Delilah’s Mac & Cheese: Oprah Was Wrong

A recent visit to Reading Terminal in Philadelphia brought me to sampling some special macaroni & cheese.  Well special is a bit of a stretch, but Oprah disciples everywhere will probably disagree.  See, the only thing that compelled me to try the mac & cheese at Delilah’s was Oprah.  This mac & cheese was voted “Best in the Country” by Oprah Winfrey in 2003. This is their claim to fame.  An endorsement from Oprah.  Well I had it and it wasn’t that special.  And seriously, it’s $4.00 for the small portion!!! I’m sure suckers like me always seek out this mac & cheese because of what Oprah said.  So $4.00 will be spent regardless.

The mac & cheese is made with 7 types of cheese, (sharp yellow Cheddar, extra sharp white Cheddar, mozzarella, Asiago, Gruyere, Monterey Jack, Muenster).  You would think that with all this cheese, the dish would be really cheesy.  It wasn’t. It was actually pretty dry and bland.  Probably packed with well over 1000 calories for a small but surprisingly lacked the richness I was expecting.  Even adding some crumbles of cornbread (my patented move) did little to impress me.  I’m thinking Oprah and Delilah are just good friends or maybe I got a bad batch.  Honestly though, it wasn’t horrible but I was hoping for something better.

So I’ve got some questions for the GrubGrade readers… What’s the best mac & cheese you’ve ever had?  What makes a good batch of mac & cheese?  Have you had Delilah’s Mac & Cheese?  Are you an Oprah disciple?

Note: I was contacted by Oprah’s people and they demanded “Oprah” be in bold throughout the article.

80 comments on “Delilah’s Mac & Cheese: Oprah Was Wrong

  1. Adam says:

    I am somewhat ashamed to admit this as an American, but I cannot recall ever having Mac and Cheese. I think I may have been served it as a young child, saw it, said; “This looks like throw-up,” and turned my back on it forever.

    I feel ashamed and outed of my foodie ways.

    • Travis says:

      If you want to try some good mac n’ cheese to make at home, go online and look for Miller and Paine mac n’ cheese recipie. It is some of the best comfort food you can make, and a great into to this food. Miller and Paine was kind of like Macy’s but it had a diner built into it some of the best home cookin’ you could buy (meatloaf, cheesy potato casserole, pot roast etc.) Anyway, try it and you wont be disappointed. I guarantee anyone would like it better than Delilah’s.

  2. Tom D says:

    I wasn’t a fan of this mac and cheese either. Not cheesy enough but it seems like it should be. Oprah was wrong.

  3. Ashlee says:

    The best mac and cheese I ever had was made by … ME!

    Mayo is my secret ingredient

    I hear Dukes mayo is the best but we can’t get that up here in Canada

    Lol @ Oprah needing to be in bold..

  4. Mark says:

    The best mac and cheese is baked. That pic just looks sad.

  5. Jane says:

    I like pesto mac made without a hell of a lot of cheese. But most mac n cheese is overrated in my book.

  6. Bobby says:

    Yes, baked mac and cheese with chopped green chilies. Love it. It must have the crunchy top on where the cheese has browned.

    I can’t remember any great mac and cheese that I did make myself.

    Oh, well.

  7. rob says:

    The Stouffer’s frozen mac and cheese is the best mac and cheese in the universe.

  8. Ryan says:

    Is anyone else here a genius like me and mix in cornbread w their mac & cheese? Try it.

  9. Nancy says:

    No, no, Ashlee, the best Mac N Cheese is made by ME!!! Or so says my 9 year old son. The best restaurant Mac N Cheese is either Cracker Barrel or Macaroni Grill. Both YUM!!! But, homemade is the best. None of that blue-box crud. Yick.

  10. Jessica J says:

    I can’t believe the Oprah people contact you and made you put her name in bold. Is that really true?
    That picture looks disgusting. I love macaroni and cheese, but I think that might be a case of cheese overkill. My favorite macaroni and cheese was my Granny’s, who passed away three years ago. She made homemade mac and cheese, then baked it until it had a golden brown crust on top, which was my favorite part!

    • Ryan says:

      Haha…no not true about the bold Oprah.

