Mac and Cheese / sides / Thanksgiving

Small Batch Creamy Mac and Cheese

Small Batch Creamy Mac and Cheese! Perfect for a family of 4 and even the pickiest of toddlers. The creamiest and dreamiest mac & cheese you’ll ever make. This is my most favorite recipe and I make it ever year for Thanksgiving & Christmas. 

This thanksgiving will be a bit smaller for us this year and although I live for LEFTOVERS, I also HATE wasting food! This is the perfect size with just the right amount. And plenty leftover for 2. 

I love how creamy and flavorful this sauce is. Yes cheese is delicious on its own but I personally like mine seasoned and i also like to add garlic and shallots. Makes a world of a difference in flavor. It’s not traditional, but it’s damn good! 


  • 8 oz elbow macaroni or shells. (These are my go-to for mac) or really any shape you like. Just not spaghetti! 
  • 12 oz freshly grated cheese. I like gouda + sharp cheddar. (Grate an extra ounce for topping, optional)
  • Shallots & garlic (minced or grated)
  • Butter 
  • Flour
  • Milk & heavy cream
  • Spices – Salt, pepper, granulated garlic, paprika (smoked & regular) & ground mustard.

This recipe starts off by sauteing shallots & garlic in butter and then I add flour to form a “roux” which will thicken the sauce once the milk and grated cheese are added. This recipe comes together fairly quick and finishes off in the oven, which is why I like to cook the pasta al dente or even 2 minutes shy of al dente.

I like to use equal parts gouda & sharp cheddar cheese. I buy (2) 8 oz blocks, but I only use 12 ounces and an extra ounce for topping. Reserve the rest for a charcuterie or make a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich the next day. Cheese does not last long in my household. This recipe can easily be doubled and adjusted as far as cheese options go. Use your favorites!


Small Batch Creamy Mac and Cheese

The BEST and most delicious Small Batch Creamy Mac and Cheese that is perfect for a small gathering this holiday season.
Course Sides
Cuisine American
Keyword Holidays, Mac and Cheese, Thanksgiving
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Author Leona G.


  • 8 inch baking dish
  • Medium pot


  • 8 oz cooked & drained shells or elbow macaroni al dente
  • 4 tbsp salted butter
  • 4 tbsp flour
  • 1 medium shallot minced
  • 3 cloves garlic grated
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper or white pepper
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp ground mustard
  • 12-13 oz freshly grated cheese 6 oz extra sharp cheddar & 6 oz gouda (plus extra ounce for topping)


  • Preheat the oven to 400°
    Add your milk & heavy cream to a small saucepan and warm the mixture on low heat. Do not boil, just get it warm enough to touch.
  • Add butter, shallots & garlic to a large saucepan. Saute on low-medium for 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and gently whisk to combine. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly pour in your warmed milk mixture and continuously whisk until smooth. Add in your spices and whisk until thickened. About 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add in the grated cheese. Stir until all the cheese has melted
  • Add the al dente pasta to the cheese sauce stir to fully combine. Pour into your baking dish and top with the remaining cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is melty golden to your liking . Enjoy!


  • I use (2) 8 oz sticks, but I only use 12 ounces and an extra ounce for topping. Reserve the rest.
  • You can use a combination of your favorite cheeses. Gruyere, brie, extra sharp cheddar, etc. 
  • Cook and drain your pasta 2 minutes shy of al dente, as it will finish cooking in the oven.

More recipes to try…

Fall Harvest Pear & Goat Cheese Salad

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