Caprese Mac and Cheese

Caprese Mac and Cheese - Silky smooth mozzarella macaroni and cheese topped with a delicious caprese topping and a balsamic vinegar reduction.


Caprese Mac and Cheese

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This is probably not a news flash for you, but it’s very hard to make a bad macaroni and cheese dish, especially if you are taking the time to make your own cheese sauce, as we learned in this Homemade Trial.

But I can say that this Caprese Mac and Cheese is in the top five that I’ve ever made in my existence on this planet. And to be honest, I’m not sure that I can name the other four in the top five–I’m just giving myself some leeway.

But this is really, really good. Betsy is very used to my macaroni and cheese and she even perked up after trying a bite of this, to note just how freakin’ good it is. One reason this mac and cheese is so good is because I used Galbani® Mozzarella Fresca™. The editors of Saveur Magazine recently listed it as one of their favorite fresh mozzarellas and I would have to agree. Like any good recipe, there are a few tricks, but all will be revealed below.

Caprese Mac and Cheese

Serves 6-8
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Silky smooth mozzarella macaroni and cheese topped with a delicious caprese topping and a balsamic vinegar reduction.


1 pound macaroni pasta
1 pound Galbani® Mozzarella Fresca™ cheese, diced and divided
1/2 cup chopped basil
6 Roma tomatoes, roasted and chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups warm milk
Salt and pepper

Balsamic Reduction:

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup sugar


1) For the tomatoes, cut tomatoes in half and lay them out on a baking sheet cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Bake the tomatoes at 300 degrees for roughly 2.5 hours until they are slightly dried but still have some moisture in them.

2) For the caprese topping, dice roasted tomatoes and toss with chopped basil and about a cup of chopped fresh mozzarella. Drizzle the topping with olive oil and season with a pinch of salt. Set aside until needed.

3) For the balsamic reduction, add vinegar and sugar to a small pot over medium heat and cook until it simmers and starts to reduce and get thick. This will take 7-8 minutes most likely. Stir regularly to keep it from burning. Remove from heat once it starts to thicken and let cool.

4) Cook macaroni according to package. Try not to overcook the macaroni or your mac and cheese will be soggy.

5) For the cheese sauce, add butter and flour to a medium saucepan. Whisk over medium heat for a few minutes until butter melts and tan paste forms (a roux). Slowly start to whisk in warm milk.

6) Whisk in milk in batches so the sauce stays thick. Once all the milk is whisked in, let the sauce thicken for a minute or two over heat. Then add the rest of the cubed mozzarella (minus what you put in the topping). Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

7) Drain pasta and toss with cheese sauce.

8) Serve mac and cheese while it’s creamy topped with caprese topping and drizzled balsamic reduction.

Caprese Mac and Cheese

The Toppings

There is one part of this Caprese Mac and Cheese recipe that some might find annoying. And by some, I mean all. It’s annoying not because it’s hard but just because it takes at least 2.5 hours which is enough time to watch a bad Leonardo DiCaprio movie.

The step is slow-roasting the Roma tomatoes. You need to half the tomatoes, drizzle them with olive oil and a pinch of salt, and roast them, cut-side up in a 300 degree oven for seriously 2.5-3 hours until they are withered. This will really concentrate their flavor and also suck out all of the moisture in the tomatoes.

To be honest, in a pinch you could use jarred sun-dried tomatoes, but I like the freshness of these guys if you have the time.

Caprese Mac and Cheese from Macheesmo

Once these are roasted, chop them up with some fresh basil and cubed Galbani Mozzarella Fresca and stir everything together. Drizzle this mixture with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. This won’t be stirred into the mac and cheese but served on top of it which is much better.

Caprese Mac and Cheese Recipe

The other topping which is sort of optional, but my favorite part of the dish, is a quick balsamic vinegar reduction. Caprese salads frequently get a drizzle of balsamic vinegar so I thought it would be fun to integrate that into the mac and cheese.

It couldn’t be easier to make. Just stir together about a half cup of vinegar with a quarter cup of sugar in a small pot over medium heat until it gets thick! This will take 6-8 minutes most likely and will make your house smell like a vinegar factory.

If you take the reduction too far, no big deal. Once it cools you can stir in an extra dash of vinegar to loosen it a bit to make it easy to drizzle. It should be very thick though.

Balsamic Reduction for Caprese Mac and Cheese

Now onto the macaroni!

Mozzarella Mac

I feel like I’ve made macaroni and cheese many times on this site but really I only have six versions. They are all good, but I do think this is my personal favorite.

fresh Mozz

I used Galbani Mozzarella Fresca for both the topping and for the cheese sauce. You’ll need about a pound of Fresh Mozzarella assuming you are using a pound of pasta. You can just slice the cheese into strips and then dice it up so it melts faster in the sauce.

Good Cheese - Caprese Mac and Cheese

Cheese sauce is no mystery. It’s actually one of the easier sauces to master. I guarantee you that you can do it.

