We’re not here to knock Kraft (or Annie’s for the fancy folks out there), but if you have a hankering for macaroni and cheese, why not think outside the box?
It may not be as simple as just adding water, but going the made-from-scratch route is definitely worth the extra effort.
Take the dynamic duo of pasta and queso to delicious new heights with our favorite riffs on the legendary weeknight fave.
11 mac and cheese recipes that think outside the box
- Classic macaroni and cheese
- Tex-Mex macaroni and cheese
- Vegan macaroni and cheese
- Prosciutto-wrapped macaroni and cheese cups
- Macaroni and cheese soufflé
- Chicken Parmesan mac and cheese bites
- Spicy kimchi mac and cheese
- Pimento macaroni and cheese
- Beefy macaroni casserole
- Lobster mac and cheese
- Smoked macaroni and cheese
The key here is a creamy bechamel. (It sounds gourmet, but it’s just a combination of milk, butter, flour, and salt.) Combined with elbow macaroni and a one-two punch of cheddar (preferably aged a couple of years) and pecorino, plus a sprinkle of crunchy panko for good measure, it’s the pinnacle of cheesy, noodle-y excellence.
This midnight munchie hybrid successfully straddles the border between nachos and mac and cheese. Pasta, tortilla chips, chorizo, jalapeños, Monterey jack, and cheddar are all invited to the ultimate comfort food fiesta.
Just because you’re vegan doesn’t mean you can’t get in on cheesy comfort food — or, at least, cheese-esque comfort food. A blend of macadamia nuts, nutritional yeast, and a cooked carrot serve as a suitable cheese substitute in this animal-free offering.
Your eyes don’t deceive you. That is, in fact, a hot, cheesy bite of pasta nestled in a bowl of crispy, cured pork. Break out that muffin pan and get baking!
No one likes a show-off… unless you’re flaunting this mega-delicious mac and cheese soufflé. Serving noodles and cheese soufflé-style turns run-of-the-mill grub into something extra refined. Think of it as the food equivalent of when Will Ferrell takes on a serious role.
Do you feel like chicken (Parm) tonight? But are the kids (or your own inner child) angling for some cheesy mac? Find tasty middle ground with these best-of-both-worlds bites.
This recipe takes inspiration from kimchi jjigae (a spicy and tangy Korean stew) for a brilliant fusion of flavors. Of course, there’s pasta (preferably farfalle) and a creamy cheese sauce, but the secret weapon here is a spicy paste made with chopped anchovy fillets, bacon, kimchi, gochugaru, and gochujang.
What are pimentos, anyway? They’re a mild red pepper sometimes called cherry peppers for their sweetness and small size. Believe it or not, the little red guys aren’t just for stuffing olives. They also make a piquant upgrade for mac and cheese.
If your childhood was marred by mediocre Hamburger Helper and that creepy talking glove, this beefy casserole will help make things right. It’s a from-scratch treat that outdoes a boxed mix any day.
Elevate your mac and cheese by pairing it with sweet, succulent lobster meat. Take a bite, close your eyes, and you may hear seagulls and the rolling tide off in the distance.
That smoker you thought you could only use for turkey or brisket? It’s a miracle worker for mac and cheese, too. This version gets extra flavor depth from smoked Gouda cheese and a buttery breadcrumb topping. Holy smokes!
Related Video: Stop making these mac and cheese mistakes
There’s no shame in enjoying a store-bought box of mac and cheese (complete with marvel-of-food-science powdered cheese). But the right recipes turn this classic comfort food into something far more elegant — and, dare we say, more delicious.