The copycat Longhorn Steakhouse mac and cheese recipe is a favorite for anyone seeking to recreate the rich, creamy taste of this popular dish at home. With its perfect combination of cheeses and comforting, gooey texture, it’s no surprise that this dish stands out as a sought-after comfort food. I’ve always appreciated the way a well-made mac and cheese can turn a meal into a memorable experience.
In my pursuit of the ultimate mac and cheese, I’ve found that the Longhorn Steakhouse version hits all the right notes. It’s a blend of luxurious cheeses with a velvety sauce that coats the pasta beautifully. By breaking down the ingredients and the method, anyone can whip up this indulgent dish in their own kitchen. It’s not just about the flavors; it’s also about bringing a bit of that Longhorn Steakhouse charm into your dining room.
Whenever I’m aiming to impress guests or simply treating myself to a hearty meal, my go-to is this copycat recipe. It captures the essence of what makes the Longhorn Steakhouse mac and cheese so irresistible: a golden, crispy topping over a creamy, cheese-laden pasta that never fails to please the palate. Perfecting this recipe at home has allowed me to enjoy one of my favorite restaurant dishes anytime I crave it.
Ingredients and Substitutions
When recreating Longhorn’s luscious mac and cheese recipe at home, it’s important to know which ingredients are key for that signature taste and what substitutions can be used without compromising flavor. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the types of cheese and pasta, along with essential additional components and their substitute options.
The cheese blend in Longhorn’s mac and cheese is pivotal for achieving cheese perfection. The recipe requires:
- 8 ounces white Cheddar: A classic choice for mac and cheese, providing a lusciously creamy texture and sharp taste.
- 4 ounces Fontina cheese: Contributes to a smooth melt and a mild, nutty flavor.
- 1/2 cup of sharp Cheddar: Adds a depth of cheddar flavor.
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese: Enhances the overall flavor profile with its salty, umami taste.
- If Fontina is unavailable, equal parts of Gruyere cheese or Provolone can be used.
- In lieu of white Cheddar, try Monterey Jack or a medium Cheddar for a milder flavor.
The ideal pasta for this dish is:
- Cavatappi pasta: This corkscrew-shaped pasta holds the creamy sauce well.
- If cavatappi is not on hand, other tube-shaped pasta like penne or elbow macaroni works well.
- For those avoiding gluten, gluten-free versions of pasta can replicate the texture needed to bring this dish to life. For perfect texture, cook pasta al dente to maintain the right bite after baking.
Beyond the essentials of cheese and pasta, a few extra ingredients elevate the dish:
- Panko bread crumbs: Offer a crispy, golden topping that contrasts with the creamy pasta.
- Olive oil: Used to toast the panko breadcrumbs and add a subtle flavor.
- Bacon bits (optional): For added crunch and smoky flavor.
- If panko bread crumbs aren’t available, regular breadcrumbs can work, though they should be toasted with a bit more olive oil for optimal crispiness.
- For a vegetarian option, omit the bacon bits or replace them with smoked paprika for a similar smoky flavor profile.
Preparing the Pasta
Crafting the perfect mac and cheese begins with cooking the pasta just right and preparing a cheese mixture that’s rich and velvety. I’ll guide you through each step to ensure your results are as tantalizing as they’re meant to be.
Cooking Pasta to Al Dente
To start off, I boil a large pot of water over medium heat. It’s critical not to rush this step — a rolling boil guarantees the pasta cooks evenly. I always add a generous amount of salt to the water; this is the first layer of flavor. Then, I carefully add the pasta, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Once the pasta reaches that perfect amount of bite, known as al dente, which usually takes about 7-8 minutes, I drain the pasta. I do this quickly and never rinse, as the starch on the pasta helps the cheese sauce cling beautifully in the next steps.
Creating the Cheese Mixture
The cheese mixture is where the magic happens. With my drained cooked pasta set aside, I start on the sauce. In a separate saucepan, I melt butter over medium heat — being attentive here prevents burning. I whisk in flour to form a roux, creating the base for a smooth sauce. Next, I gradually stir in cold water and milk, ensuring a consistent mixture. As it thickens, I add the cheese, stirring until it’s completely melted and the mixture is luxuriously creamy. This cheese sauce is the perfect companion to the pasta and the heart of this new recipe. It should coat the back of a spoon, a sign that it’ll envelop the pasta in cheesy goodness. When blended with the pasta, it’s ready to be the main course or a side – as noted on my recipe card.
Assembling the Dish
When I assemble my Longhorn Steakhouse mac and cheese, my focus is on ensuring each layer is swathed in cheesy sauce for that velvety texture, and that the top is prepared to achieve a crispy finish in the oven.
Firstly, I ensure that my large saucepan has worked its magic in creating a rich, cheesy sauce that’s just begging to be tossed with the cooked pasta. In my large bowl, I gently mix this sauce with the pasta to ensure every noodle is coated, transforming it into a cheesy mac marvel. It’s crucial to incorporate the ingredients well to make sure every bite has that copycat Longhorn Steakhouse flavor profile.
Baking to Perfection
Once the layers of cheesy mac are snugly fit into the casserole dish, I slide the whole mixture into my preheated oven. My attention now turns to baking this concoction until the mixture bubbles around the edges—this is when it achieves a crunchy top that’s absolutely divine. I prefer to use a large baking dish, which allows for more surface area to become deliciously golden, creating that sought-after crispy finish. My patience is tested as I wait for the transformation to a delicious recipe that beckons straight from the oven.
