DELISH Gluten Free Baked Mac n Cheese
When I was first diagnosed with Celiac disease, my very first order of business was *FIND EDIBLE GLUTEN FREE MACARONI AND CHEESE.* I had no idea that my work was definitely cut out for me. Gluten free pasta is so incredibly different from regular pasta, and it can be difficult to really nail it down. Further, most processed gluten free macaroni and cheeses are the actual worst. There are a few exceptions to this rule which I will cover in a different post, I promise.
My first plan of action was to reach out to as many people as I possibly could. I figured there had to be people who have had this disease way longer than me who have already stumbled upon the mac n cheese holy grail... right? Negative. I was met with brick walls at every turn - but actually.
Now, listen... pre-diagnosis I proudly wore the Mac n Cheese Queen crown. I was the poster child for macaroni and cheese. I ate it practically every single day in college (my former roommates can attest to this). "No good gluten free mac and cheese" just WAS NOT going to work for me. Thus began my journey... my calling... find edible gluten free mac n cheese. Nay. Find DELICIOUS gluten free mac n cheese. And eventually, I did.
The first step is finding a gluten free pasta that you genuinely like. We burned through a dozen different brands and types and finally landed on Ronzoni brand. This is by far the sturdiest gluten free pasta we've found, closest to the taste of regular pasta. Ronzoni gluten free pasta is also very versatile and will likely appear in many of my recipes. I will concede that everyone has different tastes and preferences, our favorite may not be yours - find what works best for you!
I then tried a combination of different recipes that did not call for a roux. This was a surprisingly difficult process as most southern style macaroni and cheese recipes require a roux (which is when you create a sauce using flour). I was far too lazy to figure out how to make a roux sauce using gluten free flour, so we needed a faster, more fool-proof method.
The below recipe is tried and true and has become a staple in the Hickey House. I have brought it to family BBQs and have also made it as a simple weeknight dinner with a salad. Simple, delicious, and fool proof. Run, don't walk, you need to try this TODAY.
How do I cook gluten free pasta?
Gluten free pasta can be finicky, but we have gotten it down to a science. You'll want to start a large pot of water boiling. To the water, add about two teaspoons of olive oil and generous salt. The olive oil is going to help the pasta not stick together. Because most gluten free pastas are rice based, it can be very starchy which can lead to sticking... especially if you are making spaghetti. I cannot tell you how many knotted spaghetti nests we ended up with, due to the lack of olive oil. Gluten free pasta also does not need to cook as long as regular pasta, you will want to keep a close eye on it. Most of the time there will be a cook time suggestion on the back of the packaging, when in doubt refer to that!
Can I make this in the Crock-pot?
As stated above, gluten free pasta can be finicky. I have not had good luck with gluten free pasta in the Crock-pot. It typically ends up a little on the mushy side. That's not to say it CAN'T be done. If you decide to go this fateful route, I suggest cooking on low for a shorter amount of time. You can always cook longer, but you can't uncook something.
Can I freeze this?
I've said it once, I've said it twice.... gluten free pasta can be finicky. Freezing cooked gluten free pasta could land you with either a dry macaroni and cheese or a mushy macaroni and cheese. Overall, the process isn't very long - maybe an hour? I would stay cautious and just make it fresh.
If you decide to try this recipe out, please comment below and let me know how it turned out! Like and subscribe for more recipes, tips, and tricks in navigating Celiac Disease.
BAKED MACARONI & CHEESE
o 2 c. cooked, al dente, gluten free pasta
o 3 ¼ c. shredded cheese (any combination you want)
o 1/2 c. sour cream
o 1/2 c. mayo
o 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
o 14 oz. can evaporated milk
o Salt to taste
o Pepper to taste
o 1/2 tsp. dry mustard
o Gluten Free Italian Style Breadcrumbs (We like Ian's brand)
1. Cook Pasta according to package directions
2. Drain pasta and put back in pot, mix all ingredients except breadcrumbs and ¼ cup of cheese together
3. Grease a casserole dish and spread macaroni mixture in casserole dish
4. Cover mixture with remaining cheese and breadcrumbs
5. Bake at 350 for 45 mins, or until top is golden brown