Chick-fil-A, one of America’s most popular quick service restaurants, has an extensive menu that includes sandwiches, wraps, salads, chicken tenders, fries, and desserts.
But there’s something you should know about its mac and cheese—it’s not your typical American version.
Instead, it’s made with cheddar cheese, buttermilk, and spices.
And if you want to take advantage of all the delicious options on offer, this is definitely the best place to start.
What Are The Ingredients In ChickfilA’s Mac And Cheese Recipe?
The first thing to consider when planning out your order at Chick-fil-A is what exactly the base of your meal will be.
This can change depending on which sandwich or wrap type you choose.
But regardless of whether you opt for a grilled chicken sandwich, a fried chicken sandwich, a crispy chicken nugget salad, or even a classic Mac Daddy (which consists of two pieces of chicken breast sandwiched between two slices of bread), you can expect to find some combination of the following items as part of your meal.
- Chicken Breast Fillet
- Sliced Cheddar Cheese
- Garlic Powder
- Italian Seasoning
- Cayenne Pepper
So far, those ingredients sound pretty standard.
So let’s dive into how they come together to create a creamy and delicious side dish.
How Does ChickfilA Make Their Mac And Cheese So Creamy?
Macaroni and cheese is typically made by mixing together milk, cream, butter, flour, salt, and pepper along with a variety of cheeses like processed or shredded mozzarella, Colby Jack, sharp Cheddar, Monterey jack, and more.
The result is usually quite bland and heavy, making it difficult for people who don’t enjoy rich foods to eat it regularly.
However, when you combine these basic elements with the addition of a few key ingredients, you can create a much richer flavor profile that will satisfy even the pickiest eater.
For example, chick-fil-a uses cheddar and buttermilk as the base of their mac and cheese, which gives them a creamier texture than the traditional versions without losing any of the flavor.
They also add paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and white pepper to give each bite a little kick.
The final step is adding some extra moisture by using a roux (a mixture of melted butter and flour) instead of plain old water, resulting in a perfectly smooth sauce that coats every bit of pasta.
What Type Of Cheese Does ChickfilA Use In Their Mac And Cheese Recipe?
The secret ingredient in the Mac ‘n’ Cheese at Chick-fil-A isn’t just any old cheese, either.
It’s actually cheddar and buttermilk.
The combination adds richness without being too heavy or overpowering, which will keep your palate happy while still giving the macaroni plenty of flavor.
The buttermilk also helps to create a smooth texture throughout each bite, making for a very satisfying experience.
To create the perfect consistency, the restaurant uses a blend of cheeses including sharp white Cheddar, mild yellow cheddar, and tangy orange cheddar, as well as regular milk powder.
For good measure, they also add some dried parsley flakes, garlic salt, paprika, onion powder, and dry mustard.
These flavorful ingredients create a unique taste that will give your mouth a kick every time you eat the classic side dish.
What Makes ChickfilA’s Mac And Cheese Different From Other Restaurant’s Mac And Cheese Recipes?
Macaroni & Cheese is traditionally a white sauce with some form of processed cheese added (usually Velveeta or Kraft), and sometimes milk powder, salt, and pepper.
It was first created by Chef Richard Landau of the McDonald’s in Chicago, Illinois, in 1952 as part of his “World Famous Macaroni and Cheese Dinner.”
The dish quickly became a staple for people who wanted comfort food without having to cook!
However, over time, chefs began tinkering with the formula to create more unique dishes.
In 1972, Chef Paul Prudhomme invented Cajun Mac & Cheese at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, Louisiana.
He combined three cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, and mozzarella) with a roux, flour paste thickened with butter, onions, bell peppers, celery, garlic, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, red wine, and Cognac.
In 1980, the first non-white sauce based Mac & Cheese was served up at KFC when Colonel Sanders introduced Kentucky Fried Chicken’s new signature flavor, “butterflied biscuit crumbed top fried.”
By 1984, he had expanded the line to include a variety of flavors like BBQ, Teriyaki, Ranch Dressing, Honey Mustard, Buffalo Sauce, Garlic Herb, and Blue Cheese.
Today, KFC offers dozens of varieties including Mac & Cheese Deluxe, which contains four types of cheese along with bacon bits, onion rings, and nacho chips.
The next big change came in 1992 when Taco Bell introduced its own spin on Mac & Cheese.
The chain uses a blend of two cheeses called “cheese blends” as well as powdered milk.
Its original recipe consisted of shredded cheddar blended with Monterey Jack and then mixed into a yellow cream sauce.
Chef John Currence brought us our favorite modern rendition of Mac & Cheese when he opened Jollibee in 1986 in Davao City, Philippines.
