This easy beer mac and cheese recipe is ready in 30 minutes. Vegetarian.
If you like this recipe, don't miss Mac and Cheese 101!
It's DAY 3 of MAC AND CHEESE WEEK! Today's pick: beer mac and cheese.
Are you excited? Because I.AM.STOKED.
I'm even more excited because THIS mac and cheese recipe involves one of my most favorite things (besides mac and cheese).
And that would be beer.
Mac and cheese + beer + green onions = probably one of the greatest booze-related combinations in the world.
You can use just about any beer you want to change the flavor of this dish.
I like a good Pale Ale or a light IPA, but if you're a stout fan you can also use something like Guinness for a great, deep flavor.
This beer mac and cheese is also perfect for your favorite mix-ins: add bacon, sausage, grilled chicken, or your favorite veggies to make it a little heartier.
A quick mac and cheese primer
There are two main styles of macaroni and cheese: The French-leaning version builds a creamy sauce using a basic stovetop béchamel sauce (a flour-and-butter base - called a roux - with lots of milk). Southern mac and cheese is typically baked and sometimes features eggs or evaporated milk in addition to a blend of cheeses and seasonings.
The "right" way to make mac and cheese is different for everyone. Our mac and cheese recipes have plenty of riffs and mix-ins, and they lean towards the French style: excellent right off the stovetop or baked with breadcrumbs or extra cheese on top.
Love this recipe? Try our Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese →Print
Beer Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4-6 1x
- Category: Pasta
- Cuisine: Italian-American
- Diet: Vegetarian
Easy beer mac and cheese, ready in 30 minutes.
- ¾ lb. pasta (I like to use cavatappi)
- 3 Tbsp. butter
- 2 green onions, chopped (optional: chop 1 additional green onion for garnish)
- 3 Tbsp. flour
- ⅔ cup beer of your choice (see recipe notes).
- 1 and ⅓ cups milk (I used skim)
- 2.5 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook pasta in very salty water until al dente. When pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.
- Return pasta pot to stove over medium heat.
- Add butter to pot and heat until melted.
- Add green onions to butter and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute until onions have softened.
- Whisk flour into the butter to form a roux. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until roux is bubbling and has slightly darkened.
- Slowly add beer to roux, whisking constantly to work out any lumps.
- Slowly whisk milk into sauce, whisking constantly to work out any lumps.
- Cook sauce, whisking frequently, until mixture has thickened and is barely simmering, about 6-8 minutes.
- Remove sauce from heat. Add cheddar cheese and stir until melted.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add cooked pasta to sauce and toss to coat.
- Top mac and cheese with additional green onions (optional) and serve immediately.
I used a Pale Ale in this recipe, but it's also good with pilsners, IPAs, or even Guinness. You can use any beer you like in this recipe, but keep in mind that the beer flavor does come through quite a bit, so the darker/heavier the beer, the heavier your mac and cheese will be. General rule of thumb: Use a beer you like to drink.
Feel free to mix up the cheeses in this recipe. You can use sharp cheddar, gruyere, or a mix of your favorite cheeses - just make sure that the total amount of shredded cheese is 2.5 cups as indicated in the recipe for best results. See Mac and Cheese 101 for suggestions on cheese substitutions.
Add bacon, grilled chicken, sausage, or your favorite veggies to this recipe to make it a little heartier. For specific customization ideas, see Mac and Cheese 101.
This post was recently updated to include new photos - don't worry if it looks a little bit different!
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 790
- Sugar: 10.1 g
- Sodium: 1242.3 mg
- Fat: 37.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 77.9 g
- Protein: 33.5 g
- Cholesterol: 106.2 mg
Keywords: pasta, beer sauce, cavatappi
MACARONI AND CHEESE WEEK LINEUP!!
