This Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese Pasta Bake with portobello mushrooms is a blissfully creamy mixture of cheese sauce, rich mushrooms, and hearty pasta that's oven-baked to golden perfection. It's a dream team combination of flavors that is easy enough for a weekday dinner but could easily star on your holiday table.
Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese
This Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese is rich, creamy, bold, and nothing short of delicious. It's really comfort food at its finest.
Move over Kraft and Velvetta, this elevated Mac and Cheese is a total class act. We're talking smoked gouda cheese, fresh thyme, portobello mushrooms, and fancy cavatappi pasta.... all oven-baked to golden perfection.
This rich and creamy pasta bake comes together with its own creamy cheese sauce that is to-die-for!
The best part about it is that you can easily make this in around 30 minutes for a weekday dinner or save it for your holiday table! I'd venture to say this would be a hit at Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. It could easily serve as both a side dish AND a main course for vegetarians.OMG! Dreamy Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese from Running in a Skirt Click To Tweet
Why You'll Love This Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese Pasta Bake...
- SMOKED GOUDA! I mean really... is there a better cheese out there? The flavor elevates the entire Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese dish. If you aren't familiar with gouda cheese, read my tips below.
- Hearty mushrooms make it more of a rounded meal.
- You can use whatever type of short pasta makes you happy... macaroni, penne, or cavatappi are all options.
- Although this recipe is a little longer and more hands-on than most of mine, it still comes together in around 30 minutes.
What does gouda taste like?
If you haven't tried smoked gouda yet, it's a rich and creamy cheese with a nutty and slightly smoky flavor. It's a sharp cheese and is very rich. It's perfect for a Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese.
I often find it near the deli section of the grocery store in a block. You'll most likely need to shred it yourself, which honestly leads to a creamier final product.
If you are having trouble finding it, other similar cheeses are smoked mozzarella, Havarti, or sharp cheddar cheese.
Here's what you'll need to make Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese.
- Pasta: I used cavatappi for my pasta bake but you can use any type of short pasta including traditional elbow macaroni, or penne pasta. Cavatappi pasta is the small corkscrew kind in the photos. If you can't find it in your grocery store you can find it on Amazon here or here.
- Butter: Although I don't cook with butter a lot, it's pretty useful to bring richness and the roux for the cheese sauce in this recipe. Have 2 tablespoons on hand divided into 1 tablespoon segments.
- Shallot: The subtle flavor of one shallot adds a lot of depth to this recipe. Dice it up in small pieces, so you don't have big chunks of it in your pasta.
- Garlic: Garlic brings out the flavors in the shallots and mushrooms.
- Portobello Mushrooms: I love adding some rich and meaty sauteed mushrooms to my mac and cheese. It makes the dish more of a meal.
- Thyme: Fresh thyme pairs perfectly with the mushrooms and rich smokey cheese. I love the fresh herbs in this, but if you can't get that you can substitute ¼ tablespoon dried thyme.
- Milk: Milk helps you make the rich and creamy cheese sauce. Use whatever type you have on hand and fits your diet. Either whole milk or 2% can work.
- All Purpose Flour: To make the cheese sauce you will need to combine the flour and butter to make a roux.
- Smoked Gouda: Smoked Gouda often comes in a round wheel and will need to be shredded by hand.
- Italian Cheese Mix: I shortcut this part and use pre-mixed shredded Italian Cheese. If you want to shred your own, use a mixture of mozzarella or sharp white cheddar cheese. Anything white will work.
- Salt & Black Pepper
Here's how to make my Smoked Gouda Pasta Bake. It's a few more steps than my typical recipes, but it's worth it!
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. I like to use this one that has a lid for easy storage.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions, in salted water, for one minute less than the box says until it's just shy of al-dente. It will continue to cook in the oven. Drain the pasta and keep the large pot handy to cook the cheese sauce in.
