If you don’t have a good mac and cheese recipe, this Mac and Cheese with Herbed Bread Crumbs can be your new go-to recipe! This recipe is creamy, cheesy, a little garlicky and topped with a delicious crunchy herbed bread crumb topping. It gets better still…the bread crumbs have French fried onions mixed in them!! Can you say AH-MAZING?!
Mac and cheese is a classic and everyone should have a delicious homemade recipe they can whip up for the holidays, BBQ’s or just your regular old comfort food at home. This recipe is very easy, it’s quick and it’s packed full of flavor. If you’re looking for a new favorite recipe, give this Mac and Cheese with Herbed Bread Crumbs a try! You’re sure to love it!
Check out other Sides!
Ingredients for Mac and Cheese with Herbed Bread Crumbs
- Cavatappi Pasta (Cellentani Pasta)
- Extra Sharp Cheddar
- Cream Cheese
- Parmesan Cheese
- Garlic Cloves
- Dijon Mustard
- Cayenne (optional)
- Whole Milk
- Fresh Parsley
- Fresh Chives
- French Fried Onions
- Kosher Salt
Tips for the best Mac and Cheese
- Salt the pasta water. I can’t stress this enough. Adding salt afterwards IS NOT the same thing
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Make sure you cook it just until al dente. Nobody wants mush noodles
- Use fresh herbs over dried
- Buy Panko bread crumbs. This is a Japanese style bread crumb that has a much more coarse texture than Italian bread crumbs or any other kind. You want the course crumb for texture and a nice crunch
- Definitely look for the extra sharp cheddar, if you can’t find extra sharp then still get sharp cheddar. The stronger the flavor the better
- Serve the mac and cheese right away. Although you can still heat it up later, it’s definitely best fresh
- If you do want to save some and re-heat it later, add a little milk. You can use a pot on the stove on low-medium low heat with a little milk and stir it frequently. Or use a bowl, add a little milk and microwave it. Stir it up and the creamy texture should come back or close to it
- If you can’t find Cavatappi pasta, feel free to use another kind. Elbow noodles or medium shells work good. Anything with little nooks and texture that the cheese sauce will stick to works best
- Al Dente definition – firm to the bite. So to cook pasta al dente means there is a bit of firmness to it still, it’s not complete mush
How to make herbed bread crumbs
Making herbed bread crumbs is very simple and adds a lot of flavor and texture to a dish. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the panko and French fried onions to a bowl. Melt the butter in a small dish in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Meanwhile, rough chop the parsley and chives then add them into the bread crumb bowl. Add in the salt and pepper then mix thoroughly.
Bake the bread crumb mixture for 4 minutes then remove from the oven and set aside until needed. If you wanted to transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish after mixing it and add the raw bread crumb mix to the top then bake it for 4 minutes that would work just as well. I just prefer to bake them separately then everyone can add however much they’d like on top of their own.
How to make cheese sauce
I went with an easy cheese sauce for simplicities sake. I wanted to make sure this was an easy dish while still being super yummy. You’ll want to start by melting the butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pot over medium heat. As soon as the butter is melted then add the minced garlic. Stir for about 15 seconds then add in the Dijon mustard, stirring around for another 10 seconds. Add the cream cheese, sharp cheddar, parmesan and milk.
Give the cheese a good stir then add in the cayenne if you’re using it. Let the cheese melt, stirring it occasionally until it’s smooth. If you feel like the cheese sauce isn’t as smooth as you’d like it to be you can add the sauce to a blender or food processor and blend for about 10 seconds, although it’s not necessary.
Finishing the Mac and Cheese with Herbed Bread Crumbs
Meanwhile, while your cheese sauce is cooking, get a pot of water on the stove to boil. Don’t forget to add the salt to the water! Also add a drizzle of olive oil to the pot of water. Cook the pasta according to the box directions. Make sure the pasta is al dente and not over cooked.
Drain the pasta well, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water then add the pasta to the cheese sauce. If the cheese sauce is extremely thick, you can add a little of the reserved pasta water to thin it out a bit. Mix the pasta with the cheese sauce very well, transfer it to a serving dish and top with the toasted herbed bread crumbs. Enjoy your Mac and Cheese with Herbed Bread Crumbs.
If you make this Mac and Cheese with Herbed Bread Crumbs recipe please leave a rating or comment! Also tag me in any Instagram photos you’re sharing of this recipe or any of my others, I love to see what everyone is making!
Need any Desserts to go with your dinner?
Mac and Cheese with Herbed Bread Crumbs
- 4 tbsp butter
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 7 oz sharp cheddar shredded
- 1 cup parmesan cheese shredded
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper optional
Herbed Bread Crumbs
- ¾ cup panko bread crumb
- ½ cup French fried onions
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh chives chopped
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp butter melted
- 16 oz Cavatappi pasta
- 1.5 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
Make the cheese sauce
- In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter
- Add the minced garlic and stir around for 10-15 seconds. Immediately add the Dijon mustard and stir for another 10 seconds
- Add in the cream cheese, shredded extra sharp cheddar, shredded parmesan, milk
- Add the cayenne pepper if you're using it
- Stir the mixture well and continue to stir occasionally until it is fully melted. Set aside until the pasta is finished
Make the bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- While the cheese sauce is cooking, add the panko, French fried onions, chopped parsley, chopped chives, salt and pepper to a mixing bowl
- Melt the butter in the microwave and add it to the bread crumbs. Mix well
- Bake the bread crumbs for 4 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside
Cook the pasta
- While the cheese sauce is cooking, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add the salt and oil to the water
- Once the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook it according to the box directions until it's al dente
- Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the cheese sauce. Mix well
- Top with bread crumbs and enjoy!