Three Cheese Mac And Cheese Gratin

One of the “top ten” comfort foods on most everyone’s list has to be pasta. Dig deeper into which pasta dish would be at the top of the list and the answer would probably be macaroni and cheese. It is such a favorite that most of us have given it the nickname of mac and cheese. Make this three cheese mac and cheese gratin and serve it at your family  dinner table or to friends for a weekend gathering. Either way, you will get lots of compliments, I’m sure.

Three Cheese Mac And Cheese
Three Cheese Mac And Cheese Gratin

I make my mac and cheese with 1% milk which is a little lighter version but of course you can prepare it with whole milk, half and half or even cream, if you wish. I like to bake the mac and cheese in individual gratin dishes but it can also be prepared in a casserole for a group. This dish gets its great flavor from three cheeses, Gruyère, Fontina and Pecorino Romano. It has a crispy topping that makes every bite special and totally delicious.

Three Cheese Mac And Cheese Gratin 

This makes two servings, adjust the recipe according.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

  • 1 c. mini rigatoni pasta (ridged pasta holds sauce better but any tube pasta will work)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. flour (I used Wondra, an instant flour)
  • 1 c. 1% milk (whole milk or half and half may be substituted)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 c. grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1/2 c. grated Fontina cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced fine
  • 1/4 c. panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c. grated Pecorino Romano cheese

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook until al dente. 

In the meantime, place the minced garlic and oil in a bowl and heat in a microwave for 15 seconds to infuse the oil with the garlic. Remove from the microwave and stir in the panko breadcrumbs until well coated. Let cool then add the panko breadcrumbs and the Romano cheese and mix well.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the butter in a saucepan until melted. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring for one minute. Slowly add the milk and whisk until blended. Add the salt, pepper and mustard, whisk and then let cook for a few minutes until you have a smooth sauce. Add in the Gruyère and Fontina cheese and stir to blend.

When the pasta is done, drain well and add to the cheese sauce and stir until combined.

Divide the pasta into two individual gratin dishes that have been buttered and mound the cheesy panko crumbs on top. Place on a foil lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes or until bubbly. If not brown on the top, place under the broiler for a minute but watch carefully so that the crumbs don’t burn. Remove from the oven and let rest for a few minutes before serving.


The baked mac and cheese gratin has a wonderful cheesy taste from the three very flavorful cheeses…two in the sauce and one in the crisp and crunchy breadcrumb topping. I served the gratin with a salad of crisp romaine lettuce and grape tomatoes. A glass of  dry white wine went perfectly.  This is a comfort meal that will be on my “top ten” list.

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170 thoughts on “Three Cheese Mac And Cheese Gratin

  1. You’re right–macaroni and cheese is my ultimate comfort food. This looks delicious. Are you in the path of the winter storm? Take care.


    1. Hi Bonnie, I do think that this dish tends to be a favorite of most people. Yes, I think all of New England will be in the path of Nemo…a most unwelcome visitor.Thank you for your thoughts and comment.

  2. Karen this is in my top 3 comfort foods if not #1. I make it from scratch much like you do as this was one of the first things I learned to cook in Home Ec class in 7th grade. I love some of the variations you have here and will give it a try. YUMMY!!

    1. Hi Emilie, It sounds like you are a woman on a mission. Until you get a chance to try the ones on your trip, I hope you will enjoy my recipe.

    1. Hi Amy, I have to agree with you. I think you will enjoy the crispy topping the next time you make it…it adds a lot to the dish. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Kate, I tend to make mac and cheese when I need a warm and comforting meal. I don’t think there is anything better. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Roger, I can just imagine what boarding school macaroni and cheese must have been like. I’m glad you like my version with a more substantial pasta. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  3. Now my mouth is watering. I love the idea of baking it in the individual gratin dishes. I usually bake it up in a large casserole dish and serve the casserole dish on the table with squares cut out of it. I also use panko bread crumbs. Makes for a great crunchy topping that’s perfect for mac and cheese. I love the idea of your addition of fontina and pecorino. I’ve used Gruyere and English white cheddar and Gorgonzola before in mine, but I’ll defintiely have to remember the combo with the Gruyere and the fontina and pecorino, those really seem like three complimentary cheeses!

    1. Hi Ducky, I’m glad you like my idea of individual gratin dishes. Not only does it look nice, I think you get more of the crunchy topping with each bite that way. I think you will like the combination of the three cheeses in this dish. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Barbara, I’m glad you like the crunchy topping that I added. I love the texture it gives to the dish. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  4. This sounds absolutely delicious. I can never resist a good bowl of mac and cheese. Gruyere is also one of my favorite cheeses. I would love a big bowl of this kind of comfort!

  5. Karen, this looks perfect. Mac and cheese is my ultimate comfort food. When I want to make a special meal for someone, this is always, without exception, on the menu. I love this non-cheddar version and can’t wait to make it.

