An ultra creamy cheesy chipotle steakhouse mac and cheese recipe from the Executive Chef at Flemings. Incredible Southwestern flavor and the creamiest homemade baked mac and cheese recipe you’ll find.
About This Recipe and Why It Works
Have you ever been to Fleming’s Steakhouse and had their Chipotle Mac and Cheese? It’s flat out amazing.
Our last visit to Flemings, I ordered this creamy cheese side dish, and turned it into an entree when the menu indicated you could add lobster for an extra charge.. I simply couldn’t resist.
I couldn’t believe how exquisite this combination of flavors were. The lobster was simply fun and decadent, but really didn’t make or break the flavor of this cavatappi mac and cheese.
I knew I had to recreate this recipe in my own kitchen, and when I turned to Google, I was directed to the recipe that was published straight from the Executive Chef of Fleming’s.
This is one of the creamiest mac and cheese recipes you’ll ever sink a fork into What makes this so special?
To start with the recipe includes both cheddar and white smoked cheddar cheese.
There’s a stick of butter involved, which reminds me of a quote from Julia Child: “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream”.
With that said, there’s two cups of cream involved and three cups of half and half.
And to up the ante, it becomes a spicy mac and cheese with a beautiful combination of toasted panko bread crumbs and chipotle chile powder. Making it a macaroni au gratin.
Let’s take a look:
Ingredients for Steakhouse Mac and Cheese
- The Cheese: A combination of Cheddar and Smoked Cheddar brings a super cheesy experience to this steakhouse mac and cheese. The smoked cheddar is a nice touch for a rustic flavor.
- Cream and Half & Half: Two cups of heavy cream and three cups of half and half guarantees the creamiest mac and cheese experience possible.
- The Pasta: Cavatappi is a lovely corkscrew spiral shaped pasta. It’s a commonly chosen pasta shape for mac and cheese. It’s twists and turns allow all of that cheesy goodness to cling to every curve of the pasta.
- White Pepper I personally think white pepper is underrated, and love that it’s used in this recipe. White pepper tastes different than black pepper in that it’s brighter and sharper. It adds a peppery bite without adding black flecks to a white creamy dish. Perfect for this white creamy mac and cheese.
- Panko & Chipotle Powder: This steakhouse mac and cheese is finished with a beautiful crunch by toasted panko bread crumbs that have been seasoned with chipotle chile powder. It’s an amazing finish to an already wonderful rustic casserole.
Ingredient Swaps and Substitutions
- Cream: I have made this recipe by omitting the heavy cream and using 5 cups of half and half. It was still creamy and delicious.
- Yellow Cheddar: I used a yellow cheddar cheese for this recipe. A white cheddar, coupled with the white smoked cheddar would make this an even whiter macaroni casserole.
- Cavatappi Pasta: A curly shaped pasta such as Rotini would would well here. As would elbow macaroni or even pasta shells. If choosing shells, choose the larger size shells labeled as medium pasta shells.
- Black Pepper: Don’t have white pepper, you can use black pepper.
Let’s get started.
How To Make Chipotle Mac and Cheese
- Step 1: The process starts by melting the butter in a large Dutch oven and then adding onions. The onions are cooked over medium heat until just turning tender.
- Step 2: Is where the roux process starts. Add flour to the hot butter and onions and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
- Step 3: Add the cream and half and half to the flour butter mixture and cook over medium low heat until the roux starts to thicken.
- Step 4: Add the yellow cheddar and white smoked cheddar and stir until blended and melted.
- Step 6: Add the cooked cavatappi and stir.
- Step 7: Make the chipotle panko topping. Heat a small non-stick saucepan over medium high heat. Add the panko and chipotle chile powder and stir until panko is just starting to turn golden.
- Step 7: Transfer the pasta to your favorite casserole dish.
- Step 8: Sprinkle on the Panko Chipotle topping and it’s ready for the oven. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, or until nice and bubbly.
FAQ’s and Pro-tips
Yes. Like any cheesy casserole mac and cheese is freezable. This recipe makes a big batch, so when you’ve eaten as much as you can, just freeze in small containers.
I like to reheat recipes like this in more manageable individual or small portions. Rather than trying to reheat an entire casserole. And use the microwave. Add a drizzle of liquid (milk or water that you’ve cooked the pasta in) to rehydrate the pasta. Pasta seems to soak up liquid as it sits in the fridge. Reheat in 30 second intervals and use that 50% power feature on the microwave. It will help keep it from becoming greasy.
Yes. You can cook the casserole ahead of time and either freeze it or keep in in the refrigerator for a day ahead of show-time. If the casserole is frozen, let it come to room temperature before reheating. Reheat in a 200 degree oven, until nice and warm. You don’t want to re-cook the casserole, just heat it up.
As I mentioned above, pasta seems to soak up liquid as it sits after baking. Don’t throw that pasta cooking water down the drain. It’s liquid gold. Always reserve some of that cooked starchy water. Add about 1/2 – 1 cup before cooking. It really helps to keep that pasta nice and creamy. I’ve even kept some of that left over water in the fridge. Just add some to the casserole before reheating. Or you can use milk.
Recipe for Flemings Steakhouse Mac and Cheese
I hope you give this chipotle mac and cheese recipe a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating. And scroll down and leave a comment about your experience with the recipe.
And if you have a favorite chipotle mac and cheese recipe, let me know, I’d love to give it a try.
More Popular Mac and Cheese Recipes:
Fleming’s Steakhouse Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound pasta cavatappi or curly
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3/4 cup onion 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter 1 stick
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 3 cups half and half
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper ground
- 3/4 pound smoked cheddar cheese grated
- 1/4 pound cheddar cheese grated
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon dried chipolte chili chipotle chili powder
- 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot, bring 1 gallon of water to boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt and pasta and cook for 8 – 9 minutes
- Drain pasta and cool under cold running water. Pasta should be slightly firm. Toss drained pasta in oil and reserve
- Melt butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 4 – 5 minutes.
- Add flour and cook 1 – 2 minute but do not brown.
- Add cream, half and half, kosher salt and white pepper.
- Bring pot to a simmer. Cook until sauce is thick, about 5 – 6 minutes Blend cheese into sauce and add cooked pasta.
- Pour pasta and sauce into a large baking dish casserole. Reserve.
- In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add bread crumbs and chipotle chile powder. Stir over medium heat for about a minute. Sprinkle bread crumbs over macaroni and cheese and bake for 20 minutes.
Flemings Steakhouse Mac and Cheese, it’s whats for dinner.
Why Trust These Recipes? Lea Ann Brown has lived, worked and played in Colorado for 45 years. She has immersed herself in the Colorado Culinary space, is a Culinary School Graduate and publishes her Colorado food Blog, Cooking On The Ranch.