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Mac and Cheese with Beer

A person scooping a spoonful of mac and cheese with beer from a casserole dish.
This beer-infused mac 'n' cheese is the ultimate weeknight comfort food. Serve any leftovers for breakfast with a fried egg.
Katie Quinn

Prep 30 mins
Cook 40 mins
Total 1 hr 10 mins
8 servings
865 kcal


  • 3 1/2 tablespoons (1 3/4 oz) salted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup ale or lager
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • coarse sea salt for the pasta water
  • 16 ounces dried cavatappi pasta or other short pasta
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cups shredded Comté cheese (or Gruyere or fontina)
  • 2 cups shredded good-quality Cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups shredded Red Leicester cheese (or Colby or Prairie Sunset)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast* or grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • sweet chili rice crackers chips, or other crunchy sweet chili–flavored items, for garnish (optional)


  • Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Have ready a 9-by 13-inch (23-by 33-cm) baking dish.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour to form a paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. The paste should just begin to bubble, but not brown.
  • Slowly whisk in the ale, then, after about 30 seconds, add the milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring, then reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally to lift anything sticking to the bottom of the pan, for 15 minutes.

    TESTER TIP: If you add liquid to the roux too quickly and it becomes lumpy, you can blitz it in a blender to smooth out the sauce.

  • Meanwhile, fill a large pot three-quarters full of water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt, then stir in the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain the pasta in a colander and briefly rinse it under cold water to halt the cooking.
  • Stir the fine sea salt, pepper, and paprika into the bechamel sauce. Add the Comte, Cheddar, Red Leicester, and mozzarella cheeses, and the nutritional yeast or grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Stir until all the cheeses have melted and everything is well combined, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir to coat, then dump the mixture into the baking dish.
  • Bake until pasta has begun to get golden brown in some places and the sauce is bubbling, 10 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  • While the cheesy pasta cools, if using a topping, put a handful of rice crackers or chips in a zip-top bag and smash them with a rolling pin to break them into small chunks. Sprinkle the crushed rice crackers or chips evenly over the top of the cheesy pasta and enjoy!


*What is nutritional yeast?

It's yeast but it's not live like baker's yeast is, and they can't be substituted for each other. Nutritional yeast is grown specifically to be used as a food product but the yeast cells are deactivated (killed, essentially) during the manufacturing process. It's made to be added to foods to impart a cheesy, nutty, or savory taste. It's used in a lot of vegan foods to add extra protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, as well as a heap of umami flavor.