Four-Cheese Crab Mac ’n’ Cheese


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print
Photographer Jennifer Causey, Food Stylist Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist Claire Spollen

© Paden Reich

Who doesn’t like mac and cheese? I suppose it would be more meaningful to say that everyone likes mac and cheese, especially yours truly and my extended family. For that reason alone, I made it a point to develop a recipe for this staple that I’ve enjoyed since childhood. But my, how this dish’s public image has changed! From a satisfying last-minute filler Mom could make for the kids to a culinary magic trick whereby noodles and cheese are transformed into savory, smile-inducing surprises for even the most discriminating foodies. Offhand, I recall seeing (and tasting) versions highlighting lobster and steak. I’ve seen a scoop of creamy cheesy goodness atop pulled pork sandwiches. And I’ve seen mac ’n’ cheese fried into addictive little balls served as pass-around hors d’oeurves at fancy parties. I mean, nothing shows the evolution of this dish like people in tuxedos and formals gushing over mac ’n’ cheese. My version is for grown-ups and sophisticated kids. The four cheeses make it uber cheesy and teem with flavor, and the crab, which is pretty easy to find in stores, elevates it to main-course level. Depending on who’s at the dinner table, I occasionally leave out the crab and have a four-cheese version that even picky eaters devour. Served with a salad, I say, “Perfecto.”


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente. Set aside.

2. Melt 1/4 cup of the butter in a Dutch oven over medium. Whisk in the flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm milk; increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, whisking constantly, until almost simmering, about 10 minutes. Stir in the hot sauce, salt, and pepper; cook, whisking often, until slightly thickened and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

3. dd the Cheddar, Gruyère, fontina, and 1 cup of the Parmesan; stir until the cheeses melt and the mixture is smooth.

4. Pour the cheese sauce over the hot cooked pasta in a large bowl; stir to coat. Gently stir the crabmeat into the pasta mixture. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter. Stir together the melted butter, panko, and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan; sprinkle over the pasta mixture. Bake until the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbly, about 25 minutes. 

5. Garnish with the scallions.


I recommend buying blocks of cheese and shredding it yourself; it just melts that much better!


1 (1-pound) package cavatappi pasta 1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 quart whole milk, warmed
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups shredded mild Cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
1 cup shredded fontina cheese
11/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, drained and picked to remove any bits of shell
1 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
1⁄3 cup sliced scallions

serving size

6 People

Hands on time

35 Minutes

Total time

1 Hour


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on print


Close Menu