Classic Make-Ahead Macaroni And Cheese 


The Thanksgiving table wouldn't be complete without this staple, now easy to prepare in advance.

Classic Make-Ahead Macaroni And Cheese
Photo: Photographer: James Ransom; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely; Food Stylist: Ruth Blackburn
Active Time:
20 mins
Chill Time:
12 hrs
Total Time:
12 hrs 45 mins

Take away some of the stress of holiday cooking with a make-ahead macaroni and cheese this year. Assembled the night before, all there is left to do on the day of is to toss together the breadcrumb topping, and bake.

A blend of fontina and Monterey Jack, both super melty cheeses, replaces Cheddar in this version of the classic. The touch of nutmeg added to the cheese sauce adds a subtle warm and savory note you won't get with other mac and cheese recipes. (You've probably had it before in scalloped potatoes.)

If you're looking for the perfect dish to bring to a Thanksgiving potluck or buffet, this make-ahead dish is easy to transport and then heat once you arrive at the gathering.

You can also easily get creative with this recipe, from delicious add-ins to the breadcrumb topping, such as minced garlic or crushed French fried onions, to swapping the nutmeg for a touch of cayenne, mustard powder, or curry powder. No matter how you customize it, this mac and cheese will be an easy thing to cross off your long Thanksgiving to-do list.


  • 10 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni 

  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided 

  • 3 ½ cups heavy whipping cream

  • tsp. ground nutmeg 

  • 2 cups fontina cheese, shredded 

  • 1 ½ cups Monterey Jack cheese, shredded 

  • 1 ¼ tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more for salting water

  • 1 tsp. black pepper, divided 

  • 5 white bread slices 

  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook 4 minutes. (Pasta will not be fully cooked.) Drain and spread on a rimmed baking sheet to cool 10 minutes.

  2. Grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter. Return pasta to pot; stir in cream, nutmeg, 1 cup of the fontina, 3/4 cup of the Monterey Jack, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 3/4 teaspoon of the pepper until well blended. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1 cup fontina and 3/4 cup Monterey Jack. Cover dish; refrigerate at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours.

  3. When ready to bake, remove baking dish from refrigerator. Let stand 30 minutes while oven preheats to 400°F.

  4. Meanwhile, place white bread in a food processor. Pulse until coarse crumbs form, 6 to 8 pulses. Microwave remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a medium microwavable bowl on HIGH until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in breadcrumbs and remaining 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and toss until breadcrumbs are evenly coated. Uncover baking dish, and sprinkle casserole evenly with breadcrumb mixture.

  5. Bake in preheated oven until topping is golden brown, about 25 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

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