Recipe Review

This French Onion Mac and Cheese Recipe Might Be the Hybrid Comfort Food Your Winters Have Always Needed

published Feb 16, 2022
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Buffalo Mac and cheese with a breadcrumb topping, in a white ceramic baking dish, with a turquoise handle, with a bowl of it on the side and a turquoise and white checkered dish closth under the baking dish.
Credit: Laura Rege
Baked Buffalo Macaroni & Cheese

If you’re not one to shy away from getting creative with classic recipes, then TikTok star Eitan Bernath’s French Onion Mac and Cheese recipe is for you. As the name implies, this decadent dish gives traditional mac a kick by infusing it with what Bernath calls “French onion soup flair,” derived from his choice of cheeses, spices, and — of course — perfectly caramelized onions.

The onions are the star of this recipe, essentially serving as a base for the mornay sauce. The onions take about an hour to cook down, but can be prepared in advance, as they keep well when refrigerated. You’ll start by melting butter into 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium low heat. Once melted, add your large sweet onions, thinly sliced, and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt before covering and allowing to cook for about 5 minutes. You’ll then uncover your onions, toss to combine with the butter, then allow the combination to cook for an hour. 

As they cook, make sure to stir the onions frequently and deglaze with a splash of stock every 15 minutes. Your final product should be deep brown, with the consistency of marmalade. Once your onions are ready, reduce heat to low and build your creamy cheese sauce by first adding all-purpose flour and cooking for an additional two minutes, stirring frequently. You’ll then add heavy cream, milk, Dijon mustard (which Bernath says balances and elevates the sauce), four sprigs of fresh thyme (which you can replace with 3/4 teaspoon if using dried thyme), and cracked black pepper to taste.

Simmer the sauce down for about 6-8 minutes — until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon — and add in small handfuls of your shredded cheeses, allowing the small quantities to melt before repeating the process until they have all been incorporated. For this recipe, Bernath suggests 1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère and 1 1/2 cups grated provolone to maintain the French onion soup vibes; but he notes any good melting cheese will do. Add in your cooked fusilli pasta, stir gently to combine, and leave over low heat while preparing your breadcrumbs.

This topping — meant to be a mini version of the cheesy croutes found on traditional French onion soup — is made buttering 10 1/4-inch-thick baguette slices, dividing grated Gruyère evenly and sprinkling the bread with thyme. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes and allow to cool before using a food processor for about 30 seconds to create a mixture of medium- and fine-sized breadcrumbs. Lastly, you’ll spoon your warm mac & cheese into serving bowls and top with the breadcrumbs.

You can get the full recipe for Eitan’s French Onion Mac and Cheese here.