Macaroni and cheese

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Macaroni and cheese
Flickr stuart spivack 173603796--Macaroni and cheese.jpg
A side dish of macaroni and cheese
Alternative name(s) Mac and cheese (U.S.)
Type Snack or side dish
Place of origin United Kingdom
Region or state Widespread throughout United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada
Serving temperature Hot
Main ingredient(s) Macaroni, cheddar sauce (or a mix of bechamel sauce cheddar or parmesan cheese), milk, butter, flour
Food energy (per serving) 400 (Kraft) kcal

Macaroni and cheese, also called "mac and cheese" or "cheese macaroni" in American English and Canadian English; "macaroni pie" in Caribbean English;[1] and "macaroni cheese" in the United Kingdom, Australia,[2] and New Zealand;[3] is a dish consisting of cooked macaroni pasta and cheese, though it can also incorporate other ingredients, such as bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce and white sauce.[4][5]

Traditional macaroni and cheese is a casserole baked in the oven; however, it may be prepared in a sauce pan on the top of the stove from scratch[6] or using a packaged mix.[5]


A serving of the dish made using macaroni, mozzarella, sharp cheddar, Parmesan and panko breadcrumbs.

Pasta and cheese casseroles have been recorded in cookbooks as early as the 14th century's Liber de Coquina, one of the oldest medieval cookbooks. It is a French dish of parmesan and pasta and was brought to England in the 14th century[citation needed]. A cheese and pasta casserole known as makerouns was recorded in the famous medieval French cookbook The Forme of Cury, which was written in the 14th century.[7] It was made with fresh, hand-cut pasta which was sandwiched between a mixture of melted butter and cheese. The recipe given was "Take and make a thynne foyle of dowh. and kerve it on peces, and cast hem on boillyng water & seeþ it wele. take chese and grate it and butter cast bynethen and above as losyns. and serue forth."[8]

The first modern recipe for the dish was included in cookery writer Elizabeth Raffald's 1769 book The Experienced French Housekeeper. Raffald's recipe is for a bechamel sauce with cheddar cheese, which is mixed with macaroni, sprinkled with parmesan and baked until bubbly and golden. The famous British Victorian cookbook Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management included two recipes for the dish. One recipe states that "The macaroni, (which should be "tender but perfectly firm, no part being allowed to melt, and the form entirely preserved" – lest one be tempted to cook it for so long it actually disintegrated) is then topped with more cheese, pepper and breadcrumbs, before receiving a final dose of melted butter for good measure and being placed before a "bright fire" to brown the crumbs, or grilled with a salamander." [9]

In the UK in the 2010s it has seen a surge in its popularity, becoming widespread as a meal and as a side order both in both fast food and upmarket restaurants.[10]

North American history[edit]

The future American president Thomas Jefferson encountered macaroni both in Paris and in northern Italy. He drew a sketch of the pasta and wrote detailed notes on the extrusion process. In 1793, he commissioned American ambassador to Paris William Short to purchase a machine for making it. Evidently, the machine was not suitable, as Jefferson later imported both macaroni and Parmesan cheese for his use at Monticello.[11] In 1802, Jefferson served a "macaroni pie" at a state dinner. Since that time, the dish has been associated with the United States.[citation needed] A recipe called "macaroni and cheese" appeared in the 1824 cookbook The Virginia Housewife written by Mary Randolph. Randolph's recipe had three ingredients: macaroni, cheese, and butter, layered together and baked in a 400 °F (204 °C) oven. The cookbook was the most influential cookbook of the 19th century, according to culinary historian Karen Hess[citation needed]. Similar recipes for macaroni and cheese occur in the 1852 Hand-book of Useful Arts, and the 1861 Godey's Lady's Book. By the mid-1880s, cookbooks as far west as Kansas included recipes for macaroni and cheese casseroles. Factory production of the main ingredients made the dish affordable, and recipes made it accessible, but not notably popular. As it became accessible to a broader section of society, macaroni and cheese lost its upper class appeal.[12]

Macaroni and cheese recipes have been attested in Canada since at least Modern Practical Cookery in 1845, which suggests a puff pastry lining (suggesting upper-class refinement) and a sauce of cream, egg yolks, mace, and mustard, and grated Parmesan or Cheshire cheese on top. Canadian Cheddar cheese was also becoming popularized at this time and was likely also used during that era.[13] In the United States, July 14 has been branded as "National Macaroni and Cheese Day".[14]

An order of "Cheesburger" macaroni and cheese, which includes ground beef and bread crumbs, one of 14 variations of the dish on the menu of an eatery in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Contemporary versions[edit]

