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Adult Macaroni and Cheese

This gourmet Adult Macaroni and Cheese is the perfect mac and cheese for grown ups. Pasta is coated in a creamy, cheesy, velvety cheese sauce made with Deluxe American cheese, white cheddar, and most importantly, heavy cream.

Not milk, not half and half. Mac and cheese with heavy cream, baby, is the way to go.

A bowl full of Adult Macaroni and Cheese

Prepare to carb your heart out and never look at mac and cheese the same way again.

P/S: Also check out another delicious mac and cheese – my Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese recipe. OMG – it is pretty darn amazing as well. And yes, it’s another mac and cheese made with heavy cream.

It’s the only way to do it!

Mac and Cheese with Heavy Cream

My macaroni and cheese progression is typical. I started with the box ones, then I moved to the “good-quality” box ones, then I made my own with Velveeta, and now I am all-about making it with gourmet cheeses, like this adult mac and cheese.

Somehow life was a bit simpler when I was excited about boxed mac and cheese. Simpler, but let’s face it, way less yummier.

The secret behind an exceptional adult mac and cheese recipe is this – heavy cream.

I’ve tried making macaroni and cheese with milk, half and half, and let me tell you, it’s just not the same. If I want a truly creamy, velvety and luxurious mac and cheese, mac and cheese with heavy cream is the way to go.

Heavy cream is sometimes called heavy whipping cream here in the United States, and has a very high percentage of fat (~40%) in them.

Because of that, it is rich and creamy in texture, and really transforms our mac and cheese dish, making it thick, creamy and so luxurious in flavor and texture.

Trust me when I say, after making mac and cheese with heavy cream, you’ll never go about it any other way. 😉

This adult mac and cheese recipe also calls for two types of cheese – slices of American cheese and white cheddar, that I believe really makes it special as it gives a more complex flavor profile.

When I started cooking more frequently as an adult, I hear people say this a lot – using good quality ingredients makes a big difference in the quality of the dish as a whole.

This is so true when it comes to making a gourmet adult version macaroni and cheese dish. The quality of the cheese is in direct proportion to the quality of the mac and cheese.

A large bowl of Adult Macaroni and cheese sprinkled with chopped parsley

So when making this recipe, buy a good quality block of white cheddar and get the deluxe American cheese.

With good quality ingredients, and the magic that is heavy cream, prepare to be blown away by this adult mac and cheese recipe.


Heavy cream is definitely a key ingredient, but as we mentioned, the other ingredients are also very important when making this delicious adult mac and cheese. Here is the full ingredient list:

  • heavy cream – the key ingredient! Heavy cream has ~40% fat which is the reason why our mac and cheese is thick, creamy and so luxurious.
  • American cheese – I love how easy this cheese melts. Use the deluxe kind for the best flavor.
  • white cheddar – avoid the shredded kind. They are less fresh, and some have additives in them and can be harder to melt. Get the high quality block ones and shred it yourself.
  • butter
  • garlic powder
  • all purpose flour
  • salt – used to open up the flavors of the cheese sauce
  • pasta – you can use shells, macaroni etc…pick your favorite!

Let’s make Gourmet Adult Macaroni and Cheese!

It’s time! I’m so excited to show you how I make this amazing adult mac and cheese recipe.

And hopefully successfully convince you once and for all that mac and cheese with heavy cream makes the BEST mac and cheese. 🙂

Boil pasta

Start by boiling water in a pot and adding medium shells to it once it is boiled. Feel free to use elbow macaroni instead of shells if you prefer.

Make cheese sauce

While waiting for pasta to cook, heat a separate pot, add butter and flour, creating a roux. Whisk and stir until butter and flour are combined.

Next add heavy cream, garlic powder, salt into the pot. Continue to whisk.

Whisking mixture in a pot
Use a whisk to stir and mix the mixture

It’s so important to whisk your mixture well using a whisk because that’s the only way to really dissolve the graininess from the flour.

Cook that heavy cream infused cheese sauce under medium heat, continue to stir, and let it come to a boil. Once it boils, liquid should thicken slightly. Keep stirring for another minute or two, then bring to medium low heat.

Fold shredded white cheddar and slices of American cheese into the sauce, and stir until the sauce is smooth.

And viola! The sauce is done. Creamy, thick, velvety cheese sauce.

The cheese sauce


Once that luscious cheese sauce is done, fold cooked pasta into the sauce.

I also like to garnish my adult mac and cheese with fresh parsley because a hint of green makes the dish come alive, but it is not necessary and will not add much to the taste of the dish.

Behold the creamy goodness that is this mac and cheese for grown ups.

I love how the cheese sauce very subtly cling on to the shells, giving you a nice combo of pasta and sauce in every single bite.

Ahhh I love this mac and cheese with heavy cream so much! I seriously can never go back to making mac and cheese any other way again!

