Macaroni cheese is a beloved comfort dish, creamy and easily adaptable to individual tastes. Imagine achieving the perfection of Delia Smith’s renowned version in your own kitchen. Delia Smith, a prominent British cook and author, has championed the art of cooking for over half a century. Renowned for her straightforward, foolproof recipes, her macaroni cheese stands out as a favorite — deeply flavorful with that irresistible crispy golden crust.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through Delia Smith’s iconic macaroni-cheese recipe. From cooking the pasta to perfecting the sauce and baking, we’ve got you covered. With elbow macaroni, mixed cheeses, and a seasoned béchamel sauce, this dish showcases Delia’s culinary brilliance in a delightful meal.
- Related: Delia Smith Spaghetti Carbonara
Why You Love this Recipe
There are many reasons why I love this Delia Smith macaroni cheese recipe.
Here are some of them:
- Easy to make with basic pantry staples and simple equipment: a saucepan, whisk, colander, baking dish, and oven.
- Highly versatile; customize with cheeses like gruyere, emmental, or mozzarella, or add-ins like bacon, ham, broccoli, mushrooms, or tomatoes.
- Delivers a rich and creamy taste with cheese melting seamlessly into the sauce, complementing every pasta bite.
- Mustard and nutmeg infuse depth and warmth, while the Parmesan topping offers a crispy contrast to the soft, gooey center.
Delia Smith Macaroni Cheese Ingredients
To make Delia Smith’s macaroni cheese recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- Macaroni (225 g/8 oz): The traditional choice for this dish. However, other short pasta like penne, fusilli, or shells can be suitable alternatives.
- Butter (40 g/1 1/2 oz): Crucial for the roux, the cheese sauce’s foundation. Both salted and unsalted variants work, tailoring to your taste.
- Plain Flour (40 g/1 1/2 oz): Another roux essential. Use all-purpose or self-raising varieties, ensuring it’s sifted to prevent lumping.
- Milk (570 ml/1 pint): The backbone of the cheese sauce. Choose between whole, semi-skimmed, or skimmed based on your desired richness.
- Mature Cheddar Cheese (175 g/6 oz): Vital for the sauce and as a topping. Opt for mature or sharp Cheddar for a robust flavor and superior melt.
- Parmesan Cheese (50 g/2 oz): A finishing sprinkle atop the dish. Utilize pre-grated, shredded, or freshly grated from a Parmesan block.
- Salt and Black Pepper: Enhance the dish’s flavor profile. Both table or sea salt are suitable, and black pepper can be freshly ground or pre-ground.
- Cayenne Pepper (a pinch): Offers a touch of heat and a hint of color. Adjust the amount based on your spice preference.
- Nutmeg (a pinch): Infuses warmth and depth into the cheese sauce. Both freshly grated or pre-ground varieties are acceptable.
- Fresh Breadcrumbs (2 tablespoons): Provides a delightful crunch to the topping. Choose from white, whole wheat, or even homemade from pulsed bread slices.
How to Make Delia Smith Macaroni Cheese Recipe
To make Delia Smith’s macaroni cheese recipe, follow these steps:
Step 1: Cook the Pasta
- Preheat your oven to 200°C (180°C fan) / 400°F (350°F fan) / gas mark 6.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt and a splash of oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
- Add the macaroni and cook according to the package directions until al dente, which means slightly firm to the bite. Stir occasionally to prevent clumping.
- Drain the pasta in a colander and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
Step 2: Make the Cheese Sauce
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk constantly for about 2 minutes to form a smooth paste. This is called a roux.
- Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened and smooth. This is called a béchamel sauce.
- Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in 125 g (4 oz) of the Cheddar cheese, the cayenne pepper, the nutmeg, and some salt and black pepper to taste. Whisk until the cheese is melted and the sauce is well combined. This is called a cheese sauce.
Step 3: Assemble the Dish
- Grease a 2-liter (2-quart) baking dish with some butter or cooking spray.
- Spread half of the cooked macaroni evenly over the bottom of the dish. Pour half of the cheese sauce over the macaroni and spread it evenly with a spatula.
- Repeat with the remaining macaroni and cheese sauce, making sure to cover all the pasta with the sauce.
- Sprinkle the remaining 50 g (2 oz) of Cheddar cheese and the Parmesan cheese evenly over the top of the dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the cheese layer.
- Bake the dish in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.
Step 4: Enjoy Your Delia Smith Macaroni Cheese
- Remove the dish from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before serving. This will allow the cheese sauce to set and thicken slightly.
- Cut into portions and serve hot with a green salad or some steamed vegetables on the side. You can also garnish your macaroni cheese with some chopped parsley or chives for some freshness and color.
- Enjoy your delicious and comforting Delia Smith macaroni cheese with your family and friends.
What Do I Serve With Delia Smith Macaroni Cheese?
Delia Smith macaroni cheese can be served as a main course or a side dish. If you serve it as a main course, you can pair it with some salad or vegetables to balance out the richness of the dish.
