White Wine Mac and Cheese is elegant, flavorful, and completely comforting! It has a delicious blend of creamy cheeses, fresh thyme, and your favorite white wine for the perfect grown-up mac and cheese recipe! Even better? It’s ready in just 30 minutes!
If it’s wrong to enjoy wine and cheese and carbs in any and all forms, then I don’t want to be right. And if you’re right there with me, then you’re in the right place.
My favorite type of meatless meals are, in fact, those that involve wine, cheese, and carbs. Like, hello Red Wine Spaghetti and Creamy Garlic Pasta. The combination is one of total comfort, and quite frankly, outta this world.
Combining white wine with creamy, flavorful cheeses, and pasta is absolutely magical. For those nights when you need a grown-up dinner that’s nostalgic of your childhood favorite, but better, this is it. It’s cozy, comforting, gourmet-esque, and the best home-cooked meal that hits the spot.
Even better? It’s pretty simple to make. Whether you are looking to enjoy it as a main dish for dinner or a side to other favorite main dishes, it’s quickly going to become a go-to recipe.
What Kind of Cheese Should I Use?
There are two primary kinds of cheese in this mac and cheese recipe: Taleggio and Monteray Jack. There’s a hint of parmesan cheese, too.
Taleggio Cheese is a semi-soft Italian cheese that yes, does have a somewhat strong smell, but actually a mild and slightly tangy flavor. It gives the cheese sauce in this mac and cheese its silky texture while adding a unique flavor that pairs beautifully with white wine.
If you can’t find taleggio, substitute it with double cream cheese, like Brie. For a more basic substitute, you can use mild white cheddar cheese; it will have a bit more tang and change the overall flavor slightly, but it’s a substitute that works if you can’t use Brie either.
Monterey Jack cheese delivers a creamy, melty, mild addition to the cheese sauce, rounding out the tang of the taleggio and the flavor burst from the white wine.
The Other Ingredients
In addition to the cheeses (hello, the MVP of this recipe…well, along with our white wine, of course), there are basic ingredients for homemade macaroni and cheese that you will need.
- Elbow-type Pasta: use a pasta shape that is smaller and will hold onto the cheese sauce well. Elbows are a traditional favorite when it comes to mac and cheese. You can also use shells, rotini, or pipe rigate.
- Butter: of course we’re sauteeing the aromatics in rich butter!
- Shallot and Garlic: these aromatics bring a lot of flavor to the mac.
- Heavy Cream and Whole Milk: the main creams in our cheesy sauce. You could also use half-and-half in place of the cream for a thinner sauce.
- Fresh Thyme: honestly, the thyme paired with the cheeses and white wine is an incredible combination – warm, comforting, and irresistible!
- Ground Mustard: adds a hint of uniqueness that you don’t really notice or outright taste, but it rounds out the rest of the flavors beautifully.
- White Pepper: pretty earthy and slightly pungent, it adds a unique heat to the mac and cheese. You can also substitute with freshly ground black pepper (or supplement with it, too).
- Panko: what’s better than breadcrumbs on baked macaroni and cheese?
- Flour: to create the roux and thicken the sauce.
What Kind of Wine is Best in Gourmet Mac and Cheese?
A white wine that you like to drink is the best in this recipe.
The like-to-drink part is key. There’s a substantial amount of wine in this mac and cheese, and because it doesn’t really reduce down, the flavor remains throughout the sauce. A wine you love will create the best flavor in the macaroni.
A rich, buttery Chardonnay has been my go-to when I make this recipe. It pairs so well with the creaminess of the cheeses. I tend to enjoy more dry wines all around, and for this recipe, I do think the drier wines complement the cheeses best.
Pinot Grigio or a drier Sauvignon Blanc would work well, too. Overall, I recommend staying away from anything too sweet, or you might end up with a little dessert mac and cheese instead of a rich, savory pasta.
How To Make Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
If you haven’t made homemade mac and cheese before, there’s no better time to start than NOW! You’re going to love how easy it actually is (ok, it’s no box but the trade-off is 100% worth it!).
