November 13, 2022

Mac and Cheese for the Thanksgiving table

Mac and cheese in a blue serving bowl with a spoon

I have decided Mac and Cheese has earned its place on my Thanksgiving table. If I am having a large group or kids are coming, Mac and Cheese always makes the cut. I am particularly nostalgic about my mom’s  from the “True North Cabin Cookbook” that I can guess is originally adapted from the Joy of Cooking as my mom passed away. This is an oven version, and for some, that’s challenging during the holidays when oven space is at a premium, so I give you some other options here to consider:

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese

Yield: 6

Adapted from The Joy of Cooking


  • 1 16 oz box elbow macaroni noodles
  • 3 Cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Cups 2% or whole milk
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs or crushed saltine crackers
  • 3-4 Tbsp Butter cut into cubs


    1. Preheat oven to 350
    2. Cook pasta in salted boiling water
    3. Melt butter in a saucepan and add flour to make a roux. Cook for 3 min while stirring.
    4. Whisk in milk. Add, bay leaf, paprika, dry mustard, and salt.  Simmer gently, stirring often for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cheese.
    5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cooked macaroni and cheese. Mix well.
    6. Pour Mixture into a greased baking dish.  
    7. Sprinkle breadcrumbs/Saltines on top of the casserole and dot with the butter
    8. Bake 30 min or until breadcrumbs are lightly browned and cheese is bubbly.
    9. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sheet Pan Mac and Cheese.  still goes in the oven, but its back in a sheet pan, so if you are someone who loves the crispy bits – this may be worth the Holiday oven space.

My 5-minute Instant Pot Mac and Cheese is excellent and takes up no oven space. Kids like it because there are no crispy bits to mess with their texture sensibilities. 

This year Ina Garten has added a twist to the Mac and Cheese game by prepping it the night before. Her Overnight Mac and Cheese requires oven space but is done ahead, which I like.

Feeling Spicy? Try my friend Amanda Paa’s white cheddar poblano Mac and Cheese. It’s a winner, as are all her recipes! (Her website Heartbeet Kitchen is a master class in Sourdough!) 

The Patti LaBelle Mac and Cheese are full of cheese and a favorite of both Jason Matheson and Elizabeth Reis. 

Skip to Recipe