Adventures in Cooking at Home: Blonde Ale Orzo Mac & Cheese

Hi there! The lovely Doniree is taking over my blog today – with an AMAZING, INEXPENSIVE mac and cheese recipe, and not have to order take-out (once again!)  I know I’ll be making this recipe as soon as possible.  You can also check out Doni at Nomadic Foodie, where she’s part of the Street Food Friday series, representing Portland!

Confession: I just might be a mac and cheese addict. Or at the very least, I find myself repeatedly at the mercy of its power and seek out that perfect bowl of creamy, cheese, crispy-topped noodles.

The fun part is trying to discover who makes the BEST mac and cheese in your neighborhood, in your town, or just about anywhere, but that can be an expensive habit. I’ve got a few go-to recipes for some killer mac and cheese. This recipe is easy, handy, you’ll save money by eating at home rather than dining out, and come on – CHEESE!

Blonde Ale Orzo Mac & Cheese

This is a fun, two-serving recipe that puts a spin on the classic, using orzo noodles (which look and act kind of like thick, flat rice) instead of shells or elbow noodles. I use large ramekins for baking, so they’re the perfect portion size!


  • 1 1/2 tsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp flour
  • 1/4 c. cream
  • 1/4 c. beer (the blonde worked wonderfully)
  • orzo noodles (umm… 1 c. or so? I had leftovers after I put ‘em in the baking dishes)
  • your favorite cheeses, and about a cup, total (make sure to save some for sprinkling on top!)
  • handful of bread crumbs

Make the sauce

Melt the butter in a pan. Stir in flour, and stir until smooth. Slowly stir in cream until it’s blended and let the mix heat for 5-10 minutes without boiling, to thicken the sauce. Add in most of your cheese (saving some for sprinkling on top), and once that’s all melted, add the beer.

Let this simmer for a few minutes while you clean up your mess, drain the pasta, have a sip of beer, etc.

Put it together

This part’s pretty self-explanatory, but put the orzo in the baking dishes and drench it in the cheese sauce. Top with crumbled cheese, and bread crumbs. Bake at 350* for about… a half hour or so, but check on it after 20 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when the cheese is brown and bubbly.

Variations: add creamed spinach (like I did here, pictured below – the one in the background), chopped broccoli, crumbled bacon, caramelized onions – so many possibilities!

Pairing: the beer you put in the cheese sauce, obvs.

Cooking at home is a great way to save money since it’s so much cheaper than dining out. And with recipes like this in your back pocket, you won’t need to seek out your mac and cheese craving on an unfamiliar menu!

For more mac and cheese recipes from people other than myself, check out the ongoing Monday series on Nomadic Foodie.

Doniree Walker is a freelance writer/blogger based in Portland, Oregon. She spends her free time frequenting Portland’s farmers’ markets, training for a 5K, and daydreaming about the places she plans to travel. She blogs at and, and you can follow her on Twitter @doniree. Freelance clients include UMoveFree, a service helping renters find Mansfield, TX apartments.


  1. I cannot tell you how good that looks….too good thats how!

  2. Anything that has cheese and any variation on mac? Well, Sign me up. Will definitely have to add this to my list of things to try 🙂 Thanks!

    • I did a spaghetti squash mac and cheese (no mac, so… squash and cheese?) last night that I can’t WAIT to post. Awesome mac and cheese craving-crusher with out the noodles! But this orzo, OMG. And with the beer? So good 🙂 You’re welcome, Nora!

  3. Omg this is amazing! I used 7 kinds of cheese, and added a few dashes of Franks Red Hot. Thank you so much for sharing!


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