Grandma’s Mac & Cheese Crab Roll – The Food Network

by | Pasta, Seafood, Television

Grandma’s Mac & Cheese Crab Roll was the first dish I ever made for The Food Network?

Gruyere Cheese, tiny shell macaroni, Maryland Blue Crab meat, Old Bay seasoning, all wrapped in a buttery phyllo dough and baked to perfection!

Mac & Cheese Crab Rolls For The Food Network!

When competing on The Food Network’s Clash of the Grandma’s and asked to make a ‘hand held’ Mac & Cheese, THIS is what I created, first time ever and have never seen anyone create it before or after me. So dang delicious!

Mac & Cheese For Food Network

If you were asked to make a ‘hand held’ recipe out of Mac & Cheese, what would YOU make? Television cooking competitions are always a fun form of home entertainment; we learn new foods, watch cooks act like crazy people in the kitchen and get to laugh a lot.

Well, that is, unless you are one of those cooks in the kitchen, with about 35 cameras floating around everywhere and no idea what you will be asked to cook.

Often 30-minutes is all you get to make the most delicious and creative dish of your life!

Mac and Cheese Crab Rolls created for Food Network, by me!
1st Time Ever, Creation of Mac and Cheese Crab Rolls Was Right Here On Food Network and Created by Me!

Clash of the Grandmas

I had the exciting pleasure to be one of those cooks, well actually I have had the pleasure to do it three times! Call me crazy but it is so much fun that it just gets in your blood!

My first time to go to Hollywood and compete on television was 2015 on a Food Network program called Clash of the Grandmas. 

While competing on Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas, with gorgeous Cameron Mathison, handsome Eddie Jackson, the lovely Brandi Milloy and sassy Jamika Pessoa, I was given exactly that challenge!

“Make us something with Mac & Cheese that could be hand-held”, as in ‘to-go’! Right! Ooey gooey melted cheese, slippery pasta, mac & cheese to hold in your hand? Good Grief!

Now Casting! Food Network!
Food Network

It’s crazy how your entire brain’s food file document comes alive, zipping through every dang thing you’ve ever cooked, when you have less than 45-minutes.

You think, gather, cook and plate like it’s your last meal on earth! I don’t know how my brain came up with a fabulous dish I had never prepared before, in fact had never seen nor eaten before. Food Brain Insanity!

Grandma’s Crab Roll and Maryland Blue Crabs

I grew up in Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay, and so crabs and Old Bay seasoning popped into my head first. Who doesn’t love crabs!

Having grown up also with a Syrian mom, phyllo dough was something we wrapped many things with. Who doesn’t love crunchy, buttery phyllo dough?

Within minutes the pots were clanging, the bowls were spinning and my mind was on fire with a dish that was too dang delicious to believe, and I had just created it right there on National TV for the first time ever!

Cheese And Seafood?

But wait… don’t most professional chefs say cheese and seafood don’t go together? Fa’ getta ‘bout it! What do they know! Macaroni was my first concern.

What type of macaroni would be small enough to stay tightly packed inside the phyllo roll? I went to the huge grocery shelf they provided and it jumped out at me; little shell macaroni! Perfect. 

Clash of the Grandmas
Clash of the Grandmas

Now the cheese. This was going to be the tricky part. A cheese that would not dominate and over shadow the sweet taste of the crab, melt beautifully and not be yellow, as in that fake yellow color often used in mac & cheese.

Gruyere? Yes! Gruyere cheese would be the perfect cheese, and they had it!

Old Bay Seasoning, a little salt and pepper, some butter to baste the phyllo and I was on my way to making the most amazing hand-held mac & cheese on the planet!

The judges went crazy with compliments, oohs and aahh’s and I was fast on to the next round!

Food Network's Clash of the Grandmas
Food Network’s Clash of the Grandmas

Mac & Cheese Crab Roll

So what’s the big deal with Mac & Cheese? I didn’t grow up eating it. Deprived? No. Once, when my mom saw a box of mac & cheese in the grocery store, and saw that it had powdered fake cheese in it, with lots of dye, she never bought it.

When I raised my little one’s, I too never bought boxed food. I did, however, serve pasta in a variety of different forms, but that was mostly influenced by a large Italian family that was close to our family.

They cooked pasta, in some form, everyday, but never mac & cheese. I knew I had to create the first ever Mac & Cheese Crab Roll to merge the heritage and location.


Now that I have grandchildren, and none of their parents buy boxed mac & cheese for them, but rather make it, like, with macaroni and cheese… I finally tried it.

Dang! It was then, that I realized how satisfying, even at first bite, it could be. But it really wasn’t until I was standing in a Food Network studio, competing with 3 other grandmas, that probably were very familiar with mac & cheese, that I had to whip up something amazing, with no real experience in the mac & cheese department!

mac crab roll
Grandma’s Mac and Cheese Crab Rolls

Since I always thought of mac & cheese as a kids food, and the judges weren’t kids, I knew I had to wow them with something very adult and very decadent; crab! It worked!!

