Jalapeo Popper Mac And Cheese
The BEST Jalapeño Popper Mac and Cheese youll ever try! Extra creamy, loaded with bacon, cream cheese, jalapeños, and kicked up a notch with TABASCO® Sauce, this delicious and easy mac and cheese is sure to be a new favorite! Bacon lover? Make sure to try this Baked Bacon Cheese Dip and Slow Cooker Green Beans with Bacon!
Sponsored by TABASCO® Brand.
How To Make Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
- Add pasta and liquids to the slow cooker. Sprinkle in seasonings and stir.
- Cover and cook 1 hour. Stir. Cover and cook another 10 minutes.
- Stir in cream cheese and grated cheese. Cover and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Stir and serve.
How easy is that?! No fancy cream sauce to make just hands-off cook time so you can go relax!
Don’t Forget To Season
Like so many other foods, forgetting to season your mac and cheese can make it fall flat. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We season in 3 steps in our recipe: the topping, the sauce, and while cooking the macaroni. Plus, parmesan brings a natural saltiness to both the topping and the cheese sauce.
We’re not going for any gimmicks here, Our Favorite Macaroni and Cheese doesn’t need bacon, lobster, or truffles to make it special. It’s the perfect combination of creamy, cheesy, and crispy with just the right amount of kick from the mustard powder. Life is too short to eat mac and cheese from a box, so go ahead and make this recipe your go-to comfort dish this fall.
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How Do You Make Stovetop Mac And Cheese
Start by whisking flour and butter together to make a thickener. Add water and milk to the pot, then stir in uncooked pasta and a variety of spices. Let the pasta simmer until its tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Add two types of cheese, then stir until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately, with a sprinkle of parsley for extra color and flavor.
Can I Freeze This Dish For Later
Casseroles like this mac and cheese can easily be frozen without baking them prior. Before you can pour the mac and cheese into the baking dish, line it with aluminum foil that has enough overhang on all sides. Assemble the macaroni and cheese, tightly cover in foil, and freeze overnight.
Lift it out of the pan when frozen solid, label and put it in a ziplock bag, and freeze again until ready to eat. Let it thaw overnight in the fridge before you can bake it in the oven.
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Making Mac And Cheese Ahead Of Time
- Make as directed , transfer to baking dish and cool completely. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate 1-2 days ahead.
- Before baking, let dish sit on counter for 30 minutes.
- Bake at recipe temperature for 25-35 minutes, until hot and bubbly.
As a caveat, this recipe, as with most mac and cheese recipes, loses some of its creaminess when made ahead. This dish has been tested when made right away, which yields the best results.
I would increase the amount of sauce slightly if you need to make this recipe ahead of time.
Macaroni And Cheese Variations
This recipe is easy to adapt to other variations. Here are some of our favorites:
Baked Mac and Cheese: Once the pasta and cheese sauce are combined, add it to a baking dish and bake with a little more cheese and breadcrumbs sprinkled on top. We shared this Baked Macaroni and Cheese a while back.
Garlic Mac and Cheese: Fresh garlic and roasted garlic are excellent in this recipe. Add either to the butter just before adding the flour. For fresh, Id use 2 to 3 cloves. For roasted garlic, you can increase to 6 cloves or more. See our recipe for making roasted garlic.
Use a Variety of Cheeses: Cheddar isnt the only cheese to use. Try easy melting Gruyere, Fontina or Monterey Jack. For more flavor, a bit of parmesan or pecorino cheese is lovely, and for a more adult dish, try blue cheese!
Spiced Macaroni and Cheese: Mustard , nutmeg, and a pinch of cayenne pepper are classic additions to the cheese sauce. Smoked paprika is also delicious.
Broccoli Mac and Cheese: A kid favorite! Stir roasted broccoli or steamed broccoli into the pot before serving. Heres how we make roasted broccoli.
Lighter Mac and Cheese: Swapping half of the cheese sauce for pureed cauliflower cuts calories and still tastes incredible.
Recommended Reading: Are There Non Dairy Cheeses
How To Make Homemade Roux For A Creamy Sauce
To make a simple and flavorful roux, start by melting a stick of butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the salt and pepper. A very important step is to continue stirring for a good 2-3 minutes until roux turns a bit darker in color. It becomes richer and even more fabulous.
Slowly whisk in the milk until mixture is thick and creamy. This step will take a couple minutes over medium heat.
Stir in cheese until creamy and cheese is melted through. I prefer a finely shredded mild cheddar. It melts quickly and has a perfect cheddar flavor.
