The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

This is macaroni and cheese for adults, but children also love it.


Ingredients for macaroni and cheese
One of the benefits of making this dish from scratch is that there’s no processed ingredients to be worried about. And yet, it’s still simple to make.


It’s the French version, called Macaroni au Gratin, from one of my favorite cookbooks, “French Home Cooking,” by Paul Bocuse. But don’t be scared. It’s not one of those complicated, 25-step recipes, some people associate with French cooking. This cookbook is filled with simple recipes that home cooks use: perfect recipes for Rootsliving.

I bought the book in Paris more than 30 years ago in a small bookshop across from the Luxembourg Gardens.


A casserole of mac and cheese.
The top will turn a beautiful brown when it’s done cooking.


The most time-consuming part of the recipe is boiling water for the pasta. The recipe calls for using “long macaroni.” I used “bucatini,” which also goes by the name, “perciatelli.” It’s long and thin but tubular, like a thin straw. You could also use penne. And I imagine even elbows, the traditional Mac & Cheese pasta of the U.S., would work well.


A bowl of macaroni and cheese.
The pasta on top becomes crunchy, while the pasta below remains hot and gooey, after being in the oven for an hour.


This is more refined than the American Mac & Cheese dish. Instead of cheddar cheese, Gruyere is used. And a touch of nutmeg in the milk and cream sauce takes this dish to another level.


Tricia taking some macaroni and cheese from the stovetop.
Tricia helps herself to some macaroni au gratin in the Rootsliving kitchen.


It’s great served with salad and a crusty baguette.


The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

March 10, 2019
: 6
: 15 min
: 1 hr 10 min
: 1 hr 25 min
: Easy

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, “French Home Cooking,” by Paul Bocuse.


  • 1 pound long macaroni (I used dried “bucatini,” but you could also use penne or even elbows.)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and split lengthwise
  • 4 1/2 cups milk
  • Salt, pepper
  • Nutmeg (preferably, fresh ground)
  • 3/4 cup, plus 1 tablespoon, of heavy cream
  • 4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
  • 2 ounces butter (preferably unsalted), cut into small pieces
  • Step 1 Preheat oven to 350
  • Step 2 Cook macaroni in rapidly boiling salted water for 7 minutes, then drain in a colander (do not cool).
  • Step 3 Rub a large baking dish with the garlic and butter it well.
  • Step 4 Heat the milk in a large saucepan and season generously with salt, pepper, and a just a pinch or two of nutmeg (Note: Nutmeg is strong, especially fresh-ground, and you don’t need much to add flavor).
  • Step 5 Stir in the cream and the macaroni, then pour into the baking dish.
  • Step 6 Sprinkle with grated cheese, dot with butter, and bake for one hour (The macaroni should bake for a long time. It will finish cooking in the milk and become beautifully browned on top).


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