Adventures of an unfussy foodie.

November 20, 2009

Copycat: Noodles & Co. Mac and Cheese

**Update: I finally took the time to get a decent photo of this and rework the sauce recipe. Hopefully it will now yield even better results. I also think that the sauce-to-pasta ratio is right on, where before the recipe made too much sauce. Enjoy!

I love Noodles & Co. I think I've had most everything on the menu, and of everything I've tried there's only been one thing I didn't particularly like.

One of my favorite things they make is their macaroni and cheese. It's comforting, but not too heavy like some versions out there.

Here's my stab at a copycat recipe. I think it comes pretty darn close. Plus, it's super easy and quick. Bonus!

Noodles & Co - esque Mac and Cheese

1 lb. elbow noodles
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 c.  milk (we use 2% because that's what we always have around)
1 1/2 to 2 c. shredded cheddar jack cheese blend
1/4 c. cream
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour making a roux. Stir in a pinch of salt and some pepper. Let the roux cook for a minute, then add the milk, whisking until just barely thickened -- it should thinly coat the back of a spoon. You want it thinner because it will thicken as it cools, and it will thicken when you add your cheese, and if you're going for authenticity, the original is pretty loose. You could even use less cheese than listed and/or be prepared to add more milk if it tightens up too much. Remove from heat. Add cheese and cream, stirring until cheese melts. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

To serve it up, ladle some sauce into your dish, followed by pasta and top with extra cheese. I love mixing it up myself! Enjoy!

What do you think? Does it stack up to the real deal?
Leave a comment!


  1. Made this for dinner tonight, and it was very well recieved. But I have lots of sauce left over, I'll have to adjust for that next time.

    Thanks for posting this!

  2. Noodles mac & cheese has 3 different cheeses (per the guy at our local Noodles & Co)

  3. I have tried this recipe several times, and I think I finally got it right. My problem is always the roux, but this time I softened the butter in the microwave first, then melted it over low heat and slowly mixed in the flour. I used Land O Lakes light butter, fat free half-and-half, and 2% cheese and I think it came out great. My 4.5 yo son actually pronounced it BETTER than Noodles and Co! ;)

  4. I cooked this for the second time today. I used 2% instead of half and half and didn't allow the sauce to thicken as much. I only needed half the sauce! Next time I'll double the noodles. This heats up really well the next day. Or it's an affordable dinner to take to a friend. I thought the cheese was a little mild this time. I used mont. jack. I think next time I'm going to do 1 cup sharp cheddar and 2 cups colby jack in the sauce. Great recipe. Perfect for my child who can't have the box macaroni she loves because of a dye allergy. Our stores no longer carry the white cheddar she loved. So thanks for sharing!

  5. @Anonymous (#2) - Thanks for your tips! I'm so glad you like it, and that your kiddo approves, too! A roux can sometimes be tricky, so I'm glad you've found a method that works for you.

    @Jen - I'm so glad you liked it! I agree, it's a great substitute for the boxed stuff. It's so quick to make! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. For Anonymous #1 the third cheese is monterey cheese. I've made this type of mac and cheese twice now this last time using this recipe. I no longer live close to a Noodles & Co and this was my favorite meal. The roux was a little thick to me but I liked using the cream the last time I had made it I used three cups of milk and no cream. I also think I will use 2% next time I'm mildly lactose intolerant and I have to be careful what milk I use so I used my non-fat lactose free milk and it was ok but the first time I made it I did use 2% and that really seems to make a difference! Thanks for posting the recipe!

    1. Thanks for your comment! I am also slightly lactose-intolerant, which can be a bummer. I always use 2% because it doesn't bug me as much as lower fat milk, and because I find it works better in most recipes. I'm glad you liked it!

  7. this is so good!! I love it!

    1. I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks for your comment!

  8. This is ridiculously good. I used fontina + shredded cheddar jack for my cheeses.

    1. Yum! Fontina is a favorite of mine, for sure.

  9. Putting mixed sauce and pasta in a baking pan, sprinkling with cheese and toasting is pretty nice, too.

    1. I will have to try that sometime. I do love toasted cheese. Thanks for your comment!


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