Skillet Mac & Cheese with Rye Bread Crumbs

Skillet Mac & Cheese with Rye Bread Crumbs

We've made somewhat of an art form of converting leftover ingredients into individual lunches and sometimes even spunky new dishes, like this comfort classic: Skillet Mac & Cheese with Rye Bread Crumbs.  This rye crusted dish is a savory answer to what to do with two-day-old homemade bread: pulse it up, mix in butter, salt and cheese and use it as a flavorful topping. We paired the sour and caraway laced crumbs of homemade sourdough rye bread with a sumptuous homemade macaroni and cheese that Paul whipped up stove-top while the oven preheated.  The combination of creamy, subtle local cheeses and pungent crunchy bread crumbs was lovely. We used a 50/50 blend of two local cheeses from the Clarion River Organics market stand. One was a mild farmer's cheese, which gave a smooth creaminess to the sauce. The other was a young asiago, which added a subtle nutty sharpness. Feel free to use your favorite cheese, but try to stick with ones that will melt smoothly.  It may be spring, but we are are not done with creamy comfort foods yet!


Yield: 6 portions


   Mac & Cheese:

  • 1 pound gemelli pasta, cooked al dente
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • pinch paprika
  • pinch black pepper (freshly ground if possible)
  • pinch nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)
  • 3 cups grated cheese 

   Rye Topping:

  • 2 cups rye bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup grated cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add the onions.  Stirring frequently, cook the onions for approximately 6 minutes, until the onions have softened and turned translucent (but not yet begun to brown).
  3. Turn the heat to low, add the flour, and whisk to fully mix. Whisk to keep the flour from sticking and browning as it cooks.
  4. After the flour and onion mixture has cooked for 2 minutes, add the milk. Turn the heat back to medium and whisk to fully incorporate the flour and create a smooth sauce. Slowly bring the the sauce to a boil, whisking frequently. 
  5. When the sauce just comes to a boil, turn off the heat and add the salt, spices (garlic, paprika, black pepper, and nutmeg), and grated cheese. Whisk the sauce until it is smooth and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. 
  6. Mix together the sauce and cooked drained noodles in a large bowl. Distribute the portions into individual mini skillets (you can also use ramekins, a large skillet, or a 9" pie pan).
  7. In a medium bowl, stir together the rye topping ingredients (bread crumbs, salt, melted butter, and cheese). Generously sprinkle the topping over the mac and cheese.
  8. Bake the Skillet Mac & Cheese with Rye Bread Crumbs for 10 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the top is browned. Cool 2-3 minutes, and enjoy!