The Unique Addition A Chef Wants You To Try In Your Mac And Cheese

You can add blue cheese to macaroni and cheese for bolder flavor or give the dish more crunch with a topping like crushed crackers or store-bought crispy fried onions. There are many other ways to upgrade boxed mac and cheese and ingredients to elevate homemade batches too, from bacon to mayonnaise. Chef Bob Bennett, head chef at Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, offers an even more unique twist, especially if you like bacon in your dish: Pimento cheese.

"It just adds a nice balance to the bacon," Bennett explains. On the menu at Zingerman's Roadhouse, you'll find pimento cheese and bacon macaroni that uses both ingredients. However, even macaroni and cheese without bacon can still benefit from the southern delicacy. Pimento cheese is a dip made of shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and pimentos in its simplest form, but it can also have jalapeños and cream cheese. Pimento peppers add a mild spice, subtle sweetness, and some texture. The shredded cheese and mayonnaise will add cheesiness, creaminess, and a bit of tang to the dish when it's all combined.

Use store-bought or homemade pimento cheese

There are different ways to incorporate pimento cheese with macaroni and cheese. You can find store-bought pimento cheese at most supermarkets, and the dip will be just fine to use with the dish. A mac and cheese is also a surefire way to use leftover homemade pimento cheese, perhaps with Tasting Table's classic pimento cheese recipe that also uses crumbled bacon. Add either to taste, but consider using less cheese if you want to incorporate the dip into macaroni. Another option is to go straight to the source, buy a jar of pimentos, and add those to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe. For this route, 4 ounces of pimentos should be enough for every eight servings.

Add pimento cheese or the pimentos themselves to any type of macaroni. There's a good case for using it for made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese, however, because you'll have more control of the cheese levels and flavor. Use it to spruce up your family's recipe or to elevate the version you found on your favorite food blog. If you don't have a favorite already, consider some of Tasting Table's recipes. Our simple mac and cheese recipe will allow the flavors to shine and it has a crunchy topping for texture, or consider our baked mac and cheese casserole recipe with a panko topping.