Copycat vs. Real Deal: Luby's Macaroni And Cheese

Categories: How To, Recipes

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I sure do love some mac 'n cheese. My mom makes a killer mac, so when I had to bring a side to a barbecue last year, I asked for her recipe. Her email reply was titled "Luby's Cafeteria Mac and Cheese." Eh? My Mom's "killer mac" is really Luby's "killer mac"? I had never been inside of a Luby's (scoff, if you must, but in Louisiana, we had Piccadilly), so I couldn't compare the two.

Since I've acquired the Luby's mac copycat recipe, I've made it several times and folks seem to dig it. I've churched it up, throwing jalapenos, cayenne, different cheeses or breadcrumbs in the mix, but usually stuck to the basic recipe.

I was curious to find out how similar the copycat mac and the real deal were, so recently I swung by Luby's on Waugh, bought two to-go containers of mac (approximately four servings) and went by Kroger to get all of my copycat fixin's.

Once home, I dumped the Luby's mac into a dish and got to work on the copycat.

The Luby's Cafeteria Macaroni and Cheese copycat recipe is as follows:

You need:


  • 16 oz. dry elbow macaroni

  • 2 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

  • 1 and 1/4 cups boiling water

  • 3 cups (12 ounces) grated American cheese, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and set aside. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, mix dry milk, flour and butter. Gradually add boiling water, mixing constantly. Add 1 cup of cheese and continue mixing until smooth and creamy. Stir in macaroni, one more cup of cheese and salt.

3. Transfer to lightly greased 2-quart baking dish. Cover with foil.

4. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining cup of cheese. Continue baking 10 minutes.

Since the copycat calls for a sprinkling of cheese on top, I did the same to the Luby's dish and put the identical dishes in the oven at the same time. When they were both done, I put one serving from each dish on 3 plates, labeled them A and B and wrangled 3 volunteers for the blind taste test. Note: All volunteers had tasted Luby's mac and cheese in the past so they could compare the two samples.

choiceaandb.jpg
super scientific.

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Volunteer 1:
- Thought "A" tasted better, but said they were very similar. Said the texture of "A" was more consistent; thought "B" was greasier than "A."
Conclusion: said "A was the copycat, "B" was Luby's.

Volunteer 2:
- Thought "A" tasted better, richer flavor, more cheese than "B."
Conclusion: said "A" was the copycat, "B" was Luby's.

Volunteer 3:
- Thought "B" tasted better, was creamier, had better texture than "A".
Conclusion: said "A" was Luby's, "B" was the copycat.

Results:
"A" is the copycat, "B" is Luby's original.

Two out of three tasters thought the copycat tasted better than the original Luby's mac and cheese, and two out of three correctly guessed which mac was the real deal.

Do you like Luby's mac and cheese? Who has the best mac in the city? Would you give this recipe a shot? Let us know in the comments section.



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17 comments
your pal
your pal

I work at Luby's . We make this stuff by the barrel ( ok not an actual barrel more like a bunch of food service quality tubs) Yes, it has been around since the dawn of macaroni and yes it is what some might suggest a scoop of calories and comfort, and sure your moms is better .....but here's a dirty little secret even your mom won't tell you.....she gets it from US!!!!! Every holiday eve there is a steady stream of moms (and dads) who sneak their own casserole dishes into our kitchen to be filled with M&C...seriously.....that oval dish with the blue edge and the chip on the lip....seen it, filled it, even wrapped it in her foil and hid it in a Kroger's bag so you'd think she was hauling in just the ingredients.....sorry to burst your bubble....don't believe me? Ask her for the recipe and watch her blanch with fear.and while we are on the subject Luby's HAS changed over the years, often for the better. The Galleria Luby's is a flagship example of how a good idea only gets better....fresh food, reasonable prices (Luann platter for 6.99....where ya gonna find a FULL meal under ten bucks anywhere in the Hou/Gal area?) and now they have waiters to bring you all the good stuff ya may have forgotten along the way......

JanieBT
JanieBT

Mac and cheese at This Is It !

val.
val.

As a kid, I always got the fried okra & mac on my luanne platter! This inspires one to make it, but I'm lazy and now craving Jus' Mac.

Shannon Mac
Shannon Mac

I'll eat ANY mac and cheese anytime, anyplace. I'm definitely going to try this recipe, Gin. Mix in a few dashes of Frank's Buffalo Sauce and thank me later!

Yankee Doodle Dandy
Yankee Doodle Dandy

What's with the powdered milk?  Why not use, er, milk?  I like mine which uses American cheese (THE BLUE BOX FOLKS!) and includes grated onion and sometimes a little roasted garlic.  The key is in the texture.  These are both too dry.  I and children I cook for like it really creamy.  Thusly, I make 1-1/2 times the sauce in the recipe for 1 lb. pasta.

ruthiejsf
ruthiejsf

Best mac 'n cheese in the city, hands down, is at Vic & Anthony's. Go!

Tim
Tim

Max's can make good mac and cheese, but too often they go nuts with the truffle oil flavoring and that's all you end up tasting.  The former Catalan would also put out a very tasty pasta and cheese sauce side that I'll miss and vainly hope to see again at Underbelly.

Corey
Corey

Lubys mac and cheese is GRUEL, I'll go to BRC thanks much....

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Shouldn't 3 cups equal 24 ounces?  As in the cheese required?

mac n cheese lova
mac n cheese lova

Since you work there, how close is the recipe above to the real deal?  Seems like whatever mac n cheese recipe i make, it still doesn't compare to Luby's.  Care to mention the secret ingredient(s)..hint hint ;)

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

I CHALLENGE YOU TO A DUEL, FAIR SIR! Someone has to defend the honor of the noble Luby's mac & cheese. That stuff got us through our childhoods.

Misterk75
Misterk75

The Luby's that we knew and loved is ,sadly, long gone.......

Replaced by bad food and pretty high prices.

Megan
Megan

Good God, man, are you trying to kill us?!  (That would be quite a cheesy mac and cheese, though.)  You're thinking in terms of volume, not weight.  12 ounces of weight equals three cups of shredded cheese.

Corey
Corey

Kath happy to make you some Kraft mac and cheese without pasta that's falling apart, cheese that tastes akin to air -- it may sound odd but I genuinely don't understand the attraction to Luby's Macaroni.. I don't know bland food may comfort some but it's wasted calories in my book.. I'll hand grate some fontina, cheddar, provolone, and havarti before I'd ever eat cafeteria food ie senior citizen chow again. 

Oh and you can thank Pappas for your new and improved Lubys..  Give me back my luthers too while you're at it...

FattyFatBastard
FattyFatBastard

Hmmm.  I know I've made Bechemel that required cheese.  I wonder if I doubled up, accidentally?  Although I would've just put it in a measuring cup, anyway.

Megan
Megan

I think you'll be fine.  The cholesterol reading, maybe not.  (By the by, my husband is a mac and cheese freak, so I'm used to adding more cheese to my recipe.)

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