Baked Macaroni And Cheese
Baked macaroni and cheese doesnt have to be complicated with layers of ingredients to be the soul-warming food you crave. This homemade baked macaroni and cheese is my most favorite and has pleased crowds, small families, kids and picky eaters alikegive it a try and youll see why.
Sometimes you buy that glowing yellow macaroni in the box. Your kids like it, but it glows like the kryptonite they used in the old Christoper Reeve Superman movies.
Thats not normal people.
And I hate to break it to you, but theres nothing real in that box either.
I hate feeding it to my kids and I dare say that you hate it too. But I can also guess you dont know many other alternatives. Sure, you can get a box of Velveeta and melt that over some noodles. That works too, but that stuff doesnt even need to be refrigerated. Its mystery cheese.
So if youre looking for the real deal, the old school baked macaroni and cheese the way your grandma might have made itthis is it.
And just so you know, aside from the baking, this easy macaroni and cheese took 15 minutes and only two pans to make. One for boiling the pasta and a good enameled cast iron pan for the sauce and the baking cuts down on dishes. So yes, even you can make this on a week night.
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And stir together until its all melted. Go ahead and turn off the heat.
Now its time for seasoning! Add about 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt If youre sensitive to salt, start really low and work your way upand remember that the cheese imparts quite a bit of salt to the mix.
BUTand this is importantbe careful not to UNDERSALT the mac & cheese. It really needs ample salt to put the flavor over the top.
*I also use paprika, cayenne pepper, even ground thyme every now and then. Play with different ground spices and see what you like best.
And finally, add plenty of black pepper, of the Black Dust variety. Honestly, I love freshly ground pepperbut not in homemade Mac & Cheese. For me, it has to be the powdery stuff.
Now THATs what Im talkin about.
And guess what? You can just steam some fresh broccoli and spoon some of this over the top. Kids from all over the land will show up at your doorstep.
Did you know a single serving of broccoli is positively loaded with Vitamin C?
Now just dump in the drained, not-fully-cooked macaroni!
And stir the mixture together.
I use a little less than the full amount of cooked macaroni, because I love it extra creamy and coated. Just add it according to how you like it.
Now, you can either dish it up as it is right now, which makes for an ultra-creamy love fest
OR you can pour the macaroni into a buttered baking dish. This is a 2-quart dish, but a 9 x 13 pan would work just fine.
Kinda like this.
What Makes It Extra Cheesy
For this extra cheesy homemade mac and cheese, I did use slightly more roux and added about 30% more cheese than I generally do to my simple stovetop mac and cheese recipes. And Im not even sorry about it. The thicker sauce and extra cheese made this mac and cheese so lusciously creamy and cheesy that I couldnt stop sneaking forkfuls between photographs. AND the best part is that it even stays smooth and creamy when reheated in the microwave. Mac and cheese heaven!
What You Need To Make Baked Mac And Cheese:
Really simple ingredients in this one, and lots of room to adapt the recipe to make it your own. For this macaroni and cheese recipe, youll need:
- Elbow Macaroni other shapes will work, as will whole wheat pasta. We havent tested this with a grain-free pasta, but it would probably work. Of course, the texture would be slightly different.
- 1 pound of shredded cheese we like extra sharp cheddar, but you can use many types of cheese. We always recommend shredding your own cheese fo the best texture , but pre-grated will work in a pinch.
- Flour this helps the mac and cheese thicken up.
- Ground mustard this is totally optional but it adds depth to the flavor. You can also use dijon mustard if you dont have ground mustard.
- Milk whole, 2%, skimtheyll all work
- Butter helps you get that golden brown top on the macaroni and cheese!
- Salt and Pepper always! You wont need a lot of salt since cheese is salty.
Tips For The Best Macaroni And Cheese Youll Ever Eat
Feel like you may still need some help? If you have time, jump over to this post for the juicy details: 18 Secrets to the Richest, Creamiest Mac and Cheese Youll Ever Eat or focus on these tips:
Never stop stirring your milk once it hits the pan. If your skillet is too hot or you walk away and for a minute you could scorch the white sauce and it will curdle. It doesnt really hurt the taste, but it will look sort of clumpy. Some readers have called it grainy. It only takes 5 minutes. Just hang out and stir until that sauce is thick enough to coat the back of your spoon.
Use good cheese in your baked macaroni and cheese. That means avoiding bagged, pre-shredded cheeses because they contain cellulose that can in some cases cause your cheese not to melt as it should. -And speaking of cheese, you have so many options! My favorite is sharp cheddar and Swiss.
Do taste as you go. Taste your cheese sauce before you add your pasta. Is it bland? That can be because of the cheese you used or even the kind of salt you seasoned with. If it doesnt have enough flavor, add a pinch more salt, stir it in and taste it again until it suits you.
