This is the BEST gluten free mac and cheese recipe that tastes just like the classic. It’s rich, creamy and only takes about 15-20 minutes to make! Enjoy it straight from the pot, or bake it for a crispy, cheesy topping.
Mac and cheese is my ultimate comfort food. Anyone else? Pasta is always comforting, but when it’s smothered in a luscious cheese sauce, it’s the best.
This gluten free mac and cheese is so easy to make, ready one the pasta is done cooking and can be served straight from the pot or baked to get a crispy top!
You can serve it just as is, toss in some frozen peas for some veggies, add some shredded chicken for a little twist and some more protein.
I opted for mozzarella and cheddar in the sauce which creates a rich but not overpowering flavor. Fee free to mix in some parmesan to enhance the flavor, or sub the sharp cheddar for mild for a more tame flavor.
There’s so many gluten free mad and cheese’s on the market these days- from Kraft, to Annie’s and everything in between. But making it homemade is so much better and you’re in control of the ingredients.
If you love this recipe, try my sweet potato mac and cheese next for a vegan, but still creamy and delicious, dinner.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Quick and easy
- Rich, creamy and full of flavor
- Freezer friendly
- Can be baked!
- Nut Free
PASTA. I love using brown rice pasta because it has the most similar texture to traditional pasta. You can sub for a chickpea or legume based pasta for added protein.
I used elbows for a classic gluten free mac and cheese, but shells are also a great choice.
BUTTER. Butter adds a lot of richness to mac and cheese, so we’ll be using a full 4 tablespoons in this recipe.
FLOUR. We’ll mix the melted butter with some gluten free all purpose flour to create a roux which will help thicken the cheese sauce.
MILK. I used plain unsweetened almond milk because that’s what I usually have on hand, but you can use 2% milk, skim milk or another non-dairy milk like soy or cashew. I don’t recommend oat or coconut milk because they are naturally sweeter.
CHEESE. This is where you can get creative! I used a mix of sharp cheddar and mozzarella to offset some of the sharpness from the cheddar, but you can also add in some parmesan for a richer flavor.
I used an orange sharp cheddar, but you can definitely use a white cheddar.
SPICES. Salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder just add more flavor here! Paprika and mustard powder are also delicious, or just keep it classic with salt and pepper.
How to make gluten free mac and cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauce pan. Whisk in the flour until smooth.
Slowly pour in the milk, then add in the salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders and simmer over low heat until the milk starts to thicken.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheeses until melted. I like this particular combination of cheeses for a creamy and sharp flavor that’s not too sharp, but you can easily customize depending on your preference.
Taste and adjust as desired. Combine the sauce with the pasta and stir to combine. It will thicken as it cools and sits, so don’t worry if it’s quite saucey right now.
Bake or broil!
If you want to “bake”, transfer to a large baking or casserole dish, top with about 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup of parmesan and simply broil on high for 3-5 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Be careful when you broil because it can burn the top easily since broiling is just cooking from the top down, so keep a close eye!
It is much faster than baking the whole thing, and keeps the center of the mac and cheese really cheesy. Baking will cause some of the cheese to absorb into the noodles a bit more.
How to prevent mushy gluten free pasta
Use enough water. If you don’t use enough water to cook your gluten free pasta, the excess starch can create a really gummy texture.
Cook just until al dente. Don’t over-cook your pasta! You should follow the instructions on your pasta box as the time will depend on the type of pasta (brown rice, white rice, corn, chickpea etc.) as well as the shape.
Rinse with cold water. When the pasta is done cooking, rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. This will ensure the pasta doesn’t over cook and get gummy or mushy.
How to store and freeze mac and cheese
This gluten free mac and cheese recipe will store in the fridge for up to 5 days. I like to store it either right in the pot with the lid on, or in the baking dish covered with foil if you end up baking it.
Reheat either on the stove, microwave or pop back in the oven if you baked it and want to get some of the crispy top back!
To freeze, add the cooked and cooled mac and cheese to a freezer safe container or bag and freeze for up to 2 months.
Let that in the fridge, then reheat in the oven until warm. The pasta may fall apart a bit, this is just the nature of gluten free pasta, but it will still be delicious.
As it sits in either the fridge or freezer, some of the sauce will be absorbed into the pasta, so you can add some more milk or cheese when you reheat to ensure it’s nice and creamy.
Try these gluten free dinner recipes next!
Gluten Free Mac and Cheese
by: claire cary
- 1 pound dried gluten free pasta
- ¼ cup butter
- 4 tablespoons gluten free all purpose flour
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- ½ teaspoon salt or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- Optional: 1/3 cup grated parmesan for a richer/sharper flavor
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a sauce pan.
- Whisk in the flour until smooth.
- Slowly pour in the milk, then add in the salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders and simmer over low heat until the milk starts to thicken, whisking regularly.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheeses until melted. I like this particular combination of cheeses for a creamy and sharp flavor that's not too sharp, but you can easily customize depending on your preference.
- Taste and adjust as desired.
- Combine the sauce with the pasta and stir to combine.
- If you want to create a "baked" mac and cheese, transfer to a baking dish, top with about 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup of parmesan and broil for 3-5 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Broiling works better than baking for this recipe because it will crisp the top without drying out the mac and cheese and keep it nice and cheesy!
- Serve immediately and enjoy!