Brown Your Butter for Top-Tier Mac & Cheese and You’ll Never Go Back

Mac and cheese is a tried-and-tested comfort food favorite, as drool-worthy made from a boxed mix as it is made from scratch and given different twists. Having made countless variations over the years—swapping in other noodle shapes, adding in bacon or broccoli (or even mentaiko), using an elaborate blend of various cheeses—we thought we’d exhausted all options from easy to over-the-top, but our latest favorite also happens to be one of the most streamlined. This version carries all the creamy, cheesy, carb-crammed appeal of the classic, with an added nuttiness and depth from an ingenious component: brown butter.

For this author, the toasty bits on top are the best part!

Also known as beurre noisette, brown butter might sound like one of those fancy-schmancy culinary terms only trained chefs can execute. But that couldn’t be further from the truth; it’s easy to do right at home with a watchful eye and some patience. The process entails melting and cooking down butter until its proteins brown and develop a nutty, toasty character—and it’s just the thing to add dimension to the already-indulgent mix of milk, cheddar, and Monterey Jack cheese. After a quick trip under the broiler to give the mixture a welcome char, it’s ready to serve—dig in right from the skillet, if you please. (Don’t worry, nobody’s looking.)

Brown Butter Mac & Cheese



Serving Size

4-6 servings

Active Time

1 hour

Total Time

1 hour

  1. Preheat an oven to the broiler setting, or about 500F.
  2. In large (preferably oven safe) pot or skillet over medium-high heat, heat the butter until brown and nutty, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the flour and whisk, cooking for 3 minutes or until the flour loses its raw flavor and the brown butter has slightly thickened.
  4. Add the milk and water to the pot, stirring continuously to ensure no lumps form.
  5. Add the pasta and cook, stirring continuously for about 6-8 minutes, or until the noodles are just al dente and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Turn off the heat and add in all of the cheese and the mustard or mustard powder.
  7. Stir until all the cheese has melted and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Transfer the mac & cheese to an oven safe dish, or keep in oven safe skillet (if using).
  9. Place in the broiler for 2-4 minutes, or until the top is bubbling and charred in parts.
  10. Serve.

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