Best Macaroni Cheese Recipes For Dairy Lovers, Gluten Free And Vegans

Here are our five favourite macaroni recipes to cook up the ultimate comfort meal.

Macaroni cheese recipe

by Ellen Kinsey |
Updated on

A comforting macaroni dish served piping hot and melty out of the oven is our idea of the perfect winter warmer dinner. You really can't beat a good old macaroni cheese recipe - and nobody has to miss out; dietary requirements and all. Whether you are a die-hard cheese lover that wants five types of dairy, are plant-based and are looking for the next best (or better) thing. Or perhaps you are looking for a healthier take on the comforting classic, then our five favourite macaroni recipes that even the fussiest eater can't refuse will end up on regular rotation.

We love that macaroni cheese is so versatile; you can find anything from an alternative cheese sauce made from cashew or butternut squash (don't knock it until you've tried it) to a Caribbean macaroni pie that takes mac 'n' cheese to a whole other level. You can also find gluten-free macaroni pasta in the free-from aisle, so even wheat-free foodies can tuck in.

Related: Best Frying Pans To Improve Your Cooking Skills

So without further ado, let's take a look at the best macaroni recipes for every occasion and what you will need to get cooking. Our stomachs are already growling thinking of the gooey goodness.

A Modern Kitchen's Five Best Macaroni Recipes

Best classic macaroni recipe

Mac n cheese

RECIPE: Mary Berry Macaroni Cheese with Cherry Tomato Topping

When we think of comforting homemade meals, the first person that comes to mind is Mary Berry - the nation's cherished grandmother. With this being a classic mac 'n' cheese recipe, you can expect to find common ingredients from your cupboard or that you can pick up at a local supermarket. The cooking method is easy to follow and perfect every time.

This recipe was taken from Mary Berry's Cookery Course book, which recommends serving it alongside a chunk of crusty bread and will no doubt go down a treat with the whole family.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Nutrition: Calories: 543 Saturated fat: 17g Unsaturated fat: 11g Sodium: 496mg


• 30g (1oz) butter, plus extra for greasing
• 200g (7oz) short-cut macaroni
• 30g (1oz) plain flour
• 600ml (1 pint) hot milk
• 115g (4oz) mature Cheddar cheese, grated
• 60g (2oz) Parmesan cheese, grated
• 1 rounded tsp Dijon mustard
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley, to garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 200C (fan 180C/400F/Gas 6). Lightly grease a medium, shallow baking dish. Cook the macaroni in a pan of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes (or according to packet instructions) until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain well and set aside.

2. While the macaroni is cooking, melt the butter in a large pan. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1–2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually stir in the milk. Return to the heat, bring to the boil, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens. Lower the heat and simmer for about 4–5 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce is thick and smooth.

3. Remove the sauce from the heat. Mix the two cheeses together. Stir the mustard into the sauce with most of the cheese (reserve a handful for the topping) and the macaroni, then season with salt and pepper.

4. Spoon the macaroni cheese into the baking dish, then scatter over the halved cherry tomatoes and the reserved cheese. Season with pepper. Bake for about 15–20 minutes until golden and bubbling. For a browner topping, finish off quickly under a hot grill. Garnish with parsley.

Best macaroni pie recipe:


RECIPE: Original Flava Honey Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Nothing says 'home comfort food' more than macaroni cheese - and this Caribbean-style macaroni pie from Jamaican cookbook Original Flava takes the beloved dish to a whole other height. Everyone knows mac ’n’ cheese, but for the Caribbean twist, things are spiced up. Authors Craig and Shaun McAnuff, are two brothers from South London who have written down recipes passed down from generations of their family. Their Jamaican recipes are not for the faint-hearted, so if you like a little spice, this is for you.

Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 6-8


• 1 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 medium onion, finely diced
• 2 tsp salt
• 1kg dried macaroni
• 1 tbsp butter
• 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
• 500ml evaporated or whole milk
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 100g plain flour
• 1 tsp mustard
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp honey, plus extra to taste
• 1 tsp chilli powder
• 1 scotch bonnet pepper, deseeded and diced
• 300g red Leicester cheese, grated
• 300g mild Cheddar, grated
• 300g mozzarella, grated
• 50g cream crackers, crushed into very fine crumbs (or use cheese crackers or Doritos)


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat then add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft. Set aside.

2. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the salt and macaroni then cook for 10 minutes (do not fully cook as it will also go in the oven). Drain, return to the pan, add the butter and 1 tsp black pepper and mix well.

3. For the sauce, pour the milk into a bowl then add the eggs, flour, mustard, paprika, honey, chilli powder, remaining pepper, scotch bonnet and softened onion. Add 100g of each cheese to the mixture and whisk.

