David’s Ultimate Mac & Cheese

Thanks to Mother Cookie, I recently discovered the wonderfully delicious world of “In the Kitchen with David,” a segment that airs on QVC on Sundays at 12pm and Wednesdays at 8pm. It features an assortment of kitchen appliances, culinary gadgets, and everything else food-related you can imagine. It’s a foodie’s fun house, one that never fails to enchant me with all the culinary wonders. And then there’s the host, David Venable.

David is the definition of a foodie. Look up “foodie” in the dictionary, and there he’ll be, with his contagious grin spreading ear to ear as he dangles a forkful of his Ultimate Mac & Cheese just out of your reach. David towers at a staggering six-feet-tall, but he’s really just a big goofy teddy bear. He’ll have you smiling in no time with his famous happy dance and one-of-a-kind lines (ex: “It’ll make your tongue fly out of your mouth and hit you in the back of your head!”).

But David’s not just a jolly TV show host; That man loves food, and he knows a thing or two about it. If you don’t believe me, check out his cookbook In the Kitchen with David: Comfort Food that Takes You Home. It’s overflowing with delicious down-home recipes, all of which are perfect for the at-home cook. David himself is a home cook; he’s not pretentious or fancy-shmancy. He just likes to make food that tastes good.

There was no doubt in my mind that the first thing I had to try from of David’s cookbook was his Ultimate Mac & Cheese. Sweet baby Jesus, if you had just seen the photo next to the recipe, that was reason enough alone. But I was also enticed by the five kinds of cheeses. The more, the merrier! That’s the golden rule of mac & cheese.

By now, I must’ve tried at least a hundred mac & cheese recipes. To stand out, David was going to have to bring something spectacular to the dinner table. As expected from a fellow food-loving fool, David definitely did just that. His Ultimate Mac & Cheese is easily the creamiest and cheesiest of them all. It didn’t dry out while baking or suffer a critically uneven sauce-to-pasta ratio like most baked mac & cheeses do. On the contrary, this was overloaded with so much ooey, gooey, creamy cheesy sauce that my mind exploded from cheese-induced euphoria. Alas, my need for cheese has been satisfied!

Step aside, pasta. There’s a new star in town, and its name is 5-Cheese.

David’s Mac, besides being the product of my golden brown, cheese covered dreams, is also wonderfully flavorful. There’s no gimmick like brown butter or truffle oil made by unicorns; this is down-home, rich and gooey mac & cheese made with all the right ingredients. It’s the epitome of comfort food. Not to mention, it would make a perfect addition to your Thanksgiving table.

David, I’m definitely doing a happy dance.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. Over-baking is the easiest way to dry out a mac, so make sure you pull it as soon as it’s warm in the middle.
  2. Don’t like David’s cheese choices? Sub in one of your own instead.
  3. Breadcrumbs are optional. They weren’t in David’s original recipe; I just felt the need for a golden brown bed of crunchtasticness (sometimes, I make up words).
  4. For those of you intimidated by roux-making, this is the mac for you. No roux required!
  5. This is a very rich mac & cheese. Don’t complain, just enjoy. Indulging every once and a while is okay!

David’s Ultimate Mac & Cheese
Adapted from “In the Kitchen with David: Comfort Foods That Take You Home”

Yield – 6 servings


  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 lb. cavatappi or penne
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack
  • 8 oz. Velveeta, cubed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp. butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 4-quart casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the salt and the pasta and cook until al dente (tender but still firm). Drain and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat half-and-half in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Just before it starts to boil, remove from heat.
  4. Whisk the eggs in a bowl, then whisk in 2 cups of the half-and-half (this will keep the eggs from scrambling). Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan and whisk to combine.
  5. Whisk in 1 1/2 cups cheddar, all the mozzarella, 1 cup of Monterey Jack, Velveeta, and parmesan. Add the milk. Put back over medium-low heat and whisk gently until completely smooth. Whisk in garlic powder, onion powder, and remaining 1 tsp. salt and pepper. Do not let boil.
  6. Fold in pasta then pour into baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over top. Stir together breadcrumbs and melted butter then sprinkle over pasta. Let bake for 20 – 30 minutes or until golden brown, bubbling, and hot in the center. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Posted in The Smart Cookie Cook and tagged , , , , , , .

Colleen Bierstine


  1. I record In the Kitchen with David every Wed. and Sun. Hah, I thought I was the only 19 yr. old who did. I’m really looking forward to buying the book. Iv’e already read through it at Barnes & Nobles, but I wasn’t sure what to make first, now I know for sure– the mac n’ cheese b/c of course David would know how to make it outstanding.

  2. Ah ha, Velveeta…the secret to creamy mac n cheese. I’m a professed fan of it, even though it’s not quite cheese. There’s nothing that I don’t like about this recipe!

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  9. Hi I want to make this for Christmas as a side dish. Can I make it the day before and then bake it on Christmas Day?

    • You can make it the morning of, but it might turn out dry if you make it any sooner than that. You’re welcome to try. Maybe add more liquid to the sauce so it can afford to get thicker.

  10. I’d like to make this for a family dinner, but 6 servings doesn’t seem like enough (15 are coming). Has anyone tried doubling this recipe? Any advice is appreciated! Thanks!

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