The first thing is to boil the pasta. Cook the pasta a few minutes shy of al dente; you still want a slight crunch in the pasta. It will continue to cook when we bake the completed macaroni and cheese, and ensuring it’s not cooked all the way through means it will be done perfectly – not overdone.
With the pasta cooking, you can begin making the cheese sauce. Start with the roux, which is simply cooking fat and flour together to thicken sauces. Sautee the shallot and garlic in the melted butter, then whisk in the flour, continuing to stir for a minute or two while it cooks, preventing it from any burning. Be sure to add salt throughout the process to layer in the flavor as it will build upon each of the components.
Then whisk in the white wine, letting it reduce down slightly. Add in the cream and milk with the spices and thyme.
Make sure the dairy is at room temperature or slightly warmed to lukewarm temperature in the microwave before adding, so it does not shock the sauce.
Once combined, remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the shredded and diced cheeses until melted through. Drain the pasta, return it to the large saucepan and pour the cheese sauce in, stirring to combine completely.
Toast the panko breadcrumbs in a bit of butter until golden and toasty. Once the macaroni is transferred to a baking dish, top it with the toasted panko and bake until bubbly. If needed, low broil the panko until they’re all golden brown.
This macaroni and cheese is elegant and gourmet enough to make its way on the most special of dinner tables. Yes, including those holiday dinners like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Yet it’s easy and comforting to enjoy on cold winter nights when comfort food is a must-have, and it’s perfect for BBQs where mac and cheese is a requirement.
That being said, it pairs with a variety of meals and you really cannot go wrong. Here are a few of my “other sides” and main dishes that it pairs wonderfully with, yet it’s definitely not an exhaustive list.
- Roasted Broccolini
- Lemon Garlic Chicken or BBQ Ribs
- Rosemary Salmon
- A hearty green salad
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Store any leftover macaroni and cheese in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. To reheat, place macaroni in a saucepan for stovetop or a microwave-safe bowl. Add a little milk or vegetable stock and stir often while reheating loosen the sauce.
It can be found in the specialty cheese section of your grocery store. Whole Foods almost always has it. If you can’t find it, look for a double cream or Brie cheese in its place.
Yes, you can assemble in advance. Cover and place in the fridge up to a day in advance. If using a glass dish, let it come to room temperature before baking to ensure the dish doesn’t break. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
White Wine Macaroni and Cheese
- 1 pound dried macaroni pasta such as elbows or shells
- 6 Tablespoons butter divided
- 2 Tablespoons shallot finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 – 1 cup dry white wine
- 3/4 cup heavy cream room temperature
- 3/4 cup whole milk room temperature
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- Salt to taste
- 6-8 oz. taleggio cheese rind removed and diced
- 8 oz. Monterey jack cheese freshly shredded
- 1/3 cup freshly shredded parmesan optional
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Prepare a baking dish or casserole pan by lightly greasing the sides with butter. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta a few minutes short of al dente (about 3 minutes short of the suggested cook time on the package). You don't want the pasta to be fully cooked or it will be overcooked as it bakes. Drain and set aside if needed before the sauce is done.
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add shallot and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.
- Whisk in flour, continuing to whisk so it doesn't burn, for 1-2 minutes, letting it come to a low simmer and bubble. Then, whisk in white wine and let simmer (while whisking often) for 1-2 minutes.
- Whisk in room temperature heavy cream and milk, along with the thyme, ground mustard, white pepper, and salt (start small with the salt and test again after you've added the cheeses).
- Remove skillet from heat and stir in the freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese and diced Taleggio cheese, until melted. Pour cheese sauce over the noodles in a large saucepan until completely coated. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top, if using.
- In a separate small bowl, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and stir to combine with panko. Salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly across the parmesan on top of the macaroni and cheese in the baking dish.
- Bake at 375°F for 15-20 minutes to thicken, until bubbly and golden brown. Alternatively, you can just broil at 425° for 5-8 minutes until the top is golden brown if preferred (cook the noodles just under al dente if you just plan on broiling).