Monday - Jessie's Classic Spicy Mac and Cheese
Tuesday - White Cheddar Avocado Mac and Cheese
Wednesday - Beer Mac and Cheese
Thursday - White Cheddar Arugula Pesto Mac and Cheese
I have prepped Mac and cheese for a bbq tomorrow, then realized it said serve right away. I added Mexicana cheese, Parmesan, and medium cheddar to it. The taste test was amazing. I also used garlic powder, black pepper, and chili powder. I am planning on baking it, I put the 3 cheese mix and bread crumbs on the top. I am worried this mix will curdle. It’s a lot of ingredients to waste! I’d love some reassurance telling me that this will be yummy tomorrow after baking too. I left a little extra moisture in the baking pans from the pasta water, so it doesn’t dry when I bake.
Team Life As A Strawberry
Hi Megan, your mac and cheese will still be great tomorrow! Just keep the prepared dish covered in the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before baking!
Is it okay to use orange cheddar instead?
This was an epic failure. Sauce totally separated but i had some awesome cheese curds. I make a really good mac and cheese should of stuck to that. Thanks for the suggestions tho. Maybe my combo of cheeses didn't work for this recipe
Christine @ myblissfulmess
I'm back to talk about this mac and cheese! As I said, I put it on my menu and I made this for dinner last night. Served it with a nice easy side of steamed broccoli (got to have your greens!) and ooohhhh my! Let me just say, this mac and cheese is absolutely out of this world amazing! I did not change a thing in this recipe, except that I doubled the sauce and made 16 ounces of Cavatappi noodles, and was glad I did because there's only a little bit left over for lunch today, and I just know there's going to be some fighting over it. The pale ale was a perfect choice of beer for us since we love a good pale ale. I'm going to write about this on my blog soon, about how wonderful this dish is and link back to your recipe. This is my new favorite Mac & Cheese!
Wahoo! I'm so happy you liked the recipe, Christine! Thank you so much for letting me know how it turned out!
Christine @ myblissfulmess
This looks amazing! I put it on my menu right away. I think my husband will love this one. I'll be using an IPA as well since I know he loves those.
Thanks, Christine! I hope you guys love it!
Holly @ Holly's Helpings
Ughhh...I can't decide which mac and cheese to make first! Why did you have to create so many incredibly tasty looking dishes? 😉
Pretty sure this one is the winner. I can't turn down beer mac and cheese even if the other option is spicy mac and cheese. WAIT! Maybe I should combine them and make spicy beer mac and cheese. Oh man, I know what I'm having for dinner.
Thanks for the great recipes and great pictures.
Hi Holly, I'm glad you like the recipes! I fully support spicy beer mac and cheese. I do it all the time 🙂 Of the mac and cheese recipes on my site, I think the best/most interesting one to me is actually the hard apple cider mac. I'd recommend trying that one next!
We just made this when my dad came to visit. We thought the beer flavor was juuust a touch too strong, so I drizzled some fig balsamic over the top of mine. Delicious! Oven roasted green beans with feta was great as a side.
We also plan to cook through the rest of your mac and cheeses over the next few weeks.
That fig balsamic vinegar sounds delicious! If you want to try it again with a different beer (some people really don't like the hoppy-ness of beer, although personally I love it), I'd suggest trying a light beer (a pilsner, light lager, or even something a little fruity like a white IPA or Belgian white ale) - they won't have as much of a traditional "beer" flavor but will still add a great dimension to the dish. You can also always cut the amount of beer in the recipe and make up for it with additional milk. Let me know how you like the other mac and cheese recipes!
I just made this! Although I didn't have beer or green onions so used vegetable broth and garlic instead! Still pretty good though 🙂
My trick is getting the roux right and this recipe was perfect!
This looks DIVINE. Keep the recipes comin' so people like me who grew up not knowing how to cook can learn! Also, could you describe what a roux is in layman's terms...?
Sure! A roux is a traditional thickening agent - it's a combination of butter (or oil, or whatever fat you're using) and flour that you cook together to later whisk into a sauce to aid in the thickening of that sauce. How long you cook the roux will determine how much thickness it adds to your sauce - I always cook it for about two minutes, until it smells like burnt almonds (that's how my mom taught me to tell when it's done!) for a smooth, mac and cheese-y consistency. Some people also use plain flour or cornstarch to thicken soups and sauces, but I like to use a roux because it lets you cook out all of the raw flour flavor so that you can focus on whatever ingredients you're adding to the dish. Hope that helps!