Woolworth's Lunch Counter Mac & Cheese

For anyone who can remember eating at a Woolworth’s lunch counter you might already have a fondness for their version of macaroni and cheese. Different areas had different menus, so not every Woolworth’s had this dish. But, it’s a special recipe that has a few curveball ingredients that happen to make it extra delicious.

This mac and cheese has an ultra-creamy flavor and texture with the perfect level of seasoning. It’s a little bit crunchy on top, but not too crunchy. I even enjoyed it with the olives as a garnish! And I’m not usually an olive gal. To my mind this is proof that this version of mac and cheese is one of the best.

Woolworth's Lunch Counter Mac & Cheese

Not every at-home recipe calls for both Velveeta and cheddar, but many restaurant and frozen mac and cheeses do. This is because by using both you get the creaminess of the Velveeta with the flavor of the cheddar.

If you want to replace the Velveeta for real cheese you are welcome to, but you’ll need to stir it longer in the pot before adding it to the casserole for baking. Don’t do what I did and get the big shreds- opt for fine shreds and it will melt much quicker.

Woolworth's Lunch Counter Mac & Cheese

There’s also another trick ingredient that makes this mac and cheese special. While some folks might be suspicious I can assure you that it only adds to the creamy flavor without taking over the dish. I’m talking about mayonnaise. I know it sounds weird, but it’s so good.

Woolworth's Lunch Counter Mac & Cheese

Some versions of this recipe opt for a can of cream soup, but I wanted to make a béchamel instead. It doesn’t take long to whip up and most of us already have the ingredients to make a good cream sauce on hand at all times. So I figured I’d give this diner staple a homemade touch with the sauce.

Woolworth's Lunch Counter Mac & Cheese

This is a rich and decadent recipe, perfect for the main dish at lunch or dinner. For a taste of diner perfection Woolworth’s macaroni and cheese is one of the finest recipes out there.

Serves 6-8

10m prep time

41m cook time

769 calories

Allergens: Milk, Wheat, Gluten

  • 7 oz macaroni or other short pasta
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon dried onion
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6 oz Velveeta, cubed
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • optional garnish: sliced stuffed green olives
  1. Cook and drain pasta to al dente. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1 minute or until golden in color. Whisk in heavy cream, celery salt, onion powder, salt, pepper, and dried onion. Cook and stir until thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and whisk in milk, cheddar cheese, Velveeta, and mayonnaise.
  4. Pour sauce and pasta into 9”x13” baking pan and stir to combine. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top begins to brown. As an optional garnish you can add chopped green olives.

Recipe adapted from Group Recipes.

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