Tips and Tricks

After many recipe testing attempts, I learned these tips and tricks that has helped me take my adult mac and cheese from good to incredible. So I’m here to share with you…so you can make the most of your mac and cheese.

Because sharing is caring, and also because amazing heavy cream mac and cheese is a life-changer. 😉

  • Use a whisk to whisk cheese mixture to help dissolve flour and avoid a grainy texture in the cheese sauce. I struggled with a grainy texture in my cheese sauce until I started using a whisk!
  • Keep stirring sauce to prevent burning at the bottom of the pot.
  • Do not add olive oil when boiling pasta. When oil is added to pasta/pasta water, it prevents cheese sauce from clinging to and coating the pasta.
  • Add some milk at the end to thin out cheese sauce if needed. If you want to thicken cheese sauce, cook it on low heat longer.
Using a wooden spoon to scoop out some mac and cheese

So please please do me and yourself a favor…

Skip the box kind and try this gourmet heavy cream mac and cheese at home! It is not that much more difficult, and you can say goodbye to artificial coloring and high salt content.

But most importantly, you get to experience mac and cheese to the fullest. 🙂

What to serve with Macaroni and Cheese

Here are some of my favorite recipes that goes great with this fabulous gourmet adult mac and cheese:

DID YOU ENJOY THIS RECIPE? Please comment below and give us a 5-star rating! This will help others find this recipe on Google and Pinterest. We very much appreciate your help! 🤍

Other yummy cheesy sides

A bowl full of Adult Macaroni and Cheese

Adult Macaroni and Cheese

This is a yummy macaroni and cheese side dish recipe made with heavy cream for a thick, rich and creamy mac and cheese that even adults would love! Cheesy, creamy and full of great flavor!
4.95 from 50 votes
Print Pin
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 431kcal
Author: MinShien


  • 8 oz pasta shells medium
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 lbs sharp white cheddar cheese
  • 6 slices deluxe America Cheese
  • fresh parsley optional
  • milk optional


  • Shred white cheddar cheese or cut it into small pieces.
  • In a pot, bring water to boil and add shells. Cook according to package instructions. Once pasta is cooked, drain water and set aside.
  • Heat a separate pot. Add butter, and once butter is melted (do not brown butter) add flour. Use a whisk to combine butter and flour.
  • Add heavy cream, garlic powder, and salt to the pot. Bring to boil while whisking and stirring constantly (See Note 1). Once mixture reaches boiling point, continue stirring using whisk and let it boil for another 1-2 minutes or until mixture is smooth.
  • Lower heat to medium low and add shredded white cheddar and slices of American cheese. Stir until cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat.
  • Add pasta to the cheese mixture and toss to coat evenly.
  • Optional: If sauce is too thick, add a tbsp of milk, heat it on low heat and stir. Repeat until you get it to the consistency you desire. If sauce is too thin, heat on low heat and continue to stir and cook until sauce thickens to your desired consistency.
  • Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desire. Serve and enjoy!


Note 1: Whisk is used to dissolve flour in the mixture


Calories: 431kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 705mg | Potassium: 143mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1122IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 302mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe?Take a pic and tag me at @joyous.apron, or hashtag #joyousapron on Instagram!

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    This was BEYOND comforting and so creamy! My entire family loved it.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Good! So glad to hear that!

  2. 5 stars
    Oh heavens, I would bathe in this mac n cheese if I could. You’re so right that the cream made such a delicious difference.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thanks Jules! Glad to hear that heavy cream made such a difference!

  3. Sheila Thigpen says:

    5 stars
    Just the cheesiest! It’s my new favorite mac ‘n cheese recipe!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yay I’m so glad!

  4. 5 stars
    This mac and cheese was so creamy!! Just incredible.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Thank you !! 🙂

  5. 5 stars
    There is no shortage of CREAMY going on here! Seriously one of the best mac and cheese recipe I’ve ever tasted. Definitely whisk the mixture to get rid of the grainy texture. I had to add some milk at the end to thin it out after it sat on the stove for a few minutes. Cannot wait to make this again. So so good!

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      So happy to hear that! Thanks for sharing your feedback!

  6. Is there any way to do any of this in advance, I’d like to make for a party but think I’d be in the kitchen too long.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yes! You can make this in advance. When reheating, cook them in a pot with a few extra tablespoons of milk so that it is not dry.

  7. foodieperson says:

    5 stars
    Great recipe! So rich and creamy. Got so many compliments.

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      Yay! That’s what I like to hear 🙂

  8. 5 stars
    Great method and recipe!! I tweaked some things (Didn’t have American cheese, substituted more cheddar + nutmeg and paprika), and it still turned out delicious!
    Even though it says “adult”, this was a solid easy recipe even my kids loved 😊

    1. Joyous Apron says:

      That’s wonderful! Thanks for sharing your modifications. So happy both adult and kids alike enjoyed it 🙂