      This mac and cheese wasnt bad at all…just wasnt anything special and way too expensive to consider buying again.

  11. skippymom says:

    You have me craving cornbread now – but that pic of mac & cheese looks anemic [at best] and cured any desire for it. I wouldn’t count on a recommendation from seven years ago – even if it was from the “O” and nope, not a disciple.

  12. Meg says:

    Sorry Oprah, but nothing beats my aunt’s baked mac n’ cheese.

    That mac looks….crusty. In a bad way.

  13. Valerie says:

    I would certainly make sure to bold Oprah but the sarcastic me would also bold all the other words as well.

  14. Mike says:

    best mac & cheese i’ve ever had is at Slows Bar B Que in Detroit: http://www.slowsbarbq.com

    • Sara says:

      I can vouch for that too…it is AMAZING! I live in the suburbs of Detroit and Slow’s is always packed! It is very hard to get reservations there on the weekend! Even Adam Richman from Man vs. Food has it shipped to his house every Thanksgiving~!

  15. BobbyD says:

    Instead of bolding OPRAH, I would have demanded you take down those awful pics of her…..scary!

    Oh yeah, besides my own mac & cheese, I really like Cracker Barrel’s! Based on some reviews above, I may have to try the Stouffer’s though….

  16. brad says:

    Lately, my Panera has gotten some insanely good Vermont White Cheddar mac n cheese that I can’t get enough of.

    • Ryan says:

      Good to know. They use the Vermont White Cheddar in the breakfast sandwiches and that makes all the difference. I will seek the mac and cheese out.

  17. Keith says:

    The best mad and cheese is always do it yourself, with fresh quality cheeses and a true roux base. Alton Brown’s recipe is by far the best I’ve ever encountered and it’s not difficult – plus you can jazz it up any way you want. I once tried it with some Italian sausage I smoked myself and it was beyond amazing. It’s also great with some chopped chives, Cholula hot sauce and/or smoked paprika.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/stove-top-mac-n-cheese-recipe/index.html

  18. Keith says:

    By the way, the best restaurant mac and cheese I ever had is a smoked mac & cheese using penne pasta at Hempen Hill BBQ in Hagerstown, MD.

  19. Amy says:

    This is going to sound really horrible and I can’t believe I am going to admit this, but after all the homemade mac & cheese I have tried and various restaurant mac & cheese, I am in LOVE with KRAFT MAC & CHEESE! I know, I know, I should be banished to some deserted island, but I just like it. I like the shapes even more than the regular elbow! :)

    • Keith says:

      The problem with mac & cheese using anything other than process cheese food (ie. American Cheese) is that real cheese tends to get gritty and maybe even a little oily.

      The key is to make a roux with condensed milk, and to cut the cheddar with a little monterey jack.

  20. Ashlee says:

    I cant believe people actually like that frozen garbage !

  21. Austin says:

    The best mac and cheese in the world WAS made by me, why? because I baked it with fried buffalo chicken strips and hot sauce, and I can tell you on that day the gods smiled upon me.

  22. Rebecca says:

    Thanks to The Soup whenever I hear the name Oprah all I can think of it ‘My vajayjay’s a hurtin’ and ‘Sweet POTATOOO”

  23. Rachel says:

    The mac n cheese at Michael Symon’s restaurant Bar Symon in Avon Lake, OH is unreal. Never thought I’d like goat cheese til I tried it. A dish of that plus a side of his Lola fries, now that’s the cure for heartbreak lol

  24. Tony jaguar says:

    I will eat mac & cheese if there is nothing else and I’m famished. Otherwise, meh.

  25. nighthawk says:

    i gotta go with the roux mac and cheese….and quality cheese is key too….i hate it when you get those little curds of cheese and pools of oil from just throwing noodles together with bad cheese…(that pic of delilahs is what i don’t like)

    …of course…i do like a good velveeta mac and cheese every now and then…!! thats pure comfort…!

  26. Tracy says:

    The best macaroni and cheese is homemade, right out of the oven all gooey and creamy. Out of the oven too long it seems the macaroni absorbs the moisture and it dries out. I have to say the thought of crumbles corn bread, mixed with some butter, sprinkled on top and browned in a broiler sounds really good.