Start by just whisking the butter and flour in a medium pot over medium heat until it forms a paste that is a light tan color. You don’t want to burn it or have it turn really brown. A few minutes of cooking should do the trick.

Starting the sauce for Caprese Mac and Cheese

Then start whisking in your warm milk. I’ve made this before with cold milk and it’s a lot harder to get the sauce to thicken so just stick your milk in the microwave for a minute or two to warm it up and then slowly whisk it in.

Cheese sauce beginnings for Caprese Mac and Cheese

Once the milk is incorporated, let the sauce thicken for a minute over the heat and then stir in the cheese.


Once the cheese melts you’ll find yourself in front of one of the creamiest cheese sauces that I’ve ever seen. Season this with salt and pepper and it’s hard to go wrong.

creamy sauce for Caprese Mac and Cheese

Cook the pasta you are using according to the package and then drain it and stir in your cheese sauce. Honestly, it’s delicious just like this.

Caprese Mac and Cheese is almost done

When you’re ready to serve the mac and cheese, scoop it into serving bowls and then top it with a few spoonfuls of the caprese topping. Give each bowl a drizzle of balsamic reduction and you are in serious business.

Creamy Caprese Mac and Cheese ~ Macheesmo

I like using the topping as a topping and not stirred into the mac and cheese because I think the flavors would get lost. Having it as a topping keeps them concentrated and also keep the mac and cheese really super creamy.

With this recipe, I’m participating in the 2013 Galbani Caprese Challenge. I hope you vote for me and you’ll also be eligible to win lots of fun prizes!  You can enter once a day, so go check out the other blogger’s fun spins on the classic Italian dish Caprese, and vote for a chance to win some great prizes!

22 Responses to “Caprese Mac and Cheese” Leave a comment

  1. This does look delicious, and I just the other day made homemade mac & cheese using smoked gouda, sharp cheddar, and some pretty standard mozzarella. The same method you used.
    I don’t think mozzarella has enough flavor for me. I need that sharp cheddar cheese to really taste that amazing cheese flavor. I’m sure mozzarella is good for this, since the caprese topping is the star.
    But, I’m sticking with the strong-tasting cheese for mine :)

    1. That sounds awesome Matt. Yea… normally I would be into stronger flavors for cheeses but the topping on this is so flavorful that it’s okay to use a more mild cheese. Also, the mozz resulted in probably the creamiest mac and cheese I’ve ever had.

  2. I’m definitely trying this. Galbani mozzarella brand is quite popular in Belgium and I’ve been looking for a new mac & cheese recipe!

  3. Oh yeah! I had to vote for you! I usually make my own too with sharp cheddar but this sounds divine. I am such a cheesy person, I make a sun dried tomato alfredo sauce for ravioli and tortellini. Thank you for this though..I am looking forward to making it.

  4. Would love if I could read your blog on Feedly, which is my substitute for google reader r.i.p.


  5. Me and my roommates whipped this up tonight, was amazing. So filling though, we thought we would need to double the recipe to fill everybody up and only ended up eating half

  6. NICK!! You’ve done it again! Made this last night (with sundried tomatoes) and it was fantastic. I was slightly concerned about not getting enough flavor from the mozzarella, but it was perfect. Something stronger would have thrown the whole thing off I think. I’m a sucker for a balsamic reduction, so even though I halved the recipe I made the full batch of balsamic so I could save some back but ended up eating it all anyway. Whoops. Wish I’d doubled the topping and will definitely do so when I remake it down the road. Best ending to a stressful day.

  7. Hello Nick,

    Thank-You for sharing this recipe! I tried this yesterday and my family loved it! I was worried when making cheese sauce, I never tried before and it went fine thanks to your instructions.

    I tweaked the recipe. I will share what added to your recipe. When I roasted the tomatoes in the oven I seasoned them with italian herbs (McCormick brand), 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, Balsamic Vinegar (Renee’s brand), chilli pepper flakes, a little bit of brown sugar, salt and pepper and olive oil. I mixed in a bowl and roasted in the oven. This was a similar method I used when I made roasted garlic tomato soap. Besides, roasting tomatoes like this taste delicious on their own and with a little sour cream!

    I sautéed red onion and 2 cloves garlic. I mixed this with the cheese sauce and macaroni. I did not feel like having plain cheese sauce. I did add a little bit of italian seasoning, chilli flakes, salt and pepper to this… I knew that my roasted tomatoes had all the seasoning needed… I kept in mind to keep it balanced.

    You should try this if you want. I am certain you would not be dissatisfied!

    Best Regards,

  8. I, too, was reluctant to try this recipe thinking that the mozzarella might be too bland for my taste. i had the cheese on hand so gave it a try. We loved this. Different from usual mac and cheese. Gourmet type. Delicious! So glad I gave it a try. Will be my go to recipe. Thank you.

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