Mac and cheese with mince: A family-friendly recipe

Mac and cheese with mince: A family-friendly recipe

Mac and cheese is a classic comfort food that appeals to adults and children. The family-friendly dish can be made more delicious and nutritious by adding your choice of mince. Create a hearty and satisfying mac and cheese with mince dish using the easy-to-follow recipe highlighted below.

Mac and cheese with mince
Baked Turkish macaroni and cheese with minced beef (L), ground chicken and tomatoes (R). Photo: OksanaKiian/Lauri Patterson (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images


The evolution of mince and pasta recipes has led to several delectable dishes whose enduring appeal continues to influence culinary choices worldwide. The dish is often associated with comforting nostalgia.

Mac and cheese with mince recipe in South Africa

The secret to preparing the best mince, macaroni, and cheese dish in the South African way lies in paying attention to detail. This ensures a balanced fusion of creamy textures and robust flavours. Adopt the following recipe to prepare the delicacy at home.

  • Serving: 4 to 6 people, depending on serving portions
  • Total cooking time: Approximately 45 minutes

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For this recipe, you will need the following items;

  • 250g macaroni
  • 300g minced beef or lamb
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (optional)

Cooking instructions

To prepare the macaroni:

  • Cook the macaroni according to package instructions until tender but firm and chewy.
  • Drain and set aside.
How to make macaroni with mince
Cook the macaroni in boiling water until tender but firm. Gif: @Sunnys Delish on YouTube/ (modified by author)
Source: UGC

To prepare the mince sauce:

  • In a large skillet, cook the minced beef or lamb over medium heat until browned.
  • Add the chopped onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until softened.
  • Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, dried mixed herbs, salt, and pepper. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens slightly.

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Preparing minced meat
Cook the minced sauce before combining it with the mac and cheese. Gif: @Sunnys Delish on YouTube/ (modified by author)
Source: UGC

To prepare the cheese sauce:

  • In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  • Stir in the flour to make a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden.
  • Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Cook until the sauce thickens.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups of grated cheddar cheese until melted—season with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the prepared sauces and macaroni:

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Combine the cooked macaroni and mince sauce in a large mixing bowl. Mix well to combine.
  • Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni and mix until everything is evenly coated.
Preparing mac and cheese
Mix macaroni and cheese until well combined. Gif: @Sunnys Delish on YouTube/ (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Baking the mac and cheese:

  • Transfer the mac and cheese mixture to a greased baking dish.
  • Sprinkle the remaining grated cheddar cheese over the top. Optionally sprinkle breadcrumbs over the cheese.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown on top.
  • Remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly before serving.

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Baked mac and cheese
Bake until the cheese is bubbly and the top turns brown. Gif: @The Cooking Foodie on YouTube/ (modified by author)
Source: UGC


Here are some frequently asked questions regarding macaroni, cheese, and mince recipes;

How does Gordon Ramsay make the best mac and cheese with cauliflower?

The renowned celebrity chef and restaurateur makes one of the best mac and cheese recipes. He usually combines three English kinds of cheese, including mature cheddar, Cheshire, and Lancashire cheeses. His macaroni and cheese with cauliflower bake recipe is as highlighted;

  • Serving: Around 4 people
  • Total cooking time: 50 minutes


For this recipe, you will need the following items;

  • 300g cauliflower florets
  • 300g dried macaroni
  • 60g butter, plus a few extra knobs
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp English mustard powder
  • 600ml whole milk
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 100g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 100g Lancashire cheese, crumbled
  • 100g Cheshire cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves

