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Mac and Cheese…and Panko

Posted by in Step-by-Step Recipes

I continue to love, adore, and revere panko.

Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs, and are lighter and flakier than regular breadcrumbs. They absorb less oil, too, so after baking or frying they still have an incredibly crunchy texture.

Here’s what I really love: topping casseroles with panko breadcrumbs. They’re the modern day crushed potato chips or corn flakes. I make a zucchini and tomato casserole that’s absolutely transformed by the crunch of panko. I once made an Eggplant Parmesan with panko that pretty much changed my entire life. Just check out this list of recipes on Tasty Kitchen that use panko break crumbs…its magic can’t be denied!

Panko Recipes on Tasty Kitchen

Baked pastas are probably my favorite things to top with Panko. As perfectly delicious as they are on their own, the little crunch (and subtle flavor) that panko crumbs bring is such a treat. Try it on your favorite baked pasta dish; you’ll see what I mean!

Here’s a good, basic Mac & Cheese dish that’s perfect for your Labor Day potluck. Topped with beautiful tomatoes and panko crumbs, it’s pretty, crunchy…and will make you swoon.

Start by grating a pound of cheese. I’m using cheddar and Fontina, but you can use any combination of cheese you’d like. (You can even throw in some Gorgonzola or goat cheese. Yum.)


In a skillet melt 1/2 stick of butter over medium-low heat.


Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flour over the melted butter.


Whisk the flour into the butter until it’s totally combined.


Next, pour in 2 1/2 cups of milk.


Measure a couple of teaspoons of mustard powder.


Dump it in, and whisk, cooking the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes or until it starts to deepen in color. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper.


The mixture will be thick enough to coat a spoon.


Throw in the cheese!


Stir it together until the cheese melts.


Throw in the cooked pasta and stir it together.


Now rub the bottom of a baking dish with butter.


Pour the pasta in the dish…


And smooth it out to even the surface.


Now grab the package of panko crumbs…


And coat the surface generously! I’m not talking a tablespoon here, folks. I’m talking a bunch. You want to taste that crunch!


Now, slice up some Roma tomatoes. Not too thin—you’ll need them to hold together during the baking process.


Arrange them neatly over the surface of the dish.


Pretty! Now sprinkle the tomatoes lightly with salt and pepper.


Now add another layer of panko crumbs. Trust me. You want the tomatoes to be crunchy, too!

Now bake it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. At the end, turn on the broiler and let it brown the top a little more. Watch it the whole time, though! You don’t want to burn this beauty.

And it is a beauty.


Look at the gorgeous topping!


What I love about this, too, is that the tomatoes make it easy to divide portions. Every portion gets a tomato!

I love it when the world makes sense.


And I love this macaroni and cheese.

Throw some panko crumbs onto your next pasta or vegetable casserole. They really change things up.


Here’s a link to the printable. Make it for Labor Day. Speaking from experience, it’s almost more delicious at room temperature!

Mac and Cheese…and Panko


This is the last in a series of posts featuring Kikkoman panko crumbs (though it will hardly be the last time I use them!) Special thanks to Kikkoman for sponsoring this series.


Comments are closed for this recipe.

Kendra on 11.26.2010

Oh no, link is not firing!

SarahG on 10.11.2010

need a recipe! :) the link doesn’t work.

Gail on 10.2.2010

how much pasta, doesn’t say

Gail on 10.2.2010

Does anyone know how much pasta to use ? Says to dump in pasta but how much?

Sarah on 9.26.2010

The link didn’t work for me either! :-(

Candice on 9.15.2010

The printable link at the bottom isn’t working. :-(

Jess on 9.13.2010

My milk-butter-flour mixture never got very thick. What did I do wrong? Is it supposed to boil? Thanks! Also, in Ree’s cookbook it calls for an egg. Anyone know why or what’s the purpose of the egg? Just wondering…I was nervous to put it in since it’s not “cooked”. Thanks!

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kriswithmany on 9.10.2010

I can’t get the link at the bottom to work. The page comes up with no recipe content. And searching for the recipe doesn’t lead anywhere. This sounds really good – help me find the recipe!

Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef on 9.4.2010

wow, i love mac & cheese and would adore this! but i’ve never had panko before. i must try this now!

Marilyn on 9.3.2010

This will be a great welcome home meal for my husband when he is released from hospital. It has me drooling already!

bamacurl on 9.2.2010

I have changed to the mac n cheese recipe in your cookbook. It is amazing! Been using panko about 2 year and I love them so!

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rozanie on 9.1.2010

This gave me great inspiration for our supper tonight!
We are not mac & cheese fans. So, instead, I used an alfredo recipe off of TK and had chicken alfredo, then topped it with bread crumbs, tomato slices, and more cheese.

