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overhead shot of pesto goat cheese mac and cheese in orange bowl and baking dish

Pesto Goat Cheese Mac and Cheese

Not your traditional mac and cheese, this pesto mac and cheese gives a unique spin on a traditional comfort dish.
Course Pasta
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 405kcal
Author Ryan Beck


  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • ¾ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 10 ounces goat cheese
  • 1 ¾ cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • ½ cup homemade or store-bought pesto
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lb macaroni or orecchiette


  • Melt 2 tablespoon butter in small pan over low heat. Once melted, add panko, garlic, basil and ¼ cup Parmesan and toss to combine. Set aside.
  • Melt remaining 4 tablespoon butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until smooth and mixture starts to bubble. (About 2 minutes) While stirring, gradually add the milk and continue whisking until the sauce is creamy. Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes until it thickens and you can coat the back of the spoon. Add the goat cheese, 1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese, pesto and black pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Preheat broiler and put rack at the top. While sauce is cooking bring a large pot of water to a boil. Boil the macaroni according to instructions. Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish and add the drained pasta and sauce. Mix thoroughly, making sure all the pasta is coated. Top with breadcrumb mixture.
  • Put under broiler until the mixture bubbles and top is browned. Should be about 1 to 2 minutes. You can't leave unattended or it will burn. Remove from broiler and let rest for 5 minutes.


  • No overcooked pasta – cook the macaroni al dente according to the package instructions. The pasta will finish cooking in the oven while it’s in the sauce.
  • Freshly grated cheese – don’t use pre-shredded cheese. It doesn’t taste as good and also has additional ingredients that you don’t need.
  • Stir constantly – once the milk is added, you must stir constantly as it heats up and becomes thick. Otherwise you’ll have burnt milk on the bottom.
  • Lots of sauce – who likes a dry mac and cheese? At first when making this mac and cheese, you’ll think it is too much sauce but believe me when that the macaroni soaks it up.
  • Broil topping – only broil topping for 1-2 minutes so it gets browned and doesn't overcook the pasta.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 405kcal | Carbohydrates: 39g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 39mg | Sodium: 436mg | Potassium: 95mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 550IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 250mg | Iron: 0.9mg