Italian Baked Macaroni & Cheese

Pancetta, onions and Italian seasonings flavor this Macaroni recipe.

Recipe makes 6 servings.


  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • ¼ pound pancetta cut into 4 slices and diced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 cups canned chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 pound large, grooved macaroni
  • 2 cups basic white sauce
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C).
  2. Butter a 13″ x 9″ baking dish.
  3. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan. When butter foams, add onion and carrot. Sauté over medium heat until onion is pale yellow.  Add pancetta. Sauté until lightly colored.
  4. Combine tomato paste and broth and add to saucepan. Simmer uncovered 20 to 25 minutes.
  5. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Fill a very large saucepan two-thirds full with salted water. Bring water to a boil. Add macaroni. Bring water back to a boil and cook macaroni uncovered until tender but firm to the bite, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain macaroni and place in buttered baking dish.
  7. Prepare Basic White Sauce. Stir tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning and white sauce into macaroni. Stir to blend ingredients. Add 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Mix gently. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese and remaining 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning over macaroni and dot with 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  8. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and top is golden. Serve hot.

Helpful Tips

How To Make Basic (Béchamel) White Sauce

  1. Bring 1 ½ cups of milk almost to a boil; set aside.
  2. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan. When butter foams, stir in 4 tablespoons of flour. Let mixture bubble gently over low heat 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.  Do not let mixture brown.
  3. Whisk in milk all at once. Whisk until smooth. Add sea salt to taste. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly until sauce has a medium-thick consistency. Reduce or increase cooking time for a thinner or thicker sauce.

Use 3 to 4 quarts of water per pound of pasta. Unsalted water will reach a boil faster than salted water, so add salt to rapidly boiling water just before adding the pasta. Use about 1 teaspoon salt for each quart of water.

Adding 1 tablespoon olive oil to the cooking water keeps pasta from sticking together while cooking. Oil in the water also keeps the water from boiling over.

Pancetta is a mild, spicy-sweet Italian form of bacon. Coming from the belly of a pig it is spiced and salted, but usually not smoked. There are many varieties of pancetta and each part of Italy produces its own type. When served on its own it is usually rolled up to resemble a sausage. More often pancetta is used to flavor other dishes, especially pasta sauces.