-Feel free to add more pasta if you want to. Some people say that this recipe doesnt have enough noodles in it, but Ive never had that problem. And yes, you should cook your pasta before adding it to the cheese sauce.
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What To Serve With Baked Mac And Cheese
Mac and Cheese is worthy of serving as a meal in its own right, served with just a fresh green salad or simple vegetable side. Nothing heavy because Macaroni Cheese is so rich as it is!
As a side dish, it will compliment virtually any non-Asian main dish. From simple Baked Pork Chops to Steak, a Roast Chicken to Crispy Garlic Chicken Thighs, the only things I probably would not serve with Mac and Cheese would be very light summery mains such as a Tuna Tartare just a little too much contrast.
And of course, festive gatherings! Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter alongside a grand Roast Turkey or your Herb & Garlic Butter Slathered Turkey Breast, the juicy Roast Pork with impossibly Crispy Crackling or your Prime Rib thats so perfectly blushing pink all the way through, it makes you want to weep.
Holidays would not be the same without this Mac and Cheese!! Nagi xx
Cooking Tips For Crock Pot Mac And Cheese
Ive tested this recipe more times than Id like to admit, and through all those trials and errors, Ive come up with a few helpful tips.
- Spray the crockpot. I know it might sound weird, but it really helps keep the pasta from sticking too much to the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Use the right liquids. For most of my attempts, I was using regular, whole milk, and every time it would thicken way too much and sort of seize up on me. Ive found that a mixture of chicken broth, evaporated milk, with a little heavy cream for richness, yields the best creamy sauce.
- Grate your own cheeses. I know I know. Its SO tempting to open a bag of pre-shredded cheese from the store and Ive done it on occasion. But most commercial pre-shredded cheeses are coated in cellulose, which essentially keeps the cheese from all clumping together in the bag. Ever noticed how bags of pre-shredded cheese that are coming up on their expiration date usually have clumps of cheese stuck together inside? Its because the cellulose is just about gone from the cheese. That coating prevents the cheese from truly melting down into a gloriously gooey cheese sauce, and can leave your sauce a bit on the gritty side.
Don’t Forget About Leftovers
It’s rare to have any leftovers but on the off-chance you do, you can use cold mac n cheese to make a type of arancini, a traditional fried snack from Italy. Simply shape your leftover mac ‘n’ cheese into balls, dip in flour, egg and breadcrumbs then deep fry. You may just need to chop the pasta into slightly smaller portions first
Into toasties? Have your very own carb party and put the mac n cheese between two slices of bread and either pan fry or use a sandwich maker for a treat within a treat.
For little pasta pies that can be eaten with a salad or in a packed lunch, dollop cold leftover mac n cheese into individual muffin tin compartments and bake at 180°C/160°C/fan 350°F/Gas Mark 4 for around 20 minutes.
The Best Cheeses To Use For Mac And Cheese
While this recipe calls for extra-sharp yellow Cheddar cheese and sharp white Cheddar, you can use whatever cheese you have on hand. The key is picking a cheese that melts well. Or, take things up a notch and experiment with aged and flavored cheeses.
Some commonly used types of cheese in baked mac and cheese include:
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Special Equipment For This Recipe
- Instant Pot I recently upgraded to this model and I love it!
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How To Make Baked Mac And Cheese
Its a straightforward recipe, starting with a basic butter-flour roux that is used to thicken milk to make the cheese sauce. For first timers, I think the short video below will help give you the confidence that youve got this!
The simple trick to avoid lumps in the Mac and Cheese Sauce is to pour the milk in slowly while constantly stirring, then just switch to a whisk if needed to remove any stubborn lumps!
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Variations Of Mac And Cheese
- Bacon if you love bacon, feel free to add some crispy, crumbled bacon to the topping, or even inside the mac and cheese as well!
- Stovetop if youd prefer not to bake this mac and cheese, you dont have to! Make sure you boil your pasta until al dente , and youll only need about 3 3 1/2 cups of cheese total. No need to layer the pasta and cheese, just add all the cheese to the sauce, then combine with the pasta.
- Different Toppings Im a huge fan of the cheese layer on top, since it gets nice and crispy, but we also love tossing 1 cup of panko with 2 Tbsp of melted butter and using that as a topping. 1 cup of crushed Ritz crackers with 2 Tbsp of butter work amazingly well too!
- Different Baking Times the recipe calls for a lower baking temperature and time, but most of the time I find myself adjusting that based on my familys tastes. I like to bake this mac and cheese at 350 F degrees for 30 minutes, then broil for 2-3 minutes to get that glorious cheesy crust.