White Wine and Thyme Macaroni and Cheese


On a cool day nothing sounds better to me than a warm plate of mac and cheese! That being said, I didn't always like macaroni and cheese (when I was little and would have a box of Kraft, I would throw away the cheese and just eat the fun-shaped pasta) because it always seemed way too creamy to me! That is until I realized that with lots of sharp cheeses, and some savory add-ins, mac and cheese can be one of the best dishes out there, especially for this time of year.

What makes this macaroni and cheese special?

There are a few things about this macaroni and cheese which I think make it extra special and one of my favorite recipes-

  1. Ready in just an hour
  2. Savory add-ins which make it extra sharp and flavorful
  3. The best combination of cheeses

What's the first step?

One of my favorite parts of this recipe is the toasted panko thyme breadcrumbs that you'll sprinkle on top of the mac and cheese before baking it. These breadcrumbs are so easy to toast up, and really help add that flavor and crunch for the most golden top, which I think we can all agree is the best part of any mac and cheese. You'll want to grab these ingredients-

  • butter
  • panko
  • parmesan
  • thyme
  • salt and pepper

Then you'll melt the butter in a little skillet, add in the panko and stir until it's perfectly golden, then remove it from the heat and stir in the parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper. It only take a few minutes to prepare but makes for the most delicious topping to this mac and cheese. Plus, the breadcrumbs don't actually toast much more once in the oven, so toasting them in a skillet beforehand ensures they'll be perfectly golden.

Parmesan thyme panko breadcrumbs

On to the most important part!

You'll next want to make a roux with the remaining buter and flour, which is probably the most important part of this recipe. It's super simple, but it will ensure your cheese sauce is glossy and thick enough to coat each piece of pasta, which is always ideal. You'll melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a large sauce pan, then whisk in the flour. Keep whisking until the flour is incorporated and starts to turn golden, which will help add flavor and ensure the sauce is perfectly thick.

Macaroni and cheese with panko

What other ingredients go into the sauce?

Like I said, the next few things you'll add into the sauce are really what makes this recipe unique, and perfect for people like me who don't love super creamy dishes. Grab these few things and you'll be ready to incorporate them into the sauce-

  1. white wine - I've always loved the addition of a dry white wine in any recipe with cheese, like a fondue, so the addition here is perfect
  2. whole milk - 3 cups will ensure this macaroni has plenty of cheese sauce
  3. garlic powder - just a little to add a subtle garlic flavor
  4. cayenne - optional, but I always love a little kick in any macaroni recipe
  5. dijon mustard - another one of my favorite additions which pairs perfectly with the cheeses in this recipe

Which order is everything added?

You'll first add the white wine, ensuring it is completely whisked into the roux. Continue whisking and simmering until the wine is partially reduced, cooking off the alcohol and some of the acidity. Next you'll add the milk, continuing to whisk until it is completely incorporated into the roux. Although it will not thicken right away, if you continue to let it simmer for a few minutes, I promise it will thicken right up and become super glossy!

Once thickened, turn down the heat to low and add in the garlic powder, cayenne, and dijon mustard. The cayenne is certainly optional, but with the milk and cheeses, it is super subtle and definitely not spicy in the least, but just adds that kick of flavor. While you are making the sauce, cook the pasta until it is just shy of al dente, as it will continue cooking in the oven. My favorite shape for macaroni and cheese is cavatappi because the cheese sauce really gets into each spiral, but other pasta shapes that would work great are shells or elbows.

Baked pank

Now for the perfect cheese trio!

Now like I said, if you are someone who doesn't love super creamy recipes, then I've got your back with the sharpest cheese trio out there! These 3 are the best not only because they're so sharp, but also because they're great melting cheeses-

  • gruyere - one of the best cheeses out there, sharp and adds so much flavor!
  • fontina - great melting cheese, similar to mozzarella but with more flavor
  • cheddar - for that extra kick of sharpness, also delicious with the white wine, thyme, and dijon flavors!

Gradually stir all the cheese into the sauce, stirring constantly between each addition to ensure the cheese is fully melted. Adding it in gradually will also help ensure it doesn't clump. Continue simmering until the sauce begins to thicken. If it doesn't thicken right away, don't worry, as it will after a few minutes. You'll want it to be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Macaroni and cheese with panko crumbs

Once the sauce has thickened, add in the cooked pasta and stir to combine. If the pot you cooked your pasta in is larger, it also might be easier to pour the sauce directly on the pasta. Make sure to stir it up nice and good so each noodle gets some sauce! Although it may look like a lot of sauce, it thickens up even more once baked and no one likes a dry mac and cheese.

Last steps

After combining the pasta and sauce, pour it into your baking dish, which can really vary in size as long as it is large enough to hold everything, so feel free to use whatever dish you already have! Top with the remaining fontina for that extra cheesy and golden top, then sprinkle on the prepared bread crumbs. This recipe only bakes uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbling and golden, so you really don't have to wait long at all!

Once golden, remove it from the oven, and top with additional fresh thyme. Serve this up right away (although it will smell so delicious you won't be able to wait!) and enjoy each cozy bite.

Recipe Details:

Servings: 6-8

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 55 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

White Wine and Thyme Macaroni and Cheese

Cheesy, savory, and satisfying, this macaroni and cheese is just creamy enough but also full of flavors of white wine, dijon, and thyme, so that it tastes just like your favorite sharp fondue recipe.



  • 5 tbsp butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 cup parmesan, grated
  • 1 tsp thyme, fresh
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine, dry
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • cayenne, sprinkle, optional
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 12 ounces cavatappi pasta
  • 1 cup gruyere, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups fontina, shredded, divided
  • 1/2 cup cheddar, shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a small pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add panko and stir frequently until golden, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan, thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt remaining butter. Whisk in flour, stirring consistently until the flour is incorporated and turns golden. Slowly whisk in wine, simmering until partially reduced. Whisk in milk and simmer until thickened, 5-6 minutes. Turn down heat to low and whisk in garlic powder, cayenne, dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
  4. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until almost al dente. Strain and return to pot.
  5. Gradually stir in gruyere, 1 cup of fontina, and cheddar to the milk mixture, stirring constantly between each addition. Simmer until thickened slightly, about 5-6 minutes, and until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as needed. Stir in cooked pasta and transfer to baking dish. Top with remaining fontina and prepared panko breadcrumbs. Transfer to oven and bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes until cheese is bubbling and golden.
  6. Remove from oven, add additional thyme, and serve immediately.

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