If you’re from the South, you know that any Southern lady who can cook always has a tried and true macaroni and cheese recipe in her back pocket.
After I began to limit gluten in my diet, I worried that I would never be able to enjoy mac and cheese like I used to, so I set out to create an incredible creamy gluten free mac and cheese recipe that would satisfy my cravings and not leave me miserable.
How to Make Gluten Free Baked Mac and Cheese:
This is our family’s favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. It’s such a great comfort food to make, and we especially love to serve it for an easy holiday side dish or during the cooler fall and winter months.
If you’re new to the gluten-free world, you may be wondering is mac and cheese gluten free? The answer is – yes, it certainly can be!
Set the oven to broil.
Boil the gluten free elbow pasta according to the package directions in a large pot. Make sure you salt the water and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking.
It is very important to follow package directions exactly when cooking gluten-free macaroni – remember, you will want al dente pasta – not mushy!
Gluten-free pasta can be a bit tricky when it comes to keeping it from getting too soft and mushy but the main thing to keep in mind is to watch it very closely and don’t overcook it. Even a minute over the recommended cook time can leave a soggy, mushy mess.
After the pasta is cooked, drain the water and immediately rinse the pasta in cold water, tossing gently, until pasta cools. This will stop the cooking process, preventing the macaroni from getting mushy, and it remove any lingering starches that might give the pasta an odd texture.
How do you Make a Cheese Sauce Without Using a Roux?
Making an amazing cheese sauce without using a roux is key when making gf mac and cheese.
While the pasta cooks, cube 1 pound of American cheese and add it to a small saucepan.
Stir in 5 tablespoons of Parmesan and Romano cheese blend, along with 2 cups of heavy cream. (Whole milk or half and half can also be substituted for heavy cream).
Cook the cheese sauce over medium heat, stirring the entire time to prevent scorching the cheese.
Once the cheese is melted, remove it from the heat.
Gluten Free Creamy Mac and Cheese
Shred 1/2 cup of Colby Jack cheese and 1/2 cup of smoked Gouda cheese and set it aside. You’ll top the macaroni with this right before baking.
Spray an 8×8 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and pour the pasta into the baking dish.
Pour the cheese sauce over the gluten free mac and gently toss the macaroni in the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the shredded Colby Jack and Gouda cheese over the top of the pasta along with 1/2 cup of gluten-free panko bread crumbs.
In a microwave-safe dish, melt 1/2 stick of unsalted butter and pour it over the top of the cheese and pasta in the baking dish.
Broil the gluten free baked mac and cheese in the oven, just until the cheese and breadcrumbs start to brown. Broiling should only take 1-2 minutes, so watch your macaroni and cheese very carefully as you don’t want the cheese or breadcrumbs to burn!
I recommend broiling for this last step since it makes the cheese and breadcrumbs extra crispy and adds another layer of texture to the tender and gooey layers of this recipe.
Best Gluten Free Mac and Cheese Tips:
You can swap out the Colby Jack cheese for sharp cheddar or regular cheddar cheese if you want a little extra zang.
Pro Tip: I always recommend buying a block of cheese and shredding it yourself. Freshly shredded cheese is always fresher, tastier, and doesn’t have that waxy texture and residue that the pre-shredded brands have.
Want to kick this recipe up a few notches? Make this gluten-free baked mac and cheese with bacon. Just sprinkle 1/2 cup of freshly cooked and crumbled bacon bits over the top of the pasta and cheese before broiling it in the oven.
I know there are many gluten free mac and cheese brands that can be purchased at the grocery store and made in minutes, but nothing can compare to a good, old-fashioned, homemade gluten free macaroni and cheese recipe.
Other Great Recipes You’ll Love
Gluten Free Baked Mac and Cheese
As delicious as Grandma's, this creamy mac and cheese is made simple, easy, and completely gluten-free!
- 16 oz uncooked gluten-free elbow pasta
- 1 lb American cheese cubed
- 5 tbsp Parmesan and Romano cheese blend grated
- 1/2 cup Colby Jack cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup smoked Gouda cheese shredded
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup gluten-free panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter
- 4 quarts water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- dash salt
Pour water into a large pot and add a dash of salt and olive oil.
Bring water to a rolling boil, and cook pasta according to package directions until al dente.
Once cooked, immediately drain and rinse the pasta in cold water, tossing until cooled and thoroughly rinsed.
Set the cooked pasta aside.
In a small saucepan, combine the American cheese and Parmesan/Romano cheese blend, along with the heavy cream.
Cook the cheese sauce on medium heat, stirring continuously until the cheese is fully melted.
Spray an 8x8 (or larger) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and add the cooked macaroni.
Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta, gently tossing the pasta to coat evenly.
Sprinkly the top of the pasta with the Colby Jack and smoked Gouda cheese, then top with the breadcrumbs.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter until completely melted.
Pour the melted butter over the mac and cheese, and place the macaroni and cheese in the oven to broil.
Broil just until the cheese and breadcrumbs start to brown. This should only take 1-2 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve with your favorite main dish. Enjoy!
Tip: Add freshly chopped bacon bits to the top of the mac and cheese just before baking to give this recipe an extra wow factor!
Half and half or whole milk can be substituted for the heavy whipping cream.
Sharp cheddar or mild cheddar cheese can be substituted for the Colby Jack cheese.
Regular pasta can be used in place of gluten-free pasta.