The traditional mac and cheese got updated with three types of cheese, some spice and a fantastic crunchy golden top. You can have this pasta bake ready in 45 minutes, and it can also be made ahead. The amount of blue cheese and spice can be adapted to your palate.
Comfort food that is fast and simple is the best. Mac and cheese is the best.
This version has crumbly blue cheese, melty mozzarella, and sour cream. We don't have many pasta recipes in this blog, but we believe they're all worth adding to your favorites list.
It's very rich, super easy to make and quite versatile regarding the variety of cheeses you can use, their ratio with the pasta and the amount of spice.
This recipe takes 45 minutes to be served if you have the pasta ready. So, it can even be a last-minute addition to your holiday table, Thanksgiving potluck and weeknight dinner rotation.
- Elbow macaroni:
- Blue cheese: also called gorgonzola cheese or stilton, there are different types that vary in pungency and flavor. I like a mild blue cheese or stilton. Use your favorite.
- Parmesan cheese: asiago and reggiano also work.
- Mozzarella cheese: or other melting one, like Swiss cheese.
- Sour cream: we use the regular type, full-fat sour cream. It adds richness and moisture. But you can use reduced-fat sour cream.
- Milk: regular or reduced fat.
- Salt: I like using kosher salt, but regular table salt works just fine.
- Black pepper: freshly ground is recommended.
- Spice: a pinch of smoked or hot paprika or chili powder work very well.
- Onion and green onion: they add different flavors, so we use a mix. Yellow or red onions can be used.
See the recipe card towards the end of this post for quantities.
Variations & substitutions
- Cream cheese: you can substitute it for the sour cream. The dish will be even more rich and creamy. I think it's a bit much, but you know how you like your mac 'n cheese!
- Spicy: add chili pepper flakes or other hot sauce or spice to the sour cream mixture in addition to the paprika.
- Garlicky mac and cheese: add a chopped clove (or more depending on how much of a garlic fan you are) to the sour cream mixture.
- Crunchier topping: sprinkle some panko breadcrumbs mixed with the cheese reserved for the topping.
- Bacon mac 'n cheese: sprinkle bits of crisp bacon on top before serving or add them to the creamy cheese sauce before mixing it with the pasta.
How to make mac and blue cheese
- Cooking pasta: make sure it's al dente. This means it has a bite and is not soft. It will continue baking in the oven and we don't want it to become mushy.
- Grate or chop cheeses: use a large-holed grater for the parmesan and finely chop the blue cheese and mozzarella with a kitchen knife as grating them will be messy.
Mix the sour cream mixture with cooked macaroni. Make sure it's seasoned well, but remember, cheeses are salty.
Save some grated cheese to sprinkle before baking, and get that wonderful golden layer on top.
What cheeses can you use?
- Sharp cheese is necessary unless you want bland thrown into the equation. We love parmesan, but asiago, reggiano or white cheddar work just as well.
- Melting cheese is another star here to get that stringy pull. We favor mozzarella but whatever you use for your pizza works here. Swiss cheese, Havarti and Monterey Jack cheese are other popular melting ones.
- Blue cheese adds a unique pungency and flavor. We're fans and use it for the blue cheese burgers, my mother’s legendary leftover pasta frittata and the amazing pumpkin ricotta gnocchi.
Broiling this pasta bake
What is mandatory is the au gratin part, fancy words for broiling it in the upper part of the over until you get that fantastic golden top.
Because, my friends, mac and cheese with blue cheese but no crunchy part on the top is what we're after. Said by the person who fought over orange macaroni and cheese from a box with no crunch whatsoever.
That was then, this is now. I'm 55 now; at least, I can say my palate has evolved.
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- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Pasta
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: blue cheese mac and cheese