    1. Thank you Karen, for your nice compliment. As much as I enjoy cheddar cheese, I do like this combination of cheese for this dish. I hope you will like it as much as I do.

    1. Hi Marie, This definitely qualifies as a mac and cheese kind of day. I think everyone in New England needs a comforting meal for the next couple of days.

  6. Like your ideas of infusing the oil with the garlic in the microwave and making individual dishes. I will make the lighter version using 1% milk.
    How much snow are you expecting from Nemo?

    1. Hi Norma, Thank you for iyour nice comment. I’m glad that you like my tip on using the microwave. I like to heat the garlic in oil as it takes the harshness away from the garlic and gives flavor to the oil. I use 1% milk in many of my sauces…I think the flavor is there without quite as much fat. They are still predicting between one and two feet. Spring can’t come too soon…I don’t think we can count on the groundhog’s predictions anymore. 🙂

    1. Hi John, I had to laugh at your ketchup comment. We have a friend in Florida who puts ketchup on everything…even jello, so no I wouldn’t kill you. 🙂

    1. Thank you Phil, for your nice comment. I’m glad you like the looks of the mac and cheese. It really is good on a winter day…very comforting.

  7. Who doesn’t love Mac ‘n Cheese? One of my childhood favorites. I have to say I don’t understand why anyone makes this from a box when with just a bit of effort you get a superior dish. I always use Romano or Parmesan too, and sometimes Gruyère; although I more often use Cheddar. Never tried Fontina in mine, though — I really like the idea, and will give that a try. Good stuff — thanks so much.

    1. Hi John, I’m glad you like my version of mac and cheese. I think the Fontina gives a lovely creaminess to the dish as well as flavor. I agree…it doesn’t take much effort to make this dish and it is way better than anything out of a box. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Anne, I’m glad you like my version with the three cheeses and the little bit of garlic. It does make a very flavorful dish. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Thank you for your nice compliment, Richard. I think the three cheeses really do add to the overall flavor of this dish. Yes, I think you could say sinfully delicious. 🙂

    1. Hi Monique, We can’t do anything about the awful weather but we can certainly prepare comforting food to warm our spirits. Thank you for you comment.

  8. Comfort food at it’s best. My sister used to make one like this when we were growing up (sans wine pairing of course) and loved it. Brings back all kinds of great memories.

    1. Hi Celia, I find it so interesting to learn about the different ways similar ingredients are prepared in different parts of the world. I think you are right about mac and cheese being an American dish. I do like the flavor that the three cheeses gave to this dish. Thank you for your lovely compliment.

  9. I haven’t had a mac and cheese in such a long time, this one looks perfect and with the combination of the three cheeses, would taste incredible! Definitely worth the calories.

    1. Hi Eva, I’m glad you like my version of mac and cheese…the flavor from three different cheeses is good. This is not what you would call a low calorie dish but is lighter than many recipes with the use of 1% milk. I agree with you…it was definitely worth the calories. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  10. Mac and cheese is such a simple and hearty dish that everyone should have a basic version of it in their repertoire which can be customized with whatever’s available. I usually use elbow macaroni as the pasta though I’ve used rotini as well. I think I should pick up some rigatoni though as I think it would go well with tomato and meat sauces as well. And the fontina cheese is also new to me. Crumb toppings are too fussy for me to use when I’m just making mac and cheese for myself. 🙂 I have some cheese sauce in my freezer and am debating what else to include in my next mac and cheese dish and whether to use it as a side or a main dish.

  11. This makes my mouth water. I love mac ‘n cheese no matter how it’s fixed. The only problem is I try to eat it all at once which is not a good thing for the waistline.

    1. Thank you Linda, for your nice compliment. The nice thing about making individual gratins is that you have portion control…one to a customer as they say. 🙂

  12. Have to admit I’ve never been overly fond of macaroni cheese, until I made my healthy version recently. With your three cheese involved I’d love to tuck into yours.
    I’m really hoping that doesn’t sound crude! I’m sure you know the British term to tuck into.

    1. Hi Johnny, I do know what your expression tuck into means…I’m so glad that you like my three cheese version. I do appreciate where you are coming from…I think some recipes are way to heavy. Using 1% milk keeps this version much lighter. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  13. First of all your mac ‘n cheese looks absolutely beautiful and I love the idea of individual dishes! Secondly, thank God that Celia, a very wellknown and beloved Australian blogger has commented before me, because it would have been rather odd for me to admit I have neveer had mac ‘n cheese in my life, even tho’ I have been married to two wellknown foodies 🙂 ! You just might believe me now 🙂 ! But perhaps some cold night next winter I’ll look into my file for this . . .

