Now that summer’s winding down and the cooler months are fast approaching, we’re all starting to crave cozy, comfort foods. And what food better signifies comfort than Macaroni and Cheese?
There’s nothing better than the rich aromas wafting through the kitchen, and lifting up a forkful of melting, oozing cheddar cheese.
But if you’re tired of the same cheesy casserole, we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 awesome Mac and Cheese dinner ideas that will keep you full all winter long.
Deep Fried Mac and Cheese
America’s Food Network personality, Paula Deen, isn’t known for her “lite” recipes, and this one is no different. It builds on her more traditional mac and cheese recipe, “The Lady’s Cheesy Mac” and bumps it up a big notch. She takes her premade macaroni and cheese and fries it.
Yes, you heard that right. So, if you want to jazz up your leftovers, check out Paula Deen’s fun recipe here.
Diets need to step aside for this mouth-watering treat. Take your favorite bread – preferably one that holds up to grilling – and layer in macaroni and cheese, as well as your favorite cold cuts, like smoked ham or turkey.
It’s truly amazing and you won’t be disappointed with this carbs-on-carbs dinner.
Pizza Alla Macaroni and Cheese
Why not combine two great Italian traditions, pasta, and pizza, with quintessential American flair: macaroni and cheese pizza? Instead of baking your macaroni and cheese, simply load it on top of your premade dough and pop it in the oven.
You can add some spicy peppers, cured meats, or any variety of vegetables to give it your own personal touch.
Autumn Squash Mac and Cheese
In the Fall, the supermarkets fill up with all types of squashes, like pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash and spaghetti squash. You’ll see plenty of macaroni and cheese recipes with added squash, but you can switch things up a little bit when it comes to squash.
Half your butternut squash, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper over it. Then, roast it skin-side down.
When it’s nearly finished baking, add your pre-made macaroni and cheese inside the hollow of the squash and bake for an additional 10 minutes or so. The squash ends up doubling as an edible bowl and a side of vegetables.
Fried Mac and Cheese Zucchini Bites
We’d like to say that having zucchini in this recipe improves the nutritional value and offers you a slightly healthier dinner, but that’s just not the case here.
What is true is that these little bites are absolutely amazing. You’ll need some fresh zucchini (or even zucchini flowers if they’re in season), some mac and cheese (freshly made or leftover), and a bit of time to spend in your kitchen.
But you won’t regret it after you taste your first mac and cheese zucchini bite in all its fried goodness.
Mac and Cheese Buns
If you’re having trouble deciding between a burger or macaroni and cheese for dinner, no problem. You can have both! Take your mixture of unbaked macaroni and cheese and shape it into bun-sized circles.
Then, bake them as the recipe requires. In the meantime, prepare your burgers and look forward to a mac and cheese bun – the perfect place for your juicy burger.
Peppers Stuffed with Macaroni and Cheese
Is this healthy? Not exactly, but is it delicious? You better believe it! And even though macaroni and cheese-stuffed peppers is big step-up from traditional mac and cheese, it really doesn’t take any more time to make.
Choose your favorite peppers, like red, yellow and green peppers, and fill them up with the cheesy, pasta mixture. If you like hot and spicy flavors, go ahead and add Mexican spices for a special weeknight dinner.
If you’re a busy mom with hungry kids, this recipe is a sure way to keep everybody happy and full. You can make the macaroni and cheese mixture fresh, or you can easily use leftovers.
Spread the mixture onto the quesadilla and fry in a pan on your stovetop. It’s quick, easy and an instant crowd (or kid) pleaser. You can even sneak in vegetables, like peas or broccoli, and kids will enjoy dipping them into ketchup or guacamole, too.
Macaroni and Cheese Stuffed Croissants
Not only is this tasty treat vegan-friendly, but it’s so darn good, you’ll wonder why you never tried it before. Find your favorite box of vegan macaroni and cheese, and before baking it in the oven, spread it inside premade croissant dough.
Roll up the croissant and pop it into your oven for the recommended cooking time. Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long to get your hands on one of these.
Fondue with Farfalle
Why not deconstruct mac and cheese? Start with a traditional fondue, with cheeses like Emmental or Gruyere. Once you’ve got your fondue going, boil up fondue-friendly pasta like Conchiglie, Capanelle, Casereccia, Farfalle or Gnocchi.
Once the pasta’s cooked and the fondue is bubbling, go ahead and dip the pasta into the warm, gooey cheese for a creative meal that’s casual, cozy and perfect for a winter’s night.
Mastering Mac and Cheese Basics
Macaroni and cheese is the base for every single one of these crazy recipes. And just like any other culinary adventure, you need to have a strong foundation so that the rest of the dish can shine.
So, no matter what recipe you decide to try, if you’re making your own macaroni and cheese from scratch, there are some key tips to remember. Here’s how to always make the perfect mac and cheese:
- Cheddar is the best cheese to use, especially if it’s an extra sharp variety. It can really hold its own in the béchamel sauce, and it adds a little spike of flavor once you add the pasta.
- Use whole milk or cream because fatty foods are very flavorful and since macaroni and cheese isn’t exactly diet-fare, you may as well go all out and enjoy it for all its worth, right?
- Season your béchamel sauce with salt, pepper, parmesan, garlic powder and even mustard powder. If you enjoy hot spices, go ahead and try cayenne or chili powder, too.
Macaroni and cheese is a win-win dinner, and with these 10 awesome recipes, you’re sure to find something to please the whole family. Which one are you going to make tonight?