    I go to the Reading Market often and was tempted to buy the mac and cheese after Oprah raved about it but it seemed too expensive and didn’t look great so never did. Now I never will. Really I find most things there other than produce expensive. We’re lucky to have Amish markets where I live open Thrus – Sat. which have great produce, meat and baked goods so I tend to go there more these days.

  27. Natalie says:

    The best mac and cheese I’ve ever had is from a little local shack looking place (actually part of an old mill town) in Macon, GA called Dawson’s Kitchen. It’s rich and creamy and so deliciously cheesy. As far as chain mac and cheese, Cracker Barrel’s is really the only one I ever bother ordering.
    I also have a love for Stouffer’s frozen mac and cheese. I try to keep a small box of it in the freezer at all times to cure any mac and cheese cravings that hit.

  28. Shannon says:

    Is that an actually picture of the mac and cheese? EECCKKK…It looks like vomit. No really. It really does.

  29. Nikki says:

    My favorite mac and cheese comes from JB’s BBQ in Brewster, NY. So creamy and delicious! That picture of the mac and cheese looks sad. It looks so dry!

  30. Chelsea says:

    In order:
    1. My mom’s mac n’ cheese
    2. Dinosaur BBQ in Rochester, NY
    3. The Panera mac n’ cheese that Brad up there mentioned, which is unfortunately hard to come by in DC

    I hate when people try to gourmet-up what ought to be a simple dish, particularly mac n’ cheese. I do like to add some chili powder or hot sauce, though, and cornbread sounds brilliant!

    • Wylene says:

      I agree that gourmeting mac and cheese is going too far! And too expensive to make. Delilah’s sounds too rich for my blood! I had to make 4 large aluminum pans for a traditional Laosian/Caucasian wedding. I spent $160.00 on ingredients. People pay me to make it for them.

  31. laura says:

    i live in the philly area and have been wanting to try this forever but maybe now i wont be in such a rush to try it. bummer!

  32. wibia says:

    Oprah being wrong?!?! I am shocked.

    Add this to the many reasons why I don’t like Oprah. Most importantly, KFC Grilled Chicken from last year.

    Btw, I usually don’t like fancy Mac and Cheese. Most soul food restos have my favorite.

  33. Justin says:

    Gourmet Mac and Cheese is the latest rage among yuppies with too much money.

    I’m from the Caribbean and my family always used to make AWESOME Baked Macaroni and cheese. I haven’t had it in years since my grandma died, but the recipes are on the web for everyone to find.

    It’s honestly poor people’s food. The fact that restaurants are taking it and charging $4-15.00 for it at some places is a joke. A fool and their money are soon parted, that’s what they always say. There is a place in Ann Arbor, Michigan, called Zingerman’s. It used to be good when their prices equaled Subway’s and Jimmy John’s in the 90′s, but now it costs $11-15 for the same sandwich…but it seems like the place is even more popular than before? I blame it on the locals that have too much money…I guess from their parents. There is another Zingerman’s restaurant there that is into the gourmet mac, cheese and fleece scam, ironically. Whatever…it’s not my cash.

  34. Fangedangel32 says:

    I too love my own mac and cheese but I make it very rarely due to the fact it contains, milk, butter, sour cream, cheddar cheese, cream cheese and velvetta lol. Sometimes for dinner I make a homemade mac and cheese with a mozzerlla and caramalized onion cheese sauce, philly steak mixed in and topped with provolone, thats a yummy dinner. Asides from homemade, I love the mac and cheese from KFC, its pretty much all I eat from there

  35. Heather says:

    I love the Vermont White Cheddar on the breakfast sandwiches at Panera. I wondered what it would be like to make Mac’n’cheese with Vermont White Cheddar. Looks like I will be making a trip to Panera this week.

  36. Marc says:

    The frozen Mac & Cheese (in the red box) from Trader Joe’s is insanely good. I highly recommend it.

  37. Mel says:

    Ew, that looks disgusting. I wouldn’t be paying that much either.

  38. Mary says:

    That looks chunky, not smooth and creamy like mac and cheese should be.

