and cheese stay creamy. You can bake it when you're ready to eat it.
Cheddar is the best cheese for mac and cheese. After you've added your shredded cheddar cheese, you can add other common cheeses like gruyere, swiss, parmesan, and gouda.
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