Birthday Macaroni


This celebratory pasta can be for birthdays or for every days



No recipe celebrates macaroni and cheese quite like this one. For my latest series, I’ve been exploring the different types of macaroni and cheese eaten around the world. As it turns out, there are tons of ways to enjoy the classic combination of cheese and pasta. However, Barb doesn’t just enjoy her macaroni and cheese recipe – she celebrates it.

Barb is currently living in Victoria, British Columbia in Canada, where her family has been making what they call, “Birthday Macaroni” for generations. As a kid, Barb’s mom would serve this baked casserole version of macaroni and cheese for special occasions. The combination was so unique that Barb thought her mother had invented the dish until she met a woman who had grown up eating the exact same thing. Barb is still unsure where this dish originated, but she’s managed to make it a tradition in her own family. She began making macaroni and cheese for her daughter’s birthday and now this recipe has morphed simply into, “Birthday Macaroni” for their family. But I definitely wouldn’t wait for a birthday to whip up this macaroni and cheese.

Barb’s Birthday Macaroni is a combination of elbow macaroni, onion, cheese, tomatoes, spices, and corn flakes. For this recipe, you’ll need to make a Béchamel of diced white onions, butter, flour to thicken, milk, and of course, cheese. Then, things get interesting when you add in tomatoes and stir until you have a creamy sauce. The sauce is mixed together with the cooked elbow macaroni and spooned into a baking dish. Don’t worry – I didn’t forget about the corn flakes. With a bit of butter, crushed corn flakes are added to the top of the casserole to form a crispy topping during baking. And the results are pure perfection. It’s creamy, crunchy, balanced, and absolutely delicious. 

Barb acknowledges that a lot of people around the world have a version of noodles, cheese, and tomato, but that doesn’t stop her from loving her own version. She loves to make this recipe on cold days, days where she’s feeling nostalgic, or my personal favorite – days where she needs a “blast of get me happy carbs.” And that’s exactly how a bowl of Birthday Macaroni feels.

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Birthday Macaroni


  • 1 lb macaroni noodles
  • ½ cup butter melted and separated into two ¼ cups
  • ¼ cup onion chopped
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano or basil
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 19 oz can tomatoes crushed or diced type
  • 2 cups medium or strong cheddar cheese grated
  • pinch dry mustard
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½-1 cup corn flakes cereal crushed


  • Preheat the oven to 375℉.
  • Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a pretty big pot (like a Dutch oven) over medium heat, heat the first 1/4 cup of butter with the onions and the herb. When the butter's bubbly, stir in the flour with the whisk. Add the milk, stirring till it thickens slightly.
  • Use the spoon to stir the tomatoes and the cheeses into the sauce. It should be thickish, and if the heat's not too high, it won't curdle. If it does, take it off the stove, whisk the bejeezlies out of it and use it anyway!
  • Pour the pasta into a serving dish that is bigger than you think you need, cos you need tossing room. Pour the sauce over it and fold it in.
  • Sprinkle cereal crumbs all over the top, covering completely. Pour the butter over evenly as possible.
  • Bake about 25 minutes. Let sit up to ½ hour before serving!
Course: Dinner
Region: North America
Diet: Vegetarian
Keyword: Comfort food


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