Food & Drink

Mac & Cheese with Potato Chip Crust

Serves 6 to 8

Comfort food for any age

Photo: Johnny Autry

“I am nearly always appalled by the amount of chips I can eat out of a bag without realizing,” writes the North Carolina author Ashley English in her new cookbook, Southern from Scratch. Here, she tops classic, cheesy comfort food with crispy can’t-eat-just-one homemade potato chips.


    • 1 lb. gobetti pasta, or similar short noodle pasta

    • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

    • 1 medium onion, diced

    • 2 garlic cloves, minced

    • 3 tbsp. butter

    • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour

    • 2 cups whole milk, warmed slightly

    • 20 oz. cheddar cheese, grated

    • ½ tsp. grated nutmeg

    • 1 tsp. hot sauce

    • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

    • 4 large eggs, beaten

    • 1 cup crushed Potato Chips (recipe follows below, or use your favorite variety)

  • Potato Chips

    • 1½ lbs. russet potatoes (skins on)

    • ½ cup white vinegar

    • Sea salt

    • Peanut or light olive oil


  1. Cook the pasta, al dente, according to package instructions. Liberally butter a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  2. Warm the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the onions and sauté for about 8 minutes, until browned slightly and fragrant. Add the garlic, and sauté for a couple minutes longer. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

  3. Return the pan to the stovetop and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and stir for about 1 minute, creating a roux, until blond and smooth. Little by little, whisk in the warmed milk. Continue to whisk the roux for another 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth and starting to bubble. Add 16 ounces of the cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Stir in the onion mixture, nutmeg, hot sauce, and a pinch of salt. Remove the cheese sauce from the heat, and stir in the eggs until fully combined.

  4. Combine the cooked pasta and the cheese sauce in the prepared casserole dish until the noodles are evenly coated with sauce. Top with the remaining 4 ounces of grated cheese. In a small mixing bowl, combine the crushed potato chips with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Top the casserole evenly with the potato chips.

  5. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until bubbly and golden on top. If desired, carefully broil for a minute if you like a browner top. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

  6. For the Potato Chips: 

    Thinly slice potatoes (preferably with a mandoline). Rinse the sliced potatoes with cool water and place in a medium bowl. Cover the potatoes with ice water and pour in white vinegar. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.


    Toward the final 10 minutes of resting time, preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a wire cooling rack atop a large rimmed baking sheet.

  8. Heat 2 inches of oil to 350°F in a large pot or Dutch oven. Hold the temperature steady. Remove the potatoes from the ice water bath. Place them in a single layer on a kitchen cloth and pat to dry. Evenly lay the slices across the wire cooling rack. Bake the chips in batches for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.

  9. In small batches, one layer deep at a time, add the chips to the hot oil one by one so that they don’t stick. Cook the chips for about 6 minutes, until the bubbling starts to slow down and they turn golden brown. With a kitchen spider or slotted spoon, remove the chips to a bowl lined with paper towels. Bring the temperature of the oil back up to 350°F. Repeat the process until all the potatoes have been fried in the oil.

  10. Gently toss the chips with salt, to taste.  Serve the chips immediately, or store in an airtight lidded container or resealable bag and consume within 3 days.

From Southern from Scratch by Ashley English, © 2018 by Ashley English.  Photographs by Johnny Autry, © 2018 by Johnny Autry. Reprinted by arrangement with Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications, Inc. Boulder, CO.