Cowgirl Creamery's Classic Mac and Cheese

All this week, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith from Cowgirl Creamery will be sharing recipes from their forthcoming cookbook Cowgirl Creamery Cooksanswering our questions, and giving away a book every day.  

Today: Your classic baked mac and cheese, with a bite.

 Cowgirl Mac and Cheese on Food52

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This version of mac and cheese is creamy and simple, so the flavor of your the cheese you use comes through. Choose a good sharp cheddar as a base; you can use all cheddar or a combination of half cheddar and half ends and bits of other cheeses. Some folks add parsley or other herbs before baking, as seen in this photo. Peggy and I like to make it without herbs. 

Classic Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 pound grating cheese
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
12 ounces pasta (elbow or corkscrew)
1 1/2 cups panko or fresh bread crumbs
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or other cheese 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Want to win a copy of Cowgirl Creamery Cooks? Tell us in the comments: What do you like to add into your mac and cheese? We'll choose one random winner each day, and announce them this Friday! (Unfortunately, we can only ship books within the US.)

Photo by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Sara
  • Holly Skir
    Holly Skir
  • Gorgan
  • Joanna Hicks
    Joanna Hicks
  • Kaye Henley
    Kaye Henley
Cowgirl Creamery launched in 1997, but our story began well before then. We met freshman year at the University of Tennessee where, little did we know, a lifelong friendship and infatuation with food would ensue. In 1976 our journey westward began. Once arriving in the Bay Area, we became involved in the burgeoning food movement at Chez Panisse and Bette's Oceanview Diner, both in Berkeley, CA. By the early 1990s, we were ready for a new challenge when we decided to launch Tomales Bay Foods, a marketing vehicle to help West Marin's farms and dairies get their delicious products into the hands of the Bay Area's finest chefs. From there, we decided to make our own cheese using the milk from neighboring Straus Family Creamery. Two decades, two creameries, four retail stores, and two thousand tons of cheese later, we still love what we do and have decided to bring our stories and recipes (dishes that use cheese not how to make cheese) to you in our first cookbook, Cowgirl Creamery Cooks.


Sara May 13, 2014
Chipotle powder!
Holly S. May 11, 2014
pepperjack cheese if you please ;)
Gorgan May 11, 2014
Crumbs of Ewe's Blue Cheese
Joanna H. May 11, 2014
I always add 'bout a T+ of Franks Hot Sauce, about a half C chopped onions(added with the butter & cooked 'til soft), and perhaps a shake or two of red pepper to the sauce while thickening...
Kaye H. November 4, 2013
I like to add a little bacon salt.
nan M. November 3, 2013
I use some monterey pepper jack cheese and always crisp bacon to the bread crumb topping!
Patkunstenaar November 2, 2013
Favorite additions are small pieces of Pancetta, just for the added flavor, buttered breadcrumbs lightly browned on top.
susan K. November 1, 2013
bacon & chives!
No B. October 31, 2013
chipotles in abobo and thick cut bacon
FOODeAFFAIR October 31, 2013
Kasseri and garlic....yum!
Ross B. October 31, 2013
Hatch Chiles.
patti October 31, 2013
my favorite thing to add to my mac and cheese is MY TEETH!!!!!
Maria October 31, 2013
I add a touch of cayenne pepper & T or so of sour cream to sauce!
Millie October 31, 2013
I add canned chopped tomatoes! Makes a macaroni and cheese bisque...
DebMommy October 31, 2013
Ripe Tomato Slices - so good!!
kelin October 31, 2013
I'm a sucker for broccoli in my mac n' cheese, and just when it starts to feel a bit healthier, I top it with bacon.
Miriam S. October 31, 2013
Lobster is delicious but shrimp is also great
Allison L. October 30, 2013
Jalapeños, crispy pancetta & toasty breadcrumbs on top
Alexandra H. October 30, 2013
Butternut squash and a generous layer of sautéed bread crumbs!
S-hari October 30, 2013
just a bit of nutmeg into the white sauce and of course, sauteed onions...