  39. Katie Ann says:

    I could probably eat my weight in Velveeta Shells and Cheese, so fake cheesy creamy delicious.

    TGI Fridays has a very yummy 5-cheese “gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese” where the strongest flavor is from the bleu cheese crumbles on top. Mmm! It has bacon and chicken, too, and is on the “smaller portion” menu so it’s cheaper but fills me up nicely.

  40. Amy says:

    I make a decent mac & cheese. I’m not trying to claim its the best, but people seem to love it (or various people are all being nice separately at different times). I use mozzarella, american, cheddar and whole grain noodles.

  41. Cristiane says:

    There’s restaurant in the East Village in NYC called ‘smac which specializes in m&c (http://www.smacnyc.com). Their four-cheese version is GREAT!

  42. philly says:

    I live in Philly and have had Delilah’s mac and cheese quite a few times. It’s good, but definitely not great. Often it is a bit oily. It’s also over-priced. If you’re going to Reading Terminal there are many other places that your money would be better spent (I’d recommend Dinic’s).

  43. Meg says:

    I often saute onions, garlic and tomatoes, dump that over macaroni and melt in bree, mozzarella, and lots of Parmesan.

  44. Shana says:

    Ukrop’s is the best

  45. Jess says:

    Mmmmm…smac is delicious. That just looks bad, though. Maybe it was remicrowaved?

  46. Marky says:

    I was looking forward to a day trip to Philly and try this……But I will pass and wait in line for those cheesesteaks!

  47. Francois says:

    I had some lobster mac & cheese in a bar somewhere in Boston once that was probably the best I’ve ever tasted, although I was a bit tipsy.

    As to tips and “secrets” to making your own mac/cheese, I normally add a little buttermilk to the recipe. It tends to give the final product a more well-rounded flavor.

  48. dan says:

    Alton Brown’s recipe for M&C is the best I’ve made yet. For complete heart-attackyness, cube some leftover ham, put it in the oven at 425 to render the fat, then sprinkle a chocolaty chilli powder and brown sugar on it and return to the oven to caramelize a bit. Toss to coat. Add ham, cayenne to taste, and your choice of sympathetic sliced vegetables (squash, diced carrots, onions, etc) to the cheddar Mornaise sauce, then mix the whole gloppy mess with al dente pasta in a casserole dish. Cover with a sprinkling of shredded cheddar, then cook according to directions.

  49. Michelle says:

    It looks pretty dry just in the picture. I’m not really a fan of lumpy mac and cheese, I like super creamy, borderline soupy, mac and cheese. Mmm

  50. Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

    The best Mac ‘n Cheese of all time is the Cheesy Mac ‘n Corn from Branson’s BBQ in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Think 2 parts Mac ‘n Cheese to 1 part scalloped corn. Delicious!

    http://www.bransonsbbq.com/

  51. ChrisLad says:

    Mac and Cheese is best baked and simple. No vegatables or anything. Stick to the basics. 4 dollars for that bowl was insane. Is there really a need for 7 cheeses? Like how many can you really taste? The milder cheeses are just going to get overpowered.

  52. jack says:

    HAHAAHA, your plan worked perfectly! every post seems to be getting so many responses.

    I’m no expert on Mac n Cheese since i rarely eat it much.
    My favorite is the ones that are baked with a crispy crumb crust on top. and that’s all i got to say on this topic.

    • jack says:

      And yes i think Delilah’s mac & cheese was probably never really all that good. One reason i think this is because Delilah lost to Bobby Flay in Throwdown, and that’s a show that Flay rarely wins in. The judges weren’t all that impressed by her food. And, she made another appearance in Food Network in a mac n cheese competition show, and she didn’t get any good responses by the reviewers.

  53. Ashlee says:

    I really want to try lobster Mac n Cheese that someone posted about above!
    Combining two of my loves!

  54. Cassie says:

    I’m from Philly and I’ve had deliliah’s mac and cheese. I 100% agree that it sucks.

  55. jay says:

    The best is store brand twists and cheddar. boil water 4-6 minutes mix. done. also add sirrachia!

