Who doesn’t love a good mac and cheese? The classic blend of creamy, cheese sauce with al dente macaroni pasta really is one of the ultimate comfort food recipes!
Many of us have our favorite recipes and own little tweaks for this family favorite. We seriously believe that nothing beats a homemade mac and cheese, which can be served as a stand-alone main meal or as a side dish.
Whether you’re looking for a simple, classic mac ‘n’ cheese recipe or looking to try out something new in the kitchen, we’ve got you covered!
Keep reading to check out some of the best macaroni cheese recipes!
Mac and cheese
Mac ‘n’ cheese.
However you say it, it’s the same principle – macaroni pasta combined with a cheesy sauce.
Originating from Italy, this dish has been proudly adopted by chefs and home cooks from around the world, with many variations on this popular classic.
For our first mac and cheese recipe, we wanted to find one as close to the original traditional recipe as possible, and we think that chef Rick Stein has definitely nailed it with this one!
The secret of good Italian dishes is ‘esagerare’, which means exaggerate – in cooking terms, simply put more of everything in!
So don’t skimp on the cheddar, parmesan, cream, and smoked pancetta, as you want every mouthful of this dish to be a creamy, rich indulgence.
Rick Stein describes this recipe as a traditional Italian dish with an American twist, and that is a combination that definitely works for us!
Now, this certainly isn’t a healthy option, but it will be worth every bite! If you’re watching your calorie or fat intake then you can enjoy a smaller portion of this mac and cheese with a fresh green side salad.
Macaroni cheese is normally suggested as a quick midweek meal, but this classic recipe deserves to be at the center of the table for your next dinner party!
Healthy certainly does not have to mean tasteless or bland, as this creamy mac and cheese bake shows!
This recipe cleverly substitutes the more calorie-laden ingredients with healthier options. With lower levels of fat than a normal macaroni cheese, you can enjoy a guilt-free full-size portion of this dish!
Whole milk is swapped for fat-free milk, and traditional ingredients such as butter are omitted altogether. Others ingredients such as cheddar cheese are reduced in quantity.
The full cheesy flavor is achieved by adding low-fat cottage cheese and a sprinkling of strong parmesan.
Obviously, a pasta dish is always going to be an indulgent option, but this healthy version of the classic macaroni cheese means you can enjoy this dish even if you are watching the calories.
And the best thing is that it tastes just as good as the full-fat version, so the whole family will enjoy this healthy mac and cheese!
Don’t feel like turning the oven on? This stovetop mac and cheese combines all the classic elements of the oven-baked version, but can all be put together on the stove.
This recipe really does taste amazing – creamy sauce, chewy pasta, and plenty of tasty cheese.
The only difference is that you won’t get the crispy topping that comes with an oven-baked mac and cheese, but when you’re diving into a tasty bowl of this stovetop version you really won’t mind!
This stovetop mac and cheese recipe requires just five ingredients and can be put together quickly, perfect for a midweek dinner the whole family will enjoy.
One of the best things is that it will store for several days in the refrigerator and also reheats well in the microwave. Make double the quantity and you’ve got dinner for tonight, plus a few lunches for later in the week as well!
Mac and cheese is always a winner with children, with good reason! We don’t know many kids (and adults) who don’t enjoy the delicious blend of pasta and cheese sauce.
However, apart from the occasional bit of onion, the classic macaroni cheese is a bit short on vegetables.
And if you’ve got one of those kids who can spot a vegetable from a mile off, there is no point trying to sneak chunks of broccoli or cauliflower into your mac and cheese!
The genius of this healthy macaroni and cheese is that it is absolutely packed with veggies, but they are cunningly blended into the sauce.
The end result is a mac ‘n’ cheese which looks just like the real thing, but with a nutritious boost of vitamins from those hidden vegetables!
This veggie-loaded mac and cheese does not need any fancy ingredients, and you can substitute the vegetable to suit what you have in the refrigerator.
Just remember that brightly colored veggies like squash may alter the color of the dish, but you can always just tell the kids that you used orange cheese!
How do you make an already indulgent dish even more so? Pop it in the deep frier!
These deep-fried mac n cheese balls are double-coated in egg and breadcrumbs to create a firm and crispy exterior, hiding the soft and creamy mac and cheese filling.
