Fontina Mac and Cheese

Clearly, I have a thing for mac and cheese.  Really though, who doesn’t?  I’ve been having so much delicious fun trying all sorts of flavor variations and they have all been great, but Ben and I both agreed this one is the best we’ve tried yet and that’s saying a lot.  (I’m starting to wonder if this is a “love the one you’re with” mentality – it’s tough not to think that way while you’re eating mac and cheese.)  But really, this was outstanding.  It actually really surprised me because this recipe is far simpler than most mac and cheese recipes I have tried.  With very few ingredients and no roux or bechamel sauce required, this is most definitely the most low maintenance mac and cheese I’ve made.  Normally I like to use multiple cheeses and I wondered if this would be too one-dimensional, but not at all.  The Fontina was perfect and the sauce was so creamy.  I’m drooling just thinking about it now.  Must.make.more.

Other mac and cheese variations I’ve tried recently:
Shrimp and Feta Mac and Cheese
Mushroom Herb Mac and Cheese
Spicy Mac and Cheese

Fontina Mac and Cheese
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Ingredients:
1 lb. small or medium pasta shells
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
Salt
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions just until 1-2 minutes shy of al dente.

Meanwhile, dice 4 tablespoons of the butter and place in a large mixing bowl.  Warm the cream in a small saucepan or the microwave.  Cover to keep warm.

Once the pasta is cooked, add to the bowl with the butter and toss to coat well.  Stir in the warm cream and the Fontina until the cheese starts to melt.  Mix in salt to taste, and add the nutmeg.

Pour the mixture into a buttered 2-quart casserole dish.  In a small bowl, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.  Mix in the panko breadcrumbs and shredded Parmesan.  Toss with a fork to coat evenly with the butter.  Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the pasta in the baking dish.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping turns golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Source: adapted from Ezra Pound Cake, originally from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop

56 Responses

  1. it`s so delicious!

  2. mmm I love this too! In fact, I just remembered that I have a pan in my freezer that’s calling my name…

  3. My, my, my. It looks so incredibly creamy and delicious, and I’m sure the panko breadcrumbs just round it out perfectly. Can’t wait to try this one!

  4. Im not a big mac-n-cheese fan….but this I think I would like!!
    xoxo
    bB

  5. Wow, that looks amazing! Shell pasta is so decorative. I love mac ‘n cheese, but you’re right, who doesn’t? lol 🙂

    Jenn

  6. Yum! This sounds heavenly! I will definitely try to make this soon! 🙂

  7. I have a mac & cheese problem too! Just so good. I will have to try this recipe, thanks!

  8. This looks so creamy and good, almost like an alfredoey macaroni!! Love your use of shells instead of regular macaroni!!

  9. Oh my, I LOVE fontina! I have to try this ASAP.

  10. Gosh, this looks so good. I’m a huge fan of fontina and must try this recipe this week. Thanks for sharing! I love visiting your blog!

  11. Oh my…!!! This looks amazing! I have everything but the fontina…and I must make this today. I have some blocks of white cheddar–do you think that would work instead of the fontina? If not, I am going to the store–pronto! Love your site!

    • Bking,
      I don’t think white cheddar would be the best substitute because it has very different melting properties than fontina. I’d recommend getting the fontina!

  12. Yummm… This looks excellent, Annie! My husband is a forever lover of the boxed variety, but I’ve been slowly turning him on to gourmet mac n’ cheese. This one will be my next project!

  13. I am trying to keep myself from leaving for the store right now. This mac and cheese looks DIVINE! Annie, if you ever wanted to write a cookbook, it would need to be compromised of mac and cheese recipes as well as cupcake recipes. Thanks for the recipes girl, YOU ROCK!

  14. Wow, you are so right. That looks so amazing, but when I read the ingredients, it sounds so simple! Mac and cheese is just the best! I can’t wait to try this. Fontina is definitely a cheese I love and don’t eat nearly enough of.

  15. That mac & cheese looks SO amazing!!! Thanks!

  16. it’s a very happy place to be…right above a bowl of something this creamy & delicious looking!

  17. I’ve been in the mood for mac and cheese for weeks now, this might just be my fix! It looks beautiful, and so simple!

  18. Looks delicious! Did you serve it just on it’s own, or did you include some sort of protein (chicken on the side, etc). I am going to try this for a dinner party, but don’t want it to be too heavy and one note of a meal…ideas?? Thanks lady!

    • Hi Emi,
      Since I only made this for our family, we had it with salads (we are fine with veggie meals). If I were serving it to guests, I would probably use it as a side with some protein to round out the meal, but I don’t think anyone would complain about a big bowl of this stuff either 🙂

  19. This pasta looks amazing. I love your choice of pasta noodles and cheese.

  20. Creamy and cheesy! I have to make some mac and cheese too!

  21. I certainly wouldn’t complain 🙂 Thanks for the ideas- I’ll let you know how it goes!

  22. OMG Annie – I saw this on my google reader this morning, and I didn’t have anything planned yet for dinner tonight so I made this. It is so easy – and amazingly yummy and addictive. WOW!

  23. Another terrific looking mac and cheese. I really like the use of panko bread crumbs in this recipe.

  24. This looks delicious!

  25. I completely agree with you! Everyone has a thing for mac-and-cheese. Definitely one of the best go-to recipes, and the kids love it. Thanks for sharing this recipe. I actually just made baked mac-and-cheese a couple nights ago. My family DEVOURED it! I think they’d devours yours too! Here’s the recipe if you’re curious: http://www.recipe4living.com/recipes/baked_macaroni_and_cheese_2.htm

    Thanks for sharing!
    ~Sophia

    • Sophia,
      If you are looking for a basic baked mac and cheese, I did a comparison of six different recipes a while back. Personally, I wouldn’t make the one you did because I don’t use condensed soups. I prefer to make things from scratch.

