I’d never tried Make-Ahead Mac-n-Cheese before, but figured it was worth a shot! I wondered: Could I make my easy Mac-n-Cheese for a crowd, then put it in the crock pot to stay warm? After all, I didn’t want to be a slave to the stove just as my guests were arriving.
Obviously it worked marvelously, otherwise I wouldn’t be here telling you about it. I definitely feel that this dish is best fresh, right off the stove. But the day I was feeding 25 teens, I needed a side I could make ahead and keep warm. As it turns out, we can make Creamy Mac and Cheese en mass, then put it in a crock pot to stay warm until serving time.
A few small details about making Mac-n-Cheese for a Crowd: Plan to use lots of sea salt. It can be rather bland otherwise. I even go the extra mile and stir in some garlic powder for a little extra pazazz.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: When making this Creamy Mac and Cheese, always remove it from the heat BEFORE you add the cheese. It’s not difficult, but breaking this creamy mac-n-cheese rule will give you weirdly textured pasta. So cook your pasta in the milk, slide it off the heat, then add cheese. See how simple?
Make-Ahead Mac-n-Cheese for a Crowd
- 32 ounces dry pasta (I use whole wheat noodles)
- 6½ cups whole milk
- Sea salt to taste (1-2 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 3-4 cups shredded cheese (I use Colby jack; cheddar is also great)
- Mix pasta, milk, sea salt, and garlic powder in a large sauce pan. (I've found it best to divide ingredients into two large pots for faster and more even cooking.)
- Cook over medium-high heat stirring almost constantly until the pasta is tender (10-15 minutes).
- Remove from heat. (IMPORTANT!)
- Add cheese and stir until melted.
- Transfer Mac-n-Cheese to a large (6-8 quart) crock pot.
- Keep warm at "lo" setting for up to three hours.
- Stir in a bit more milk at serving time as needed.
When making a large amount of Mac-n-Cheese like this, I usually use this variety of whole wheat elbow noodles.
Need more ideas for cooking for a crowd? Check out this link:
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