The origins of Macaroni and Cheese and Thomas Jefferson

In honor of Presidents Day – we decided to share a little bit of presidential food lore – according to food legend Macaroni and cheese was popularized in America by none other than Thomas Jefferson. Of course, macaroni and cheese, or as it was known then (simply as Macaroni) was very different than its modern-day counterpart, and consisted with pasta layered with butter and cheese. Jefferson didn’t invent Macaroni and Cheese, as similar recipes were already known in Europe, but he was one of the dish’s popularizers in the United States after he first sampled it in Europe. There is actually a historical record for Thomas Jefferson’s foodie discovery, he was fond of pasta and even requested a pasta machine from Europe, which was listed in his list of possessions moved from Philadelphia to Monticello, and he certainly served Macaroni at official functions. Macaroni and cheese is purported to have been served by Jefferson as early as 1802, and it appeared in the 1824 Virginia Housewife cookbook, recipe adapted here. So for helping to bring Macaroni and Cheese to the USA, we say, thank you Thomas Jefferson!

Virginia Housewife Mac and Cheese

Recipe for Macaroni and Cheese from the Virginia Housewife Cookbook, 1824


Filed under Cheese, World Eats

4 responses to “The origins of Macaroni and Cheese and Thomas Jefferson

  1. Pingback: Canadian cuisine for beginners: Kerrisdale’s Mac Shack | westsidebeat

  2. Thanks for the recipe. I found your blog when I was blogging about a new Mac & Cheese restaurant here in Vancouver, B.C. and looked for the origins of the dish. I am from Europe, and I didn’t know at first what the Canadians meant by “Mac & Cheese.”

  3. Pingback: Food history: macaroni and cheese |

  4. Pingback: Prep Class: The Familiar – Gratin Dauphinois | West Coast Southerner

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