Adult Mac ‘n’ Cheese Is the Comfort Food Recipe You Need

Oscar Vargas of Kenoza Hall in Kenoza Lake shares his recipe for creamy mac 'n' cheese that tempts with a little crunch and a touch of spice.

Oscar Vargas

Kenoza Hall, Kenoza Lake

The Situation: After a long day, Vargas needs something delicious and low-effort. As a father of two, he doesn’t have time to be running to the store. “This dish is so versatile. It works for any time or situation,” he says.

The Solution: Vargas calls his recipe “adult mac ‘n’ cheese” due to its sophisticated but nostalgic flavors. “I went through quite a lot of boxed mac ‘n’ cheese as a child, but as an adult the dish has evolved into a platform for many family dinners and quick-fix meals,” he says.

Here’s Why: “I’ve eaten almost every iteration of this dish. It transcends comfort at this point for me!” says Vargas. “Just pick your favorite pasta shape, make a quick Mornay sauce, and add some vegetables or something spicy to take it to the next level.”

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Oscar Vargas mac n cheese recipe
Photo courtesy of Oscar Vargas

Adult Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Serves 4


2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
½ Tbsp minced garlic
1 cup milk at room temperature
1 cup heavy cream at room temperature
1 cup shredded smoked Gouda
1 cup shredded Gruyère
Sriracha sauce
1 pound radiatore pasta, cooked
½ cup panko breadcrumbs


Melt butter in a small Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add flour, stir, and cook until flour turns a golden blond color. Season with a pinch of salt and a couple cracks of black pepper. Add garlic and cook the garlic in the roux, about 2–3 minutes.

Combine milk and heavy cream in a measuring cup or container then slowly pour the mixture into the roux while stirring, making sure no lumps form or burn at the bottom of the pot. Continue stirring periodically until thickened, or when sauce coats the back of a spoon.

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Add both cheeses and stir until completely melted. Season with salt, pepper and Sriracha to taste.

Turn on broiler. Stir cheese sauce into the cooked pasta, transfer to 8×8-inch baking dish, and top with panko breadcrumbs. Broil for 30–45 seconds or until golden brown. Serve with a side salad, if desired.

Related: Dig Into This Local BBQ Master’s Ultimate Mac and Cheese

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