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

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.

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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