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5-Cheese Mac and Cheese

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This ultimate 5-cheese mac and cheese recipe is made with Gruyere, Cheddar, American cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan. A creamy, comforting dish that will satisfy all your cheese cravings.

bowl of macaroni and cheese with five cheese sorts on a striped towel.

The combination of cheeses makes this 5-cheese mac and cheese a delightful, rich, comforting dish, a knock-your-socks-off recipe for all cheese lovers.

Although it uses several kinds of cheese, this is a straightforward, relatively classic mac n cheese recipe; it is easy to make, quick, and a fool-proof family favorite.

Check out other super-cheesy homemade mac recipes: Copycat Chick-fil-A Mac and Cheese or Mac and Cheese without Milk.

Why would you use five types of cheese?

For the flavor: Using different sorts will make the dish cheesier and more distinct in flavor. Parmesan and Cheddar are there mainly for taste. The other three varieties impart flavor and contribute to the texture.

For the texture:

  • The American cheese will make the dish incredibly creamy and velvety. The natural sodium citrate it contains is an emulsifier that keeps the fat in the cheese from separating, thus allowing you to make a wonderfully smooth sauce.
  • Mozzarella might lack a bit of flavor, but it is there for the stretch; no other cheese can pull a stretch as mozzarella does.
  • Gruyere fulfills both purposes: it has a distinct flavor and melts beautifully.

This five-cheese mac and cheese recipe is also great for using leftover cheese bits.

Recipe ingredients

listed ingredients for making mac and cheese with five cheeses.
  • Elbow macaroni pasta is the standard for making mac n cheese. However, this dish will taste equally good if you use other short pasta. Try it with penne, farfalle, ziti, fusilli, etc.
  • Dairy: Cheddar, Parmesan, American cheese, mozzarella, and Gruyere. I prefer sharp Cheddar, but mild Cheddar is fine as well. You can substitute Parmesan with Pecorino or vegetarian hard cheese.
  • Whole milk and heavy cream. Evaporated milk is a good substitute.
  • Seasoning: Mustard, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, fine sea salt, and black pepper. For a bit of heat, add some cayenne pepper to taste.

How to make mac and cheese with five different types of cheese?

  • Cook macaroni al dente (according to package directions) in a large pot of salted boiling water.
  • While the pasta cooks, make the creamy cheese sauce.
  • Grate the Cheddar, Parmesan, and Gruyere, and cut the American cheese and mozzarella into small cubes. Set them aside in a large bowl.
  • Cheese sauce: Mix the milk, heavy cream, mustard, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a large saucepan or a medium Dutch oven. Warm on low heat and stir for about 2 minutes, but don’t let the milk mixture come to a boil (1).
  • Add all the cheese and stir gently on low heat until it melts. Don’t let the cheese mixture become too hot or come to a boil (2).
collage of two pictures of making roux and then adding grated cheese.
  • Combine: Add the drained macaroni to the saucepan and stir well to combine (3). If the sauce seems too thick, add a little extra cream or milk, and mix well.
  • Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
stirring macaroni and cheesy sauce in a pan.

Expert Tips

Use only freshly grated/chopped cheese. Pre-shredded cheese contains additives that will prevent it from melting nicely.

Another bonus:

  • You will need a relatively small amount of each sort. This also means that you can make the sauce using rests. I often cook this recipe when I have small pieces of different kinds of cheese lingering in my fridge.
  • You might also use Pepper Jack, Colby Jack, Monterey Jack, Swiss, goat cheese, Gouda, white Cheddar, and Pecorino instead of Parmesan. Even some blue cheese or feta rests if you have any. Try to keep the balance: use American cheese and about 3 cups of different types of cheese.

Recipe FAQ

Can I use other sorts of cheese?

Sure. As mentioned above, you can use a combination of cheese rests you might have in the fridge. Ensure you choose something for the flavor and something for the melting qualities.

Is this recipe vegetarian?

No, because it contains cheese made with animal rennet (from the stomach of the calf), for instance, Parmesan. To make the dish vegetarian, use cheese made with vegetarian rennet.

How to store and reheat?

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge.
Reheat before serving.

How to reheat?

Microwave: Combine the leftovers and a splash of milk in a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and continue reheating at 30 seconds intervals and stirring until the leftovers are hot.
Stovetop: Mix leftover mac and cheese and a splash of milk (enough to loosen the dish). Warm macaroni in a saucepan (preferably nonstick) on low heat and stir frequently.

How do you keep Macaroni and Cheese creamy?

There are a few things you can do to ensure that your mac and cheese is nice and creamy. One is to use a higher quality cheese – the better the cheese, the creamier the dish will be. Pre-shredded cheese doesn’t melt as nice as freshly shredded, use only fresh grated/chopped quality cheese. Another is to use a roux to thicken the sauce – this will help to create a smooth, velvety texture. Finally, be careful not to overcook the pasta – if it’s too soft, it will absorb too much of the sauce and the dish will be dry.

Can you make cheese sauce for mac and cheese with water instead of milk?

You can make cheese sauce for mac and cheese with water instead of milk, but the sauce will be thinner and less flavorful. To make a more traditional cheese sauce, you’ll need to use milk, or milk substitutes. Check out milk substitutes and our creamy and tasty Mac & Cheese without Milk.

How to serve?

  • 5-cheese mac and cheese is best served immediately, but leftovers can be easily reheated (See Recipe FAQ).
  • Main: Serve with a simple, fresh salad or vegetables on the side. If served as a main dish, the recipe will serve 6 generously.
close up cheesy mac sprinkled with red chili flakes.

More mac n cheese recipes

Check out the web story for this recipe: How to make 5-Cheese Mac and Cheese

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bowl of macaroni and cheese with five cheese sorts on a striped towel.

5-Cheese Mac and Cheese

This ultimate 5-cheese mac and cheese recipe is made with Gruyere, Cheddar, American cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan. A creamy, comforting dish that will satisfy all your cheese cravings
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Pasta Recipes
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6 – 8
Calories: 619kcal
Author: Adina

Equipment

  • Large pot
  • Large saucepan or medium Dutch oven

Ingredients  

  • 1 lb elbow macaroni 450 g, Note1
  • ¾ cup Cheddar 2 oz/ 60 g, Note 2
  • ¾ cup Gruyere 2 oz/ 60 g
  • 3 tablespoons Parmesan Note 1
  • 6 oz American cheese 180 g
  • 1 mozzarella ball 4.5 oz/ 125 g
  • 1 cup whole milk 250 ml
  • ½ cup heavy cream 125 ml
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • fine sea salt or Kosher and black pepper more to taste

Instructions

  • Cook pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the macaroni. Cook according to the package instructions.
  • While the pasta cooks, make the cheese sauce.
  • Grate the Cheddar, Parmesan, and Gruyere, and cut the American cheese and mozzarella into small cubes. Set them aside.
  • Cheese sauce: Mix the milk, heavy cream, mustard, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a saucepan. Warm on low heat and stir for about 2 minutes, but don't let it come to a boil.
  • Add all the cheese and stir gently on low heat until the cheese melts. Don't let it become too hot or come to a boil.
  • Combine: Add pasta to the pan and stir well to combine. If the sauce seems too thick, add a splash of extra cream or milk, and stir again.
  • Adjust the taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Any other short pasta is excellent.
  2. Use only freshly grated cheese. Pre-grated cheese contains additives that will prevent it from melting nicely.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 619kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 782mg | Potassium: 323mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 997IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 679mg | Iron: 1mg
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