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7 Best Cheeses for Mac and Cheese

Wondering what the best cheese for mac and cheese is? Keep reading because I have all the secrets! 

In this classic comfort dish, cheese is the star. Selecting the right mix can elevate your mac and cheese from good to unforgettable. 

7 Best Cheeses for Mac and Cheese featuring Bowl of Chili Macaroni with Cheddar Cheese

Taste the sharp charm of cheddar or the creamy allure of Gruyere. Or the luxurious goodness of brie. 

There is an entire world of cheese out there to explore!

Put down that box of Kraft. Homemade mac is the best, and these are the best cheeses for mac and cheese. 

It’s time to get cheesy! 

Choosing the Perfect Cheese

Looking for the perfect cheese for your mac and cheese?

You are going to want to check out the list below. This is your epic cheese guide with everything from mild to savory. 

And even with a touch of funky. 

Fancy classic flavors? You might be a cheddar person. Crave something fancy? Try gouda!

These cheeses are not just tasty. They are melt-in-your-mouth good.

Before picking your noodle’s perfect cheese partner, glance over your recipe. Does it ask for a béchamel? This is chef talk for a creamy white sauce made with buttery flour and dairy.

Your cheese choice hangs on this!

So, if your recipe skips the béchamel, go for a cheese duo. Pick one for taste and one that is processed (American or Velveeta) for smoothness.

If you need a béchamel, you only need one cheese. But really- the more, the merrier! 

The ideal cheese also melds a strong flavor with a fantastic ability to melt. Only a few cheeses hit both marks, but mixing a couple will do the trick.

Also, young cheese will always be better for melting. 

Aged cheeses are delightful. However, they can be too dry and crumbly for a perfectly melted mac and cheese.

Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese

1. Cheddar

Whole and Grated Cheddar Cheese on a Parchment Paper

If you had to choose one cheese for your mac and cheese forever, choose Cheddar.

Cheddar is the poster child of mac and cheese. It melts beautifully without being plastic-like and is tangy but not too strong.

 Plus, it adds the perfect gooey touch.

Pick a semi-hard cheddar and grate it yourself. (A word of advice: forget pre-shredded cheese. It has stuff that can mess up the texture.) 

Not using béchamel? Pair cheddar with a meltier cheese, like Colby or Monterey Jack. You can even try processed cheese like American. 

It’ll keep your sauce smooth.

2. Gruyère

Gruyere Cheese Sliced in Small Triangular Pieces on a Wooden Cutting Board with a Large Wedge of Gruyere in the Background

Gruyere is a melt-master. Add its rich, nutty taste- and you have the ultimate savory mac and cheese.

Fancy restaurants love gruyere for their mac and cheese. Its gooeyness and full-bodied flavor make it irresistible. 

Want a pro tip? Top your gruyere mac with bacon bits and a crunchy bread topping. Hello, homemade gourmet meal!

3. Parmesan 

Blocks of Parmesan Cheese on a Parchment Paper

Cheddar is the king of mac and cheese. But Parmesan has been gracing noodles since the dawn of time. So, you know Parm is delicious. 

Parmesan is perfect for mac and cheese. It makes for a dish that is light and flavorful.

And do not forget: go for fresh Parmesan. Skip that green can.

4. Cream Cheese

A Bowl of Cream Cheese with Fresh Basil Leaf on Top

Think about it. Cream cheese is already creamy. So naturally, it can work wonders for mac and cheese. 

But watch out, cream cheese can be a bit much if used alone. Its rich nature means it needs some balance.

The secret is to add cream cheese to your favorite classic cheeses. 

Try a dollop or two in a Cheddar or Jack base. It takes the creaminess to new heights and perfect smoothness.

5. Monterey Jack

Four Slices of Monterey Jack Cheese on a Wooden Table

Monterey Jack is your cheese for a mac and cheese that’s mild and delish. 

It outshines others with its melting prowess and irresistible cheese pulls. 

Like cheddar, buy a block and shred it yourself. (Hmm. I notice a trend.) 

Monterey Jack also plays nice with other more potent, less melty cheeses. 

This cheese is a classic for a reason. Monterey Jack is gentler and slightly sweeter than cheddar. 

While it can stand on its own, Monterey Jack tastes divine with other cheeses. I love it with Pepper Jack for a sweet and spicy dish! 

6. Fontina

Chunks of Fontina Cheese on a Wooden Cutting Board with Rosemary

Fontina comes in two forms: young and aged. 

For meltability, young Fontina’s your pick. It matches the creaminess of Gruyere and other luscious cheeses like Gouda.

Young Fontina brings a milder flavor than Gruyere, delivering a creamy, buttery-flavored dish. 

And you can swap it with Gruyere or Gouda or use them together.

With its soft texture, young Fontina is perfect for mac and cheese sauce. 

It’s even a hit in fondue! But remember to ditch the rind before adding it to your recipe.

7. Brie

Wheel of Brie Cheese on a Parchment Paper with a Wedge Cut Out and Honey and Walnuts in the Background

Brie is creamy by nature and totally delicious. But its consistency isn’t quite right for mac and cheese. 

It shines brightest when paired with another cheese. 

How about pairing Brie with cream cheese, ricotta, and Parmigiano Reggiano? 

This quartet delivers a savory and complex mac and cheese that is just delish. 

Mix Cheeses for the Best Mac and Cheese

With a mix of cheeses, you can take your dish’s taste up a few notches. Using multiple types of cheese means more flavor. 

And that means more deliciousness!

Your trusty cheddar mac often invites other cheeses to the party, too.

Try it out with your favorite cheeses. Or maybe test a few you’ve never had.

You could discover some tasty combos. And no matter what- you’ll make a memorable mac and cheese! 

7 Best Cheeses for Mac and Cheese

Want to know the best cheese for mac and cheese? Look no further. From classic Cheddar to Gruyere, these are the best cheeses for a gooey, creamy, tasty mac.


  • Cheddar

  • Gruyère

  • Parmesan

  • Cream Cheese

  • Monterey Jack

  • Fontina

  • Brie


  • Select your favorite cheese (or cheeses).
  • Or try a new one today!
Best Cheese for Mac and Cheese

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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