Overhead shot of the completed dish and the book that inspired it, The New Rules of Cheese

Monger Mac & Cheese

Monger Mac & Cheese

Are you a cheese lover? Do you have a dedicated drawer in your fridge just for cheese? Are you craving something insanely comforting? Do you find yourself with an excess of cheese nubs? Are you someone who can’t decide upon the superior noodle shape for mac & cheese?!

If you answered yes to any of these questions, this recipe is for you!

Debate was raging on my Instagram account about which noodle shape is the best for Mac & Cheese. I had to find out once and for all! I based my recipe off of the guidelines in The New Rules of Cheese and dubbed it “Monger Mac & Cheese”. Named for all the cheesemongers past and present who inspire me every day!

Ingredients for mac & cheese
The bits and nubs I had were Alpine, a few Cheddars, Havarti, and a Red Leicester (which was perhaps a tad to hard for mac)
Process photo of shredding the cheeses for mac & cheese
Shred, shred, shred! A kitchen scale helps ensure you get to at least 1.5 lbs of cheese!
Overhead shot of the shredded cheese mixture and the two noodle types that were up for debate
Mix up your blend of cheeses and have yourself an existential crisis over noodle shapes!


  • 1.5 lbs of assorted shredded cheese (raid your fridge and shred/cube some nubs!)
  • 4 Tbs salted butter
  • 3 Tbs all-purpose flour
  • ~2 cups milk, half-and-half, or whole milk (you can even supplement with water – just need about 2 cups liquid)
  • Salt & pepper (and any other seasonings you desire)
  • 1 lb of dried pasta (in our case we used 1/2 lb of two separate types of pasta because we were doing a very scientific experiment!)
Side-by-side mac & cheese styles. Squiggles vs elbows!
Are you on team squiggles or team chunky elbows? Or a totally different team that will send me into another tizzy?!
Ron my cat offering moral support in the kitchen
Good thing I had cheeky oven mitts and my emotional support cat Ronald to get me through this noodle shape saga!


  • Prep – Shred and/or cube your assorted cheese nubs. You need at least 1.5 lbs! It feels like absolutely too much cheese you’re on the right track!
  • Prep – Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.
  • Mix – Make sure your cheese shreds/bits are evenly incorporated.
  • Make Roux – Melt the butter in a decently large pan over medium heat. Add the flour, cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add your 2 cups liquid and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 3 minutes.
  • Make Cheese Sauce – Add half of your cheese shreds/bits to the roux and cook over low heat, stirring, until smooth and melty. Stir in any seasonings, add a little salt and pepper, taste and adjust.
  • Cook Pasta & Assemble – Pick your favorite noodle shape (easier said than done!!!). Cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta and return to the pot. Add the cheese sauce to the pot of pasta, add in half of the remaining cheese shreds/bits. Dump cheesy pasta into the greased baking dish. Top with the remaining shreds/bits.
  • Bake – Bake the Mac & Cheese for about 30-35 mins. Broil for the last few minutes if you like crispy cheesy bits! Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.
  • Enjoy!
Side-by-side mac & cheese is out of the oven and looking delicious!
Out of the oven and looking DELICIOUS!
Overhead shot of the completed dish and the book that inspired it, The New Rules of Cheese
After running this highly empirical examination, I can conclude that MY preferred noodle shape for mac & cheese is… chunky elbows! What’s yours?

Some questions for additional discourse:

What cheese and/or cheeses are your favorites for mac & cheese?

Do you use the same cheese every single time, or do you work with whatever ya got?

Have you ever had a failed mac & cheese attempt? i.e. a cheese that just wouldn’t melt? (For me, I’ll avoid the Red Leicester next time…)

What’s YOUR favorite noodle shape for mac & cheese?

Does mac & cheese belong on a Thanksgiving table?

Do you view mac & cheese as a “special treat” or part of your standard dinner rotation?

I have so many questions for you all! I hope this recipe inspired you to get creative in the kitchen and celebrate cheese!

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