Oh friends.

Four Cheese Baked Skillet Mac and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Someone did something… foolish.

This foolish thing that someone did, well… was to swing by Starbucks in the airport last night at – get ready for it – 7PM. You know, this certain someone who doesn’t drink coffee? But decided that since she went to great lengths to get a big, drippy ice cream cone this weekend and nearly bawled after each attempt failed, that a deliciously frozen white chocolate mocha frappuccino would suffice? Oh, as dinner too. Yes, that would suffice as dinner.

Very wise this person is.

Four Cheese Baked Skillet Mac and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Soooo now it’s like 2AM and this someone is wide awake and bouncing off the walls which is just fabulous because her cumulative amount of sleep over the last six days is probably somewhere around 12 hours. Oh and this is after her massive jitter attack on the plane when she started to have cold sweats like crazy and go weak in the knees since her last meal was ten hours before and mainly composed of mimosas and even though caffeine alllllllways does this to her she assumed !this time would be different! because she developed magic powers or something.

I’m about to punch myself in the face. Or ingest a bottle of Nyquil. Or maybe both?  Because I’m pretty sure that would knock me out. But but but I don’t want it to wipe away my memory of the last six hours because the highlight of my life occurred tonight when the man next to me on the plane asked me if I was “coming back to Pittsburgh from my college spring break.”

Ummm no I’m not nice man but thank you for transporting me back eight years. What tipped you off? Was it my dirty hooded sweatshirt? My broken out face? My hair piled on top of my head and my overall general dirtbag appearance that resembled every Friday and Monday morning of my collegiate years?

Four Cheese Baked Skillet Mac and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

This was all great and good and wonderful especially after he asked me for the second time “so you’re really not in college?”… only to tell me five minutes later that he is having retina issues and his vision is so blurry that he can barely see 6 inches in front of his face clearly. Ah well.

Who wants some mac and cheese? I would have to say definitely me, if only for the hopes of falling into a food coma because if you haven’t realized it yet, I’M WIDE AWAKE in the middle of the night.

And now I’m just hungry.  By the way, do you even KNOW what kind of infomercials are on TV at this time? What?!

Four Cheese Baked Skillet Mac and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Since everything is ten thousand times better when it comes out of a cast iron skillet, you should absolutely drop what you’re doing and make this. If you recall, we are quite enamored with lobster mac and cheese and while I’ve been making a version of my own for years, the minute my husband took a cheesy bite of these baby rigatonis he deemed the recipe the “closest to Capital Grille’s lobster mac” he’s tasted.

While it’s lacking in lobster, the texture and consistency of the sauce came out nearly identical to one of our favorite treats. Because of the mascarpone’s high fat content, the dish will accumulate a bit of oil, but if you’ve ever had said lobster mac, you know this is a common feature. I chose to use these adorable short and fat mini rigatoni noodles, but you can certainly play around with a few other pastas if you wish. Just make sure you have a big skillet for this amount of sauce + pasta (mine is over 13 inches in diameter) or have a baking dish on hand to catch the overflow and simply bake the rest.

Four Cheese Baked Skillet Mac and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Then just… devour it. And sing me to sleep when you’re done?

Four Cheese Baked Skillet Mac and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

Four Cheese Baked Skillet Mini Rigs

serves 4-6

1 pound mini rigatoni pasta

1 shallot, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced or pressde

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup flour

2 cups milk

1/3 cup mascarpone cheese

8 ounces freshly grated gruyere cheese

8 ounces freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese

8 ounces freshly grated fontina cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grate cheeses, placing them together in a large bowl. Boil water and prepare pasta according to directions, cooking for 3-4 minutes less than called-for time.

Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add in olive oil and butter, then throw in shallots with a pinch of salt. Stir to coat and cook for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Add in garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add flour to the skillet then whisk constantly to create a roux. Let cook for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Pour in milk, stirring continuously for another 1-2 minutes. Add in mascarpone and almost all of the grated cheeses, reserving about 1/2 cup of the grated cheese. Stir continuously until mixture thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, then tasted and season more if desired. Add pasta to the skillet and toss thoroughly to coat.

Sprinkle the top of the mixture with remaining cheeses and breadcrumbs. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until top is golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.

Note: this pasta will be more oily then traditional mac and cheese due to the mascarpone.

Four Cheese Baked Skillet Mac and Cheese I howsweeteats.com

I love you.

