Gluten-Free Apple & Sausage Mac n’ Cheese
When I first told my kids about this recipe, they both thought it was “so weird” to have apples in pasta, however, one bite and they were hooked. The combination of sweet apples and the hard cider combined with the saltiness of the sausage and cheese gives this easy mac n’ cheese a big dose of fall flavor. And, don’t worry, the alcohol cooks off during baking.
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or dairy-free butter
- 1 medium yellow onion , roughly chopped
- 1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 pound apples, such as Red Delicious or Gala, cored, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- ⅓ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
- 1 cup hard apple cider (I used Angry Orchard Stone Dry)
- 2½ cups milk or dairy-free milk
- 8 ounces mild cheddar cheese or dairy-free alternative
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese or dairy-free alternative
- 1 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 16 ounces gluten-free elbow pasta
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and cook 2 minutes until it starts to soften. Add sausage and cook until it starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Add thyme and diced apples and cook 5 minutes.
Next, add flour and stir to combine evenly. Add cider and cook about 2 minutes to allow alcohol to start to cook down, then add milk. Cook and stir occasionally, until mixture begins to thicken, about 8-10 minutes longer. Slowly stir in half of each cheese, add salt and pepper, and cook until the cheese has melted.
While the sauce mixture is cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until barely al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta, transfer to cheese sauce, and stir well to coat.
Spread pasta into a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking dish and top with remaining half of cheese. Place dish on a baking sheet and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
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