4. Pour the sauce onto the pasta and stir; this should give it a creamy, cheesy look. Get a large casserole dish and spoon in a layer of macaroni, about one-third of the dish height, then sprinkle with a third of the remaining cheeses. Add another layer of macaroni and sprinkle with more cheeses. Repeat these steps until you’ve used all the pasta, saving a good amount of cheese for the top layer.

4. Once the top layer is covered with cheeses, give it more added flava by sprinkling over the cracker crumbs, then bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the inside is bubbling and the top is crispy. Once cooked, drizzle extra honey over to taste.

Best healthy vegetable-based cheese free mac 'n' cheese recipe:

Sainsbury mac n cheese

RECIPE: Sainsbury's Vegan Mac 'n' Cheese

Sainsbury's butternut squash-based cheese sauce is creamy, delicious and naturally healthy. Perfect for hiding veggies if you have fussy eaters in your household. The addition of the beautiful crispy sage and the crusty breadcrumbs make this such a hearty multi-levelled dish with gorgeous winter and autumnal flavours.

Preparation Time: 25 minutes - total time 1 hour 10

Serves: 4

Nutrition: Calories: 666 Saturated fat: 21g Sodium: 1.8gr


• 1 large butternut squash (about 1kg), peeled, deseeded and chopped into small, even pieces (about 2cm)
• 1 onion, roughly chopped
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 800ml hot vegan vegetable stock
• 1 tbsp chopped sage leaves, plus 1 tsp for the topping
• 350g dried egg-free macaroni
• 200g cherry tomatoes, halved
• 100g Deliciously Freefrom cheddar-style ‘cheese’, grated (optional)
• 50g day-old white bread, grated into breadcrumbs (make sure the bread is dairy-free)
• 40g blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 220C, fan 200C, gas 6.

2. Arrange the butternut squash and onion on a large baking tray and drizzle with olive oil. Season and roast in the oven for 30 minutes until the butternut squash is tender and the onion is soft.

3. In batches, blend the roasted butternut squash and onion with the hot stock and the chopped sage until completely smooth. Puréeing squash to create a sauce makes this vegan macaroni just as gooey and comforting as the traditional dish. This recipe has some vegan "cheese" in the topping, but it's also good without

4. Tip the dried macaroni into an ovenproof dish (about 2.5 litre capacity – around 20 x 28cm) and pour over the hot butternut squash sauce. Season well with salt and mix together. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes, remove and roughly arrange the cherry tomatoes on top. Combine the grated 'cheese', if using, breadcrumbs, hazelnuts and sage and scatter over the top. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes until the topping is golden and crisp, and the sauce is bubbling at the edges.

Best showstopping macaroni cheese recipe:

Mob french onion mac n cheese

RECIPE: Mob's French Onion Mac & Cheese

This pairing is out of this world - crispy golden breadcrumb, beautifully caramelised onion with rich gruyère cheese - the topping is ridiculously good and will be a vegetarian showstopper. This recipe from Mob Kitchen is a fantastic way to take your macaroni to the next level. Despite there being a few ingredients that may not be so easy to come by, it comes together fairly easily, and the end result will be worth it.

Preparation Time: 50 minutes

Serves: 4


• 100g Butter
• 3 Large Onions
• 187ml White Wine
• Few Sprigs of Thyme
• 450g Macaroni
• 4 Tbsp Plain Flour
• 800ml Whole Milk
• 200g Gruyère
• 200g Extra Mature Cheddar
• 1 Heaped Tsp Dijon Mustard
• 100g Breadcrumbs
• Salt
• Pepper


1. Finely slice the onions. Get a frying pan over medium heat. Melt a third of the butter in the pan. Add the onions with a good pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until completely collapsed, soft and caramelised. This will take around 30 minutes.

2. Once the onions are cooked, pour in the white wine and add the thyme, stripping the leaves from the stalks straight into the pan. Leave to bubble away by half, then take the pan off the heat. The onions can be done in advance and kept in the fridge.

3. Cook the macaroni in a large pan of boiling salted water for two minutes less than the packet instructions. Drain once ready.

4. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce. Melt the remaining butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour, and whisk to combine - this is your roux. Whisking constantly, slowly pour the cold milk into the flour mixture, adding a little at a time, in order to get a smooth sauce. Once all the milk has been added, bubble the sauce away for 5 minutes until thickened.

5. Grate in all the cheddar and half the gruyere cheese. Once the cheese has melted take the sauce off the heat, add the dijon mustard and season with salt and pepper.

6. Add the cooked macaroni and caramelised onions into the cheese sauce, reserving a tablespoon of the onions. Mix well to combine, and then top with the remaining onions, a grating of gruyère and your breadcrumbs. Add a handful more thyme leaves.