  56. IBeAnonymous says:

    I can’t say I have tried different Mac and Cheese things. I usually stick with the classic from Kraft, but I don’t like Mac and Cheese enough to buy other kinds or try it out!

  57. robin says:

    i wonder if it was four bucks before oprah spoke of it?

  58. Nick says:

    I am not a mac & cheese fan but I can proffer some great suggestions for your next visit to Redding Terminal.

    Anything from the Original Turkey
    Dinic’s Roast Pork or Roast Beef
    Bassett’s Ice Cream
    Famous Cookies

    Rick’s Steaks has moved to downstairs at the Bellevue. Ambiance is gone but the terrific steaks are not.

  59. Don says:

    I’ve been making Delilah’s 7 cheese mac n cheese on Thanksgiving & Christmas for the past 2 or 3 years. I’m just guessing whoever made the stuff in the photo didn’t mix the cream and the eggs enough. I cut the recipe in half cause it’s easier to handle (you have to use 12 eggs in Delilah’s original recipe. 12 eggs. That is not a typo). Anyway, my family loves it and it never lasts more than 2 days in a 9×13 baking dish.

    I also made Bobby Flay’s mac n cheese carbonara. It’s the dish that beat Delilah’s mac n cheese on Bobby Flay’s throwdown. It’s zestier than Delilah’s and uses about 1/2 the cheese.

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1-inch thick piece pancetta, cut into small dice
    3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    6 to 7 cups whole milk, heated
    4 large egg yolks, lightly whisked
    2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2 cups freshly grated Asiago cheese, plus more for the top
    1 1/2 cups Irish white Cheddar, plus more for the top
    1 1/2 cups Mountain Valley Cheddar, plus more for the top
    1 cup grated Fontina cheese, plus more for the top
    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for the top
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked just under al dente
    1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 3 quart baking dish and set aside.

    Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook until golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.

    Add the garlic to the pan and cook until lightly golden brown. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in 6 cups of the hot milk, increase the heat to high and cook, whisking constantly until thickened, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk in the eggs until incorporated and let cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the thyme, cayenne, and all of the cheese until completely melted, season with salt and pepper. If the mixture appears too thick, add some of the remaining milk 1/4 cup at a time.

    Place the cooked macaroni in a large bowl, add the cheese sauce, reserved pancetta and parsley and stir until combined. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Combine together additional Asiago, Cheddars, Fontina, and Parmesan in a bowl and sprinkle evenly over the top of the macaroni. Bake in the oven until heated through and the top is lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

    Good stuff. My daughter liked it more than Delilah’s.

  60. Travis says:

    If I am going to pay $4 for a tiny portion than it better have mind-blowing flavor. I’m not really sure what the best mac & cheese I’ve ever had was. Growing up I really liked Boston Market’s mac & cheese but that is by no means gourmet.

  61. reanna says:

    I saw Delilah on the Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She seems so nice and down to earth. I am dissapointed to hear that her famous southern staple, mac n’ cheese, is not all that. By the way, Bobby won that battle.

  62. Dan M. says:

    So many good comments here. I like my mac and cheese extra cheesy and a little crusty around the edges.

  63. Sarah says:

    The best mac n cheese I have ever had was an ala carte lunch special at Aqua Vie in Olympia, WA. It was a wonderful duet of sharp white cheddar and their mystery cheese (Parmesan reggiano I think) and it had crispy applewood peppered bacon bits all topped off with white and black truffles and a little bit of white truffle oil. They don’t have it anymore, which saddens me greatly. I believe a good batch of mac n cheese has two components – a good meltable cheese and slow baking. I haven’t had dahlias, and I am not an Oprah follower, she’s bat shit crazy.

  64. Laura says:

    Mert’s Heart and Soul in Charlotte, NC has the BEST mac and cheese ever. Amazing honey butter cornbread too. Seriously, one piece feels like it weighs a pound and it’s worth every calorie.

    http://www.mertsuptown.com/

  65. Geri Safar says:

    Right now potential customers will give you credit for being open and honest with them. In the not too distant future if a business is not seen to be open and honest it will reflect badly on them. Many businesses seem to be self-destructively attached to the illusion of absolute control over information about the business, their marketing message. Embrace change or become a casualty of it.

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