Sheet Pan Mac and Cheese with Brussels Sprouts

published Sep 30, 2021
Sheet Pan Mac and Cheese with Brussels Sprouts Recipe

This cheesy pasta gratin — which can be made with any roasted vegetable — boasts maximum crispiness in every bite.

Serves4 to 6

Prep20 minutes

Cook35 minutes to 40 minutes

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Sheet pan pasta with Brussels Sprouts.
Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

Now that it’s fall and I can crank up my oven without sweating, I’ve been roasting a lot of vegetables. But instead of making them play second fiddle as a side, I’ve been mixing them into farro, rice, and, yes, all sorts of pasta, creating a satisfying main dish that’s packed with flavorful veggies.

Here, I’m sharing my favorite iteration: sheet pan mac and cheese with Brussels sprouts. You’ll cook the noodles and make the cheese sauce while the veggies roast, then mix everything together, return it to the sheet pan, and pop it under the broiler until every bite is crispy-creamy. It’s the ultimate mash-up of two of my favorite foods — and my only regret is I didn’t think of it sooner.

Credit: Shelly Westerhausen

3 Reasons to Love This Sheet Pan Pasta Technique

Try it once and you’ll forever be converted. Here’s why.

  1. It’s quicker-cooking. Broiling the cheesy pasta rather than baking it significantly cuts down on cook time. Plus, you’ll spread everything onto the sheet pan used for the Brussels sprouts, reducing the amount of dirty dishes.
  2. It boasts a better ratio of topping to noodles: By increasing the surface area of the mac and cheese and covering it in a generous layer of breadcrumbs, you get way more crispy topping in every bite. The tops of the curly noodles get a little crunchy under the broiler, too — my personal favorite part.
  3. It’s endlessly versatile. You can switch up practically every component of this recipe to create a new dish every week. Swap the Brussels sprouts for broccoli or butternut squash; try fluted campanelle in place of the cavatappi; swap in fontina for the cheddar or Gruyère; and even use Goldfish or Ritz crackers in place of the panko.

Whether you eat plant-based full-time or want to go meat-free once a week, Tonight We Veg will bring you the feel-good vegetarian meals you crave. Twice a month, in addition to our existing lineup of great veggie recipes, we’ll share easy weeknight recipes that prove how diverse produce-forward food can be, each packed with smart tips we’ve picked up over the years. Cook along with us, and share your creations using #tonightweveg.

Sheet Pan Mac and Cheese with Brussels Sprouts Recipe

This cheesy pasta gratin — which can be made with any roasted vegetable — boasts maximum crispiness in every bite.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 35 minutes to 40 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water

  • 1 pound

    Brussels sprouts (about 15 large)

  • 2 tablespoons

    olive oil

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 12 ounces

    dried cavatappi pasta

  • 4 ounces

    Gruyère cheese, shredded (1 cup)

  • 4 ounces

    sharp cheddar cheese, preferably white, shredded (1 cup)

  • 1 ounce

    Parmesan cheese, shredded (about 1/2 cup)

  • 5 tablespoons

    unsalted butter, divided

  • 1/4 cup

    all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dry mustard

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 3 cups

    whole or 2% milk

  • 1/2 cup

    panko bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 425°F. Bring a Dutch oven or large pot of heavily salted water to a boil.

  2. Meanwhile, trim and halve 1 pound Brussels sprouts (quarter if large). Place on a rimmed baking sheet (make sure to include any stray leaves). Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and several grinds black pepper. Toss to combine, then arrange in a single layer cut-side down.

  3. Place the baking sheet on the lower rack. Roast until the sprouts are crispy, tender, and browned in spots, 14 to 16 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta and grate the cheeses.

  4. Add 12 ounces cavatappi to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until al dente. Grate the following cheeses on the large holes of a box grater, keeping them separate on the cutting board: 4 ounces Gruyère cheese (about 1 cup), 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 cup), and 1 ounce Parmesan cheese (about 1/2 cup).

  5. When the Brussels sprouts are ready, remove the baking sheet from the oven.

  6. When the pasta is ready, drain and set aside. Return the pot to the stovetop, add 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, and melt over medium-low heat. Transfer 1 tablespoon into a small heatproof bowl. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the remaining butter in the pot and cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until fragrant and foaming, about 2 minutes.

  7. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in 3 cups whole or 2% milk and whisk until the flour is completely dissolved. Bring just to a full simmer over medium heat, 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, whisking frequently, until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 minutes.

  8. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the Gruyère and cheddar cheeses, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and several grinds black pepper. Whisk until smooth and the cheese is melted. Taste and season with more salt as needed (likely about 1/2 teaspoon kosher). Heat the broiler to high.

  9. Add the cavatappi and roasted Brussels sprouts to the pot and stir until well-coated in the sauce. Transfer to the same baking sheet used to roast the Brussels and spread into an even layer.

  10. Add 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese to the reserved bowl of melted butter and stir to combine. Sprinkle the pasta with the bread crumb mixture. Broil until the bread crumbs are golden-brown, 2 to 4 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.