What is the Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese? [Full Guide!]

Amazing mac n cheese recipes call for the best cheese or the best combination of cheese that has been used in the recipe. Ever wondered which cheese elevates your mac n cheese to another level. Cheddar is an all time classic but there are many other options apart from cheddar that can be added to the dish.

Wondering which all cheeses can be used to make the cheese sauce for mac n cheese? Then you have come to the right place. Here in this article, we aim to cover the different types of cheese used to make a fantastic cheese sauce or Mornay Sauce for your mac n cheese.

Classic mac n cheese mostly makes the addition of cheddar cheese. Gruyere works beautifully as well since it very similar to Cheddar. Some other cheese that are a great addition are Monterey Jack, Colby, Havarti, Fontina, Gouda.

Let us understand how you can get the best cheese sauce for mac n cheese whether you are making a cheese sauce with bechamel sauce as your base or by mixing two or more cheese together.

Should you use more than one cheese for Mac n Cheese?

You do not need to use more than one cheese if you are making a bechamel sauce for your mac n cheese. However, if you aren’t making a bechamel sauce then you need to combine two or more cheeses together for stability and texture.

Mac and Cheese use Classic Mornay Sauce (which is an addition of grated cheese to a basic bechamel sauce) the cheese sauce for the dish. However, there are quite a few variations made to the cheese sauce which have evolved over time. The Classic version of the Mornay Sauce uses two types of cheese – Gruyere and Parmesan- to achieve the sauce’s smooth, velvety texture.

You can combine the cheese according to your choice and preference such as Monterey Jack, Colby, Gruyere, Parmesan, etc. However, you need to learn which cheese works best in combination with other cheeses.

Related Reading: How Much Macaroni and Cheese Per Person? [With Calculator!]

What 3 cheeses go well together for mac and cheese?

The three kinds of cheese that go well together for a classic mac n cheese are Cheddar with Monterey Jack and Colby. Or if you want to up your game and make the best cheese sauce for Mac n cheese then you may go for Cheddar with Colby Jack(a combination of Monterey Jack and Colby cheese in cubes) with a touch of Parmesan.

These combinations of cheese work well if you aren’t making a bechamel sauce as your base for mac n cheese. Although, if you would like to make a bechamel sauce then you have a wider range of options to choose from in fact you need not even use a combination of cheese, a simple addition of cheddar will also work well. However, making a bechamel sauce ensures that the cheese doesn’t separate easily.

Related Reading: How to Make Roux for Macaroni and Cheese? [Step-by-Step Guide!]

What cheese melts best for mac and cheese?

A few kinds of cheese that melt the best are Monterey Jack, Colby, Colby Jack, Cheddar, Havarti, Gruyere, Fontina, and American processed cheese.

It’s best to avoid pre-shredded cheeses such as Cheddar as they have added stabilizers that greatly influence the final outcome and texture of the sauce. It’s highly recommended to grate your own cheese.

Although Gruyere melts well you would like to use gruyere cheese with bechamel sauce as the base as it has a tendency to separate easily. So, either you add it to a sauce or be extra careful while using gruyere because of its tendency to separate.

You definitely want a cheese for your cheese sauce that has excellent melting properties. A good melting cheese will give a texture to your sauce as well as ensure that the sauce coats the pasta well.

What cheese is good for baked mac and cheese?

The cheese that goes well in a classic southern style baked mac n cheese are cheddar, gruyere, colby, Monterey Jack, American, Havarti, Fontina, Parmesan, Gouda, or Cream Cheese.

Baked mac n cheese generally incorporates all the ingredients in the baking dish and is then put in the oven to cook well. There are a few things that you will have to ensure while choosing the cheese for a baked mac n cheese that the cheese shouldn’t be too dry.

In general it is true for all mac n cheese but especially for a baked version as it is difficult to adjust the moisture content. While selecting cheese you go make a combination of soft cheeses and hard cheese as well this will ensure that it has enough moisture content even when you add in the breadcrumbs otherwise the mac n cheese will turn out dry, crumbly and flaky.

Related Reading: Why is My Macaroni and Cheese Grainy? [And How to Fix It?]

11 Best Cheese for Mac n Cheese

Here is a list of a few of the best cheeses that can be used for mac n cheese. However, we recommend using a combination of a few kinds of cheese to bring out the best flavors and textures.

1. Cheddar

This is the classic American Cheese option for making Mac n cheese. Cheddar is the single most commonly used cheese in mac n cheese. Also, it can be used alone without the combination of other cheeses and it will still impart a rich flavor and texture.

Cheddar is sharp cheese but not too overly sharp, it melts well as well as it is easy to combine with other cheeses. A semi-moist cheddar is recommended to be used over a dry, crumbly textured cheddar cheese. It is always recommended that you shred your Cheddar at home as pre-shredded cheddar contains stabilizers that can greatly influence your sauce.

Cheddar can be mixed with Parmesan alone or a combination of Cheddar. Monterey Jack and Colby also is a good combination for mac n cheese.

Related Reading: Too Much Milk in Macaroni and Cheese? [Here’s How to Fix It!]

2. Parmesan

It is a great cheese in itself but can not be used alone in mac n cheese. It needs to be used in a combination with other cheese. Also, a little parmesan goes a long way. As it might be dry but packs a lot of flavors. It is salty and nutty and has a slight umami flavor.

Parmesan with Cheddar is one of the best combinations for mac n cheese.

3. Gruyere

Gruyere is perfect for a gourmet mac n cheese as it provides a nutty, salty and luscious flavor because of its creamy texture and high-fat content. It melts superbly and truly enhances your mac n cheese making it stand out from the rest of the cheeses.

