There’s nothing more comforting than macaroni and cheese – this version has meaty mushrooms, bacon, and cavatappi pasta all baked up in a creamy gruyere cheese sauce, so if you’re in need of some indulgent comfort food add this mushroom macaroni and cheese to your must-make list.
Mushroom Macaroni and Cheese
Most of the time I’m happy to make a quick and easy stovetop-style macaroni and cheese because of the aforementioned “quick and easy” part, but a couple times of year I go all out and do a proper baked macaroni and cheese made with all the good stuff. In this case, a decadent mushroom macaroni and cheese with bacon and a creamy Gruyere cheese sauce. It’s a definitely a once-in-a-while recipe and one that deserves a place on a special occasion “must-make” list.
Some Ingredients You’ll Need
Any sort of short hollow pasta will work for this mac and cheese, but I love cavatappi because of its shape and, because it’s hollow, it holds the cheese sauce well. Penne would also be a good choice.
I used both cremini and baby portobello mushrooms in this recipe and love both. I like to finely chop them (a food processor makes this easy work, but it really doesn’t take long by hand) and cook them down until they’ve released their moisture. This way, instead of big pieces of mushrooms you get a sauce that’s infused with mushroom flavor.
The recipe starts with bacon. First, you cook it until its crispy and has rendered its fat. I like to take it from the pan, leaving the fat behind, and finely chop it. Once the macaroni and cheese is ready to go in the oven it makes a wonderful crispy topping. The mushrooms cook in the bacon fat and so the whole dish takes on subtle bacon flavor.
Gruyere cheese has a nutty flavor and melts great making it one of my favorite cheeses for pasta. For this recipe, you’ll make a basic bechamel sauce, which is just butter, flour, and milk before adding the cheese.
Once the mushrooms are cooked down you’ll notice a lot of browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Adding some white wine to the pan helps loosen those bits, which add a ton of flavor to the macaroni and cheese. Choose a dry white wine that you like to drink – for me that’s a chardonnay – and use some to cook with and save the rest when you serve the macaroni and cheese.
As a main dish, this recipe feeds at least 6 people and definitely can stretch further to feed more if you serve it with a salad or other veggies on the side. And, as is the way with these sorts of things, it’s best enjoyed the same day you make it. Because of the milk, it won’t freeze well and the sauce breaks down if it’s reheated after storing in the refrigerator. That doesn’t stop me from enjoying the leftovers (I’m not too bothered by broken sauces), but be aware this mushroom macaroni and cheese is best served hot from the oven.
More Comforting Pasta RecipesPrint
This mushroom macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food dish.
- 1 pound cavatappi pasta
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon
- 16 ounces cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1/4 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 16 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta for approximately half the time as indicated on the box. Drain and return to the pot.
- In a large pan, cook the bacon over medium-low heat until it’s crispy and has released its fat. Remove the bacon, leaving the fat in the pan, and set aside. Adjust the heat to medium and add the mushrooms to the pan and stir them around to coat them in the bacon fat. Season them with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook them for about 10-12 minutes, or until they are nicely golden brown and have released their moisture. Add the wine to the hot pan and, using a spatula or wooden spoon, scrape up all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the wine cook off and then transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
- In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until there are no lumps. Add the milk and cream, whisking continuously, and warm it slowly without letting it boil (lower the heat if necessary). Once the milk and cream are warmed through and the sauce has started to thicken, add the cheese (reserve 1 cup of cheese for the topping) and stir well until it’s completely melted into the sauce. Add the mushrooms and stir to combine.
- Add the pasta to the mushrooms and cheese sauce either by transferring the pasta from the pot to the skillet or, in case your skillet isn’t big enough to hold all the pasta, transfer the sauce to the pot with the pasta. Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce. Transfer the pasta and cheese sauce to a baking dish.
- Chop the crispy bacon and scatter it over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Sprinkle the remaining one cup of cheese over the top. Cover the dish with tin foil and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes. Garnish with the fresh parsley and serve.
- Calories: 843
- Fat: 45.8g
- Carbohydrates: 67.2g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 40.4g