Old-fashioned Noodles and Cheese

I recently was in the mood for comfort foods, so decided to try a hundred-year-old recipe for Noodles and Cheese. The noodles were in a creamy cheese sauce that was made using American cheese. The recipe had an old-fashioned goodness that took me back to dishes served at family reunions and potluck dinners when I was a child. When I make cheesy pasta dishes, I tend to use cheddar cheese, but the American cheese in this dish is a nice variation.

Here the original recipe:

Recipe for Noodles and Cheese
Source: The Calorie Cook Book (1923) by Mary Dickerson Donahey

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Noodles and Cheese

  • Servings: 3-5
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1/2 pound noodles

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 pound American cheese, grated or shredded

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon flour

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Fill a  large saucepan 2/3 full with water; add 1 teaspoon salt.  Heat to boiling using high heat.  Stir in the noodles, then reduce heat and simmer until the noodles are tender (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from the heat and drain. Rinse with cold water and drain again.

Put half of the noodles in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then dot with small pieces of the butter.  Sprinkle with half of the flour. Then, using one-half of the cheese, add a layer of cheese. Put remaining noodles on top of the cheese layer, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dot with small pieces of butter, then sprinkle with the remaining flour. Top with a layer of the remaining cheese . Gently pour the milk over everything. Place in oven and heat until hot and bubbly (approximately 30-45 minutes).


22 thoughts on “Old-fashioned Noodles and Cheese

    1. I think the “ish” part of your assumption is probably right on! I have not eaten American cheese in decades. It and Velveeta (another processed cheese-ish product) were staples in poor households when I was growing up, and likely still are.

          1. According to Healthline:

            American cheese is a type of processed cheese made by mixing one or more types of cheeses, including Cheddar cheese, washed curd cheese, Colby cheese, and granular cheese.

            Despite being called “American cheese,” its official name is “pasteurized process cheese food.”

            Unlike natural cheese, which is made directly from milk, American cheese is made from a blend of cheeses. The cheese blend should not comprise less than 51% of the final product’s weight.

            Other ingredients include acidifying agents, water, salt, artificial coloring, emulsifying agents to prevent separation, and spices or artificial flavors.

            American cheese has a mild flavor and smooth texture. Its color may range from white to light yellow or orange.

            It’s typically sold in the form of solid blocks, shredded, cubes, spread, or individually wrapped slices commonly known as “singles.”

  1. There are so many wonderful cheeses in our country, I’m often annoyed that this processed cheese-like product has the handle American Cheese! Of course, I’m a biased Vermonter.
    But who doesn’t love a big bowl of noodles when craving food comfort? We always had egg noodles in our house when I was growing up, my mom’s favorite.

    1. Similarly to you, I generally avoid American Cheese – though found it interesting that this hundred-year-old recipe called for it.

    2. It’s good to know that you have great cheeses. I’m afraid that in Europe the general view is that you only have processed stuff. But I’m used to that. Most foreigners think we English only have cheddar, whereas we actually have more different varieties than those famous cheese-lovers, the French!

      1. We have exquisite cheese, cow, goat, and sheep, and even our supermarkets have many times more of these cheeses than the processed stuff. Here in our little village, our market has an entire aisle of various cheeses, and about a foot of space for the processed stuff. Our cheeses of all sorts frequently win world-wide cheese competitions! Many of our rural states have “cheese trails” that tourists and locals alike can travel and sample.
        And yet, there is the impression that we only have orange, processed stuff. Go figure.

        1. Well, I’ll remember your comments any time in the future when anyone says to me that the Americans don’t ‘do’ cheese. You’re clearly as badly served by the marketing giants as we are.

          1. When I was in England, I sampled many wonderful cheeses including one of the best sheep cheeses I’ve ever had. Sorry, It was a while ago, and I don’t remember the name. And there were so many more blue cheeses and not just Stilton!

            1. Indeed there are! I’m not actually all that keen on Stilton, but there are several blue cheeses I love. One that’s well enough known to be exported may be Cropwell Bishop, which has a creamy feel, whilst being a hard(ish) cheese.

  2. My grandmother made her macaroni and cheese using red-rind “rat cheese” or Velveeta later. To our unsophisticated palates, it was good, so I can see how American cheese with noodles would be similar. I am now hooked on Vermont sharp white cheddar, thanks to Dorothy!

  3. I used to make noddles like this, but using cheddar cheese. My mother made her mac and cheese also with cheddar, but a custardy dish, not with the white cheese sauce. Always avoided American cheese and Velveeta as not being real cheese. Or being cheese waste.

    1. I also have always been a little worried about what might be in American cheese and other processed cheeses. Your mother’s mac and cheese sounds lovely.

  4. This recipe sounds lovely and simple. I like that. There’s nothing more soothing than comfort food, like a nostalgic hug. Thanks for sharing it.

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