We love these little crispy balls as they taste amazing served hot or cold. They taste great served for a family dinner, or picnic, or lunchtime snack, or buffet, or party, or potluck brunch…
Basically, they can be eaten anywhere! We would definitely suggest that you make these next time you have some leftover macaroni cheese.
They taste great served warm at dinner with some potato wedges and a crisp green side salad.
Or try pairing them with dipping sauces, such as chipotle ketchup or sweet chili sauce.
Have you ever noticed that vegan or vegetarian versions of dishes often end up tasting better than the real thing?!
This recipe is a tasty and easy-to-make vegan version of the classic mac ‘n’ cheese, not that you would notice when you are eating it!
Free from meat, dairy, and eggs, this macaroni cheese is creamy, indulgent, and tastes absolutely delicious.
By making some simple swaps you can create a dish suitable for vegans which is as close as possible to a traditional macaroni cheese.
Switch your cheese for a vegan cheddar, substitute rice milk for cow’s milk, and use a plant-based vegan butter.
Make sure that your pasta or macaroni is also labeled as vegan, as some pasta does contain eggs.
What we love about this recipe is that it does not skimp on flavor! The garlic, onion, and mustard combine to create a rich and satisfying flavor, and the sprinkle of parsley and paprika on top adds a fresh and smokey taste.
We dare you to serve this up and see if anyone can tell it is a vegan recipe!
Now, we know you’re reding this and thinking “why on earth would I put squash in macaroni cheese?!”
But bear with us – when we explain how this recipe works it will make perfect sense!
This easy mac and cheese recipe uses butternut squash as the basis for the sauce. The diced and peeled squash is boiled until tender then blended into a puree.
Then all you have to do is add milk, cheese, and seasoning and you’ve got a beautifully smooth and rich sauce, perfect for coating macaroni or other types of pasta.
The butternut squash gives a smooth and creamy consistency to the sauce, even though there is no butter or cream anywhere in sight!
Using butternut squash as part of the sauce makes this a healthier choice than traditional mac and cheese. It’s a great way to sneak some extra vegetables into this dish, as well as creating a flavor as good as any gourmet dinner.
If you want to make a super-quick version of this recipe, you can also buy cans of butternut squash puree. This quick swap saves the time taken chopping and pureeing the squash, plus less washing up as you don’t need to use your blender!
Looking for something fun to do with the family? Or perhaps you are going on a camping adventure and are looking for something quick and easy to cook?
Campsite food does not have to be just charred sausages and instant noodles. It is possible to prepare and cook gourmet food with just a campfire and a Dutch oven!
If you are not familiar with using a Dutch oven, it is a one-pot style of cooking, perfect for the campfire. The Dutch oven itself is a thick-walled cooking pot with a tight-fitting lid.
Hot coals are placed on top of the closed lid as well as underneath the pot, turning it into an oven.
This campfire recipe is made using processed cheese, which is the perfect choice for camping as it does not require refrigerating until is it opened (and you’ll most likely use it all anyway!).
What could be better than cozying around the campfire with a delicious hot bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese?!
This surely is the king of decadent foods – lobster mac and cheese!
This recipe turns one of the most famous comfort foods in the world into an absolute showstopper. Lobster mac and cheese is delicious and would make a splendid centerpiece to any dinner party menu.
Seafood lovers will adore this twist on the classic macaroni cheese recipe. The distinctive flavor of the lobster blends perfectly with the rich cheesy sauce and chewy pasta.
If you’ve never bought lobster before you might be feeling a bit daunted! We’d suggest asking your local friendly fishmonger for advice.
Tempted to try a seafood twist to your macaroni cheese but aren’t keen on lobster? Shrimp or crab can make a great alternative.
If you’ve ever been to Scotland, you won’t have been able to miss the traditional Scotch pies. Made with a firm pastry crust and succulent filling, these pies are great for eating on the move and picnics. No cutlery or plates needed here!
The traditional filling for a Scotch pie is normally a blend of meat – often mutton or haggis. Until an absolute genius came up with the Scotch macaroni pie!
This decadent little pie consists of a crisp pastry case filled with cheesy macaroni, cooked until it is golden and bubbling on top. It can be eaten hot or cold and is the perfect lunchbox or picnic snack.