  26. Interesting mix. I’m going to have to try this out. My brothers love mac and cheese, so it may be a new favorite. Thanks!

  27. I will definitely check out your comparison! I used that recipe because I didn’t have much time. Thanks!!

    ~Sophia

  28. Made this last night for the hubby and I….delicious!!! And sooo easy! Definitely will be making this again.

  29. We tried this last night, it was a great, easy recipe. The parmesan and panko mix worked well, and I’d never tried fontina before. Made the mistake of putting it in a too-shallow dish, and it got a little dry. Otherwise, a winner. Thanks so much for sharing!

  30. Annie – as per usual, this looks excellent! I enjoy your postings and have loved each of the recipes I’ve tried based on your beautiful photos and descriptions. Keep up the great work!

  31. Oooh, I think I’ll be trying this next time I make mac & cheese! I made the mushroom & herb recipe a few weeks ago, and it was delicious. 🙂

  32. I made this today and it was delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

  33. I’ve made this 3 times since you posted it. The fontina is key, it just wouldn’t work with another kind of cheese. It is so, so very good and I love how easy it is to make. My summer clothes are tighter…and I blame you…you and your blasted recipes!! JK I love your site. Thanks for posting your recipes, everything is amazing. I’m making the oreo cupcakes today.

  34. How do you think this recipe would taste with cremini mushrooms?

    • Personally, I think the simplicity of this dish with no extras is one of the best things about it. That’s just my feeling though, experiment if you like.

  35. i LOVE this recipe! I had never had fontina cheese before but your recipes haven’t steered me wrong yet so I gave it a try last night. MAN OH MAN was I pleasantly surprised! It was so creamy and a little nutty! My boys (my husband and 2 year old) really loved it! I’ll definitely be making it again! Thank you soooo much for this recipe!

  36. Great recipe! Paired this last night with the spinach and mushroom pizza you have a recipe for on your site, and it was delicious.
    I added panfried pancetta, and sweet peas to the mix and was not disappointed. The panko bread crumbs makes the most delicious crust on top after baking!

  37. This is the best Mac and cheese I’ve had. And so easy to make. My boyfriend told me it is his new favorite dish. I mixed in a little goat cheese and bleu cheese to make it interesting. Thank you!

  38. this is the wife’s favorite. it rocks!

    some idea’s
    add prosciutto / pancetta and peas.

  39. Everyone says this is the best mac & cheese they have ever had! The cheese’s flavor is like a mix of mozerella, swiss, parmesan and cheddar! I LOVE IT!
    THANKS SOOOOO MUCH! 🙂

  40. Tonight I am making this for the third time, just as the recipe is written, because it is perfect. It was my first attempt at homemade macaroni and cheese, and this recipe is the best, and so easy too! The second time I made it was for my husband’s birthday dinner and I added some pancetta just for a twist, and he absolutely loved it. Thanks for these awesome recipes and ideas. 🙂

  41. Mmm, this looks so delicious! I’m making this tonight, and I need some advice; I don’t have any panko breadcrumbs on hand (just seasoned bread crumbs). Will using seasoned breadcrumbs be okay, or am I better off just leaving out the breadcrumbs entirely? Thanks for this blog – it’s a life saver 🙂

    • Enaj,
      Personally I would just skip the topping. After discovering panko, I now hate all regular types of breadcrumbs and they just don’t seem to add much texture-wise.

      • Thanks, Annie! I went with your suggestion and left off the topping, and it came out beautifully! My boyfriend really loved it (and he’s usually strictly a stove top mac&cheese kind of guy). I’m excited to try this again when I have the panko crumbs. Thanks again! 🙂

  42. I just made this tonight and WOW, this is the best mac and cheese I’ve ever made! Thanks for introducing me to the recipe! I absolutely love your blog.

  43. You have never steered me wrong! I am going to give this one a try. Our daughter is due next week and I want to stock up my fridge/freezer. BTW my husband loves the ham and cheese sliders. We have it once a week. (Oh, I love them, too!)

    • Misha, I don’t think this would be a good one to freeze or use for stocking up on. But, it takes 5 minutes to prep so it will be a quick meal to prepare when you need it. Congrats and good luck!

  44. Thank you for the well wishes and the advice!

  45. Hi Annie,

    Do you think adding truffle oil to this recipe would complement it or ruin it? Assuming one likes truffle, of course. Thanks!

    • I love truffle oil but have never cooked with it myself. I think this dish is perfect as is though, so I guess my answer would be try it once without, then once with, and then you can decide!

  46. I’m making this tonight and adding truffle oil. Any side dish ideas? Thanks!!!

  47. Hi Annie! I’m headed to a potluck style Christmas party on Friday night and I’ve been asked to bring a side dish. There will be a few other couples bringing sides so mine certainly won’t be the only one people have to choose from. There should be about 25-30 people there. Would you double this or would I be better off to triple it? I’m assuming that most people will just take a small scoop of it since there will be plenty of food. Thanks!

    • Hmm, I’m not sure. I guess I would probably triple it…but then 3 lbs. of pasta sounds like a LOT. I don’t know though, I think it will get eaten. I think I would triple it.

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