    1. Hi Eha, I do enjoy when you stop by for a visit. I love your lighthearted comments…even knowing that you have been married to two foodies and still haven’t had mac and cheese. I won’t tell a soul and come winter I think you might like trying this dish. Us Americans do love mac and cheese and I think those of you from the land of Oz would enjoy it as well. 🙂 Thank you for your comment.

      1. Huh – still have me over for a friendly visit when I admit I’m not all that keen on pot roast either: had never had beef not blue or rare until a US friend presented that!! Hmm!! Actually, to be fair, methinks ‘Macaroni baked with cheese’ DOES appear in ladies’ magazines here these days and have seen the same ‘Macaroni with four cheeses’ also! Just to say hope that Nemo does not do any damage your way! After months of hell we seem to be in a hiatus period . . .

  14. I…love…macncheese!!!! Yeah, who doesn’t right? Hehehe! I wonder what a drizzle of truffle oil might do. Yummy as always, Karen!

    1. Thank you Ruth, for your nice compliment. I do think you are right about most of us loving mac and cheese. If you like truffle oil, you might add a drizzle.

    1. Thank you Laura, for your nice compliment. I think the blend of cheese gave lots of flavor. Oh yes…the crunchy crumb topping is a must.

  15. Looks good but this is still my fav using Old Cheddar and pncetta,,,especially Vermont Old Cheddar!
    Penne ‘N Cheese with Bacon and Cheese (courtesy of Tyler Florence & Food Network)

    1. Hi Reg, I think we all have our favorite mac and cheese recipe. As they say, everything is better with bacon, so I’m sure the one from Tyler Florence is good. Thank you for your comment.

  16. I have a weakness for mac and cheese. It’s not something you can indulge frequently but when I do, I like to add caramelized onion and bacon in mine (see why I can’t have it frequently? :D). I love bread crumb toppings, it’s an absolute must. Yours look heavenly and I love that panko bread crumb, it really gives it texture. Yum! 🙂

    1. Hi Rosemary, I think mac and cheese tends to be an American dish but I hope those who haven’t had it give it a try. Yes…the little ones do like the Kraft boxed version. Thank you for your comment.

    1. Hi Larry, I’m glad you like my mac and cheese recipe. I do think the blend of cheese gives lots of flavor. It is hard to tell how much snow the end result will be because of blowing and drifting but a lot. 🙂

  17. A great way to prepare Mac & Cheese, Karen, especially with the crunchy bread & cheese topping. As you say, served with a salad and glass of wine and one has a great, comforting meal.
    I see you’ve been commenting this morning, so, at least you’ve got power. I hope nothing happens to change that, and, that you and yours remain safe & warm, Karen.

    1. Thank you John, for your nice compliment. I do like adding the topping for a nice crispy bite to go along with the creaminess of the pasta. Since we get a lot of snow each winter here in New Hampshire, we are well prepared for any storm. We have a whole house generator that comes on five seconds after a power loss. My small tractor has a snowblower, the big John Deere has its bucket on, and my husband’s truck is in the barn with a plow on the front for times like this. Thank you very much for your kind thoughts.

  18. Your cheese combo is exactly what I would reach for to make mac & cheese — you are right, this is comforting and delicious! Glad you hear you guys are prepared for the snow and have resources to keep warm. Of course, the mac & cheese will help. 🙂

  19. This looks wonderful on this cold, white, winter day, Karen! There is nothing more comforting than mac & cheese and this sounds like an excellent version. I love the mustard in this one.

    1. Hi Susan, It does seem that this post was very timely when many people are wanting a warm and comforting meal. I’m glad you like my version. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  20. This particular dish has never been a staple in our family because it is not typically Italian but I would love to find some grain-free pasta I could eat or maybe I have to create it.

    1. Thank you Marina, for your thoughts and compliment. I do like the combination of the cheeses but agree with you about the crunchy top…it makes the dish special.

    1. Hi Brydie, Kids that don’t like mac and cheese…that is something. One nice thing is that with this recipe you can prepare individual portions. You could have one for yourself and freeze one for later.

  21. What a lovely dish.. I like the idea of preparing separate little dishes for everyone. That way they can be reheated when there’s one or two to spare at the end of the meal. Although, around here there’s not likely to be any left over:D I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!! xx

    1. Hi Barbara, I do like preparing this recipe in the individual gratin dishes. If I prepare it in a large casserole, we are tempted to eat more than we should…it makes a nice presentation as well. Thank you for your nice wish and compliment. I hope you are having a lovely weekend as well.

  22. I just read your post on Alsace and feel bad that I have not been there yet. My grandfather was from Alsace (Sélestat) and my cousin’s daughter lives there – I’ll try to go there next time.
    I think everyone loves macaroni and cheese – yours looks especially yummy.

    1. Hi Vagabonde, Thank you for your compliment about the mac and cheese. I do think that you should try to visit Alsace, especially if you have family living there. Photos can never do it justice…the area is beautiful.