Best of all, this recipe comes with ideas for how to put a twist on your Scotch macaroni pie. They suggest adding variations such as bacon, chili, tomato, or even that traditional Scottish favorite – haggis!
Anyone for a haggis and bacon macaroni pie?! Now that is a combination we really can’t wait to try!
If you’re in a rush or just don’t fancy spending hours cooking and washing up, this easy and speedy one-pot mac and cheese is the one for you!
With just six ingredients and ready to eat in under 30 minutes, mac and cheese recipes do not get much simpler and quicker than this!
This is the perfect macaroni cheese recipe for those times when you are in a rush, or you just fancy some cheesy comfort food.
And as it is all cooked in one pot, you won’t be spending hours cleaning the kitchen and washing up after you’ve eaten. In fact, we’d suggest that you skip the washing up until tomorrow and do something lovely instead!
So, what’s the secret to this one-pot mac and cheese? Rather than the normal method of cooking the macaroni and sauce separately, the pasta is cooked in a rich milky broth, soaking up the flavor and liquid.
Cheese is then melted into the cooked pasta, and voila – one pot mac and cheese!
This one-pot version of macaroni cheese is rich, sumptuous, and tastes absolutely amazing. No one will ever know that you threw it all together in less than half an hour!
(Oh, and we meant it about leaving the washing up! Seriously, pick up a book, play a game or go for an evening stroll instead!)
This recipe for mac and cheese with beef ragu is an inspired way to combine two of our favorite dishes! Creamy, cheesy macaroni, layered on top of a rich and succulent beef ragu – the ultimate in comfort food, and a perfect winter warmer!
The cheeses in this recipe take a step away from the classic macaroni cheese ingredients, with Gruyere and Emmental included as well as the traditional cheddar cheese.
These Swiss cheeses give a great depth of flavor to the macaroni cheese which works perfectly with the beef ragu, but don’t worry if you can’t get them.
Any strong-flavored hard cheese would work just as well, such as Jarlsberg or an extra mature cheddar.
This recipe may take a bit longer to prepare than a standard macaroni cheese, but believe us when we say it is well worth the effort.
In fact, seeing as you’re going to the trouble of making a beef ragu, why not make twice as much and pop a portion in the freezer?
We think this dish would be perfect for a dinner party. Imagine your guest’s faces when you bring out a dish of mac and cheese, and you reveal the rich beef ragu laying underneath!
Many hardcore mac and cheese fans wouldn’t dream of cooking this dish without bacon. After all, when has adding bacon ever ruined anything*?!
(*disclaimer – please don’t try adding bacon to your chocolate brownies. Or if you do, and they turn out inedible, don’t blame us!)
The most important thing to remember when adding bacon to macaroni cheese is that it must be crispy.
You need the caramelized sweet and salty flavor and crumbly texture, which will blend perfectly with the rich and creamy cheese sauce.
If your bacon pieces still look like they came out of the packet, you’re not doing it right!
So, where does Pepper Jack cheese come in? As the name suggests, Pepper Jack cheese is flavored with sweet peppers, rosemary, garlic, and spicy habanero and jalapeños chilies for an extra kick.
Most of us will be familiar with Pepper Jack cheese as it is a popular topping for hamburgers and Mexican dishes.
However, the flavors of this soft and light cheese also work incredibly well in macaroni cheese, especially when paired with crispy bacon!
Top tip – this recipe makes a great filling for stuffed peppers! Add your macaroni cheese mixture to halved peppers, top with more cheese, and pop in the oven until golden and bubbling. Absolutely delicious!
There is no need to miss out on mac and cheese if you are on a gluten free diet!
This recipe will help you to create a delicious gluten-free macaroni cheese that tastes just as good as a traditional recipe.
Super creamy and with an intense cheesy flavor, we guarantee that you will never suspect that this is a gluten-free recipe.
The secret is in tracking down the right kind of pasta – look for gluten-free elbow macaroni in your local store, or order it online. You will also need gluten-free flour to ensure your sauce is thick and creamy.
Ready in under 30 minutes, you certainly will not be disappointed with this macaroni cheese recipe. It is definitely one of those favorites that you will come back to time and time again!