As you can see in the video above with clips from the show, the judges were first concerned about putting seafood and cheese together.

Honestly, I really don’t know who ever started that theory, because shrimp and grits have been a ‘thing’ like, forever and the grits are loaded with cheese. Or take any seafood dish with cream in it; cream and salt, are actually the same thing as cheese. Geez chefs… let’s get real!

Well, these chefs did get real and they loved the crab with the mac & cheese. They particularly loved the Gruyere with it, noticing that it was a gentle flavor, therefore not competing with the gentle flavor of the crab. It was a hit! 

Crab Roll Comfort Food

Feel good food. Did you know there is actually scientific fact that proves that foods high in fats, salt or sugar tend to sweeten our mood by stimulating the brains’s reward system? A kind of ‘hug yourself’ through the stimulation of the palette.

Mac & Cheese happens to provide all three stimulants: fats in the cheese, salty flavor both added and in the actual making of the cheese, and then there’s that pasta, flour… carbohydrate starch, which by the way, has three or more molecules of sugar, a kind of time-release capsule of sugar. So there you have it! Mac & Cheese, the ultimate comfort food!

Turkey Mac & Cheese Rolls
Turkey Mac & Cheese Rolls

Since having competed on Food Network and creating a dish no one, anywhere has ever created before, I make this dish often for casual dinner parties, a tapas dish to go on a table with other delicious items, or sometimes, just for my grandchildren because, after all, mac & cheese is ‘kids food’!

Oh, by the way, I will share another, first time secret with you here; Thanksgiving leftover turkey. What to make besides sandwiches, casseroles and soup? Yep! You got it! Mac & Cheese Turkey roll! 

Rolling Mac and Cheese Crab Mixture In Phyllo Dough.
Rolling the Mac and Cheese Crab Mixture In Phyllo Dough

Ingredients Needed

  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Garlic
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cream
  • Gruyere cheese and Mozzarella
  • Small shell pasta
  • Crab meat
  • Phyllo pastry

Equipment Needed

  • Large Frying pan with a lid
  • Medium pot with a lid for cooking pasta
  • Strainer
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Cheese grater
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Parchment paper
  • Baking sheet
  • Basting brush
  • Knife
  • Stovetop
  • Oven

Grandma’s Mac & Cheese Crab Roll (Featured on the FoodNetwork)

Recipe by Robin DaumitCourse: TapasCuisine: Fusion



Gruyere Cheese, tiny shell macaroni, Maryland Blue Crab meat, Old Bay seasoning, all wrapped in a buttery phyllo dough and baked to perfection!


  • Butter – 2 tablespoons

  • Flour – 1 tablespoon

  • Garlic – 1 clove, crushed

  • Old Bay Seasoning – 4 teaspoons

  • Cayenne pepper – 1/4 teaspoon

  • Cream – 1 cup

  • Cheeses – Gruyere, 3/4 cup chopped – Mozzarella, 1/2 cup shredded

  • Small Shell Pasta – 3/4 cup, cooked

  • Crab – 1 pound (preferably lump)

  • Phyllo pastry – 10 sheets, 5 per roll

  • Butter – 4 tablespoons, melted, to baste phyllo dough


  • Filling Preparation
  • Make a roux from the butter and flour. In a large pan, on a medium heat, simply melt the butter and stir in the flour until it starts to form a paste.
  • Quickly stir in garlic, seasonings and cream. Whisk well.
  • Fold in the cheeses and turn the heat off.
  • Add the pasta and gently fold into the cream mixture.
  • Gently fold in crab so as not to macerate the beautiful lump meat. Cool slightly and prepare to fill the phyllo.
  • Phyllo Preparation
  • Have melted butter ready.
  • Lay out one layer of phyllo and baste with melted butter. Layer another phyllo sheet on top and baste again. Continue until you have five buttered layers of phyllo.
  • Gently lay half of the filling along one end of phyllo.
  • Begin to roll and baste with butter as you roll until all edges are sealed with butter.
  • Baking Directions
  • Transfer roll to a parchment lined baking sheet. At a diagonal, slice just half way through the roll, and make 8 or so slices. (This makes slicing later more efficient.)
  • Bake at 400 for 8 minutes, then lower oven to 350 for another 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Remove and finish the cut all the way through while still hot.
  • Cool slightly and serve.
  • still think this is more of an adult Mac & Cheese dish, but darn if the little one’s don’t Love It!
Mac and Cheese Crab Roll
Mac and Cheese Crab Roll

My Muffin Madness


In my family, I’ve always been known as the ‘Muffin Queen’. Out of necessity, I created muffins for breakfast, lunch, on the go snacks, sometimes dinner and a sweet yet healthyish treat for dessert!

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