Super creamy, cheesy, and delicious, this Copycat Costco Mac and Cheese is the ultimate comfort food made with five different kinds of cheese.
When it comes to macaroni & cheese, nobody does it as well as Costco, in my opinion. It’s my favorite! The flavor is just amazing and it’s so creamy and comforting and gooooooooood. I have tried lots of mac & cheese recipes over the years but hands down this one is the best.
So naturally I had to recreate it at home. The only other copycat Costco mac and cheese recipes I saw called for alfredo sauce, which didn’t seem right to me, so I looked up the ingredients listed on the Costco mac & cheese package and went from there. And I’m pretty confident that I nailed it. This tastes just like my favorite cheesy comfort food from Costco! It’s perfect as a main dish for a meatless Monday, but it’s also awesome served as a side dish with my favorite BBQ Beef Brisket.
There are a couple of key components to making this mac and cheese just like the Costco kind. The first is using five (yes, FIVE!) different kinds of cheese. The heavy hitters are really just a good white cheddar and a gruyere (which melts down amazingly well), but there is also Romano, Parmesan, and a little bit of medium cheddar sprinkled over the top (mostly for color, if I’m being totally honest).
While you could totally make this mac & cheese using other cheese varieties like Emmental or Gouda or American (and I’m sure it would taste wonderful), I stuck with the ones listed on the Costco package since that was the exact flavor I was trying to recreate.
I also used cavatappi pasta instead of elbow macaroni noodles. You can use whatever you have on hand, but Costco uses cavatappi and they are such cute, squiggly little corkscrews (cavatappi literally means “corkscrew” in Italian apparently) so……
While your pasta is cooking to a barely, barely (and possibly even slightly underdone al dente), prepare your béchamel sauce, which is just a roux of butter and flour cooked together with milk whisked in until a nice, moderately thick white sauce has formed. Then you stir in half of the cheese and some seasonings like paprika and garlic powder before combining the sauce with the cooked and drained pasta. Because the sauce is hot and you are going to bake the macaroni & cheese in the cheese sauce in the oven for just a bit, you definitely don’t want to overcook your noodles when boiling them. I find that if I follow the pasta manufacturer’s instructions for cooking the pasta al dente and stop just 1 minute to 30 seconds shy of their recommended time that it turns out just right.
Dump half your pasta & sauce into your baking dish and sprinkle half of the remaining cheese over top, then dump the remaining pasta and sauce over the cheese layer and repeat with a final layer of cheese sprinkled over top. The layering of the grated cheese over the cheese sauce is what makes this copycat Costco mac and cheese extra super gooey and cheesy and wonderful – just how I like it. Then you bake it just long enough to melt all the cheese and scoop it out.
Seriously, this stuff is ah-maze-ing and I love, love, love it. I hope you will too!
- 1 lb. cavatappi pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cream
- 3 cups milk
- 3 1/2 cups grated white cheddar cheese, divided
- 2 cups grated Gruyere cheese, divided
- 3/4 cup grated Romano cheese, divded
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
- 1/2 cup grated medium cheddar cheese
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Cook your pasta according to package directions until just 1 minute shy of al dente (mine was 5 minutes). Drain well, then return to the pot and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil so it doesn't stick together in a clump while making the sauce.
While the pasta is cooking, grate the cheeses. You are going to add the cheese in 4 stages, so it might be helpful to divide them into fourths now.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk well, cooking for one minute until completely combined and the roux begins to look a bit like wet sand.
Slowly add the cream and 1 cup of the milk, whisking continuously, until smooth and completely combined. Add the remaining 2 cups of milk, whisking and cooking over medium heat until the sauce thickens a bit, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Stir in the salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder, then add 1/4 of each of the grated cheeses except the medium cheddar, which you will save just for topping the mac & cheese. Once the cheese has melted, add another 1/4 of the grated cheeses and stir until it also melts and incorporated into the sauce.
Pour the sauce over the cooked pasta and stir to combine. Pour half of the pasta & sauce into a large 9x13" baking dish, then sprinkle another 1/4 of the grated cheeses over that layer, then repeat with the remaining pasta and sauce, the remaining cheese and finally sprinkle the grated medium cheddar over the top.
Transfer the macaroni & cheese to the oven and bake, uncovered, for 15 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted and bubbly. Serve immediately.
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