Stove top mac and cheese in advance?

I am making stove top Mac and cheese today for a party tomorrow. What's the best way to maintain the creamy texture (the leftovers usually lose it)? Could I make the components separately then combine them tomorrow?

  • Posted by: Diana
  • February 18, 2016


Susan W. February 18, 2016
I agree with sexy on the evaporated milk being the key here. Especially good for boys on a farm drinking..which made me chuckle.
amysarah February 18, 2016
Interesting about evaporated milk. I recall sexy's question, but had forgotten, and just found 3(?!) cans of it in my pantry - no idea why, as I use it maybe once a year for pumpkin pie - so this may be the ticket.

I suggest making the bechamel - which keeps in the fridge well - ahead, then combining with macaroni on the day of, and baking in the oven, topped with buttered bread crumbs and/or more cheese. Under cook the pasta a little before the final bake, and make more sauce than seems necessary - helps keep it creamy/saucy, as quite a bit absorbs into the pasta in the oven. I've done many times and it works fine. (Well aware of pasta tradition in Italy...but you asked about mac & cheese, so hope that helps ;-)
sexyLAMBCHOPx February 18, 2016
@amysarah - if you give it a go, please report back. it was very well-received, but different.
Nancy February 18, 2016
I just read an interesting part of Food Lab (Kenji Lopez Alt newish cookbook) on mac & cheese, why it doesn't reheat well.
Have a look at this post of his from Serious Eats, for ideas and how to plan your meal.

PS he also has about a dozen other posts on mac and cheese, if you want to look for variations.
sexyLAMBCHOPx February 18, 2016
I just reheated it in the oven (I think 300F for 30 mins.)
sexyLAMBCHOPx February 18, 2016
I asked a similar question two years ago. Evaporated milk was a clear make-ahead winner in my book.
Diana February 18, 2016
Thanks! I've not tried evaporated milk before but your thought process on the original thread makes sense. Your original question said you were traveling, did you wait to bake it or just reheat it when you got there?
sexyLAMBCHOPx February 18, 2016
Evaporated milk in a mac n cheese recipe keeps the texture creamy. Have you tried Ina;s recipe?
702551 February 18, 2016
Melted cheese does not reheat well. For that matter, I personally do not like reheated pasta much either. In Italy, you only cook the amount of pasta that is to be served immediately; typically pasta is an appetizer course with portions to match, not the gargantuan gut-busting mountains of pasta that Americans eat.

For the sake of quality, I suggest you find a way to make your mac and cheese shortly before serving or find something else to serve.

I would never ever serve reheated cheese to dinner guests. Heck, I won't even eat it myself. But it's your call since it's you and your guests who are going to eat it, not me.

Good ulck.
Diana February 18, 2016
Thanks for your answer. I've lived in Rome and understand that what I'm suggesting does not keep to Italian pasta traditions, but that's not what I'm trying to do. I'm helping my boyfriend make a dish to bring to a weekend of drinking on the farm, so making it just before serving is not an option, which is why I specified that I need to make it today.
702551 February 18, 2016
Thank you for the additional details and context of this meal. It will undoubtedly be helpful for other people who respond to this inquiry.

Okay, my suggestion is to keep the (cooked) pasta and cheese sauce separate until just before serving. Also, you might be better off making several batches, each one what you think will be immediately consumed.
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