Storing and Reheating Tips
When I make Longhorn Steakhouse’s iconic mac and cheese, I always ensure there’s enough for seconds—or even a quick meal the next day. It’s essential to store it properly to maintain that creamy texture and rich flavor that makes this dish a classic side.
Utilizing Airtight Containers
For the best part of keeping my mac and cheese fresh, I rely on airtight containers. I transfer the cooled mac and cheese into these containers to seal in the quality. This way, I prevent any unwanted moisture or odors from affecting the taste. Pro tip: If there are multiple servings, I divide them into separate containers so I only reheat what I’ll eat.
Maintaining Quality Over Time
To preserve the indulgent flavor that Longhorn Steakhouse recipes are known for, I focus on quality time when reheating. I add a few tablespoons of butter on top before reheating to ensure it stays moist. Warming it in the oven at 350°F for about 20 minutes is my go-to method for recreating that just-baked taste. If I’m short on time, I’ll microwave it on medium power in increments, stirring in between. Recipe developer Kristen Carli is spot on—handling leftovers carefully means the second serving can be just as satisfying as the first.
When I prepare Longhorn Steakhouse’s version of mac and cheese, I think of it as the quintessential classic comfort food that satisfies a craving for something warm, cheesy, and utterly delightful. The perfect amount of cheesy flavor layered within its creamy sauce easily makes it a star on the dinner table.
As a main course, it’s hearty enough to stand on its own, but I like to consider balance in my meals. Here’s how I often serve it:
- Salad: A fresh green salad with a light vinaigrette dressing cuts through the richness and adds a crisp contrast.
- Grilled Protein: Chicken, steak, or shrimp grilled to perfection complements the mac and cheese without overwhelming its flavors.
- Steamed Vegetables: Steamed broccoli or green beans add a healthy, colorful side that pairs well with the cheesy goodness.
Considering that Longhorn Steakhouse’s mac and cheese has a base of flour that contributes to its thick, smooth sauce, it’s rich and filling. To keep it from being too heavy, I make sure to serve it with lighter accompaniments.
Here’s a quick table to help visualize my go-to pairings:
|Adds freshness and helps cut through the richness.
|Offers a savory balance to the cheesy flavor.
|Provides a nutritious element to round off the meal.
Finally, the last thing to consider is timing. I ensure that the mac and cheese is served hot and bubbly, right after it’s perfectly baked, to maximize that irresistible cheesy pull when it’s plated.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, I’ll be answering some of the most common questions about recreating the rich and comforting mac and cheese from LongHorn Steakhouse.
What ingredients are used to make the creamy mac and cheese at LongHorn Steakhouse?
The LongHorn Steakhouse mac and cheese is made with ingredients like pasta, butter, flour, milk, and a variety of cheeses to achieve its creamy, indulgent texture. For an in-depth look at a copycat recipe, you can visit Mashed.
How can I achieve a creamy consistency in homemade mac and cheese similar to LongHorn’s?
To replicate LongHorn’s creamy consistency, it’s important to make a smooth roux as the base of your sauce, and then blend in your cheeses until melted. Use full-fat dairy products and cook the sauce on low heat to prevent it from separating. For detailed instructions, check out the recipe at CopyKat Recipes.
What are the nutritional details for a serving of LongHorn Steakhouse mac and cheese?
Nutritional details for a serving of LongHorn Steakhouse mac and cheese include high levels of calories, fat, and sodium, typical of restaurant-style comfort food. For specific numbers, you would need to refer to LongHorn Steakhouse’s official nutrition guide or a third-party nutrition tracker.
Are there any similar mac and cheese recipes that rival the taste of LongHorn Steakhouse’s dish?
Yes, there are several recipes that aim to mimic the rich taste of LongHorn Steakhouse’s mac and cheese. Recipes may vary slightly in ingredients and methods, but the goal is to achieve that same creamy, cheesy flavor. An example recipe can be found on I’m Hungry For That.
Can you suggest a mac and cheese recipe that uses Velveeta like the LongHorn Steakhouse version?
While LongHorn Steakhouse’s recipe may not specifically use Velveeta, you can make a similarly creamy mac and cheese by including Velveeta in your cheese blend. Velveeta will contribute to the smooth texture. Look at Simply Side Dishes for a copycat recipe that could be adapted.
How much does a side of mac and cheese cost at LongHorn Steakhouse?
The price for a side of mac and cheese at LongHorn Steakhouse can vary depending on the location. It’s typically considered a premium side and may have an additional cost compared to standard sides. To get the current pricing, check your local LongHorn Steakhouse menu or website.
Longhorn Steakhouse Mac and Cheese CopycatCourse: LunchCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Creamy texture, comforting tastes, and easy to make! You’ll make this mac and cheese again and again!
16 oz. elbow macaroni
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter
- Cook the elbow macaroni according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt the unsalted butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes to make a roux.
- Gradually whisk in the whole milk and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.
- Reduce the heat to low and stir in the shredded cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheeses until melted and smooth.
- Season the cheese sauce with salt, black pepper, paprika, and garlic powder.
- Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce and stir to combine.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Transfer the mac and cheese to a baking dish.
- In a small bowl, mix the panko breadcrumbs with the melted butter and sprinkle over the mac and cheese.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the mac and cheese is bubbly.
- Serve hot and enjoy your homemade LongHorn Steakhouse mac and cheese!