Melissa on 9.1.2010

Sounds amazing! I bet it would be killer with a touch of truffle oil!!

Cathy on 9.1.2010

With garden tomatoes right, I am SO gonna make this.

momtoomany on 9.1.2010

Wonderful recipe, but I cheated a little: diced the roma tomatoes into the pasta and sauce (and I had some blue cheese crumbles that I threw in there too) and buttered (gilding the lily I know) the panko crumbs before putting it on top of the mix and then baked it and it was also truly marvelous. I loved the tomatoes covered with the cheese sauce, I love tomatoes covered in almost anything, I love tomatoes.

Angie on 9.1.2010

You had me until the tomato’s! I LOVE some home made yummy Mac and Cheese and there is nothing better than fresh sliced tomato’s-but I do NOT want my tomato’s in my Mac & Cheese. (eewww) BUT, can’t wait to try the mac recipe by itself-looks AMAZ
ING-Thanks for sharing!

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flamegoddess65 on 9.1.2010

I’ve never gotten the urge to make homemade mac and cheese…. until now. Ree, you little devil you.

Erin on 9.1.2010

Ooooooh Looks so yummy! Can’t wait to try this one my boys! I am addicted to your recipes.. :)

Heidi Stone Photography on 8.31.2010

I topped our spinach artichoke dip with panko the other night and it was FAAAAAABULOUS.

Jennifer Bohrer on 8.31.2010

I used panko with oatmeal, a little flour, chopped walnuts and a stick of butter melted to top a blackberry crisp…oh mama! So so crunchy and delish…….loving the panko crumbs!

Rachel on 8.31.2010

That looks so good with the tomatoes on top! When I use panko for topping I always mix it up with some melted butter, then spread it on the casserole. Who doesn’t like extra butter?! :)

Amanda Young on 8.31.2010

Yum! My hubby loves homemade mac and cheese. Having 3 small children we eat a lot of the Kraft in a box. Maybe I will suprise him and make this soon! Thanks Ree!

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sprucehill on 8.31.2010

Yummy! That is very close to my mac and cheese recipe. I have never used Panko. I think I need to try it!

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pattilouwho on 8.31.2010

i heart panko too…it’s a staple in my pantry at all times!

donna on 8.31.2010

Yummy!! That’s all I can say! I wonder about adding anything green to the top ?

Heather (Heather's Dish) on 8.31.2010

this is really all i want in life these days…mac and cheese with crispy crunchy topping. is that so much to ask!?

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kroseman on 8.31.2010

This looks so great. I love mac n cheeses and the tomatoes and panko put it over the top. Thanks.

Kathi on 8.31.2010

This sounds yummy! I just made a poblano pepper mac & cheese this weekend so I’ll have to wait to try this…but I can’t wait. The tomatoes just add that little extra spark!

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soufflebombay on 8.31.2010

Looks beautiful…I love, love, love Panko and use it often.
Funny just last night I was cleaning out my fridge…and don’t cringe…made mac and cheese with what remained of a hunk of Brie, some tex mex cheese and some cheddar and monterry jack cheese…kinda crazy…added in some milk, spices and topped it off with Panko and it was fantastic…I will never be able to replicate it!!
My husband was like “what are you doing”…..LOL

Dayna on 8.31.2010

OH, does that look yummy! Too bad it’s not for a diabetic, but my hubby will LOVE it!!
Hurry fall, so I can start using the oven again :)

Sarah on 8.31.2010

this looks so yummy!!!!!!!

jessica @ how sweet on 8.31.2010

I adore panko. If loving panko is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

zoe nairobi on 8.31.2010

oh this is just the inspiration I need to head back into the kitchen after a long absence. mac n’ cheeeeeeese. oh how i’ve missed thee

Jennie on 8.31.2010

This looks amazing! Panko is one of my favorite secret weapons. I’m making this tonight!

Kim in MD on 8.31.2010

Yum! Macaroni and Cheese with panko breadcrumbs-oh my! I LOVE panko! It used to be so hard to find them, but now they are everywhere…buy some-they will change your world! :-)

Sara Z. on 8.31.2010

This is almost exactly the same as my mac & cheese recipe – sans tomatoes. I’ve always used regular italian bread crumbs, but I may have to try it with Panko. And I just happen to have a box of Panko breadcrumbs in my pantry! :)

lauren on 8.31.2010

Mmmmm ….. uh oh, not a fan of the cooked tomatoes ….. I think I’ll try it without them and I’m sure it will be great! Thanks Ree!

Tabitha (FromSingletoMarried) on 8.31.2010

I have to confess that I’ve never heard of Panko before – I’m intrigued!

NG in NH on 8.31.2010

Mmmmm, I want some right now, for breakfast!

Judy on 8.31.2010

Looks like my kind of mac and cheese! Love the idea of the tomatoes on top.