Best Ever Italian Mac and Cheese Recipe + Video

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Italian Mac and Cheese is creamy, full of flavor, and easy to throw together on busy nights. Make this simple mac and cheese recipe today with just 7 ingredients! The creamy mac is one of the top pasta recipes in my house – one of my family favorites! 

titled (shown on fork above bowl) Italian mac and cheese


Italian Mac and Cheese

This is the ultimate weeknight dinner helper since it’s ready in just 15 minutes.

A simple list of ingredients doesn’t mean it’s lacking in flavor though! 

This pasta recipe packs a punch of flavor that the whole family will love. There’s lots of cheese, tons of flavor, and it makes the perfect side dish and comfort food. 

This Italian macaroni and cheese has the perfect blend of gooey sauce and Italian seasoning for a taste that everyone will love. 

For another easy, cheesy meal try my Paccheri Pasta! Or, try my mac and cheese recipes for the slow cooker and Instant Pot when you need something a little more hands-off!

And if you want something a little fancier, you can’t go wrong with this baked version with lobster and a golden brown topping.


Mix-Ins for Mozzarella Mac and Cheese

Make this meal more filling or stretch the servings to feed a crowd! Feel free to get creative with your favorite mix-ins and combinations.

  • Vegetables

When there are 5 minutes left on the penne, stir 2 cups of frozen peas or broccoli into the pot. Cover with a lid to bring back to a boil and strain together when done.

Or, stir in a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach after the pasta and sauce have been combined. 

Let your Italian mac and cheese sit for a few minutes before servings so the spinach can wilt.

  • Protein

After draining the penne, add it back to the pan with some cooked chicken or turkey. 

You can use up leftover rotisserie or shredded chicken as well since the heat from the rest of the dish will warm it through.

This mozzarella mac and cheese also tastes great with leftover ground beef, sausage, hamburger, or rinsed and drained beans. Navy, kidney, and pinto are our favorites.

  • Add a topping

Transfer your Italian macaroni to a casserole dish, then top with a mixture of melted butter and breadcrumbs (plain or Italian). 

Pop it under the broiler for a minute or two until golden brown and bubbly!


Best Cheese For Macaroni and Cheese

Regardless of the type you use, I highly recommend you shred it yourself instead of using prebagged shreds. 

These contain an additive to prevent clumping that gives the shreds a waxy texture and keeps them from melting properly.

Next, pair at least one good melting variety with an aged variety for bolder flavor. 

You can use all mozzarella if you’d like, but I typically mix equal parts of that and provolone. 

For a true Italian blend of cheese, include a little Romano, Asiago, or Fontina!

Just be sure to use at least 4 ounces of mozzarella for this Italian mac and cheese.


Italian Mac and Cheese FAQ

Is mozzarella a good cheese for mac and cheese? 

Absolutely! Not only does it melt down smoothly, but the flavor is mild enough to go with whatever else you mix it with. 

For this simple mac and cheese recipe, mix up your own Italian blend cheese shreds to create something truly unique!

What is the best pasta to make macaroni and cheese?

That really comes down to preference and how fancy your mac sauce is!

I like to use penne for my mozzarella mac and cheese because the ridges grab on to all that gooey goodness. Rigatoni, cavatappi, or even rotini would work just as well.

And if you don’t plan on adding meat or veggies to the dish, feel free to use regular elbow macaroni in this simple mac and cheese recipe.

Can you freeze macaroni and cheese? 

Surprisingly, yes! Allow it to cool before transferring to a freezer-safe plastic bag or container. Store for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.

If you plan to freeze the entire batch of this Italian macaroni and cheese, undercook the noodles just a bit so they don’t become mushy when thawed and reheated.

Can I add a different type of cheese to this pasta dish?

There is always room for adding different cheeses! Any type of cheese sauce will work, and don’t forget the parmesan cheese. One of the best things about this dish is that you can add all different kinds of cheese. Mozzarella cheese, pecorino romano, and any other flavor really do work well with this particular recipe.


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italian style macaroni and cheese on fork, close up

Other Easy Italian Pasta Recipes

mac and cheese on fork with dripping cheese

Italian Mac and Cheese + Video

Donna Elick
Italian mac and cheese is creamy, full of flavor, and it comes together in a snap! You will love this mozzarella mac and cheese recipe!
5 stars from 2 reviews
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Method Stovetop
Servings 6


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, 2% is good too
  • 1 pound dry mini penne pasta
  • 8 ounces Italian blend shredded cheese, *see below to make your own blend
  • 1/3 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning, I prefer McCormick Tuscan Style Italian Seasoning


  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, cook pasta according to package directions, to al dente. Drain pasta once it is cooked and set aside. Work on the next step while your pasta is cooking.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan over medium heat melt butter, add flour and Italian seasoning and whisk for about 2 minutes to cook out the ‘flour-y’ taste. Add milk and continue to whisk occasionally, allowing the mixture to thicken. Add cheeses and whisk until fully combined.
  • Pour cheese sauce over strained pasta and stir to combine. Sauce will thickens as it sits.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Donna’s Notes