    1. Hi Rachel, I do have wonderful readers like yourself that have been kind enough to leave a comment on the mac and cheese. It is a comforting dish. Thank you for your nice comment.

  23. I like the combination of cheeses that you used; sounds delicious! I am a big fan of cheddar cheese in my mac n cheese but this is not the easiest to find here in Germany. I think your trio might be more readily available in my locale. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Hi Laura, I’m glad you like the mac and cheese recipe. I have to agree with you…I think the cheeses I used would be much easier to find in Germany than the cheddar cheese that you are used to. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  24. I love that another cook uses Wondra. I don’t use if often, but when I do, it saves my sauces. It has such a fine texture there are never any lumps. Who wouldn’t love this mac and cheese with Gruyère and Fontina in the mix.

    1. Hi Kristi, I’m glad that you like the mac and cheese with the Gruyere and Fontina. I do like using Wondra for sauces and also as a dusting on meats before pan sautéing. As you say, its fine texture makes a big difference in so many recipes. Thank you for your comment.

  25. This looks delicious! (And like something we could soon try. The detox diet will be done on Tuesday.) You always post such good recipes. I drool every visit to your blog.

    1. Thank you Kathy, for your nice compliment. I’m happy to know that you enjoy my recipes. I think you have done terrific sticking to your detox diet for three weeks.

  26. Karen, macaroni and cheese is definitely one of my favorite comfort foods along with soup. This is a delicious recipe. Looks amazing! I love how you broiled the top.., yummy!!

    1. Hi Judy, I’m happy that you agree about mac and cheese being a favorite comfort meal. I think the crunchy cheese and panko topping adds both texture and flavor to the dish. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  27. Absolutely a favourite of naughty pastas, I think it’s time to have a creamy Indulgence for dinner. After work its straight to the deli to grab these cheeses for me. I haven’t heard of Fontina cheese im hoping they will have it at the local deli, any other suggestions for a substitute?
    Thank you for the recipe.

    1. Thank you Caylean, for stopping by for a visit and your nice comment. Fontina is a semi soft cows milk cheese that has a mild slightly nutty flavor. I think you could use any good melting cheese of your choice…perhaps provolone. I hope you enjoy the recipe.

  28. What a beautiful dish & photo. I don’t know how you always manage to capture such perfect images of your food but you do such a wonderful job. I’m admiring that melty cheese & the lightly browned top is just perfect. I love mac & cheese because you can doctor it up in so many ways. I think my daughter lived on it for her first 18 years. At least now she’s willing to diversify.

    1. I appreciate you kind words, Diane. I’m glad that you enjoy the photos. I agree with you about the diversity of mac and cheese…there are probably as many ways to prepare it as there are cooks.

  29. I love the idea of sprinkeling the mac&cheese with panko – I can just imagine the lovely crunch it gives to the dish. Heaven!

    1. Hi Afra, I’m glad you like the crispy topping. I think the different textures of soft and creamy and crunchy go so well together. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  30. Karen, I have never made a “Mac & Cheese” dish, ever – never really sounded that good to me but when I read your recipe and see that you are using three different and wonderful cheeses in this dish, I might change my mind and try it some day soon – it does sound delicious and it looks wonderful too! You always present everything in such a nice way!
    Have a wonderful Tuesday!

    1. Thank you Andrea, I think you and your family would enjoy mac and cheese…especially this time of the year. You might like to try it as a side dish in place of potatoes or spaetzle. Thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Meg, I’m happy to know that you like my version of mac and cheese and I hope you will enjoy the recipe. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  31. Ok, this is #1 comfort food! What a scrumptious mac & cheese you’ve made – I wish I could dive into a bowl right now. I love your selection of cheeses, too.

    1. Hi Hannah, I’m glad that you agree with me about mac and cheese being true comfort food. I think the variety of cheese in this dish gives it an excellent taste. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  32. Definitely has “comfort food” stamped all over it — and what a wonderful selection of cheeses for this recipe! (I just realized your posts have not been appearing in my Reader! I have some catching up to do) ~ Kat

    1. Hi Kat, I don’t know what happens with the reader sometimes…I’m missing lots too. I appreciate that you stop by and enjoy the posts. This mac and cheese is very flavorful with the three cheeses. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  33. Oh my oh my – that has to be my favorite!! I am a sucker for any “mac n cheese”- Yours looks so restrained and wonderful in it’s portion sizes. That would never fly in my house LOL!!! We have no self control around here!

    1. Hi Carol, I know what you mean about self control. If I make a larger portion and bake it in a casserole dish, it disappears very fast in our house. By making individual servings…we have to be good. 🙂

    1. Hi Ella, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I think you will enjoy the crunchy topping when you bake this dish.

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