World's Best Macaroni and Cheese



  • 12 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups Half-and-Half
  • 3/4 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 2 cups grated French Gruyere cheese
  • 1 cup grated Swiss Fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature, for greasing dish

Crispy Topping

  • 1 1/2 cups coarse bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Macaroni: Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and let cool.
  2. To make sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute for 20 seconds.
  3. Add flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, 1 to 2 minutes; do not brown.
  4. Add mustard, bay leaf and thyme and whisk in milk and Half-and-Half. Bring up to a boil. While whisking, add Worcestershire and hot pepper sauce and simmer slowly about 20 minutes.
  5. Strain through a medium strainer, add the cheeses and mix until smooth.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Crispy Topping: In skillet, saute bread crumbs lightly in melted butter until lightly browned. Add parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  9. Butter a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.
  10. Mix macaroni with sauce. Place in baking dish and top with crispy topping.
  11. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 30 minutes until golden and bubbly.
  12. Serve immediately.

This can be prepared ahead of time.