Longhorn Steakhouse Mac and Cheese

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.

Copycat Longhorn Steakhouse mac and cheese in bowls and baking dish.


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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
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Smoked paprika
Copycat Longhorn Steakhouse mac and cheese ingredients in bowls.

Ingredient Notes

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:

  1. Boil and drain pasta in a large pot of water as indicated on the package for al dente.
  2. Heat butter and flour in a large saucepan, cooking until the mixture becomes fragrant.
  3. Slowly add the half and half in three batches, cooking and stirring until thickened in between.
  4. Add the paprika and cheese, continuing to stir as it melts into the mix. 
  5. Combine the cooked pasta and cheese mixture in a baking dish. Top with bacon and panko.
Copycat Longhorn Steakhouse mac and cheese before baking it.
  1. Bake in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven until the breadcrumbs begin to brown, around 20 minutes. 
Copycat Longhorn Steakhouse baked mac and cheese.

Recipe Variations

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. 

Copycat Longhorn Steakhouse mac and cheese on a spoon.

Love Longhorn Steakhouse? Try these copycat Longhorn Steakhouse recipes!

More Mac and Cheese Recipes

Be sure to check out more of my easy recipes for side dishes and the best restaurant copycat recipes.

Copycat Longhorn Steakhouse mac and cheese on a spoon.

Longhorn Steakhouse Mac and Cheese

You can’t beat this macaroni and cheese it takes just like the Longhorn Steakhouse’s version.
4.85 from 45 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Longhorn Steakhouse
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10
Calories: 468kcal

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 468kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 389mg | Potassium: 226mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 730IU | Vitamin C: 0.4mg | Calcium: 361mg | Iron: 1.1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Christine

    This is a great recipe, I have made it consistently and it always works with half and half. I have a lot of leftover milk though and I am wondering will it work with 2% milk instead or will it be too runny?

  2. Momma D

    5 stars
    I haven’t tried this yet because the waitress at the longhorn gave me different cheeses. With that said, SHAME ON ALL OF THE NEGATIVE NELLIES who have insulted Stephanie for various reasons, without cause in some cases. I pity every one of you who can’t find joy in anything and must pass on your misery to a complete stranger from the safety of your computer. Go back to Facebook and do your trolling there please so the rest of us can continue to thank this wonderful woman for all her hard work. Rant over, back to the store for gruyere and Fontana….

    • Trish

      Thank you for putting into words what I think whenever I read nasty comments from cowards. PERFECTLY SAID!!

      And thanks you, Stephanie, for sharing your hard work with all of us. It is appreciated very much.

  3. Maura pinto

    Hi, I made this recipe tonight for dinner and, everyone loved it!! Ty!! I followed the directions as stated. My dish was a little dry. What do you suggest I add more of? The half and half? Or do you cover it when you bake it to retain moisture? Thanks so much!! Loved it!!!🤩

  4. Whitney

    3 stars
    I’m so sorry I am only giving this a 3 start as I wanted this to work so bad and it’s probably not your recipe that is not good. I could not find fontina cheese anywhere near me and was told smoked gouda would be an ok replacement. I also had my oven on 375 degrees because I had something else cooking and I put it in about 12+ min n kept checking it. The recipe did call for only 350 degrees for 20 min but between the cheese and the temp and cooking time would this have made my recipe so far from the “Long Horn Steakhouse” recipe it was trying to mimic?

    Anyway thank you for posting the recipe!

    • Stephanie Manley

      Thank you for the generous 3 stars. I really do write the recipes with intention, I can’t account for different cooking methods and ingredients that I didn’t specifically test for. I am sorry you weren’t happier with the recipe.

  5. S. Adams

    5 stars
    Fabulous recipe. I have made this a few times and my husband says it’s better than Longhorns. The next time he had Longhorns after eating this he said he was disappointed. Lol. I do add a little garlic to mine at the roux stage as well as the bacon. That is not to say your recipe is not good! I just always add my own little something to make it mine. Thanks for putting this out there!

  6. Garry

    Your nutrition facts are pretty useless without a serving size. I know there’s 10 servings but really, how big are they?

  7. Lacey Hamilton

    2 stars
    This wasn’t like the longhorn macaroni at all, it was pretty bland :/ I think it would be good to add some garlic somewhere in here. Kinda disappointing because we were excited to eat this lol. We liked the longhorn one so much. Sorry, this one just missed the mark.

  8. Rachel

    5 stars
    Hey there!! If I make too much sauce and want to save it in the refrigerator for future use, do you have any specific instructions for reheating it? Will the cheese/flour sauce be just as good if kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days before using? Thank you so much for this recipe and detailed instructions!!!

  9. Diz

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! I’ve been looking for a kid friendly pot luck dish, so this would be perfect.

    Any special instructions if I want to make ahead of time and keep in fridge or freezer unbake?

    Thanks

  10. Jameson

    4 stars
    Good work, very close to the original. Only hiccup is your breadcrumb topping. It’s not panko breading 😉
    You’ll need garlic, butter, french bread, an oven, and a few minutes with a hammer or rolling pin

    Also, try putting in the bacon with the roux. The cheese sauce you’ve created will absorb the oil from the bacon, giving it that distinguished steakhouse lavoring you’d find in Longhorn’s Steakhouse Mac.

  11. Diane

    This recipe is not even close to the mac and cheese at the Salt Grass Steak house in San Antonio, TX. Their’s was to die for, this one is not.

    • Stephanie

      Well, this recipe was for Longhorn Steakhouse, not the Salt Grass. I apologize if I put something in there to imply this recipe also worked for the Salt Grass Version.

    • D. Iovino

      Perhaps you should read before you comment. Nowhere does this say anything about Salt Grass.

      This woman does an amazing job at what she does. Sounds to me like you’re one of those who love to make negative comments yet you probably have no clue how to cook ????

    • Stephanie Manley

      Barb, I am confused the ingredients are in the blue box.

      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

  12. greg

    2 quibbles.
    1. The four cheeses aren’t really needed.. the parm and fontina could go away unmissed.
    2. the video doesn’t match the recipe as written which is very frustrating.

  13. jwkmom

    love this mac and cheese, making it onthe weekend, also will making smaller amount, i am unable to eat so much, I use whatever pasta I happen to have available…

  14. Alecia Allred

    5 stars
    Stephanie thank you so much for the great recipe! I have never been to longhorns but my so raves about their Mac and cheese. I tried making it on my own based on what my 15 yr old described to me lol. It was good but NOTHING like longhorn’s he said. Then I saw your recipe. My son thought I bought it put it in a pan and tried to pass it off as homemade. Lol 6 teen boys devoured it in 10 min flat and didn’t eat the rest of the dinner I made to go with it. Thanks again you made me a hero! Look forward to more from you!

4.85 from 45 votes (33 ratings without comment)

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