This baked mac and cheese recipe takes a classic comfort food and updates it with one of the trendiest seasonings right now – everything bagel seasoning!
First, this baked mac and cheese is still indulgent, but not like can’t-move-after-eating-it, feel-awful-the-rest-of-the-day indulgent. It’s still lusciously cheesy and creamy, and we can accomplish that without using heavy cream or whole milk.
Second. Homemade bread crumbs. Do it. All it takes is toasting some slices of bread and cutting them up into small pieces. That’s it! And it makes your topping so much better than using regular breadcrumbs.
Speaking of the topping: Everything bagel seasoning. I’m sure you’ve seen and/or heard of it. Trader Joe’s made it famous (obviously apart from the actual everything bagel) by selling just the seasoning, and people are putting it on everything! So like many others, I created my own unique everything blend and thought it would be amazing with mac and cheese. If you don’t already have all the separate seasonings feel free to use a store bought everything seasoning blend.
The secret to creating a thick and creamy sauce without needing a ton of heavy cream or whole milk is to make a roux with flour and butter. If you’ve never made one before, it’s not hard and I took lots of process pictures for you to follow along with below!
How to make a roux:
I use equal parts butter to flour when making a roux. So for the mac and cheese, use 1/4 cup (half a stick) of butter and 1/4 cup of flour. Melt the butter, then whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or two to cook out the flour taste. The mixture will look lumpy first, then smooth out and bubble.
Gently pour in the milk while whisking, and don’t worry about any clumps, those will break up as you whisk. Cook the mixture on medium low, whisking often so the milk doesn’t burn, until it thickens to a smooth and creamy sauce. The consistency we’re going for is along the lines of soupy mashed potatoes. (I know, not super appetizing but it was the best analogy I could come up with!)
Add the grated cheddar cheese and 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan (you’ll use the other 1/4 cup for the topping). Whisk gently until the sauce is smooth and creamy. Add in the cooked macaroni and mix to combine.
I used 1% milk here and got a lusciously smooth sauce. It tastes plenty rich enough with the lower fat milk, but you can certainly use 2% or whole milk, but I would not use skim. We still need some good dairy fat in here! I haven’t tried this with any non-dairy milk.
After you add the macaroni, all that’s left is your topping. We’re combining nice big chunks of toasted bread (carbs on carbs over here!), melted butter, the remaining parmesan cheese, and the coveted everything seasoning. Spread it over the top, toss in the oven for 15 minutes and dig in.
This recipe also easily doubles to feed a crowd, just make sure you have a large enough pan to cook it all in, or use two. Everything starts on the stove in a cast iron skillet, then moves to the oven to finish cooking. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, you can definitely use any other large skillet that is also oven safe, or just transfer your stove mixture to a glass 13×9 inch baking dish.
I hope you enjoy this twist on a classic!
Everything Bagel Seasoned Macaroni and Cheese
A little twist on a classic! This baked mac & cheese gets a boost of flavor from everyone's favorite bagel - everything seasoning!
- 8 oz macaroni
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (half stick)
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 1/2 cup milk (at least 1%)
- 8 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese grated
- 1/2 cup parmesan cheese divided
- 4 slices white bread
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1/2 tbsp onion powder or minced
- 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tbsp coarse sea salt reduce if using table salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook your macaroni according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
While the pasta is cooking, melt 4 tbsp of butter in a cast iron skillet or other oven safe skillet (or saucepan if you are using a glass baking dish for the oven).
Add 4 tbsp of flour and whisk, cooking for 1-2 minutes until slightly browned. Gradually, while whisking, add in 2 1/2 cups of milk. Cook on medium low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened to a soupy mashed potatoes consistency.
Stir in the grated cheddar cheese until melted, then add cooked macaroni. Stir until evenly coated.
Sprinkle topping on the macaroni and cheese. Bake for 15 minutes until cheese is bubbly and topping toasted.
For the topping:
Make your everything seasoning by combining all spices in a small bowl and set aside.
Toast 4 slices of bread until golden brown. Use a serrated knife to coarsely cut the bread into small cubes.
Combine the bread crumbs, 1/4 grated parmesan cheese, everything seasoning, and melted butter into a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Set aside.
- Feel free to use a combination of your favorite melting cheeses here.
- This can be made a day or two ahead of time, reheat in the oven, covered, until cheese is bubbling.