The best baked gouda mac and cheese is a gourmet side dish or entrée that’s so creamy and full of rich nutty flavor! Gouda macaroni is sure to become a family favorite and is so much better than the boxed stuff.

Simply decadent and delicious, the truffle oil elevates this homemade macaroni and cheese dish to another level. Surprisingly easy, it can even be made ahead!.

Gouda mac and cheese on a white plate with a gold fork to the side.
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I was introduced to this gouda mac and cheese several years ago at a now defunct  local restaurant. It was so noteworthy I had to recreate it!

Even Chris, the non-pasta lover, loved it. This creamy mac has been on our menu rotation ever since, especially in winter. 

Don’t Skip These:  Check out my other popular mac and cheese recipes! Find Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Bacon Mac and Cheese and Mac and Cheese Cups!

A white bowl of gouda mac and cheese.

Gouda Mac and Cheese

It’s one of my favorite make ahead dishes. It’s a great as an entrée or a side dish and I have served it more than once at Thanksgiving.

You can prepare the dish a day in advance or earlier in the day and bake it just before serving for convenience. It’s just one more reason this is in our dinner rotation!

Why You’ll Love It

  • KID FRIENDLY – So easy to make and enjoy. You can make this gouda mac and cheese with or without the truffle oil, if your kids might not enjoy that upgrade.
  • WHOLESOME – It’s decadent, but made with fresh, wholesome ingredients. In fact, you can serve it as a main dish or a side dish!
  • CUSTOMIZABLE – Add your favorite protein, add green veggies, or switch up the cheeses to your family’s tastes.
A close up of gouda mac and cheese.

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Pasta – Shells, elbows or campanelle.
  • Unsalted Butter – The base of the best baked mac and cheese recipes.
  • Garlic – Use fresh garlic for great flavor. Learn how to peel garlic and how to mince garlic.
  • Shallot – A delicate, mild onion flavor. Sub regular white or yellow onion if necessary.
  • Ham, Bacon, Prosciutto or Guanciale – The perfect compliment to gouda mac.
  • Heavy Cream – For the creamiest finish.
  • White Pepper – Slightly more mild in flavor than black pepper, it allows for a perfectly white cream sauce. If you don’t have white pepper, simply omit it or add a few cracks fresh black pepper.
  • White Truffle Oil – The truffle oil adds an earthiness to the finished mac and cheese. I prefer the delicate flavor of white truffle oil over black. Quality truffle oils, especially those from Italy, can be quite expensive, but a little goes a long way.
  • Gouda – Preferably smoked creamy Gouda, if you can find it. This gives the mac and cheese a subtle smokiness that is just divine.
  • White Cheddar – The finishing touch. Fresh shredded is always best.

Variations

  • if you’re not a fan of truffle oil flavor, you can use any of your favorite cooking oils.
  • Optional: Add cooked strained peas or asparagus.
Gouda mac and cheese on a white plate with a gold fork to the side.

How to Make

  1. Prep – Preheat oven. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-low heat and cook pasta al dente.
  2. Make the Sauce – In a skillet over medium low heat, melt butter and sauté garlic, shallots and ham. Add cream and bring to a boil. Whisk in truffle oil, salt, pepper, and gouda. Cheese sauce in a pot on a stovetop with a whisk.
  3. Combine – Strain al dente pasta reserving pasta water. Stir pasta into sauce and thin with pasta water until it achieves the right consistency.
  4. If you’d like, add peas. Add shredded cheddar, and then bake in the oven as directed.
A close up of gouda mac and cheese.

Tips

  • To keep the grocery costs to a minimum, I get the ham and smoked Gouda from the deli counter so I only purchase what I need.
  • Elbow macaroni is traditional in mac and cheese, but use whatever you’d like! I would avoid spaghetti or linguine for this gouda mac n cheese, but shells or campanelle work beautifully. You want a pasta shape that catches and keeps all of that cheesy goodness!
  • If you are making the mac and cheese ahead of time and refrigerating before baking, add a touch of cream and increase baking time to 20 minutes to heat all the way through.
  • Store the truffle oil in a cool, dark place to ensure it stays fresh for longer.

