Take your classic mac and cheese to the next level with this creamy baked mac that's made without cheddar cheese! Brie mac and cheese is made with a creamy brie and gruyere cheese sauce and baked with a crunchy panko crumb topping. This cheesy pasta will be a favorite of kids and adults! Make this for a quick weeknight side dish or even a holiday dinner.
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Table of contents
- Why This Creamy Brie Mac and Cheese Recipe Is The Best!
- What is Brie?
- Equipment Needed
- Key Ingredients
- Step-By-Step Instructions
- Substitutions and Additons
- How to Serve
- Storage And Reheating tips
- Can I Make Mac and cheese Ahead?
- Looking For Other Side Dish Recipes? Try These!
Why This Creamy Brie Mac and Cheese Recipe Is The Best!
There are two requirements for the perfect mac and cheese recipe. It must have a creamy texture and the perfect cheese flavor. Well, this baked brie mac definitely was a winning recipe because it passed these requirements by my most critical taste tester! Mia, like most kids, is a mac and cheese connoisseur. Some may think brie is too strong of a flavor for kids, however this 11 year old went back for 4ths, yes 4 huge helpings of this recipe and it was requested for Thanksgiving. So, I think that says it all!
What is Brie?
If you have never tried brie, it is a soft and creamy cheese that originated in France. Brie is know for having a more earthy flavor. You will see it sold in a rounds or wedges that have been cut from the round that contain the outer rind. While in France, the rind is considered a delicacy and is eaten, for this recipe I remove the rind from the cheese and cut the creamy center into cubes. This cheese melts perfectly, creating a wonderful sauce!
casserole dish- any shape will work as long as it is large enough to hold the macaroni and cheese. I used a rectangular 13x9 inch ceramic dish.
brie- look for a whole brie wheel or wedge of brie. Mine was 0.63 ounces with the rind and so close to .50 pound once the rind was removed.
cavatappi pasta- is a corkscrew shaped pasta that's great for sauces. You can use your favorite pasta for this recipe.
panko crumbs- is a Japanese style bread crumb that gives the baked macaroni a nice crunchy topping.
unsalted butter- is needed to make the roux for the creamy sauce. I always use unsalted butter for my recipes so that I can add a little salt as needed.
Start by cooking the pasta in a large pot according to the package directions. I always add a drizzle of olive oil and a teaspoon of salt to my pasta water. I cook my pasta to al dente, which means that it is still firm. Because this mac and cheese will also be baked we do not want it to get mussy. When the pasta has cooked completely, drain and return to the pot. I drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil to the cooked pasta so that it does not clump together while I'm finishing my sauce.
How To Make A Roux
While the pasta is cooking, make the cheese sauce or roux for the pasta noodles. A roux is equal parts flour and fat that come together when cooked to create a thickening agent. This is the base of the cheese sauce, but do not worry it is much easier than it may sound.
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring frequently. Add the flour and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes. This step is important because this will cook the flour taking away the flour taste. You will see the flour mixture will darken slightly which means that the flavor is developing. Just continue to stir so the garlic does not burn.
Slowly add the half and half to the flour while stirring. The sauce will begin to thicken. Continue drizzling a bit of half and half while stirring until roux is smooth and lump free.
Now add the cubed brie, grated gruyere, salt, black pepper and Greek yogurt. This will melt into the roux creating a luxurious creamy brie cheese sauce.
Once the creamy cheese sauce is complete add the pasta to the sauce and stir to cover the noodles with the sauce. Spoon pasta mixture into an oven-safe dish. I used a 9x13 rectangular dish, but any shape is fine.
Make the panko topping by adding the panko, parmesan cheese, melted butter and paprika to a bowl and stir to combine. Sprinkle over the top of the mac and cheese.
Bake uncovered in a preheated 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 20 minutes. The cheese will be bubbling and the panko will be golden brown.
Substitutions and Additons
half and half- can be substituted for whole milk, or even 2% milk. To keep this sauce creamy, I would not recommend skim milk.
cavatappi- use your favorite pasta. I like the fun corkscrew shape, but if you are making this for the kids and they only want elbow pasta, go for it. Any type of shell pasta will work in its place.
gruyere- I love the nutty flavor of gruyere. This cheese pairs well with the earthiness of the brie, however if you prefer, a white cheddar or gouda would also work well. Just remember to grate your own cheese and not be tempted with the pre-shredded varieties. Any shredded cheese that is packaged has a coating that will prevent it from melting well.
How to Serve
Serve this mac and cheese recipe as a main dish on a busy weeknight or as a side dish during the holidays. My family always has a version of macaroni and cheese for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and this baked brie mac is the perfect accompaniment to your holiday dinner.
Here are a few of my favorite entrees to pair with this baked mac recipe:
Storage And Reheating tips
If you have leftovers store in an airtight container for 3-4 days. You can reheat in the microwave for 1-2 minutes and add a splash of milk to thin the sauce out.
Can I Make Mac and cheese Ahead?
Yes, this mac and cheese can be made ahead. Follow the directions up until baking (do not bake). Allow to cool to room temperature. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 1-2 days. When ready to bake remove from the refrigerator for 30 minutes before placing in the preheated oven. Casserole dishes do not like extreme temperature changes.
Is The Rind On Brie Mold?
Yes, the rind of brie is a type of mold that blooms on the outside of the cheese. It is completely edible, but can be removed if desired.
What Can I add To Macaroni And Cheese To Make It Taste Better?
There are so many different spices that can be added to the cheese sauce to heighten the flavor of mac and cheese. Add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, onion and garlic powder to give the dish an extra flavor boost!
Looking For Other Side Dish Recipes? Try These!
Did you try this recipe? Please let me know what you think! Leave a comment below, and a 5- star rating. I would love to hear from you! Subscribe Here to get new recipes sent straight to your inbox!
Creamy Brie Mac and Cheese
- 4 quart casserole dish any shape
Brie Mac and Cheese
- 1 (16 ounce) package cavatappi pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for pasta water
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups half and half
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus extra for pasta water
- 5 ounces brie, rind removed and cut into cubes (weight after cubing)
- 5 ounces Gruyere, grated
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt, or sour cream
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese, grated
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cook pasta according to package directions. Cook to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and add the olive oil to coat.
- While pasta is cooking make the roux for the cheese sauce. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and add garlic. Stir constantly for 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. Add flour and continue to stir for 2-3 minutes while the flour cooks and develops a brownish color. Slowly drizzle the half and half into the flour mixture while stirring. The sauce will begin to thicken. This process will take a couple of minutes.
- Once sauce is smooth, add the cubed brie, grated gruyere, salt, pepper and Greek yogurt. Stir until cheese is melted and smooth.
- Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and stir to coat the noodles. Spoon the pasta into a greased casserole dish.
- Make the bread crumb topping. In a small bowl, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Add the panko, parmesan cheese and paprika.
- Sprinkle the panko topping over the top of the mac and cheese and bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.