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How to Make the Perfect Mac and Cheese – 15 Ways!

Macaroni and cheese is one of those quintessential dishes that almost everyone seems to love. (Except my husband, who HATES it.) Fortunately, it’s such a crowd pleaser that you can almost be certain to make just about everyone you serve it to happy as a clam. Of course, if you’re just serving up that boxed stuff, you’re really missing out. Sure, the stuff in the box is quick and easy. It’s also inexpensive, and it tastes ok… at least until you try the real stuff.

These 15 great mac and cheese recipes are sure to please all but the pickiest eaters, and you’ll never want to eat that boxed stuff with its fake processed cheese flavour again!

1. THE Mac and Cheese

This is called THE mac and cheese for a reason. It’s creamy, cheesy, and has a great crunch from the panko bread crumb crust. Best of all, it’s actually quite easy to make. This is a more grown-up version of macaroni and cheese, but it will still please the kids, too.

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2.Paula Deen’s Crockpot Mac and Cheese

Paula Deen is the queen of rich, buttery, creamy southern dishes, and this is certainly no exception. It is absolutely unreal how much flavour this dish has! If you’re looking for what is probably hands-down the creamiest, most flavourful macaroni and cheese recipe EVER, this is the ONE you will probably want to come back again and again. It will please adults and children alike. If anything can make the kids forget that boxed stuff, this is it! Plus, it’s SUPER easy to make, because it’s done in your slow cooker!

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3. Smoked Gouda & Sharp Ched

Containing sharp cheddar cheese and gouda, this is a more “adult” version of macaroni and cheese, but that doesn’t mean the kids won’t like it, too. This is definitely a creamy version of mac and cheese, and the flavour from the gouda really sets it apart from other recipes.

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4. Copycat Panera Bread Mac and Cheese

Panera Bread Company has some of the most famous macaroni and cheese in the world, and this recipe tastes pretty much exactly like the stuff you get in the restaurant! It’s so easy to make, it’s incredibly creamy, and it’s got a slight bite from the dijon mustard. Bonus: it’s only 6 ingredients!

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5. Pumpkin Cheddar Mac and Cheese

I know it sounds a little odd, but pumpkin and cheese is a classic combination that tastes absolutely divine. This macaroni and cheese recipe combines the two flavours in perfect harmony for a grown-up version of mac and cheese that will take you back to your childhood in a very adult way.

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6. Brussels Sprouts Mac & Cheese

Are you looking for a great way to get your family to eat some vegetables? What better way than to cheese them up in a dish they already love? You could easily use Brussels sprouts, artichokes, broccoli, spinach, kale… just about any vegetable you can think of. And most kids will gobble it up, vegetables and all!

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7. Truffle Mac & Cheese

This is probably the ultimate “grown up” version of mac and cheese. If you can get real black truffles (like the expensive Perigord kind), you might want to add a few paper thin slices, but this version gets its flavour from truffle oil. Sure, it’s not the same thing. But you can get a little of that truffle flavor without spending your mortgage/rent money doing it!

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8. Roasted Green Chile Mac & Cheese

Green chiles and cheese are a great combination, and the chiles in this give it a ton of flavour without a massive amount of heat. You can use spicy hatch green chiles for a kick, or use the milder green chiles for a flavourful punch without all the spice.

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9. Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

In case you aren’t familiar, gnocchi is a type of Italian potato dumpling that is used in ways similar to pasta. You can buy pre-made gnocchi in many grocery stores. I’ve even found it at Target! But it’s much better if you made it homemade. This recipe says you can use either purchased or homemade. If you’re looking for something very different from your ordinary mac and cheese, you’re really going to love this one, which contains dijon mustard and several kinds of cheese.

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10. Beer Mac & Cheese

Okay, if I put beer in it, I MIGHT have a chance to get my husband to eat mac and cheese. Nah. Not even then. But most people will really love the little kick of flavour beer adds to this mac and cheese recipe!

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11. Quinoa “Mac” and Cheese

If you’re looking for something extra healthy, this is a great choice. It’s got a delicious cheesy flavour, but it’s made with whole grain quinoa (which is known as the world’s only vegetable-based complete protein). The Incas called it the “mother grain” because of how nutrient-packed it is. This is so tasty people won’t believe it’s as healthy as it is, so serve it proudly!

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12. Langostino & Bacon Mac & Cheese

Langoustinos are a shellfish that is similar to a lobster or prawn, but it’s actually neither. It’s more closely related to porcelain crabs or hermit crabs than to either of these other shellfish. If you can’t find langostinos where you live, you can substitute other shellfish like lobster, crab, or even shrimp. Even crayfish would work.

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13. French Onion Soup Mac and Cheese

Hybrid dishes are all the rage these days, and this is a great example of one that actually works. The sweetness of the caramelised onions blends really well with the cheese and pasta (which, incidentally, is like the cheese and crouton in classic French onion soup).

14. Spinach Ricotta Mac & Cheese

Spinach and ricotta is one of my favourite flavour combinations. I absolutely love spinach lasagna, and the two just work unbelievably well together. In this recipe, spinach and ricotta form the base of the “sauce” for the pasta, while a light sprinkling of cheddar cheese forms a nice crust on top.

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15. Creamy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Butternut squash is one of my favourite vegetables. It’s sweet, it’s savoury (depending on how it’s prepared), it’s highly nutritious… it’s just an all-around excellent vegetable. In this recipe, it provides just a hint of natural sweetness to this macaroni and cheese, and it’s just over-the-tmacop good!

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Written by Pauline

I'm Pauline, a mother of four grown children, my passion for cooking stemmed from the joy i get cooking for my family. I love to try new dishes, especially when dining out but creating and sharing my own recipes is my favourite thing to do!

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