This creamy homemade sausage mac and cheese recipe is always a hit. Its cheesy sauce, velvety texture and unbeatable taste make it a meal that adults and kids love.
Table of Contents
This sausage mac and cheese recipe is an old recipe. In the original post, I wrote about making it for my husband as a way to bribe him to do something for me, but I never mentioned what that was.
Fast forward 12 years later, while updating it, I have no idea if it worked because I can’t remember what that thing was if my life depended on it now. But, based on this recipe’s creamy, decadent, indulgent vibes and his love of mac and cheese, there was a good chance I came out on top in that endeavor.
This is the kind of dinner that adults and kids will both love. I don’t know a single child who doesn’t love mac and cheese, and it also seems to be one of those indulgences you never grow out of, either.
It’s a super adaptable dish to whatever kind of sausage you want — Italian pork sausage, chicken sausage, brats, kielbasa, etc. and it’s ready in 35 minutes for an easy weeknight dinner. It’s so good that you can probably even bribe the kids to eat a vegetable alongside it with much fanfare.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need for sausage mac and cheese
- Pasta — Elbow macaroni is probably the most classic option for mac and cheese recipes, but you can choose whatever shape you like best.
- Sausage — Using bulk Italian sausage is an easier choice than sausage links, so you don’t have to remove any casing.
- Butter & olive oil — Combining both fats creates a tastier, more decadent sauce.
- Onion & garlic — These aromatics add great flavor to the recipe.
- Flour — Used as the base of the roux, flour is an essential ingredient in any real mac and cheese recipe.
- Milk —The creamy cheese sauce uses milk as the base. Any milk will do, but whole dairy milk creates the most indulgent dish.
- Spices — A combination of salt, pepper, smoked paprika and ground mustard complement the cheese and sausage nicely.
- Sharp white cheddar cheese — Mac and cheese can use a variety of cheeses, but I find white cheddar to be the best pairing with the savory Italian sausage.
- Fresh chives or parsley — A much-needed pop of green to add to the final dish.
How to make this mac and cheese recipe with sausage
Yes, we’re making a roux. No, don’t freak out. It’s much easier than the word is to pronounce.
Start by bringing a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the macaroni to the pot and cook according to the package instructions. I always like to cook pasta al dente about one minute before the package says it’s done.
While the pasta cooks, cook the sausage over medium heat in a large pot until it’s browned. Transfer it to a plate and set aside.
Add the butter and olive oil to the same pot along with the onions. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are softened and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Add the flour to the pot to create the roux and stir to combine. Slowly pour in the milk, whisking as you do so. Add the spices to the pot and continue to cook over medium heat, whisking until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a creamy soup. Stir in the cheese until melted.
Drain the pasta and add it to the pot with the cheese sauce. Transfer the cooked sausage back into the pot and combine all the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and black pepper, then garnish with chives or parsley before serving.
How to create a baked version of this dish
I’m partial to creamy mac and cheese recipes that aren’t baked, but if you love baked recipes with a buttery breadcrumb topping, you can also create that with this sausage macaroni and cheese recipe.
Make the recipe as described above, but transfer the mac and cheese to a casserole dish instead of serving. Combine bread crumbs with melted butter in a small bowl and sprinkle it on the mac and cheese.
Bake in the oven at 350°F until the topping is golden brown and the edges of the mac and cheese have crisped up.
Tips to making the best sausage mac and cheese recipe
- Pre-shredded cheeses are a convenience that is hard to pass up, but it’s important to shred your own cheese when making macaroni and cheese recipes. The pre-shredded kind often uses cellulose or other anti-caking ingredients, so the shreds don’t stick together. This compromises the cheese’s ability to melt and the texture of the final dish. Skip this convenience and spend the two minutes grating your own.
- Add some vegetables to the mac and cheese, saving you from making a side dish to go with this meal. Small frozen broccoli florets, green beans or peas are easy to throw into the pot once the cheese sauce has come together. Let them warm through before adding the pasta and sausage, then stir everything together before serving.
- Be judicious with the salt in this recipe. Italian sausage has plenty of salty flavor, so season it after tasting it first. I find that this mac and cheese doesn’t need too much additional salt.
- Make ahead by a day or two if you have a busy schedule coming up. This dish reheats wonderfully and tastes just as good the next day. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Indeed, use gluten-free pasta and, if choosing the baked route, gluten-free breadcrumbs as well.
-Cheddar has a low melting point and the taste you love for mac and cheese.
-Gouda is also a classic choice that melts beautifully and brings an interesting taste without being off-putting to discerning palates.
-Goat cheese adds a wonderful tangy flavor that can help cut through the salt and make your mac and cheese ultra-creamy.
–Greek yogurt isn’t a cheese, but it can act like one! It’s a great way to create a lower-calorie version of mac and cheese while still getting a super creamy and indulgent outcome.
-Cream cheese is an ingredient many recipes use to create a creamy texture. It’s often used in slow cooker mac and cheese recipes, but we also love its lower calorie cousin, neufchâtel, in this lightened-up spaghetti Alfredo for the same reasons.
More macaroni and cheese recipes to try
Turkey skillet mac and cheese is a one-pot meal created to level up Hamburger Helper and a meal everyone loves.
Sweet potato mac and cheese is decadent and creamy, just like you crave, but uses pureed sweet potato to help accomplish that velvety texture.
Sausage Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound dry elbow pasta
- 1 pound bulk Italian sausage, mild, sweet or hot depending on your preference
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup flour
- 3 ½ cups milk
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground mustard
- 4 cups freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese, do not use pre-grated cheese
- Salt to taste
- Freshly parsley or chives, chopped for garnish
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook according to package directions.
- While the pasta is cooking, cook the sausage over medium heat in a large pot. Use a wooden spoon to break up the sausage into small pieces. Once the sausage is browned and cooked through, transfer to a plate or bowl and set aside.
- Add the butter and olive oil to the same pot over medium heat. Add the onions to the pot and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.
- Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute, then add the milk. Stir to combine the mixture, then add the pepper, smoked paprika and dry mustard.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes or so. It should be the consistency of a creamy soup. Stir in the cheese until melted. Add salt and more pepper to taste.
- Drain the pasta once cooked and add it along with the cooked sausage to the cheese sauce. Stir until well combined.
- Remove from heat, garnish with parsley or chives and serve hot.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.