This swiss cheese is made from cow’s milk and although not a classic choice but definitely a great choice to add a burst of flavor to the dish.

4. American or Processed

It is one of the cheeses with excellent melting abilities and is commonly available too. It is used in a wide variety of dishes from hamburgers, sandwiches, omelets, pizza, au gratins, fondue, etc. In fact, it is also used with fruit as it blends well with the flavors of the fruit.

Since it has excellent melting abilities and is very versatile it can be used in almost any dish. It is a great cheese to be added to mac n cheese as well. As it blends well in the dish and elevates the flavor.

However, if you are not a big fan of processed cheese you can choose from the options in the list. After all, processed cheese is only about 50% cheese and the other 50% are noncheese ingredients which help it stabilize and bring out the texture.

Related Reading: Can You Use Heavy Cream Instead of Milk in Macaroni and Cheese?

5. Monterey Jack

This cheese is a classic American cheese born in California. It is a farmer’s cheese made from cow’s milk. It has two varieties soft cheese which is about 1 month aged and dry cheese which is aged for 6 months.

Mac n cheese recipes would require to use of a softer version of Monterey Jack Cheese which is 1 month aged. It has excellent melting abilities and is very similar to Cheddar and Colby. In fact, it is often times paired with Colby to make Colby-Jack, or with Cheddar to produce Cheddar-JackCheese.

Pepper Jack is another version that is popularly made with chilies, bell peppers, and herbs.

6. Colby or Colby Jack

Colby cheese is very similar to cheddar. Unlike cheddar, it is mild and not as sharp. It is also very similar to Monterey Jack Cheese with the added sweetness and nuttier taste. It is very mild and sweet so you will need to pair it with a stronger cheese for flavor.

Colby melts superbly just like cheddar. Colby Jack is a marbled cheese version paired with Monterey Jack. Since the two are very similar thus pairing them together is easy. You can use Colby or Colby Jack but you will have to use it in a combination of a stranger cheese to bring out the flavors.

7. Havarti

This Danish cheese is creamy, buttery, salty with a sharp after taste. It’s semi soft, almost melting at room temperature. It’s has excellent melting capability, as well as it blends well with other cheeses. Thus, it is one of the great options to add flavor and texture in combination of other cheeses for a great mac n cheese sauce.

8. Fontina

‘This Italian cheese is made from cow’s milk and has gradually gained popularity. It’s semisoft to hard texture with mild to medium sharp flavor. It has a nutty and a salty flavor. It has excellent melting abilities with a good flavor profile and a runny texture it is a great addition to mac n cheese. However, keep in mind to remove the rind before adding the cheese to the dish.’This Italian cheese is made from cow’s milk and has gradually gained popularity. It’s semisoft to hard texture with mild to medium sharp flavor. It has a nutty and a salty flavor. It has excellent melting abilities with a good flavor profile and a runny texture it is a great addition to mac n cheese. However, keep in mind to remove the rind before adding the cheese to the dish.

9. Gouda

Gouda pronounced “How-da” as it is pronounced. This cheese originated in Netherlands and is one of the cheese that has been there for quite a few centuries, originating in the 12th century. It is one of the most popular cheeses in the world accounting for almost 50 – 60% of the consumption of cheese worldwide.

It is a semi-hard cheese with a unique flavor and a creamy texture. Gouda is a complex cheese as at different stages of its development it has a different tastes and textures. Such as a younger Gouda will have a milder flavor and an aged Gouda will have a shaper distinct flavor.

In America, commercially produced Gouda is more popular than the Dutch Gouda.

10. Cream Cheese

Cream Cheese is basically a soft smooth cheese made with either cream or a mix or milk and cream. It has almost gooey texture, and just a basic flavour of cheese. Generally to make mac n cheese creamy you need to make a bechamel sauce, that is the easiest way to do it.

However, using cream cheese in a combination of one or more cheese will make an excellent cheese sauce. You will need to add another sharp cheese as cream cheese does not have a flavor of it own.

11. Goats Cheese

It has a distinct flavor profile. It has an pungent taste with a bit of tanginess. It is a good option for those people who are lactose intolerant or would like to have a dairy flavor but go dairy free. It is easier to digest compared to milk from cows, as well as it is much lower in fat and cholesterol than cow’s milk.

Worst Cheese for Mac n Cheese

1. Feta

Feta Cheese is a Greek brined white cheese made from sheep’s milk or a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk. It is soft and crumbly with a slight grainy texture. The blocks of feta are left to mature in the brine. It does not blend well in a cheese sauce as it is acidic from the brine and still retains the moisture from the brine.

While adding it in the cheese sauce it will give a tangy flavor and although it melts but the texture turns grainy. Which isn’t appealing in a cheese sauce. However, a lot of people do use feta in their recipes and there are quite a few recipes available with feta in them for mac n cheese. Since you have so many other cheeses wy would anyone want to use feta.

2. Queso Fresco

Queso Fresco or fresh cheese or Cottage cheese or farmer’s cheese as it is also popularly called. Queso fresco does not blend well in a cheese sauce due to its grainy texture. This cheese also does not have any flavor and has a super grainy texture which does not blend in the cheese sauce.

More Related Articles

Here are some more articles related to Macaroni and Cheese that you may find interesting!

  1. Should You Put Egg in Macacroni and Cheese? [Here’s a Complete Guide!]
  2. Why is Your Macaroni and Cheese Oily? [And How to Fix It!]
  3. Is Pasta and Macaroni the Same? [Here’s the Difference!]
  4. Can You Use Pizza Sauce for Pasta? [Here’s a Better Way!]
  5. Is Pizza and Pasta Flour the Same? [Here’s the Differences!]

Similar Posts