Here are all the best mac and cheese recipes! From classic to unique, these spins all have one thing in common: they’re irresistible.
There’s no better comfort food than the American classic: Mac and Cheese! Macaroni and cheese has been around for centuries. The first modern recipe for mac and cheese was included in at 1770 cookbook! With 250 years to refine the concept, there are countless variations on the combination of cheese sauce and macaroni.
Here we’ve collected a few of our very favorite mac and cheese recipes! There’s everything from a classic straight-forward take with cheddar cheese to more unique recipes with pesto, smoked gouda cheese, and even squash! Let’s get cooking.
And now…the best mac and cheese recipes!
Ready for the best EVER homemade mac and cheese recipe? We promise: it’s really worth pulling out the superlatives here! Making this comfort food from scratch makes it taste infinitely better than the kind from a box. Want to impress everyone? This homemade mac and cheese tastes homey and cozy, with the best gooey, cheesy sauce and crunchy breadcrumbs. Alex and I made this for a recent family gathering and everyone around the table agreed: “this is the best mac and cheese.”
Oh hey there, creamy pesto mac and cheese! This seriously cozy comfort food is just as gooey as it looks, and adding a swirl of bright green basil pesto is a total genius move. The way the Havarti cheese melts into the creamiest sauce is truly mind blowing. This unique mac and cheese recipe is not to be missed!
Ready for an off-the-charts dish for entertaining? Meet this smoked gouda mac and cheese recipe! It had our friends begging for seconds before they were even done with firsts! This gouda mac and cheese features smoked gouda cheese, tender noodles and crunchy sourdough bread crumbs. It makes a rich, creamy mac and cheese that is bursting with flavor.
Healthy mac and cheese? There are lots of implications around the word healthy.. Here’s the thing: mac and cheese can be part of a healthy, balanced diet. And this one is all about balance: it’s got big flavor, a bit less cheese per serving than the standard recipe, and it’s loaded with broccoli for a dose of nutrients and fiber. What’s not to love?
This white cheddar mac and cheese recipe is a true gem. The sharpness of the white cheddar cheese brings a sophistication to the creamy, cheesy sauce. And an unexpected element? Bright roasted tomatoes. The sweetness of the tomatoes is the perfect juxtaposition for the sharpness of the cheese. This baby doesn't even require baking time. Simply make the mac and cheese, top with roasted tomatoes, and serve!
Here's the healthy version of a mac and cheese recipe! This one features Greek yogurt to give it an ultra creamy texture. It's also got spinach for all the added nutrients, and turmeric gives a tiny immunity boost and some extra color. The flavor? Spot on delicious. The combination of cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese and fresh garlic makes it irresistibly delicious.
Here’s a decadent dish that will win hearts and minds: Truffle Mac and Cheese! This cozy pan mixes a rich, creamy white cheddar sauce with just the right hint of earthy truffle oil. The truffle adds an irresistible nuance (not overpowering as some truffle dishes can be!). This recipe is ideal for a dinner party where you’re looking to impress. For us black truffle lovers, we couldn’t get enough of it!
Here's a unique mac and cheese recipe: spaghetti squash mad and cheese! It's just as comforting and homey as it sounds. The spaghetti squash noodles are mixed with a creamy cheesy Béchamel sauce made with Gruyere cheese, a pinch of nutmeg and a dash of white wine. It sounds fancy, but at its core: it's comfort food at its finest. Roasting or pressure cooking spaghetti squash transforms its interior into long, slender "noodles." You can even use the squash shell as a serving dish!
There’s nothing more comforting than a good bowl of mac and cheese. Turns out, Instant Pot mac and cheese is layer upon layer of cozy! The way the Instant Pot cooks pasta makes it soft and supple, which has a down-home sort of vibe to it. It almost feels like an elevated version of box mac and cheese. The big selling point? Just throw the ingredients in the pot and press Go! Nothing better than that.
Best noodles for mac and cheese
As you can see from these mac and cheese recipes…macaroni and cheese doesn’t need to use macaroni! There are all sorts of unique noodle shapes to use in mac and cheese recipes. In fact: we prefer it with everything from shells to gigli. The main guideline? Use a short-cut pasta, not long noodles. Here are our favorite types of short pasta for mac and cheese, in order of preference:
- Conchiglie (shells): what we used here
- Cavatappi: cork-screw shapes
- Orecchiette: ear shapes
- Gigli (Campanelle): lily shapes
- Penne: long thin tubes with diagonal ends
- Gemelli: twisted tube shapes
- Rigatoni: long thicker tubes
Classic Mac and Cheese (& More Recipes!)
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 10 to 12 as a side, 6 to 8 as a main 1x
Here’s how to make a classic mac and cheese recipe! Cook this ultimate comfort food from scratch and it’s better than any you’ve ever had.
- 1 pound short pasta of any type (we like large shells)
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (not aged)
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 ¾ cups 2% milk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs (or plain breadcrumbs)
- Boil the pasta: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add about 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Start tasting the pasta a few minutes before the package instructions and stop cooking once the pasta is just tender but still firm. Then drain the pasta in a colander and rinse it quickly with warm water.
- Meanwhile, make the sauce: Grate the cheese (if necessary). Measure out the butter, flour, milk, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the butter over medium heat; when it melts, stir in the flour. Heat the mixture for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Immediately when the color starts to turn light brown, reduce the heat to low. Start to add the milk very slowly: whisk constantly until the mixture is completely smooth, then add a bit more milk until it is fully incorporated, then repeat. Once all the milk is added, add the salt, onion powder, and garlic powder. Continue cooking on low heat for about 2 minutes to thicken slightly, whisking frequently. After 2 minutes, gradually add the grated cheese and keep stirring until it is fully melted.
- Top with breadcrumbs and serve: Stir the pasta into the cheese sauce, then pour it into a dish and top with breadcrumbs. If you’d like, place it in a baking dish and broil it for 2 to 4 minutes until the crumbs are lightly browned, turning the pan to even out the browning as necessary. Serve immediately. Refrigerate leftovers up to 4 days. Reheat on the stovetop with a splash of milk and stir until creamy.
- Category: Main Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegetarian
Keywords: Mac and cheese recipes
More great pasta recipes
Love pasta? Here are all the best pasta recipes to try:
- 10 Pasta Recipes Everyone Will Love All our favorites, in one place!
- 12 Best Vegan Pasta Recipes Want plant based? Here are all the best vegan pastas.
- Baked Rigatoni Pasta This cozy baked pasta is hearty and satisfying for eaters of all kinds.
- Creamy White Sauce Pasta This pasta uses an amazing basic cream sauce that everyone will love!
- Creamy Shrimp Pasta or Scallop Pasta Combine shellfish with Parmesan, lemon and long noodles for a tasty dinner.