His restaurant serves a variety of Filipino favorites, including Mac & Cheese, spaghetti, burgers, and ice cream.
But what really sets Jollibee apart is its signature “Pizza Rice.”
It consists of long grain rice topped with ground beef, tomato ketchup, green peas, pineapple chunks, and cheese.
When cooked, the rice becomes soft and fluffy while the toppings become crispy.
Today, many chains are looking to add additional ingredients to their menu items such as Burger King’s Baconator, Wendy’s Frostys, and McDonald’s McRib sandwich.
However, none have been able to match Jollibee’s success because they’ve failed to bring back the Pizza Rice experience.
How Can I Make ChickfilA’s Mac And Cheese At Home?
The first step in preparing any kind of Macaroni and Cheese (or M&C) is always the same—you need to cook the pasta before adding the milk and butter mixture.
So when it comes to choosing how to do this at home, you have plenty of options.
- Cooking dried noodles in boiling water or stock is probably the easiest option, especially if you don’t mind having leftover liquid to use later as part of your sauce.
- You can also choose to cook fresh pasta according to the instructions included with your package, which means no extra cooking time required.
- Just be sure to add the sauce ingredients right after draining the pasta.
- If you prefer to avoid using oil or fat altogether, you can opt for a nonstick pan instead.
- But since they’re typically aluminum, these pans will get hot very quickly, so keep them away from heat sources like oven burners or open flames until the moment of serving.
- Finally, another alternative is to bake the prepared pasta sheets directly in the oven, just like baking lasagna sheets.
Once you’ve cooked the pasta, you’ll need to prepare the rest of the ingredients.
To begin with, you’ll need to mix together the dry ingredients, including flour, cornstarch, and salt.
Then, once everything is ready, you can proceed to combine the wet ingredients, such as milk, cream, heavy whipping cream, and sour cream.
While mixing the ingredients, remember to stir constantly, otherwise the mac and cheese won’t turn out fluffy, smooth, and light.
After blending all the ingredients well, you’ll pour the mixture into a large bowl where the previously cooked pasta has been placed.
Now, you can put the whole thing in the fridge for 15 minutes to let everything cool down completely.
What Are Some Tips For Making The Perfect Mac And Cheese?
If you love Mac & Cheese (and who doesn’t?), then consider yourself lucky! But don’t stop here.
There are lots of ways you can improve upon your favorite brand’s recipes so they taste even better than ever before.
Here are five simple tips to help you create a great homemade macaroni and cheese meal:
- Use real ingredients instead of pre-packaged ones.
- Make sure you have everything in place.
- Season properly.
- Get creative.
- Cook long enough.
1. Use Real Ingredients
Don’t be afraid to use good quality ingredients when cooking up a batch of mac and cheese at home.
You may think that using low-cost ingredients will save money, but you often get what you pay for.
For example, if you buy cheap milk or eggs, those products won’t last as long.
They might separate and spoil quickly.
So unless you need them right away, go ahead and spend extra cash on higher quality stuff.
The same goes for flour and other dry goods.
If you choose to use store-bought pasta, check out its ingredient list carefully.
Chances are, it contains filler ingredients such as cornstarch, which prevents the noodles from absorbing water perfectly.
That means your homemade pasta will turn mushy after just a few minutes.
Instead, try purchasing fresh whole wheat pasta to avoid these pitfalls.
The added fiber content along with the natural starches makes your homemade mac and cheese much thicker, creamier, and tastier.
Plus, it also keeps you full longer.
Another thing to keep in mind is the type of sauce you decide to use.
While many people opt for boxed sauces because they’re easy to prepare and convenient, they come packed with preservatives and artificial flavors.
These additives aren’t healthy for your body, either.
In order to ensure that your homemade mac and cheese tastes exactly how you imagine it should, ditch the readymade versions and switch over to homemade varieties.
2. Make Sure You Have Everything in Place
In addition to choosing high-quality ingredients, make sure you have every necessary item in place first.
You should always do this step before anything else.
You’ll never regret spending time preparing and cleaning up your kitchen before starting any project.
Even though you might feel rushed while doing dishes, you’ll find that you actually enjoy the process.
And when you’ve got everything set up and organized, you’ll be able to focus entirely on the task at hand without having to worry about getting distracted by messes elsewhere in the house.
This applies especially well to baking projects, where keeping things clean is crucial.
Once you’ve prepared all the ingredients, you shouldn’t let any spilled liquids touch other areas of your kitchen.
Clean up spills immediately to minimize damage and prevent odors from spreading around.
3. Season Properly
When it comes to seasoning, the less salt you add, the better!
It’s true that adding too little salt could leave your mac and cheese bland and uninteresting.
However, excessive amounts of salt can cause serious health issues including kidney stones, heart disease, and hypertension.
