Grilled Mac and Cheese


Working along side USA Onions has been a fun adventure over the last 2 years.  I have been able to learn so much from them about onion types, growth, harvesting, sizing but most important, which onions work best when grilling. All of that knowledge is important, however grilling onions got me most excited. 

For instance, take this Mac and Cheese recipe from USA Onoins.  I love the idea but it was missing one important ingredient…a grill! So I translated the recipe for the grill because it brings way more flavor to the dish and makes the process way more fun.  Take a look at the tips and recipe below and get grilling!

Tips for grilling the onions:

  • Use a vegetable basket to grill the onions.
  • Preheat the basket on the grill for 10-15 minutes.
  • Use olive oil, salt and pepper to season the onions.
  • Grill the onions in the vegetable basket at 375-400 degrees direct heat for 15-20 minutes.
  • Grill the onions in two to three batches for maximum flavor.
  • After grilling the onions, let them cool before adding them to your Mac and Cheese.

How to bake on a grill:

  • Set your grill up for indirect heat placing the pan with the Mac and Cheese directly in the center of the grill grates.
  • For gas grills, turn the outside burners on medium heat and keep the center burner on off.
  • For charcoal grills, place 25 lit briquettes on each side of the kettle.


  • Instead of heating up your house, use a side burner to boil the noodles.
  • The cheese sauce makes for a great dipping sauce. If you have extra, warm it up and use it as an appetizer at your next party at home. 

Hopefully you can use some of the tips above to get more flavor out of this delicious Mac and Cheese recipe, all while having fun in your own backyard.                                                                                                         

Caramelized USA Onion Mac ’n’ Cheese
This sinfully rich Mac ’n’ Cheese is packed with decadent caramelized onions and the classic New Orleans “holy trinity”: onions, celery and pepper. If you like a kick, don’t forget the Louisiana-style hot sauce.


*Note, this recipe is for 12 servings. Cut it in half if you are feeding a smaller group. 


Caramelized Onions
8 Spanish yellow onions (4 lbs)
1/4 cup butter (2 ounces)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Cheese Sauce
2/3 cup butter (5.3 ounces)
6 ribs celery, finely chopped (12 ounces)
2 red peppers, finely chopped (18 ounces)
1 Spanish yellow USA onion, finely chopped (8 ounces)
6 cloves garlic, minced (1 ounce)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (3.3 ounces)
10 cups 2% milk
2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Crunchy Topping
4 cups panko breadcrumbs (8 ounces)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (4 ounces)
1 cup butter, melted (8 ounces)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

6 cups shredded sharp aged Cheddar cheese (1.5 lb)
4 cups sour cream
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh parsley
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (3 ounces)
To taste Louisiana-style hot sauce
18 cups cooked elbow macaroni (4.5 lb)


Caramelized Onions

1. Melt butter in a large heavy-bottomed pan set over medium low heat. 
2. Cook onions, stirring often, for 60 to 75 minutes or until golden brown. 
3. Season with salt and pepper.

Cheese Sauce

1. Melt butter in a large pan set over medium heat. 
2. Add celery, onion, red pepper, garlic, salt and pepper; cook until soft. Sprinkle flour over top. 
3. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Slowly stir in the milk until smooth and thickened. 
4. Remove from heat. Whisk in Dijon mustard.

Crunchy Topping

1.  Toss breadcrumbs with Parmesan cheese, melted butter, salt and pepper.


1. Stir 1 cup Cheese Sauce with 1/2 cup (2 ounces) Cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup sour cream, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbsp (.25 ounces) Parmesan cheese, and hot sauce together until smooth. 
2. Stir in 1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) cooked macaroni.
3. Layer pasta with 1/3 cup (2 ounces) caramelized onions into a greased 2 cup baking dish. 
4. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup (2 ounces) Crunchy Topping. 
5. Bake at 425°F for 18 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbling.


  • For the best cheese flavor, use a 2 year old cheddar or older.
  • Substitute dried breadcrumbs for the Japanese panko breadcrumbs, if desired.
  • Caramelized onions can be stored, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.