Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese

Prepare yourselves for the ultimate Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese!

Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese from (@whatsgabycookin)

This one is a new addition to my Thanksgiving menu! But I feel like Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese is just the right thing to do. It’s an EXCELLENT vegetarian option if you have guests coming that don’t like turkey. And kids and adults will love every aspects of this mac and cheese.

The cheese sauce is uber cheesy and creamy. The buttered panko topping gives it that extra crunch you’re looking for. The thyme bring it up another level so you can feel a tiny bit fancy. The cheeses used are easily found at any market so you don’t have to search for any kinds of fancy cheese. And it makes for incredible leftovers if you are lucky enough to wind up with any! All in all, you’re looking at the best Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese to grace your table. In fact, I’d make it now so you can eat it in peace because come Thanksgiving, it’s gonna go fast.

PS – are you thinking of putting this on your Thanksgiving menu? Check out the full What’s Gaby Cooking menu here along with the master prep schedule to keep things organized and on track!

Creamy Mac and Cheese

Yield: Serves 8-10

Creamy Mac and Cheese


  • 1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi
  • 1 quart milk
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated (4 cups)
  • 8 ounces extra-sharp Cheddar, grated (2 cups) (you could also use Colby Jack)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1-1/2 cup panko bread crumbs


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cook the macaroni according to the directions on the package. Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it!
  4. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a large pot and add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat, add the Gruyère, Cheddar, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.
  5. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, combine them with the panko crumbs, and sprinkle on the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

Photo by Matt Armendariz / Food Styling by Adam Pearson / Prop Styling by Gena Sigala // Recipe by What’s Gaby Cooking

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      1. Hi Gaby, when we lived in new Zealand as children over 55 years ago, my mother used to make macaroni cheese. My brother disliked it intensely, so he would go and sit in the huge walnut tree we had in the garden until dinner was finished. He still doesn’t like mac cheese! And we no longer have a walnut tree!! I bought for the first time yesterday, monterey jack cheese. The first time I have seen it in our supermarket here in Scotland. So, going to try your recipe. You are welcome to come and try it!! Best wishes, Connie

  1. I am a HUGE macaroni and cheese fan! I think I could eat it almost everyday. I love the videos and can’t wait to see what you do with your nails next time!

  2. This is almost exactly like my mom’s recipe with one difference. She always made her white sauce in the microwave and I do the same. It works out just as well as if it was made on the stove and there is no scalded milk when I get distracted by something else. I always look forward to fall and making comfort food recipes!

  3. This recipe looks awesome! I need to try it! I made a mac n cheese recently that wasn’t all that great, so I am excited to try this one! Thank you!

  4. Found this recipe while searching for an alternate cheese for sharp cheddar. Great…Love this recipe. Swapped the flour for 1 tbsp corn starch and whisked with 2 tbsp milk then slowly added the rest of milk. Definitely will use this Colby mac n cheese recipe again!

  5. Do you think it would work to make this ahead? I was thinking of doing everything up until adding the pasta in Thursday so that the noodles don’t absorb too much liquid in the fridge overnight. I’ve noticed with other recipes that sometimes it becomes too thick and I want to keep it as creamy as possible. I was curious what you think the best route to take would be!

  6. I’ve tried other baked macs and they never quite come out right. This sounds and looks so delicous, I can’t wish to try it! My son will especially love it!

  7. Definitely going to use this for thanksgiving! I’m hosting for the first time this year and I have a dumb question but if you only have one oven can you cook this at 350 with the turkey just a bit longer? Or what do you suggest?

  8. Going to an event right after work. I’m hoping I can make most of this the night before and pop it in the oven the day of the event. Can I do everything including breadcrumbs the night before, refrigerate overnight, bring back to room temp and bake it the night of? Are there any modifications I should make?

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