This is why you must season according to your personal preference.
So what does “seasoning” mean?
Well, it refers to the amount of salt you put into the mix.
For instance, if you want to add a pinch of salt to your mac and cheese, that would fall under the category of “light seasoning.”
As you continue to cook the dish, however, you may notice that your body starts craving additional salt.
At this point, you’d likely reach for additional salty foods or condiments to satisfy your appetite.
To determine how much salt you should add, simply follow this formula: Add half of the total number of grams of sodium per serving to each cup of uncooked pasta.
Then, multiply the entire result by two and divide by four.
Finally, round off the answer to the nearest quarter teaspoon.
As an example, say you plan to serve six servings of mac and cheese.
To calculate the total amount of sodium in each cup, you would multiply half of 1 gram of sodium per serving by 6.
Next, you would double that figure to obtain 12 grams of sodium per serving.
Lastly, you would divide 12 by 4 to arrive at 3 teaspoons per serving.
Remember that you can adjust the amount of salt depending on your preferences and dietary needs.
Don’t hesitate to add more if you find the flavor lacking.
4. Get Creative
Sometimes, you simply run out of ideas.
When you’re stuck for inspiration, try experimenting with different combinations of ingredients and techniques.
After all, you can’t expect to replicate a restaurant’s signature dish if you haven’t taken the time to learn how their chefs achieve success.
That said, remember that creativity isn’t free rein.
You still need to stay within boundaries and stick to your own style of cooking.
Keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Do not alter the original recipe.
- Avoid making substitutions.
- Strive for simplicity.
- Go light on the fat.
- Add color and texture wherever possible.
5. Cook Long Enough
One of the biggest mistakes people commit when trying to recreate a dish from scratch is failing to cook it long enough.
Many people assume that once they pour hot water into the pot containing the cooked macaroni, the job is done.
Not only is that wrong, but it can lead to subpar results.
According to Chef Jeff Potter, author of How to Feed Your Family Healthy Food on Any Budget, the key is to cook mac and cheese until the noodles are al dente.
Al dente literally translates to “to the tooth,” meaning that the pasta should retain a slight bite to it.
Once cooked, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients.
Let the mixture cool down slightly before transferring it to individual bowls.
How Can I Make My Mac And Cheese More Like ChickfilA’s?
If you haven’t tried it yet, give the classic macaroni and cheese a try at home!
You can easily find recipes online or in cookbooks, so don’t worry too much about following any specific instructions exactly.
In fact, we highly recommend using boxed macaroni and cheese mix instead of pre-made noodles.
The store-bought stuff isn’t as flavorful as homemade, which means it won’t have the same depth of flavor as the restaurant version (unless you use really high quality ingredients).
You might also consider adding additional flavors such as chili powder, paprika, onion powder, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, or even bacon bits.
These additions will add extra kick without overpowering the other flavors.
The key here is to keep things simple.
If you want to emulate the taste of Chick-fil-A’s Mac & Cheese, just go ahead and follow the basic directions below.
- Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- In our case, 1 pound of dry elbow macaroni was used.
- While the pasta cooks, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Once the pasta is cooked, drain it well and transfer it into the prepared pan with melted butter.
- Toss the pasta until coated with butter and seasonings.
- Add shredded mozzarella cheese along with a cup of heavy cream.
- Stir everything together and then cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake it in a 350 degree F oven for 25 minutes.
- After baking, remove the foil and stir the mixture gently.
- Allow it to sit covered for 5 minutes before serving warm.
Macaroni and cheese
This recipe is easy enough for beginners, but it does require a little bit of attention throughout the cooking process.
However, once the dish is done, you’ll be happy you took the time to do it right.
- Large sauce pan
- 16 ounces elbow macaroni
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 cup cream
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 3/4 cup cheddar shredded sharp
- 3/4 cup parmesan shredded
- 1 cup romano cheese shredded
- Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- Cheddar cheese to top
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
- Boil noodles until al dente, drain, and set aside (reserve about 1/2 cup pasta water in case the sauce needs to be thinned).
- In a large sauce pan over medium heat, melt the butter.
- Whisk in the flour and continue to mix for 4-5 minutes over low heat.
- Slowly pour in the cream and whole milk, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken over low heat.
- Mix in the cheese mixture until the cheese begins to melt and become creamy, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Thin the sauce with a little of the reserved water if it becomes too thick.
- Incorporate the macaroni noodles.
- Fill a large baking dish halfway with the mixture.
- Top with more shredded cheddar cheese.
- Cook for five minutes.
- Cook for two minutes on low broil after five minutes.
- Remove from oven and stir until the crispy cheese on top is evenly distributed throughout the dish.