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Cooking instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cauliflower and cook for 4–5 minutes until tender. Transfer the cauliflower to a bowl of ice-cold water with a slotted spoon to halt the cooking process. Drain well.
Preparing cauliflower
Boil the cauliflower until tender. Gif: @The Cooking Foodie on YouTube/ (modified by author)
Source: UGC
  • Cook the macaroni in the same pot of boiling salted water until al dente, as per the package instructions. Drain the macaroni, rinse under cold running water, and drain again. Combine the macaroni, cauliflower, and a few knobs of butter in a large mixing bowl.
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C (Gas Mark 6). Melt 60g of butter in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and mustard powder to create a roux. Gradually pour in the milk while whisking continuously until the mixture is smooth. Bring it to a gentle boil over low heat, whisking frequently until it thickens. Season the sauce with cayenne pepper and sea salt to taste.
  • Mix the three cheeses, then stir half of the cheese mixture into the white sauce until melted and smooth. Add the macaroni and cauliflower to the sauce, ensuring they are evenly coated. Transfer the mixture to a large gratin dish.
  • Combine the remaining cheese with breadcrumbs and thyme leaves. Sprinkle this mixture over the top of the macaroni and cauliflower. Bake for 15–20 minutes until the topping is golden and crisp. Serve immediately.

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Baked mac and cheese
Serve the baked mac and cheese while it is still hot. Gif: @The Cooking Foodie on YouTube/ (modified by author)
Source: UGC

How long do you bake the mac and cheese with mince?

The baking takes around 20 to 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown and heated through. The oven should be preheated to 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C).

The baking process is primarily done to meld the flavours and textures together. The minced meat should be fully cooked before being placed in the oven.

How do you add more flavour to the mince?

Mince is a versatile and convenient ingredient that can be used for many dishes but can sometimes be bland or dry. Here are some tips to help you enhance its taste;

  • Use different combinations of seasonings and spices like black pepper, thyme, rosemary, cumin, paprika, chilli powder, and others.
  • Add fresh herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, and mint
  • Add marinades and rubs like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, mustard, honey, lemon juice, vinegar, and wine.
  • Use beef, chicken, or vegetable broth to simmer the minced meat, which adds moisture and infuses the meat with additional flavour.

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What kind of cheese should you use for the cheese sauce?

The type of cheese you choose depends on your preference and the recipe. Mixing cheeses to create your unique flavour and texture is also possible. Common types are mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar, and gruyere.

Mac and cheese
Baked mac and cheese in a casserole dish. Photo: Bhofack2
Source: Getty Images

How do you make a perfect, lump-free cheese sauce?

Try these tips to make a lump-free cheese sauce;

  • Use high-quality cheese that melts well
  • Use a whisk to stir the sauce constantly until it is completely melted and smooth to avoid clumps of flour or cheese.
  • Add the milk gradually and ensure it is well incorporated before adding more.
  • Use grated or finely chopped cheese that melts easily and evenly.
  • Cook the sauce over low to medium-low heat, and do not let it boil or burn.
  • Add some lemon juice or white wine to prevent the cheese from becoming stringy.

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Do you use milk or water for mac and cheese?

A standard mac and cheese recipe uses milk because it makes the sauce creamier and richer. Using water makes the sauce thinner and less flavourful. Other recipes use milk substitutes like broth, cream, or non-dairy milk.

Why do you soak mince in milk?

Some recipes recommend soaking minced meat in milk to make it more tender, milder in flavour and improve texture. It is commonly used when making dishes like meatloaf and meatballs.

Do you need to boil macaroni before cooking?

Boiling macaroni in salted water until al dente before adding it to the sauce or baking it in the oven is generally recommended. The step prevents the pasta from becoming mushy or clumpy when added to cheese or any other dish.

Baked mac and cheese
Baked macaroni and cheese with fresh Basil. Photo: Lauri Patterson
Source: Getty Images

Making mac and cheese with mince at home helps you celebrate the simple joys of enjoying good food with your family. Bon appetit!

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READ ALSO: 25 affordable meat platter ideas for South Africans shared a list of the top 25 affordable meat platter ideas. Charcuterie boards are often go-to serving options when hosting parties or family gatherings.

Creating a memorable meat platter involves considering different taste preferences and having a variety of textures, flavours and complementary pairings. Check the article for budget-friendly ideas.

Source: Briefly News

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