- While the pasta is cooking you'll cook the vegetables and cheese sauce. In a large non-stick skillet or large saucepan, over medium heat. add the butter and saute the shallot for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for just 30 seconds until fragrant. Add the mushroom and thyme to the pan and stir well. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. If the pan needs a bit of moisture, add a tablespoon or two of pasta water. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In the same pot, you made the pasta in, melt the second tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the flour to the pan and cook until a roux forms, by whisking the two together. While whisking, pour the milk into the pan over the roux. Keep string until the sauce begins the thicken and you have a thick cream. That should take 3-5 minutes. That's the base for your cheese sauce.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the grated smoked gouda and Italian Cheese Mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese into the pan, smoothing out the top. Sprinkle the last ¼ cup of Italian Cheese mix on top.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes. The before and after baking photos are demonstrated below.
Tips & Variations
Here are some tips, tricks, and variations to make the perfect Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese.
- Roux Tips: To make the roux, make the butter has completely melted in the pan. Add the flour and keep whisking. Cook for about 60-90 seconds before adding the milk slowly. Don't stop whisking! Don't forget to remove the pan from the heat BEFORE adding the shredded cheese.
- Make it Plain: You can make this into plain or more basic Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese by leaving out the entire step with the shallot, garlic, and portobello mushrooms. Just use one pot to boil the noodles, and then make the cheese sauce and stir it all together. Instead of thyme add more traditional dry mustard to the cheese sauce.
- Add More Veggies: You can also swap out the mushrooms for other vegetables like peas, broccoli, or carrots!
- Make it Stovetop: You can make this a stovetop recipe by leaving out the final steps where you transfer the macaroni and cheese into a pan and bake it.
- Add a Topping: You can add a crunchy topping by combining panko bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese. Sprinkle it on top for a delicous topping.
- Modify it for Your Diet: You can make this gluten-free, whole wheat, or lower carb by changing out the appropriate pasta noodles.
How do I store leftovers?
Store any leftover in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. This reheats well!
Can I make this ahead of time?
Yes! Although it's best made fresh, this dish reheats well in the oven. Make it up until you bake it and store it in the fridge until time to finish it off.
Can I freeze it?
Yes, this freezes well in a freezer container. Store up to three months.
This CHEESY Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese is Addictive!
This Cheesy Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese Pasta Bake is nothing short of addictive. From the creamy sauce to meaty mushrooms, you can't go wrong with these flavors and textures.
Give it a try and I promise you will love it! Better yet, make it for Easter and everyone will be raving about your FANCY pants Mac and Cheese.
Serve it With:
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Garlic Parmesan Roasted Asparagus
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic
- Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic
- Asparagus and Tomato Salad with Feta
- Avocado Caprese Salad
OMG! Dreamy Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese from Running in a Skirt Click To Tweet
More Mac & Cheese Recipes to Try:
- No Boil Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
- Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese
- Creamy Hidden Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese
- 16 ounces short pasta, cavatappi, macaroni, penne
- 2 tablespoon butter, divided
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 16 ounces portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 3 cups milk
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 8 ounces smoked gouda, shredded
- 1 ¼ cup Italian Cheese Mix, shredded & divided
- salt & pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9x13 casserole dish with cooking spray.
- Cook the pasta according to package instructions, in salted water, for one minute less than the box says. It will continue to cook in the oven. Drain the pasta and keep the large pot handy.
- While the pasta is cooking you'll cook the vegetables and cheese sauce. In a large non-stick skillet, over medium heat. add the butter and sauté the shallot for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for just 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Add the mushroom and thyme to the pan and stir well. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender. If the pan needs a bit of moisture, add a tablespoon or two of pasta water. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In the same pot you made the pasta in, melt the second tablespoon of butter. over medium heat. Add the flour to the pan and cook until a roux forms, whisking the two together. While whisking, pour the milk into the pan. Stir constantly until you have a thick cream.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded smoked gouda and 1 cup of the Italian Cheese Mix. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- To the cheese sauce add the cooked pasta (macaroni) and cooked mushroom mixture. Stir well and add salt and pepper if desired.
- Pour the smoked gouda macaroni and cheese into a pan, smoothing out the top. Sprinkle the remaining ¼ cup of Italian Cheese Mix on top.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned.
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