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This four cheese mac and cheese is an all-time family favorite! It's a classic, creamy stove-top recipe made with only real ingredients, and no baking is required. It's easy to make, and it's ready in just 30 minutes!
This four cheese mac and cheese recipe is a staple in our kitchen any time of year. It's delicious, comforting, and everyone enjoys it. If you love Applebees four cheese mac and cheese, you are going to love this homemade version.
It's a no-bake recipe that uses the classic stovetop method and results in an extra creamy dish that's anything but dried out. You don't even need to turn on the oven!
To make it, we start by making a classic béchamel sauce which is basically butter, flour, and milk. Then we stir in the cheese and dijon mustard and season with salt and pepper. Stir in some cooked macaroni, and voilà. Ooey gooey cheesy pasta!
Enjoy it on its own or with a protein main or vegetable side. It's a quick and easy meal for weeknights but it's also elevated enough for special occasions (and it tastes great with a glass of wine).
Four cheese mac and cheese ingredients
Here's everything you'll need to make this four cheese mac and cheese that tastes just like Applebee's!
- Elbow macaroni – we used regular elbow macaroni pasta for this recipe, but you can easily use gluten-free pasta or a different short shape like penne or fusilli.
- Butter – a generous amount of butter adds richness and is the base of the béchamel sauce.
- Onion – just an everyday yellow onion sautéd in the butter before adding the flour.
- Flour – we use regular all-purpose flour which is traditional for béchamel sauce. But you can use a gluten-free flour blend, sweet rice flour (also called glutinous rice flour), or potato starch as gluten-free options.
- Sea salt
- Whole milk – we love the creaminess of whole milk nice in this recipe, but any milk will work.
- Cheese – for this four-cheese mix, we use sharp cheddar cheese, nutty gruyère, sweet and creamy fontina, and bold parmesan cheese. You definitely don't need to use all four, and you can switch them up if there's a different cheese you'd like to use. We do recommend using blocks of cheese instead of packaged pre-grated cheese because it melts better and tastes fresher.
- Dijon mustard – adds dimension and flavor.
- Black pepper – for serving, to taste.
How to make this four cheese macaroni and cheese recipe
This 4 cheese mac and cheese is delicious as a simple meal or side dish. Here's how to make it in a couple of easy steps:
- Start by boiling the macaroni noodles until they're al dente.
- To make the béchamel sauce, melt the butter in a pot then add the onion and sauté until it softens. Add the flour, then slowly begin to pour in the milk while whisking constantly. It will thicken and you'll know it's ready when the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
- Add the cheeses to the sauce, along with the dijon, and season with salt and pepper.
- Stir the cooked pasta into the sauce and serve with some fresh pepper and a sprinkle of grated white cheddar cheese on top. Spoon it into bowls or transfer it to a baking dish or casserole dish if you're serving it family-style. Enjoy!
What is béchamel?
Béchamel is a foundational sauce in French cuisine. It's a white sauce made from a roux (basically flour and butter), plus milk. It adds a creamy texture to all kinds of dishes and is the base of this mac and cheese sauce.
What's the best kind of cheese to use?
We chose a mix of four different kinds of cheese, each with its own unique rich flavor. It's a personal preference so if you have a favorite, feel free to use it! Other cheeses that work well are gouda, mozzarella, pecorino, muenster, monterey jack, or even smoked cheddar.
How long do leftovers keep?
Store any leftovers in an air-tight container in your fridge for 3-4 days.
What to serve with four cheese mac and cheese
Enjoy this four cheese macaroni and cheese as a quick and comforting meal on its own or as a tasty side any time of the year. For many people, mac and cheese is a staple at Thanksgiving dinner, and it's arguably always the best part of the plate.
Protein mains that taste especially delicious with four cheese mac and cheese:
- 3 cups elbow macaroni (gluten-free if needed)
- ½ cup butter
- 1 medium onion (finely minced)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free if needed)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 ½ cups aged white cheddar cheese (grated)
- 1 cup gruyere (grated)
- ½ cup fontina (diced)
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese (grated)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Cook the macaroni in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.3 cups elbow macaroni
- Melt the butter in a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 2-3 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften but not brown. Add the flour to the pot and stir it continuously for 2-3 minutes, or until it is light brown. Pour the milk into the pot while whisking constantly. It will thicken up a lot at first but then thin as you pour in more milk. Bring the pot to a boil for 2 minutes, or until it has thickened.½ cup butter, 1 medium onion, ½ cup all-purpose flour, 4 cups whole milk
- Lower the heat to medium-low and add the 4 kinds of cheese to the pot in a few additions. Stir the pot until the cheeses have melted then add the dijon mustard, sea salt, and black pepper. Taste the cheese sauce and add more sea salt and pepper if you'd like.1 ½ cups aged white cheddar cheese, 1 cup gruyere, ½ cup fontina, ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, Black pepper, 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Stir the macaroni into the cheese sauce. Serve with pepper on top and a little grated white cheddar on top.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.