I could probably make a pretty big dent in this giant mac and cheese on my own, but it actually serves a crowd of 20-25! I find myself feeding throngs of people quite often and have recently started to write down these voluminous recipes. It’s much easier than trying to “guestimate” exactly how many pounds, cups, teaspoons you used the last time you multiplied the recipe.
I’ve never written down my macaroni and cheese recipe before because I make it like my Mom did…white sauce + whatever cheeses I need to use up in the fridge + macaroni then, bake it up. But sometimes it would turn out better than others, so I paid attention, took notes and did a little research.
Here’s what I have learned:
- Salt your pasta water liberally, seriously it needs a lot of salt. This is really the only way to flavor your macaroni noodles. Taste the water you’re going to boil your noodles in, it should taste like salty ocean water. (LOL!! I’m laughing at this one now, that Chef Anne Burrell told me my pasta wasn’t seasoned well enough on America’s Best Cook!! I guess in the heat of the moment I didn’t dump in enough salt! Glad it was good enough to get me to the next round!)
- Use lots of water, so your macaroni has room to move around and release their starches.
- Undercook the pasta by a few minutes. It will cook more when you bake it. Otherwise they’ll end up mushy.
- Your white sauce does not need to be super thick. I used to make it way too thick and then I’d be disappointed that my macaroni and cheese wasn’t gooey enough.
- Season your white sauce. I use white pepper, salt, dry mustard and Worcestershire sauce.
- Don’t heat your white sauce too hot or the cheese can separate when you add it, making it a grainy textured cheese sauce.
- I used to over-bake the macaroni and cheese and it would end up too dry. It just needs to be hot. I usually check the temperature with my instant read thermometer and make sure it’s at least 150 degrees.
Use a Super-Fancy Pan:
Lol! Using this pan certainly won’t get my Macaroni & Cheese photo onto Foodgawker, but let’s be real – when you’re going to a pot luck, block party or picnic, foil pans are just so easy! This recipe fits perfectly in this gigantic “Large Rectangular Rack Roaster (16 5/8 x 11 7/8 x 2 5/8 inch). Scott at Handi-Foil Corp. was kind enough to let me know that this pan “has a 240 fluid ounce capacity. That equates to 30 cups or 7.5 quarts.” Wowzers! So if you need to use another pan, you’ll know what size to aim for.
If you need a smaller amount of Macaroni & Cheese – this smaller version fits a half-steam tray pan and serves 10-12 people.
The Cheese Sauce:
You can really use any combination of cheeses you like. This recipe uses cheddar and American, which makes a creamy, mild Mac & Cheese that kids and adults will both like.
Assemble, Top with Crumbs & Bake!
Thanks for spending some time in the cloud with me! I hope you enjoy the recipe! Tina ( :
Macaroni & Cheese for a Crowd
- 2-3 tablespoons salt for water
- 2 boxes/pounds elbow macaroni (I used Barilla brand)
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 9 cups whole milk
- 1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 pounds sharp cheddar cheese shredded
- 3/4 pound American cheese, cut into strips Use the deli type, Don't use the "singles" individually wrapped kind
Bread Crumb Topping:
- 3 tablespoons butter melted
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Prepare Pan & Boil Pasta:
- This makes a large foil roasting pan, I used the Handi Foil, Eco Foil, Large Rectangular Rack Roaster Foil Pan (16 5/8 x 11 7/8 x 2 5/8 inch).
- You can alternatively use enough baking dishes that will hold about 7.5-quarts.
- Place your foil pan on a large baking sheet for stability.
- Butter pan(s) and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Set a large pot (8-quart or larger) water to boil. Salt it with 2-3 tablespoons of salt.
- I like to use a pasta pot so I can boil the pasta in two batches without having to reboil another pot of water.
- You can just boil one batch, lift them out with the insert, add a bit more water, then boil the next batch.
- Cook the pasta, in two batches, about a minute or two less than the package directions.
- Drain and pour into baking pan - don't rinse. (If cooking pasta ahead of time, toss with a little butter or oil so it doesn't stick together, you can even cover and refrigerate at this point. May need to add to bake time if you do this.)
- In 6-quart sauce pan make roux: melt butter and stir in flour, white pepper, mustard and salt until smooth. Cook for a few minutes stirring constantly.
- Whisk ½ cup of the milk into the roux and stir until they combine smoothly.
- Add a little more milk and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the rest of the milk.
- Heat and stir frequently over medium heat. Make sure to scrape the bottom and edges of pan while stirring.
- When slightly thickened, before it simmers, remove from heat and stir in the Worcestershire sauce and cheeses.
- Stir until melted and smooth. Taste and add more seasonings if desired.
Assemble and Bake:
- Pour cheese sauce into pan with pasta and stir to combine. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes.
- Stir together melted butter, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.
- After baking 30 minutes, remove foil from pan and sprinkle on breadcrumbs.
- Bake uncovered for another 20-30 minutes or until hot all the way through.
- Should be at least 150-160 degrees in the center of the pan on an instant read thermometer.
- If breadcrumbs are not browned to your liking, you can broil until browned.