Campfire Mac and Cheese With Jimmy Kennedy

By Jimmy Kennedy, & Justin Brouillard
Cook Ambassadors

An all-time family favorite is even better made over an open fire. This recipe is made even easier if you cook the pasta ahead of time and pack it in the cooler, but it’s not really necessary. You can cut the recipe in half for four or five big servings, or just make it all and enjoy leftovers for breakfast, lunch or dinner again.


  • 1 pound penne, large elbows or shells
  • 4 cups milk, room temperature or slightly warmed
  • 16 ounces (about 4 cups) sharp cheddar, grated
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter
  • 8 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • 1 teaspoon basil, dried
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (optional)


  1. Cook noodles until al dente. Drain, place in a large bowl and set aside.
  2.  If cooking over a campfire, start by building a nice hot fire and let it burn down until you have coals before you start to cook. You can place a Dutch oven right in the coals or use a grate or grill over a couple of logs and place a heavy pan or pot on the grate. This is also a good way to control the heat by being able to move the pot around.
  3. Find a good place in or on the fire where you have medium heat. Melt the butter and then stir in the flour, a little at a time, with a whisk until it is well blended.
  4. Continue stirring, letting it cook for a minute or two. Slowly add the warm milk and keep whisking for another couple of minutes. Add the cheese and stir with a whisk or spoon until it melts and is blended into the mixture.
  5. Adjust pot or pan to where you have low heat. Add the herbs and cook while stirring for 3 or 4 minutes.
  6. When the sauce is done, add the pasta and mix well. If desired, top with breadcrumbs until the top of the pasta is lightly covered.
  7. Cover the mac and cheese, place back on the heat and let “bake” for a few minutes or until it is hot and bubbly.

Prep time: 20 to 30 minutes

Cook time: 15 to 20 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

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