Macaroni Gratin

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macaroni gratin in a cast iron skillet

Macaroni Gratin is a creamy macaroni and cheese recipe baked up in a skillet, gratin style.  It’s an elegant 30 minute version of everybody’s favorite comfort food.

I admit this might look like just another excuse to make more macaroni and cheese.  But this is different, really.  It’s even easier than mac and cheese because you don’t have to make a sauce, you simply layer everything into your skillet or gratin dish, and bake.

Putting the macaroni and cheese together like a classic gratin results in some interesting differences.  For one thing you get so much more cheese flavor because it’s not diluted in a creamy sauce.  And the layer of cheese on top gets nice and crusty in the hot oven.

I make it a point to under cook the elbows, so they remain firm even after half an hour of bubbling away in the cheesy gratin.  And use really good cheese, the sharper the better.

This is macaroni and cheese good enough to impress your Valentine.  What could be more sensual than a bubbling skillet of ooey gooey cheesy pasta topped with a crisp brown crust, and thou?   Serve it up with a baguette and a nice California chardonnay to seal the deal..

Macaroni Gratin
Rate this recipe
2 ratings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Category: dinner

Cuisine: American

Yield: serves 4

Macaroni Gratin

Macaroni Gratin is a creamy macaroni and cheese recipe baked up in a skillet, gratin style.  It's an elegant 30 minute version of everybody's favorite comfort food.


  • olive oil
  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, then drained
  • 6 oz shredded cheese (I used sharp white cheddar and Gruyere)
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • freshly grated nutmeg
  • salt and fresh cracked black pepper


  1. Set oven to 375F
  2. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a gratin dish, casserole, or cast iron skillet.
  3. Layer 1/3 of the macaroni on the bottom. Top the pasta with 1/3 of the cheese. Dot with butter, and sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg and cracked black pepper.
  4. Repeat this two more times for a total of three layers.
  5. Mix the milk and cream together and pour over the gratin.
  6. Bake the gratin for about 25 minutes, until bubbling. Set it under the broiler for the last minute or two if you like your crust browner, but watch it like a hawk.


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  • Reply
    May 17, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Susan, I made this tonight for evening meal. It was superb! Very easy to put together and waaaaaaay better than any other type I’ve tried. Drizzled a bit of truffle oil on top. Amazing! And I even forgot to add the butter between layers. This is definitely the way to go. Thanks for a great go to recipe.

    • Reply
      May 17, 2014 at 8:56 pm

      So glad to hear it — I just discovered truffle oil recently and I am in love!

  • Reply
    January 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Sounds really yummy.

  • Reply
    November 26, 2013 at 7:13 am

    You think this would still turn out ok if I doubled everything? Looking to make it for a crowd this Thanksgiving…

    Let me know! Thanks!

    • Reply
      November 26, 2013 at 7:30 am

      I think so, especially is you can find a wide relatively shallow dish to cook it in. A deep dish will give you a different texture.

  • Reply
    November 25, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    You can do the same with sliced potatoes, only add a sprinkle of flour each layer along with the butter. mmmmm…

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    July 31, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    I’ve only ever layered! Where have you people been. lol I haven’t tried heavy cream & milk mixed. Only egg & milk or egg & evaporated milk. Will also have to try dotting the butter on the layers as well. Thanks!!

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