Macaroni and cheese is an American classic, but can you imagine an Italian mac and cheese recipe where only Italian cheeses are used instead of cheddar cheese?
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In this quick post, I’ll explain what ingredients to use, what kinds of Italian cheeses (and why mozzarella is NOT one of them), and practical tips that make this recipe come out perfect for dinner.
This recipe takes approximately 30 minutes to put together and 25 minutes to bake in the oven.
What is Italian-Style Mac and Cheese Recipe?
For this recipe I use four different Italian cheeses that you should be able to get at any grocery store. They are:
You’ll notice we do not use mozzarella cheese.
Mozzarella is great when you want a really stringy and stretchy-ness in your dish. Think of a pizza with lots of cheesey cheese, this is not what you want for a smooth tasting mac n cheese dish that you’re eating with a fork or spoon.
It’s important to understand that you must avoid any temptation to purchase bags of shredded Italian cheese as a short-cut.
How I wish we could, but in this case it isn’t the best choice. The reason is because the powdery coating that is on the shredded cheese is there to prevent sticking, which makes it more difficult for melting.
Where to Get the Italian Cheese
Italian cheese is easier to get than you might think. You can buy the cheese in blocks at various grocery stores. To make sure you don’t waste any, freeze what cheese is left to keep it fresh.
But there’s also another option if you don’t want to buy the blocks of cheese.
What I did is I bought a pack of already sliced cheeses that were for a party tray. I saw them when I was at BJ’s Wholesale Club and thought how perfect b/c it had the variety of cheeses that cost me what one or two blocks of cheese would have cost.
I used my handheld cheese grater to shred the cheese but if you have a nutria-bullet put it in there and give it a good spin, I found that to be the fastest way of grating my cheese.
Don’t worry too much about how you get the cheese sliced, grated, or shredded, because we’re going to melt it all down anyway.
How Much Cheese to Use in an Italian Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
You want a total of approximately 1 ½ Cups of shredded cheese. For my mixture for this recipe I made sure to use 2 parts provolone and Fontina to 1 part Parmesan and Asiago.
However, you can mix this up however you want but I recommend using less of the Parmesan and Asiago and more of the softer cheeses – Fontina and Provolone.
Let’s get on with the recipe, and after the recipe below I’ve got some more tid-bits of tips and such.
Easy Italian Mac and Cheese Recipe
- 2 Cups milk
- 1/2 Cup shredded Fontina cheese
- 1/2 Cup shredded Provolone cheese
- 1/4 Cup shredded Asiago cheese
- 1/4 Cup shredded Parmesan (or Romano) cheese
- 1/3 cup flour
- 3 Tbsp butter
- dash pepper
- 1/3 Cup breadcrumbs
- 16 oz elbow macaroni
- Boil pasta till al-dente approximately 4 minutes, rinse and set aside (while bringing to boil this is a good time to get the cheese ready)
- Meanwhile warm the milk on low in a medium saucepan and then set aside (or warm in microwave if easier). Do not let it get real hot or burn. Takes only a few minutes.
- Melt butter in a separate medium pan over low heat
- Add in flour and mix with whisk until well blended – about 2-3 minutes
- Stir the warmed milk into the butter mixture and whisk until smooth
- Bring to a boil stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes
- Add in the pepper
- Add in the cheese and stir until it is all melted and smooth – about 3 minutes, Remove from heat
- Grease the baking dish with butter
- Mix the pasta and cheese mixture together and pour into the baking dish
- Top with breadcrumbs and bake at 400F 20 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown
Is there such thing as an authentic Italian mac and cheese?
I wish I had an answer but honestly, no matter if anyone says yes or no, it doesn’t matter because there is no way to prove it!
The fact is, this particular recipes uses Italian cheeses with elbow (or other if you prefer) macaroni. I think it’s a wonderful Italian dish for dinner and it’s easy to make and tastes amazing.
Isn’t that all that matters anyway?
Do You Have to Bake it in the Oven?
Yes, if you want to follow this recipe! The baking helps blend everything together nicely but also allows for the breadcrumbs to crisp up. Of course you can just mix it all together and serve if you’re in a big rush. 🙂
One tip – I find that sometimes the baking doesn’t crisp the breadcrumbs, so you can try broiling it for like a minute or two – just keep a very close eye on it!
I also recommend using panko-style breadcrumbs. I’ve used breadcrumbs that were too fine and they just didn’t crisp up and while it still tasted good it didn’t have the beautiful crunch.
Enjoy your Delicious Italian Mac n Cheese and let me know how it turns out! Sign up for my newsletter for more recipes and cool stuff delivered to your inbox!
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