With over 50 million views on TikTok this Viral Mac and Cheese Recipe from creator Tini is a must try for the holidays.
This recipe was created by Tineke Younger and it went completely viral on social media.
Why you will love this recipe
This Mac and Cheese is cheesy! This recipe calls for 2.5 pounds of cheese which makes it extremely creamy and cheesy.
This Mac and Cheese uses blocks of cheese instead of pre-shredded cheese which creates a smoother sauce.
In this recipe there are no eggs or breadcrumbs which I know a lot of Mac and cheese lovers do not like.
Tini's Mac and Cheese ingredients
In the viral video these are the ingredients used to make this cheesy holiday Mac and cheese.
- Cavatappi pasta: This pasta has spiral shape which makes it a perfect vehicle for creamy sauce as they cling to the crevices.
- Colby Jack cheese: This cheese is creamy and tangy and great for melting.
- Sharp Cheddar: Adds a ton of flavor to the cheese sauce and the beautiful yellow color to the sauce.
- Mozzarella: Another great melty cheesy with a creamy texture and mild flavor to balance out the sharpness of the cheddar cheese.
- Evaporated milk: Used to make a roux which is used to thicken up sauces.
- Heavy whipping cream: Adds the velvety texture to the sauce and helps us melting the cheeses into a cohesive, smooth and clump-free sauce.
- Butter: It is the base of the roux to make the sauce thick and creamy.
- Flour: Helps with the sauce consistency. It is important to cook the flour long enough to get rid of its taste and grittiness.
- Salt and pepper: To amp the flavor of the cheeses. Do not over salt the pasta water since the cheese contain a good amount of salt.
- Smoked paprika: That is what the original creator used in her video and it gives a hint of smokiness to the pasta.
- Garlic powder: Adds depth of flavor without overpowering any of the other seasonings in the mix.
- Dijon mustard: Adds a little kick to the sauce and amps up the flavor because it complements the cheese very well.
Step by step instructions
These is a recap of the instructions to make the TikTok viral Mac and cheese with helpful step by step photos to make this recipe fail-proof.
How to shred cheese fast
Using pre-shredded cheese makes the sauce gritty since the packaged shredded cheese has anti-caking agents in it like wood pulp.
Use a block of cheese and shred it yourself for best results.
If you want to shred cheese fast, use a food processor with the grating attachment.
Once all the cheese is shredded divided in half.
You will use half of the cheese for the sauce and the other half to layer when baking the dish.
How to make a roux
In this Mac and cheese we are using a roux; a mixture of butter and flour to thicken up the sauce.
I used an enameled cast iron pot to make my roux because the surface heats evenly and it is less likely to create a clumpy sauce.
I used a 5 QT dutch oven since it is big enough to hold the lb. of pasta and cheese sauce.
Once the butter and flour are combined, add the evaporated milk to create a smooth sauce.
At this point it is helpful to use a whisk to mix the sauce and avoid any clumps.
How to build a cheese sauce
After the sauce starts bubbling, reduce the heat to low.
Add the cream and slowly start adding the cheese in small amounts.
Whisk until the cheese is melted and well incorporated into the sauce before adding more cheese.
Slowly adding the cheese in small handfuls is the secret to silky smooth Mac and cheese sauce.
If the cheese is not melting, increase the heat a little bit and keep stirring vigorously.
The sauce should take you about 15-20 minutes to make. This will ensure the flour taste is completely gone.
Season the sauce
The seasonings for this sauce are simple. Garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and dijon mustard.
I recommend adding them at the end because you can control the flavor and correct as needed.
If you add the seasonings at the beginning before you add all the cheese, you could end up with a salty sauce and waste all the ingredients and effort.
First add the salt and pepper. If you like paprika add the full amount called for in the recipe.
If you are not sure, add half of the paprika and taste the sauce and adjust the amount if needed.
Cook the pasta al dente per package instructions
Depending on what type of pasta you use, you will need a different cooking time.
I boiled the Cavatappi for 7 minutes in salted water until al dente as per package instructions.
Cooking the pasta al dente (with a little bite) ensures that once baked the pasta won't be overcooked or mushy.
Drain the pasta and add it to the cheese sauce.
Combine well until all the noodles are covered in the cheese sauce.
How to Bake Mac and Cheese
Preheat the oven to 375F. Add one layer of the pasta on a 9x13 baking dish.
Add a layer of cheese and top it with another layer of pasta.
Add a final layer of cheese on top making sure the noodles are covered as much as possible.
Bake until all the cheese is melted and slightly browned. Finally, broil the Mac and cheese on low for 1 to 2 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Let the dish rest for about 10 minutes before serving to allow the sauce to set a bit.
When broiling keep a close eye on the Mac and cheese as it can burn really easily!
Helpful tips and substitutions
Building the cheese sauce is the most important part of the recipe.
Take your time when adding the cheese and do not stop stirring. This is a pretty hands on recipe.
You could use any combination of cheeses that you like. Gouda, Gruyere and Monterrey cheese would be fabulous in this Mac and cheese.
If you don't have dijon mustard, you can use powder mustard (about ½ teaspoon).
Bring your ingredients to room temperature, in particular the heavy whipping cream. If it's too cold when you add it to the sauce it could curdle.
Use the suggested pasta shape (Cavatappi) or elbow macaroni. In any case, cook per packaging instructions.
If you find your sauce too thick after adding the pasta, add ¼ cup of room temperature milk to thin it out a little.
If you make this recipe leave a review below and let me know how it turned out!
Tini Mac and Cheese
- 1 Lb Cavatappi pasta or elbow macaroni
- 1 Lb Mozzarella 16 OZ (shredded)
- 1 Lb Colby Jack 16 OZ (shredded)
- ½ Lb Sharp cheddar 8 OZ (shredded)
- 12 Ounces Evaporated milk 1 Can
- 2 Cups Heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon Smoked paprika
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted butter
- 3 Tablespoons All purpose flour
- Cook pasta in salted water per package instructions. I cooked my Cavatappi for 7 minutes. Drain and reserve.
- In a heavy bottomed pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
- Add the flour and whisk until fully incorporated and you form a paste.
- Add the evaporated milk and continue whisking until the sauce starts bubbling.
- Lower the heat to medium-low heat and slowly add the heavy whipping cream.
- In a bowl combine all the shredded cheese and divide the mixture in half. You will use half for the cheese sauce and half to layer on top when baking the Mac and cheese.
- Add a handful of the cheese to the sauce and whisk vigorously until fully incorporated. Do not add more cheese until the sauce is smooth and all the previous cheese you added has melted.
- The sauce should take about 20 minutes to make. This will ensure that the flour is cooked and the cheese melts smoothly.
- Place the oven rack in the center and pre heat your oven to 375F.
- Once you have added all the cheese to the sauce, add the seasonings; salt, garlic, pepper, paprika and dijon mustard.
- Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and combine until all the noodles are coated in the sauce.
- Use a 9x13 baking dish and add a layer of the pasta. Top with half the reserved cheese.
- Add another layer of pasta and top with the other half of the reserved cheese.
- Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes until all the cheese on top has melted and is slightly browned.
- If you want a golden brown top, broil on low for about 1 to 2 minutes. Keep and eye on the Mac and cheese as broiling can quickly burn the top.
- Let the Mac and cheese rest for about 10 minutes before serving.