Best Gluten-Free Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Kicked Up Mac and Cheese (gluten-free)
Classic comfort food - gluten-free mac and cheese

Classic Comfort Food: Kicked Up

Mac and cheese- how I love thee. And not from a box. Give me the good stuff. The real deal. Comfort food. Something worth craving. Something creamy and comforting and crunchy on top with a hint of spicy heat.

This gluten-free macaroni and cheese recipe is based on my pre-celiac go-to cheesy mac favorite with cheddar cheese. I kicked it up with chopped jalapeños and crunchy gluten-free bread crumbs. Sweet grape tomatoes. Was it tasty, Darling.
I usually make this dish in a single casserole dish, but last night I spooned it into individual.

Note: Are you GF/CF, dairy-free, or a gluten-free vegan? Don't despair. I am now, too. 

Find my just as yummy dairy-free recipe for dairy-free Baked Mac and Cheese here.

Or better yet, try my vegan cheesy uncheese sauced mac n cheese.

Karina's Best Kicked Up Baked Mac and Cheese Recipe

Recipe posted November 2006.

Don't reach for the Velveeta, Babycakes. Just say no. This homemade cheese sauce is beyond better.


12 oz. gluten-free penne pasta
2-4 tablespoons chopped jarred jalapeños, to taste (we used 4 - we like it spicy)

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons light olive oil or butter
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour
2 1/2 cups milk or soy milk
1 1/2 cups shredded aged sharp or mellow cheddar cheese
3/4 cup small curd cottage cheese
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon or honey mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1-2 tablespoons dry sherry or white wine, to taste (may omit)

For the topping:

1 cup Crunchy Gluten-Free "Bread" Crumbs - for topping
10-12 grape tomatoes, halved
A sprinkle of dried basil and parsley


To pre-cook the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil and partially cook the penne- just until it is very al dente, tender but still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse it quickly under cold water. Set aside. 

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, and stir in the rice flour (I like to use a whisk to do this). Cook and stir the flour for about 10 seconds, then slowly add in the milk, whisking to blend the flour paste (called a roux) and milk. Bring the mixture to a bubble (it will thicken as it heats) then reduce the heat to low. Add the shredded cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, sea salt, mustard, nutmeg and stir to blend. If adding a dash of sherry, add it now. Continue stirring the sauce until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

For a , combine the cooked penne with the chopped jalapenos.
Pour the hot cheese sauce over the penne and gently combine. Sprinkle the top of the casserole with the buttered gluten-free bread crumbs and halved grape tomatoes. Sprinkle with dried basil.

For individual gratin dishes, combine the pasta with the jalapenos in the drained pasta pot; add the cheese sauce; combine; then spoon it into the gratin dishes. Top with crumbs and tomatoes and sprinkle with dried basil.

Bake at 350ºF for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and heated through.
Serves 4.


For those cooking gluten-free, the trick with baking gluten-free pasta in a casserole is to not over-boil it first. Keep it very al dente; it continues to cook in the sauce.
For a fab gluten-free vegan cheesy uncheese sauce (without plastic vegan cheese) check out Karina's new cheesy uncheese sauce recipe here.

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xox Karina


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