7. Place under the grill until bubbling and golden brown. Remove from the oven and tuck in. Enjoy!

Best classic vegan mac'n'cheese

Bosh mac

This recipe was provided by BOSH! from their Speedy BOSH! recipe book and is the ultimate classic macaroni cheese recipe for vegans looking for the closest thing to the real deal. Similar to a dairy mac 'n' cheese recipe, this dish calls for vegan cheese and breadcrumbs but has the welcome addition of cashews to give it that extra creaminess and richness.

Serves: 4-6

Prep Time: 5 minutes and cooking time: 7 minutes


• 300g macaroni 
• 750ml unsweetened plant-based milk 
• 50g cashew nuts 
• 40ml olive oil 
• 1 garlic clove 
• 40g flour 
• 100g dairy-free cheese 
• 3 tbsp nutritional yeast 
• 2 tsp Dijon mustard 
• 50g fresh breadcrumbs 
• 2 tbsp olive oil 
• Salt and black pepper


1. Preheat grill to high. Large saucepan of salted water on a high heat. Medium saucepan on medium-high heat. Power blender. Large ovenproof frying pan. Microplane or fine grater. Whisk.

2. Cook the macaroni: Bring the pan of salted water to boil. Add the macaroni and cook for one minute less than stated on the packet instructions. Drain.

3. Meanwhile, make the nut milk mixture: Put the almond milk and cashews into the medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to cool. Transfer the mixture to the power blender and blitz until smooth.

4. Make the sauce: Put the frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Peel the garlic and grate it straight into the pan. Cook for a couple of minutes until just starting to brown. Add the flour to the pan and whisk until it combines with the garlicky oil to make a paste.  Cook for one minute. Reduce the heat to low. Slowly pour in a little of the nut milk mixture and whisk until completely combined. Keep adding more, little by little, whisking until all the nut milk is incorporated. Cook for two minutes. Grate the dairy-free cheese. Add the nutritional yeast, mustard and cheese to the pan. Stir to mix, adding a splash more almond milk if the mixture is too thick. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper. Drain the cooked macaroni. Take the pan of sauce off the heat and tip in the drained pasta. Stir to coat the pasta in the sauce.

5. Make the topping:  Put the breadcrumbs, olive oil and a big pinch of salt and pepper into a bowl and stir to mix. Scatter the crumbs over the pasta

6. Finish: Place the pan under the grill and cook for two to three minutes, keeping a close eye on it, until the topping is crispy. Serve.

What Do I Need To Get Started?

Here is a list of ingredients you'll need to make a delicious macaroni cheese recipe.


Macaroni cheese recipe checklist

Prestige Nadiya Hussain Cast Iron Frying Pan1 of 9

Prestige Nadiya Hussain Cast Iron Frying Pan, 25cm

This cast iron frying pan is durable and versatile and can be used on any hob, in the oven and even on a barbecue - perfect for melting the cheese and getting that crisp finish on your macaroni dish.

Pyrex Signature Ceramic Rectangular Roaster Oven Dish2 of 9

Pyrex Signature Ceramic Rectangular Roaster Oven Dish, Grey

This ceramic dish with an easy grip handle is perfect for safely handling hot melty macaroni cheese.

Le Creuset Stoneware Petite Round Casserole,3 of 9

Le Creuset Stoneware Petite Round Casserole

With this miniature round casserole, you can bake individual portions of macaroni and serve them straight to the table for dinner guests. Available in a choice of colours, the enamelled exterior of this Le Creuset casserole dish is easy to clean and is scratch-resistant so that it keeps looking pristine.

Sainsbury's Macaroni 500g4 of 9

Sainsbury's Macaroni Pasta 500G

These macaroni shells are a must-have.

Sainsbury's Deliciously Free From Macaroni 500g5 of 9

Sainsbury's Deliciously Free From Macaroni 500g

This gluten-free macaroni pasta is made from rice, maise and quinoa flours.

Sainsbury's British Mature Grated Cheddar Cheese 250g6 of 9

Sainsbury's British Mature Grated Cheddar Cheese 250g

Grated cheese is the easiest way to cook up a mac 'n' cheese.

Violife Original Flavour Grated 200g7 of 9

Violife Original Flavour Grated 200g

This coconut oil-based vegan cheese will give you the same melty result as regular cheese.

Sainsbury's Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese 200g8 of 9

Sainsbury's Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese 200g

Take your dish up a notch with this Parmigiano Reggiano DOP medium-fat hard cheese to grate on top of your dish before melting it in the oven.

Tesco Panko Breadcrumbs 150G9 of 9

Tesco Panko Breadcrumbs 150G

The easiest hack to a crispy mac'n'cheese topping.

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