Make Ahead

  • Feel free to make the smoked mac and cheese ahead of time by cooking everything on the stove top and then refrigerating it for up to 48 hours.
  • All you have to do is pop it in the oven before you are ready to serve.
Gouda mac and cheese on a white plate with a gold fork to the side.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is gouda good for melting?

Yes! Gouda, especially young aged gouda, cheese melts well and takes on a creamy, rich, and smoky flavor. This makes for a delicious, melty mac and cheese. Like a velvety cheese sauce or bechamel sauce, it adds a smooth and savory dimension that makes for a great mac. It’s tough to go wrong–try your favorite cheese, and remember you can mix and match combinations!

What’s the best kind of cheese for mac n cheese?

This particular gouda and white cheddar creamy cheese sauce combo is quite the powerhouse in terms of flavor and texture. In general, it’ll elevate your mac and cheese if you choose something a bit more sophisticated and flavorful than American cheese – like Gruyère, Muenster, or Parmesan.

What does truffle oil taste like?

Truffle oil adds an earthy and nutty quality that works so well with the sharp cheddar cheese of this dish.

Serving Suggestions

This smoked gouda mac recipe is perfect to serve on its own as a main dish, or as a perfect side dish alongside these other recipes:

Top it with hot sauce or a pinch of salt. When in doubt, a simple green salad and tomato soup on the side is a great option.

Gouda mac and cheese on a white plate with a gold fork to the side.

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – You can leave this gouda mac and cheese sitting out for up to two hours before it must be refrigerated.
  • Refrigerator – Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 to 3 days.
  • Freezer – Mac and cheese freezes beautifully! Store in an airtight container and store for future use.

Dietary Considerations

  • Vegetarian
  • Nut Free

Be sure to have a look at my truffle aioli and truffle fries for more ways to use this gourmet ingredient!

More Pasta Inspiration

A white bowl of gouda mac and cheese.
5 from 3 votes
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Gouda Mac and Cheese

The best baked gouda mac and cheese is a gourmet side dish or entrée that’s so creamy and full of rich nutty flavor! Gouda macaroni is sure to become a family favorite and is so much better than the boxed stuff.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 6
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Ingredients  

  • 10 ounces pasta shells, elbow or cavatappi
  • 1 tablespoon butter unsalted
  • ½ cup shallot (approximately 1 small shallot, diced)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 ounces ham, bacon, guanciale or prosciutto cubed
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon white truffle oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ pound gouda shredded
  • ½ cup white cheddar shredded

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 375℉. Bring a pot of water to a boil and prepare pasta al dente.
  • Saute butter, shallots, garlic and ham over medium-low heat.
  • Add cream and bring to a boil.
  • Whisk in truffle oil, salt, pepper, and gouda.
  • Strain pasta, reserving a half cup of pasta water. Stir pasta into sauce using pasta water to thin the sauce as needed.
  • Optional: If you'd like, add cooked peas at this point.
  • Add cheddar to the mixture, pour into a 9×13 baking pan, and bake for 10 minutes.

Julie’s Tips

  • Optional: Add strained, cooked peas before baking.
  • To keep the grocery costs to a minimum, I get the ham and smoked Gouda from the deli counter so I only purchase what I need.
  • Elbow macaroni is traditional in mac and cheese, but use whatever you’d like! I would avoid spaghetti or linguine for this gouda mac n cheese, but shells or campanelle work beautifully. You want a pasta shape that catches and keeps all of that cheesy goodness!
  • If you are making the mac and cheese ahead of time and refrigerating before baking, add a touch of cream and increase baking time to 20 minutes to heat all the way through.
  • Store the truffle oil in a cool, dark place to ensure it stays fresh for longer.
Calories: 474kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 553mg | Potassium: 269mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 843IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 245mg | Iron: 1mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

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7 Comments

    1. Hi Ross,
      A 9×13 will work great for this recipe. We’ll be sure to add that to the post, thanks for asking!
      Enjoy,
      Julie