Ina Garten Grown Up Mac and Cheese

The Editors at Food Fanatic | Food Fanatic

This grown up mac and cheese recipe from Ina Garten shows how this dish isn't just for the kids! Bacon and a mixture of cheeses give it a 'wow' factor the adults will love!

Who says that mac and cheese is just for the kids?

To be honest, we love ANY mac and cheese recipe, whether it's the simple, old-fashioned variety, the kind you make quickly on the stove-top, or even gluten free mac and cheese with added beef!

But we have to admit that Ina Garten's grown up mac and cheese really is something rather special!

Grown up mac and cheese photo

The addition of bacon totally elevates the dish - but, let's face it, what DOESN'T taste better with bacon? 

But what really adds a little sophistication to this recipe and sets it apart as one for the grown ups is the blend of cheeses it contains.

Extra sharp cheddar provides a robust flavor, and the Gruyere lends a certain nuttiness to the dish. The blue cheese, meanwhile, brings a gorgeous pungency to this mac and cheese - and once you've tried it this way, you may never settle for plain old mac and cheese again!

Healthy Mac and Cheese Picture

Which type of blue cheese should I use?

There are lots of varieties of blue cheeses on the market, which range in flavor from relatively mild (like Danish Blue and Gorgonzola) to in-your-face tangy and delicious (like Roquefort and Maytag).

For this recipe, we'd recommend a stronger blue cheese - the other cheeses in the recipe help balance the flavor, so it's not overwhelming, just robust!

Healthy Mac and Cheese Image

Making bread crumbs

When you see fresh bread crumbs in a recipe (like this one), don't be tempted to reach for a pack of store-bought dried bread crumbs. The texture is totally different. Making your own fresh bread crumbs is easy, but it can be a pain if you have to make them separately for every recipe that calls for them.

That's why we recommend making them in bulk. Just prepare as many slices of bread at a time as you wish, although we suggest processing 2 at a time. That way, you can store 2 slices-worth of bread crumbs individually, making it easy to grab just the amount you need for a specific recipe.

Gluten Free Mac and Cheese Pic

Once you've made your bread crumbs (either by whizzing the slices in a food processor, as described in this recipe, or by grating a stale loaf of bread), you can freeze them in zip top bags for up to 3 months. Thaw them thoroughly in the fridge before use.


Ina Garten Grown Up Mac and Cheese

    2 Servings


  • 1/4 pound Thick Sliced Bacon
  • 1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil
  • 1 pinch of Kosher Salt
  • 2 cups Elbow Macaroni, or cavatappi
  • 1 1/2 cups Milk
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter
  • 2 tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
  • 4 ounces Gruyere Cheese, grated
  • 3 ounces Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces Blue Cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 pinch of Ground Nutmeg
  • 2 slices White Sandwich Bread, crusts removed
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on a baking rack, then set the rack on a sheet pan. 
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the bacon is nice and crispy. 
  4. Remove the pan from the oven, remembering to take care as it will contain hot grease.
  5. Drain the bacon on a plate lined with paper towels. 
  6. When it's cool enough to handle, crumble it between your hands.
  7. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add a little oil. 
  8. Pour in the macaroni and cook according to package directions, for around 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.
  9. Meanwhile, warm the milk in a small saucepan without boiling it. 
  10. In a medium pan, melt the butter and add the flour. 
  11. Whisking constantly, cook over a low heat for 2 minutes.
  12. Gradually add the hot milk, continuing to whisk, and cook for a couple more minutes, until thickened and smooth. 
  13. Remove from the heat and add the Gruyere, Cheddar, blue cheese, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and nutmeg. 
  14. Finally, stir in the cooked macaroni and crumbled bacon.
  15. Divide into 2 individual size gratin dishes.
  16. Pulse the bread slices in a food processor until you have coarse crumbs, then add the basil and pulse briefly to combine. 
  17. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top of the pasta and place in the oven.
  18. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly.
Source: Ina Garten
Ina Garten
Recipe Yields:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
Author: The Editors at Food Fanatic
Source: Ina Garten
Recipe Yields: 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Total Time: 70 minutes

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe 2

Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 464
Calories 1271

% Daily Value*
Total Fat 58g
  Saturated Fat 31g
Sodium 1218mg
Total Carbohydrate 120g
  Dietary Fiber 3g
  Sugars 14g
Protein 57g

* Percent Daily Value are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
** Nutrition Facts are estimated based on ingredients and data provided by Fat Secret. Please consult a doctor if you have special dietary needs.
Show Comments