Macaroni and cheese has an (undeserved!) reputation as being a meal for kids. Now, we all love our mac ‘n’ cheese here, and there is no way we would leave it just for the youngsters!
But if you are looking for a grown-up version of this classic dish, here it is!
To make buffalo chicken, all you need to do is combine cooked shredded chicken with buffalo sauce and ranch sauce. You can buy these from the store, or if you are feeling adventurous you can have a go at making them yourself.
Buffalo chicken macaroni and cheese will soon become a firm favorite on your meal planner – this is one of those dishes that the whole family will ask for time and time again.
With the added protein from the chicken, it is substantial enough to satisfy even the hungriest of appetites!
This is a great recipe for using up leftover shredded rotisserie chicken. If you are looking for something a bit more nutritious, try adding in some extra vegetables.
We think that a mix of red, yellow, and green peppers would work well with this dish.
Oh my, how delicious do these look! Tiny little bite-sized portions of macaroni cheese – just adorable!
This is a great idea for a buffet or party menu, or for adding to lunch boxes for school, work, or family days out. No one wants to eat sandwiches day in, day out, and these mac ‘n’ cheese bites will transform your midday meal!
Mac & cheese bites taste equally as good if served warm or cold, making them the perfect picnic or barbeque side dish.
These mac ‘n’ cheese bites are quick and easy to prepare – in less than half an hour you’ll have nearly 50 of these little snacks ready to eat!
That might sound like a lot, but pop some in the freezer and you have got a ready-made stash of snacks whenever you fancy one!
If you are looking for ways to sneak some extra vegetables into your child’s lunchbox, some sweetcorn would work really well in these little macaroni cheese bites.
Top tip – gooey foods like macaroni cheese will stick to metal muffin trays, so use silicone if you have them. We all know how hard it can be to get dried mac ‘n’ cheese from your favorite oven tray!
If you are intolerant to dairy products, then dishes like macaroni cheese can seem so far from your dinner plate. The essential basis of the sauce of mac and cheese is dairy – cheese, butter, and milk.
So, how on earth can you make a dairy-free version which tastes just as good?!
Well, your search is over – here is the ultimate dairy-free mac and cheese recipe!
With some clever substitutions, you can enjoy a rich and creamy macaroni cheese without having to worry about dairy ingredients.
Butter has been replaced with a plant-based vegan spread, and cow’s milk is swapped for almond milk. Cheddar has been replaced with dairy-free cheese.
Vegan cheeses used to have a terrible reputation, but they have greatly improved in quality in recent years.
This recipe includes bacon, which brings a delicious flavor to the whole dish. If you are looking for a vegan mac and cheese, simply swap the bacon for a plant-based bacon substitute or leave it out altogether.
A sprinkle of smoked paprika can be a good alternative if you are looking to substitute the bacon flavor.
This is one of those recipes which seems too good to be true – how on earth can macaroni cheese be made in the slow cooker?
We are all very familiar with the ‘normal’ way of making macaroni cheese. Cooking the pasta until al dente, making a smooth cheese sauce, combining the two, and baking it in the oven.
Always amazing, but sometimes it just seems like too much effort!
If you are looking for comfort food with minimum effort, then give this crockpot mac and cheese a try.
Simply pop macaroni, whole milk, heavy cream, cream cheese, and seasoning into the slow cooker, stir well and leave to slowly cook through.
Cheese is added towards the end of the cooking time, when it melts through the cooked macaroni and creates a rich, cheesy sauce.
Unfortunately, this is not one of those crockpot recipes you can leave all day while you are at work – pasta cooks too quickly for that!
But if you have got errands to run after work or the school run and no time to stand over the stove, this dish can be left unattended for up to an hour at a time.
How many times have you craved a warm bubbling dish of macaroni cheese but ended up with cheese on toast because you couldn’t be bothered to cook?
The thing is about comfort food is that when you actually want it, you don’t have the energy to make it!
That is what makes the macaroni cheese so awesome – you can make it in advance and store it in the freezer for when the craving for a cheesy carb-fest hits!
We’d suggest making this mac and cheese in large quantities and freeze in meal-sized portions. It is the same amount of work to make one meal as it is to make ten, but you get to enjoy it ten times over!