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216 Responses to “Four Cheese Baked Skillet Rigatoni.”

  1. #
    Kelsey — July 17, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

    I made this recipe a few weeks ago and it was amazing! I was searching for a great mac ‘n cheese recipe after many failed attempts, and this is it. My family is skeptical when I make mac ‘n cheese because my previous attempts were either dry or lacked a good cheese flavor, but they couldn’t get enough of this! I’m actually making it again this weekend because it was so popular. I just used a regular baking dish because I don’t have a cash iron skillet. I also substituted cream cheese because mascarpone is more expensive. I would highly recommend this recipe! Thank you for posting it~


  2. #
    Jenn@slim-shoppin — September 18, 2013 @ 1:55 pm

    I love recipes in a cast iron skillet. I puffy heart mac and cheese, totally going to make this!


  3. #
    jade — October 22, 2013 @ 10:44 am

    Oh my goodness! I made this last night with the cheeses I had on hand, which was smoked Gouda, mozz, cheddar, parm and cream cheese…it was amazing! I had big rigatoni noodles and the gooey sauce got all inside and was so yummy! And using my cast iron skillet made the sides and bottom get all chewy and beyond delicious! This is our favorite baked pasta dish so far and will definitely be a regular! Thanks so much !!!


  4. #
    Dana — November 1, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

    Okay I haven’t made this recipe yet (but I will!)…I just had to say…your dialog is AMAZING! I think I enjoyed reading that as much as I’m going to enjoy making this food (did I mention that I LOVE to cook??)!


  5. #
    Jen @ Fresh from the... — December 4, 2013 @ 3:13 pm

    This looks soooo good! I love cheesey pasta! Someday I will give it a go, when I’m feeling up to getting all those ingredients!


  6. #
    Paulette Graham — January 6, 2014 @ 12:00 pm

    I will make this tonight in an effort to use up lots of cheeses in my freezer. I am a foodie, and have an overload of stuff in cupboards and freezers, so for 6 months have been shopping my house to make meals. This will use up a lot of cheese, and provide a delicious meal at the same time! Thanks for the recipe, even though you had to go through a lot to cook it. Bad for you, good for me!


  7. #
    AwesomelyOZ — January 7, 2014 @ 1:51 am

    Success! I made this tonight for dinner after seeing this yesterday – I just had to try it! I was unable to add the Fontina but it still turned out absolutely delicious and creamy. Thanks for sharing this amazing and simple recipe! -Iva


  8. #
    darling doll — August 30, 2014 @ 5:05 pm

    I’m literally drooling and cracking up over your story double lols!


  9. #
    Ellen — October 9, 2014 @ 12:21 pm

    No, I love you for this recipe!


  10. #
    Jane Z — June 4, 2015 @ 11:25 am

    How do you clean your cast iron skillet after? I try to just use mine strictly for roasting veggies and cooking chicken(and I cook a lot of chicken). How do you get dairy off of it?


  11. #
    Pevita — June 25, 2015 @ 4:10 am

    What a lovely recipe! :)


  12. #
    Bri — August 15, 2015 @ 8:16 am

    This is honestly the best macaroni and cheese I’ve ever had. Ever since I saw this recipe a few years ago, this is the only homemade mac and cheese I make. I’ve made it with both mascarpone and subbed that for cream cheese, and both are wonderful- just different textures. I have to ask- I live in Pittsburgh and have never seen mini rigs here, where on earth did you find them?!


    • Jessica — August 15th, 2015 @ 9:27 am

      hi bri! i found them at mcginnis sisters! i don’t remember the brand (they have a bunch of speciality pasta) but i’ll check next time i’m there!


  13. #
    Riley — October 29, 2015 @ 11:12 am

    I have beeon on the lookout for a really good mac n chesse recipe for years. I made this one and it was fabulous. I have already shared it with friends so there are several more homes enjoying your recipe. Thanks for sharing and for everyones comments.


  14. #
    Sonya — November 3, 2015 @ 11:50 pm

    This looks amazing but can it be prepared ahead of time, refrigerated and then baked later?


  15. #
    Isabella — November 5, 2015 @ 6:42 pm

    This is seriously the best mac & cheese ever. My family loved it. I take it one step further, adding parmesan and cooked bacon. I’ve also poured the uncooked mixture into individual ramekins and frozen them, for side dishes for dinner. Thank you for this excellent recipe.



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