Boston Market, a ready to eat take-out restaurant, and Michelina's and Stouffer's frozen food, are some of the more recognizable brands of macaroni and cheese available in the United States. Macaroni and cheese is also a common side dish among African American soul food cuisine. One variation consists of the use of shells, three different cheeses, flour, milk, eggs, butter, and various spices. The dish retains its Southern associations and is a common side at barbecue and soul food restaurants, but it has long held its place in higher end Southern establishments and working class cafeterias.[citation needed] One novelty presentation is deep-fried mac and cheese found at fairs and mobile vendors (food carts). A prepared version known as "macaroni and cheese loaf" can be found in some stores.[15]

It is possible to make "macaroni and cheese" with actual cheese rather than a cheese sauce.[4] It has been suggested that pasta rigati or some other small shell macaroni is an excellent choice for the pasta ingredient due to its "pocket" to hold cheese.[6]

Regional variations[edit]

A similar traditional dish in Switzerland is called Älplermagronen (Alpine herder's macaroni), which is also available in boxed versions. Älplermagronen are made of macaroni, cream, cheese, roasted onions, and in some recipes, potatoes. In the Canton of Uri, the potatoes are traditionally omitted, and in some regions, bacon or ham is added. The cheese is often Emmental cheese or Appenzeller cheese.

Packaged mixes[edit]

Packaged versions of the dish are available in frozen form or as a boxed convenience food, consisting of uncooked pasta and either a liquid cheese sauce or powdered ingredients to prepare it. The powdered cheese sauce is mixed with either milk or water, and margarine, butter, or olive oil. In preparing the dish, the macaroni is cooked and drained, then mixed with the cheese sauce. These products are prepared in a microwave, in a stove pot, or baked in an oven, often with any of the extra ingredients mentioned above.

A number of different products on the market use this basic formulation with minor variations in ingredients.[16]

A variety of packaged mixes which are prepared on the top of the stove in a sauce pan are available. They are usually modeled on Kraft Macaroni & Cheese (known as Kraft Dinner in Canada), which was introduced in 1937 with the slogan "make a meal for four in nine minutes." It was an immediate success in the US and Canada amidst the economic hardships of the Depression. During the Second World War, rationing led to increased popularity for the product which could be obtained two boxes for one food rationing stamp.[17] The 1953 Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook includes a recipe for the dish with Velveeta, which had been reformulated in that year. The boxed Kraft product is immensely popular in Canada, where it is the most-purchased grocery item in the country.[13]

Often, packaged macaroni and cheese mixes contain ingredients that are not certified as kosher. This is because many cheese products include rennet, an extract containing the enzyme rennine, which is procured from a non-kosher animal. When packaged macaroni and cheese became more popular, there was a need to create a kosher version.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff (14 January 2007). "Macaroni Pie Recipe". Retrieved 19 June 2010. 
  2. ^ BBC, Recipes, Macaroni cheese
  3. ^ "Mama's Macaroni Cheese". Retrieved 24 October 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Moskin, Julia (4 January 2006). "Macaroni and Lots of Cheese". The New York Times. Retrieved 30 January 2009. 
  5. ^ a b "Perfect Macaroni and Cheese". Martha Stewart Living 66 (February 1999). Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b "The Ultimate Macaroni and Cheese". MyPanera. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  7. ^ James L. Matterer. "Makerouns". Retrieved 2010-10-20. 
  8. ^ "The Forme Of Cury". Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  9. ^ Mrs Beeton's Household Management - Mrs. Beeton (Isabella Mary), Isabella Beeton - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  10. ^ Samuel Muston (2013-05-02). "How did macaroni and cheese become elevated to the new sought-after side dish?". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-02-27. 
  11. ^ McLaughlin, Jack. Jefferson and Monticello: the Biography of a builder. p. 229. 
  12. ^ Kummer, Corby (July 1986). "Pasta". The Atlantic. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Chapman, Sasha (September 2012). "Manufacturing Taste". The Walrus. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  14. ^ National Mac & Cheese Day Wisconsin Cheese Talk July 14th, 2010
  15. ^ Ellis-Christensen, Tricia. "What is Macaroni and Cheese Loaf?". wiseGEEK. Retrieved 15 August 2011. 
  16. ^ Guide to Macaroni and Cheese Spread of ratings for all 130 products in Macaroni and Cheese evaluated by GoodGuide.
  17. ^ "Kraft Macaroni & Cheese: A History". Chicago Tribune. August 14, 2010. Retrieved 21 November 2012. 

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