Gluten-Free Creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Crispy Topping

Last night, I adapted a mac n cheese recipe to be gluten free, and it’s so stinking amazing, I just had to share. This isn’t the type of content you should normally expect on Bird Nerd Creative, but I reserve the right to share special things here from time to time.

I found this recipe from The Chunky Chef (great blog name, by the way!) awhile back, and finally got it tweaked so that it’s just right for us. First and foremost, it needs to be gluten-free for my mama. Second, it needed to be a little more affordable, and stretch a bit more. We are on a tight budget and we’re feeding 7, so while gruyere is delightful, I can’t really justify the cost.

I’m so grateful to Amanda at The Chunky Chef for sharing this recipe and I’m in no way trying to steal it or claim it as my own. Please head over to her blog for more helpful tips and tweaks on this recipe, including a make ahead option. I just really wanted to share what worked for us.

I’m not a food blogger, so there are no pictures…even if there were pictures, they would be awful. So, just conjure in your mind the creamiest, most perfect macaroni and cheese you’ve ever tasted. Ready? Here goes.

Note: I nearly doubled the pasta, but there was still a generous amount of cheese sauce and shredded cheese to coat it and make it creamy. This was the best and cheapest way to stretch this recipe! I also cut the gruyere and used mozzarella instead. I thought my husband was going to eat the entire pan of mac n cheese, so I guess it was a winner!

Gluten-Free Creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese with Crispy Topping

Delightful & delicious creamy baked mac n cheese that’s gluten free but doesn’t taste gluten free! The french fried onions on top take it to the next level!
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time45 mins


  • 24 oz Barilla Gluten-Free Elbow Pasta 2 – 12 oz boxes; we loved the texture and the way this turned out – couldn’t even tell it was gluten free. Use other brands at your own risk 😉
  • 1/2 cup salted butter 1 stick
  • 1/2 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-To-1 Baking Flour This is what I used but other gluten free all purpose flour blends would probably work
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups half and half
  • 4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 can gluten free french fried onions I used the Kroger brand


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 9×13″ casserole dish.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the water is boiling, add the pasta and cook for 1 minute less than the box instructs for al dente. For these Barilla elbows, that was 6 minutes and it came out perfectly. Immediately strain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. You can add a little olive oil to help with sticking, but mine was fine without it.
  • While water is coming up to a boil, grate cheeses and toss together to mix, then divide into three piles: approximately 3 cups for the sauce, 1 1/2 cups for the inner layer, and 1 1/2 cups for the topping.
  • Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in flour and whisk to combine. Cook for about 1 minute, whisking often. Slowly pour in about 2 cups or so of the milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until smooth. Slowly pour in the remaining milk/half and half, while whisking constantly, until combined and smooth.
  • Continue to heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. 
  • Stir in spices and 1 1/2 cups of the cheeses, stirring to melt and combine. Stir in another 1 1/2 cups of cheese, and stir until completely melted and smooth.
  • In the pot you cooked the pasta in, combine drained pasta with cheese sauce, stirring to combine fully. Pour half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with 1 1/2 cups of grated cheeses, then top that with the remaining pasta mixture.
  • Sprinkle the top with the last 1 1/2 cups of cheese and then most of a can of french fried onions. Bake for 20 minutes, until cheesy is bubbly and lightly golden brown.

If you make this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment here or on Facebook and let me know! Enjoy 🙂

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