Macaroni and cheese is one of those comforting classics that warms the soul and brings a smile to your face. This meatball mac and cheese is no exception! As kids, it’s one of the few things we’ll actually eat, and as we mature, the dish matures with us. This grown up mac and cheese recipe is one that I actually learned from one of my ex’s grandmas and may have been the best thing to come out of that relationship.
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Through the years, I’ve put my own twists and modifications on it and use my own family’s recipe for the meatballs. I love this dish because it’s extremely versatile and tastes delicious no matter what kind of cheese you have on hand. Meatball mac and cheese is one of the few meals I can count on my toddlers to eat and it makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.
For this kid-friendly meatball mac and cheese recipe, I used medium cheddar and parmesan, but depending on your taste, the sky is the limit! When it’s just my husband and me, I’ll elevate it by using a sharper cheddar and either parmesan cheese, Gruyere, or Monterey jack, for an even more grown up mac and cheese.
From start to finish, the entire meal takes about 60 minutes. First, I’ll make the meatballs, and while they’re cooking, I’ll prepare my noodles, topping, and cheese sauce. When the meatballs finish are done, I’ll combine all the ingredients in a 9×13 inch pan and bake it in the oven until brown and bubbly.
Whether you’re a picky eater or a Michelin starred chef, there’s no more comforting meal than a deliciously creamy baked macaroni and cheese. As a mom with a passion for cooking, I’m always looking for recipes that I not only enjoy creating but that my kids enjoy eating. This particular meatball mac and cheese recipe affords plenty of freedom for expressing your individual creativity.
What I love even more about this grown up mac and cheese is that it can be thrown together from ingredients I usually already have on hand in my kitchen. It’s a total crowd-pleaser at parties and potlucks, and everyone is always asking for the recipe.
The above ingredients are what I normally use for my meatball mac and cheese, but as even the most amateur chef knows, the love you put into it is the best ingredient of all. Try mixing up the cheeses, pasta, and even the protein from time to time for a fresh take on a timeless classic. This recipe is delicious with ham or bacon and noodles like rotini in place of elbow macaroni are perfect for little fingers.
Grown Up Mac And CheesePrint
Classic and comforting easy cheesy grown up mac and cheese with meatballs.
For The Roux:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 cube)
2 rounded tablespoons flour
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 1/2 cups milk (nutrition is calculated using whole milk)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 cups shredded cheese (I used medium cheddar)
For The Topping:
1 tbsp. butter
1/4 cup Breadcrumbs
1/4 cup shredded cheese for sprinkling (optional)
1/4 tsp. paprika (optional)
For The Noodles:
12 oz. or 3/4 of a box elbow macaroni or favorite pasta
For The Meatballs: (see recipe below)
Begin by preparing your meatballs and getting them in the oven. Prepare your noodles according to package directions and cook until just before al dente. Noodles will finish during baking. While the meatballs are cooking, start creating a roux for your cheese sauce.
Melt your butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and salt and whisk together to form a paste. Continue whisking until the flour has fully absorbed and the paste begins bubbling, about 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in your milk. Continue cooking until sauce thickens, about 8-10 minutes, whisking constantly. Add your cheeses and combine well. Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare your topping by melting butter in a small pan. Add your breadcrumbs and combine well. Over medium heat, lightly brown the mixture. Be sure to keep an eye on it as it browns fast. Remove from heat and place on a paper plate or dish to prevent it from continuing to brown.
Combine your meatballs, noodles, and cheese sauce and place in a 9×13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumb topping over the dish. Finish by sprinkling cheddar cheese and paprika over the top (optional).
Cover with aluminum foil. Place in a 350-degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil after 25 minutes and cook uncovered for the remaining 5 minutes so the top can brown.
I normally only end up using enough of the breadcrumb topping to cover the dish. This is usually around half of the mixture.
I used medium cheddar and parmesan for this recipe but you can use whatever cheese you’d like. Sharp cheddar and gruyere are really good and so are sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack.
*Nutrition Facts are without meatballs. See meatball recipe for nutrition facts.
- Serving Size: 1/8 pan
- Calories: 372
- Sugar: 4.5g
- Sodium: 373.8mg
- Fat: 17.5g
- Saturated Fat: 10.2
- Unsaturated Fat: 0.4g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 39.6g
- Fiber: 1.8g
- Protein: 15.5g
- Cholesterol: 53.1g
Keywords: macaroni and cheese, mac and cheese, comfort food, baked mac and cheese, mac & cheese, southern-style mac and cheese, meatball mac and cheese, grown up mac and cheese, adult mac and cheese
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