Take this indulgent classic from the steakhouse to your house with this straightforward but delicious baked mac and cheese, just like they serve at Longhorn. Whether as a side or a main course, the whole family will love it.
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Longhorn Steakhouse Mac and Cheese
Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? From fancy, high-end recipes to the nostalgia-inducing boxed stovetop versions, it’s a popular dish in all sorts of restaurants and kitchens.
But those who’ve been to Longhorn Steakhouse know the chain has some of the best, most dependable, and most craveable mac and cheese out there, thanks to the ooey-gooey cheese sauce that clings perfectly to the spiral cavatappi noodles.
So the next time you’re grilling up some steaks, give this recipe a try for the ultimate restaurant-style experience.
What makes the Longhorn Steakhouse Mac and Cheese so special?
Cheese lovers will likely feel their mouths start to water as they read the ingredients of this dish, which features four different kinds of cheese, including more exotic varieties like Gruyere and Fontina.
The ultra-creamy taste and velvety texture perfectly contrast with the topping, which provides equal parts crunch and unmistakable bacon flavor.
It’s complemented by a subtle smokiness from a bit of smoked paprika, a unique and versatile spice.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
You’ll wow your fellow diners (or your own taste buds) with the sophisticated flavors provided by this deceptively simple recipe. It also takes just 20 minutes of active work and can easily be scaled up or down for big families or small groups.
Ingredients You’ll Need
There’s certainly no shortage of cheese in this delectable recipe, making up nearly half of the recipe’s ingredients:
- Dry pasta (preferably cavatappi)
- Gruyere cheese, shredded
- White cheddar cheese, shredded
- Parmesan cheese, shredded
- Fontina cheese, shredded
- Half and half
- Cooked bacon, crumbled
- Panko bread crumbs
- Smoked paprika
To create the proper consistency for the cheese sauce, it’s essential to use the specific types of cheeses and amounts listed above.
However, those with Celiac disease or who are sensitive to gluten can swap out the pasta, flour, and panko for gluten-free versions. In addition, vegetarians and people avoiding pork for religious or other reasons can skip the addition of crumbled bacon and still enjoy a deliciously cheesy dish.
How to make Longhorn Steakhouse Mac and Cheese
It only takes a few steps to bring this uncomplicated but tasty dish together:
- Boil and drain pasta in a large pot of water as indicated on the package for al dente.
- Heat butter and flour in a large saucepan, cooking until the mixture becomes fragrant.
- Slowly add the half and half in three batches, cooking and stirring until thickened in between.
- Add the paprika and cheese, continuing to stir as it melts into the mix.
- Combine the cooked pasta and cheese mixture in a baking dish. Top with bacon and panko.
- Bake in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven until the breadcrumbs begin to brown, around 20 minutes.
In many ways, cavatappi is an ideal type of pasta for this mac and cheese, as the cheese sauce easily clings to the twisted tube shape. Of course, it’s also the most authentic for a true Longhorn Steakhouse copycat recipe. However, home cooks should feel free to try out other styles like ziti, shells, fusilli, and the classic elbow noodles.
What Goes Well with Longhorn Mac and Cheese
Longhorn fans have likely already enjoyed this mac and cheese as a prefect side dish for their steaks. But it’s equally good with all types of grilled or broiled food, with the creaminess providing a delightful contrast to the meaty, smoky beef, chicken, or pork.
Those who really love this recipe can serve a larger portion of the mac and cheese paired with a simple green salad or roasted or steamed vegetables, transforming this side into the centerpiece of a healthy, easy-to-make meal.
How to Store Longhorn Mac & Cheese
The unfortunate reality is that (mainly for textural reasons) Longhorn mac and cheese leftovers usually don’t store well. The pasta can end up soaking up too much of the liquid, leaving it soggy or mushy while also too light on sauce.
Instead, it’s better to store any excess cheese sauce and cooked, unsauced pasta separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. They’re best used within three to five days. When it’s time to enjoy, simply combine the two and follow the rest of the recipe for adding breadcrumbs and baking.
If needed, you can also freeze the prepared mac and cheese. Allow it to cool to room temperature and store it in a freezer-safe container or bag. It should be eaten within three months. Thaw it in the fridge before reheating it in the microwave or, ideally, in the oven until fully warmed through.
Love Longhorn Steakhouse? Try these copycat Longhorn Steakhouse recipes!
More Mac and Cheese Recipes
- Baked Macaroni and Cheese
- Boston Market Mac and Cheese
- Chick Fil A Mac and Cheese
- Instant Pot Macaroni and Cheese
- Luby’s Cafeteria Macaroni and Cheese Recipe
- Macaroni and Cheese Pasta Salad
- Martha Stewart Mac and Cheese Recipe
- Panera Bread Mac and Cheese Recipe
- Spicy Mac N Cheese Recipe
- Sweetie Pie’s Mac and Cheese
Longhorn Steakhouse Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound cavatappi pasta
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 ounces Gruyere cheese shredded
- 8 ounces white Cheddar shredded
- 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese shredded
- 4 ounces Fontina cheese shredded
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 pieces bacon cooked crispy and crumbled
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- Prepare pasta according to the package directions. Heat together in a large saucepan 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of flour over medium heat. Cook until the roux becomes fragrant.
- Add 1/2 cup of half and half and stir until sauce thickens. Add 1/2 cup of half and half when the sauce thickens, and then add final 1 cup of half and half and stir until the sauce becomes thick. Add cheeses to sauce slowly stirring until the cheese is blended. Sprinkle in smoked paprika.
- Mix pasta and sauce, and pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Top macaroni and cheese with crumbled bacon and panko breadcrumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until panko breadcrumbs begins to brown.