July 14th is National Mac and Cheese Day, and as one of the unofficial staples of summertime barbecues and family gatherings, here are five of our favorite twists on mac and cheese that truly up the ante on one of the most classic and well-loved dishes.
Creamy Garlic-and-Herb Mac and Cheese
From Delicious Gatherings by Tara Teaspoon
- 1 pound curly pasta, such as cavatappi
- ½ cup (4 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup (2 ounces) finely grated Parmesan
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, plus more for topping
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives or scallions
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1¾ cups (7 ounces) grated white cheddar
- Cook pasta in salted water according to package directions. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
- While pasta cooks, mix together cream cheese, Parmesan, white pepper, parsley, chives, Dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until smooth. Set aside.
- In the pasta pot or another large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in flour. Add milk and vigorously whisk to make sure there are no lumps. Continue whisking slowly until mixture just starts to boil and thickens.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk in cream cheese mixture. Add white cheddar a handful at a time, stirring between each addition until cheese is melted.
- Stir in pasta. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with extra chopped parsley to serve.
Green Mac ’n’ Cheese
From Celebrate Every Season by Six Sisters’ Stuff
- 4 cups (16 ounces) uncooked elbow macaroni
- 3 cups milk
- 1 cup spinach
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup water
- 4 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
- 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
- 1 cup peas
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray 9×13-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
- While pasta is cooking, place milk and spinach in blender and process until smooth; set aside.
- In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foamy and whisk in flour, stirring 2–3 minutes, until mixture has rich, nutty smell.
- Slowly whisk in spinach and milk mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 3–4 minutes, until sauce begins to thicken, whisking occasionally.
- Add water and shredded cheese and whisk until melted.
- Stir in pasta, broccoli, and peas.
- Transfer sauce and noodles to prepared baking dish and bake 20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling.
Sheet Pan Mac & Cheese
from Scrumptious by Christy Denney
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Position cooking rack in upper third of oven. Preheat oven to 450°F. Spray an 18×13-inch sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray.
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Pasta will continue to cook in oven. Drain and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Sprinkle flour on top and cook for about 1 minute.
- Slowly whisk in milk and cream. Stir in Dijon mustard and paprika. Cook until mixture thickens, about 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Remove from heat. Stir in 3 cups cheddar cheese, grated Parmesan cheese, and drained pasta until well combined. Pour into prepared pan in an even layer.
- In a small bowl, combine panko breadcrumbs and remaining cup cheddar cheese. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture on top of pasta.
- Bake for 8–10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Instant Pot Mac and Cheese
From Instant Cooking: A Fast, Easy, and Delicious Way to Feed Your Family by Six Sisters’ Stuff
- 2½ cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 3 cups water
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- ¼ teaspoon seasoning salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- ½ cup milk
- 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup minced chives
- 6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
- Add uncooked macaroni, water, onion powder, dry mustard, seasoning salt, and pepper to the insert of a multicooker.
- Secure the lid and make sure the valve is pointing up to SEALING.
- Press MANUAL (or press PRESSURE COOK and select HIGH PRESSURE) and adjust time to 5 minutes.
- When multicooker signals the end of cooking time, quick release the pressure by turning the valve down to VENTING with the handle of a wooden spoon or other device to prevent the steam from burning your hands during the release.
- Remove lid and add cream cheese and 1 tablespoon of the butter to the macaroni and remaining water. Stir until combined.
- Add milk and shredded cheese and stir until cheese is melted and everything is well combined.
- Spread macaroni mixture in an 8×10-inch serving dish and set aside.
- Prepare a crumb topping by adding remaining 2 tablespoons butter to a medium skillet and melting over medium-high heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until breadcrumbs are golden brown, about 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle on top of macaroni.
- Sprinkle chives and bacon crumbles on top of toasted breadcrumbs and serve.
The Best Mac and Cheese
From Raised in the Kitchen by Carrian Cheney
Mac and Cheese
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- 2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 (16-ounce) package elbow macaroni noodles
- 4 tablespoons butter, cubed
- ¼ cup minced yellow onion
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 3 cups whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ¼ teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 4 slices bread, torn into pieces
- 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
- ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F. and butter a 9×13-inch casserole dish.
- In a large bowl, toss together the cornstarch and cheeses. Set aside.
- In a large pot of boiling water, add kosher salt and pasta. Cook until just past al dente. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pot over medium heat, add butter. Once melted, add onion and cook for 2–3 minutes or until tender. Add the mustard, milk, and cream and bring to a simmer.
- Add cornstarch-and-cheese mixture, whisking until smooth. Add Worcestershire and hot sauce, if desired, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Add cooked pasta to the pot, heat for 2 minutes, then pour mixture into prepared casserole dish.
- To make the topping: Pulse the bread, butter, Parmesan, salt, and pepper in a food processor until coarsely ground. Sprinkle bread crumbs over pasta.
- Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Raised in the Kitchen is a cookbook for parents and kids about much more than learning to love to cook. It's about bringing families together with cooking memories that will last a lifetime.