I do not use pre-shredded cheese as much as I used to. Now I use 4 ounces mozzarella and 4 ounces provolone (or 8 ounces mozzarella). I shred them and add them to the recipe in place of the cheese blend. From time-to-time I will add a little Romano, Asiago or Fontina into the mix. It depends on what I have in the house. But the essential part is to use at least 4 ounces of mozzarella in your blend.
Veggie ideas:
When there is about 5-6 minutes left on your pasta cook time add 2 cups frozen peas or frozen broccoli (cover the pot to help it come back to a boil more quickly and remove the cover once boiling again). They will be done the same time the pasta is done and it will combine to make an incredible dinner. Another vegetable option is to stir in 3 cups fresh baby spinach, once the pasta and cheese sauce have been fully combined (at the end). It will be just wilted perfectly when it is time to serve.
Protein ideas:
After you have drained your cooked pasta, add it back to the pan and add chopped leftover turkey, chicken or rotisserie chicken to the hot pasta. Then pour the sauce over top. The heat from the pasta and the cheese sauce will warm the meat through and it will be ready to serve when the mac and cheese is ready. I have also used leftover ground beef, burgers, rinsed and drained beans (navy, kidney or pinto are our favorites).


Serving: 1 | Calories: 554cal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 371mg | Sugar: 6g | Fiber: 3g | Calcium: 372mg | Iron: 2mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
mozzarella mac and cheese in a bowl with a forkful pulled out

Originally published September 2011, updated and republished January 2024

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  1. I think I would substitute the flour for corn starch cause it tasted pastey…this was a fail for me.

    1. Try using cornstarch instead of flour. You only need half the amount, and cornstarch is gluten free. I have started doing this with regular mac and cheese and it comes out creamier.

    2. You have to let the roux cook for at least 2 minutes to cook out the pasty taste of the flour.

  2. Made this for my son tonight and he loved it! The only thing I did differently was to add precooked grilled chicken. Next time I make it I will reduce the amount of italian seasoning by half because the recipe calls for too much. It completely overpowered the dish. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. I love mac & cheese. The recipes I have tried have a gritty texture. Not the taste of the flour but not smooth. If anyone has thoughts on a fix or if this recipe remains smooth………….I would very much appreciate your input. Thank you!

    1. In my early cooking days, I was using store-brand cheese for my mac and cheese and getting that gritty texture. Once I started using Kraft, Sargento, etc., the texture was smooth. Try changing your cheese brand. Hope this helps.

    2. I have also found that removing the pot from the heat and slowly stirring in a little at a time will help it to remain smooth. Enjoy and let us know how it goes!

    3. If you grate your own brick of cheese, this will not happen. The pre-shredded cheese has other stuff in it which can affect how smoothly it melts.

    1. The first time I made this…it had the consistency of play dough, the Italian season overpowered the cheese and it was not at all enjoyable. I ended up throwing it all of it in the garbage can and had a heck of a time cleaning it out of my pots. The second time I made it, I left out the flour, reduced the amount of Italian seasoning and added some minced garlic. I poured it into a casserole dish, put it in the oven at 350 degrees and topped it with shaved Parmesan cheese. It tasted delicious

      1. Hi Kathleen!

        Donna read your comment and she asked if you would please email her so she can help troubleshoot the recipe with you. She’s made this recipe successfully hundreds of times, so she’s stumped as to what the problem might have been. Please send your email to donna (at) theslowroasteditalian (dot) com

        TSRI Team member,

  4. I Made This For The First Time It Turned Out Pretty Good Next Time I Make This I'm Going To Try Corn Starch Instead Of Flour.

    1. I would use whole milk. I think 2 cups heavy cream would add a lot of richness that may be overwhelming. If you are wanting to add heavy cream I would use no more than 1/2 cream and half milk. Enjoy and let us know how it goes!

  5. Oh my goodness these are so yummy! I saw these and not 10 minutes later I walked into my kitchen and started making some!And am happy that I have tried the same recipe, it was just mind blowing!My whole family just love it!!
    Keep sharing such more delighful recips!

  6. My son doesn't like baked mac and cheese, so this recipe is perfect. Another stove-top mac and cheese recipe I like is Alton Brown's. My 3rd favorite mac and cheese is baked in the oven with uncooked pasta. Love it.

  7. Hola! I've been reading your blog for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Texas!
    Just wanted to say keep up the good job!

  8. Made this last night and wowser! It is now something I will keep the ingredients to all the time! My Hubs just adored it. We put in spinach. Next time, we will put in chicken, tomatoes and spinach! A really hearty but simple meal.

  9. Super yummy! I also browned some chicken to go with it. Really tasty and full of flavor while being easy and quick to make. It tastes a little like pizza too! Enjoy 😊

  10. This might just be the pregnant taste buds talking, but I want this with broccoli or Brussel sprouts, seasoned chicken, and fresh, diced tomatoes.
    And I think I want it now.

  11. I freeze mac and cheese all the time. Another way to do it is to allow the m&c to cool completely in the pan you'll bake it in. Freeze it covered well with saran or clingwrap. Then when ready, pop it in a 400 degree oven covered in foil for an hour. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes…..This recipe was excellent. I did add some leftover chicken thigh meat to it. Thanks

  12. I love Mac n cheese. Before I start the macaroni I saute mushrooms and onions. I’ll start the Mac in a pot and start making the cheese sauce. When the Mac is done and drained I add the sauce which I had added the mushrooms and onions. So good.

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