Some of my favorite options are:
- Green salad with vinaigrette dressing
- Roasted Brussels sprouts with balsamic glaze
- Steamed broccoli with lemon butter
- Sautéed spinach with garlic
- Roasted carrots with honey and thyme
If you serve it as a side dish, you can pair it with some meat or fish to add some protein to the meal. Some of my favorite options are:
- Roasted chicken with rosemary and lemon
- Grilled steak with chimichurri sauce
- Baked salmon with dill and lemon
- Fried chicken with honey mustard sauce
- Meatloaf with tomato sauce
Pro Tips to Make Perfect Delia Smith Macaroni Cheese
To make sure that your Delia Smith macaroni cheese turns out perfect every time, here are some pro tips that you should follow:
- Cook the macaroni slightly less than the package directions. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so you don’t want it to be overcooked and mushy.
- Grate your own cheese. Pre-shredded cheese often contains additives that prevent it from melting properly. Grating your own cheese will ensure that it melts smoothly and evenly into the sauce.
- Use good quality cheese. The cheese is the star of this dish, so you want to use the best quality cheese that you can find. Look for sharp cheddar cheese that has a strong and tangy flavor. You can also use a mix of different cheeses for more variety and complexity.
- Don’t skimp on the sauce. The sauce is what makes this dish creamy and delicious, so you don’t want to have too little of it. Make sure that you have enough sauce to cover the macaroni and cheese mixture in the baking dish. You can also reserve some sauce to drizzle over the dish before serving if you like it extra saucy.
- Don’t overbake the dish. You want to bake the dish until the cheese is melted and bubbly, but not too long that the sauce dries out and the pasta becomes hard. Check the dish after 20 minutes and see if it is done. If not, bake it for another 5 to 10 minutes until golden and crisp.
Variations of Delia Smith Macaroni Cheese
If you want to try some variations of Delia Smith macaroni cheese, here are some ideas that you can experiment with:
- Add some bacon or ham. You can cook some bacon or ham in a skillet until crisp, then chop it and add it to the macaroni and cheese mixture. This will add some smoky and salty flavor and some extra protein to the dish.
- Add some broccoli or mushrooms. You can steam some broccoli florets or sauté some sliced mushrooms in a skillet until tender, then add them to the macaroni and cheese mixture. This will add some color and texture and some extra nutrients to the dish.
- Add some tomatoes or tomato sauce. You can chop some fresh tomatoes or use some canned tomato sauce and add them to the macaroni and cheese mixture. This will add some acidity and freshness and some extra flavor to the dish.
- Add some spices or herbs. You can spice up your macaroni cheese by adding some spices or herbs to the sauce or the cheese mixture. Some of my favorite options are:
- Cayenne pepper
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
How do I store Delia Smith Macaroni Cheese?
If you have any leftovers of Delia Smith macaroni cheese, you can store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can also freeze them in a freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.
How do I reheat Delia Smith Macaroni Cheese?
To reheat Delia Smith macaroni cheese, you can use one of these methods:
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan) / 350°F (320°F fan) / gas mark 4. Transfer the macaroni cheese to an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Bake it for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through.
- Microwave: Transfer the macaroni cheese to a microwave-safe dish and cover it with a damp paper towel. Microwave it for 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through, stirring once halfway.
- Stovetop: Transfer the macaroni cheese to a saucepan and add a splash of milk or water. Heat it over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally, until heated through.
What kind of cheese should I use for Delia Smith macaroni cheese?
Delia Smith recommends using cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese for her macaroni cheese recipe. Cheddar cheese has a strong and tangy flavor that goes well with the pasta and the sauce. Parmesan cheese adds a nutty and salty flavor that enhances the dish. You can also use other types of cheese, such as gruyere, emmental, or mozzarella, depending on your preference.
How can I make Delia Smith macaroni cheese more creamy?
One way to make Delia Smith macaroni cheese more creamy is to add more sour cream to the sauce. Sour cream adds a rich and tangy flavor and a smooth and velvety texture to the sauce. You can also add more milk or water to thin out the sauce if it is too thick.
Can I make Delia Smith macaroni cheese ahead of time?
Yes, you can make Delia Smith macaroni cheese ahead of time and reheat it later. You can either bake the dish in the oven and then refrigerate or freeze it, or you can assemble the dish in the baking dish and then refrigerate or freeze it before baking. To reheat the dish, you can use the oven, the microwave, or the stovetop, as explained in the article.
Is Delia Smith macaroni cheese gluten-free?
No, Delia Smith macaroni cheese is not gluten-free, as it contains wheat flour and pasta. However, you can make some substitutions to make it gluten-free. You can use gluten-free flour and gluten-free pasta instead of regular flour and pasta. You can also check the labels of the cheese, milk, sour cream, mustard, and nutmeg to make sure they are gluten-free.
- Related: Delia Smith Macaroni Cheese
Delia Smith’s macaroni cheese recipe is a classic dish that you can easily make at home with simple ingredients. It’s creamy, cheesy, and satisfying, perfect for a cozy dinner or a special occasion. By following this step-by-step guide, you can make your own delicious macaroni cheese that tastes like Delia Smith’s version