10 Decadent Mac And Cheese Recipes

Macaroni and cheese is one of the ultimate comfort foods even in its simplest form. You can certainly upgrade your boxed mac and cheese, but sometimes it's worth the time and effort to make a homemade pan of the cheesy side dish (or entree — no judgement). A baking dish filled with fresh grated cheese, tender pasta, and perhaps some bacon or spices that gets baked until it has a crispy crust just can't compare to the instant kind a lot of us grew up on.

In our collection of original recipes you'll find simple forms of the dish that are slightly elevated, baked casseroles that you can use to feed a crowd, and more complex renditions with ingredients like mushrooms and even kimchi. So, to make your meal planning easier, we've compiled 10 of our best mac and cheese recipes here. And before you start cooking, read up on the mistakes you need to avoid with homemade mac and cheese.

Simple Mac and Cheese (with Crunchy Topping)

The first recipe in our roundup might have the word simple in its name, but it won't taste simple at all thanks to recipe developer Christina Musgrave. The base of the recipe is rather traditional with macaroni noodles and a sharp cheddar cheese sauce. But, when you add crumbled buttery crackers on top and bake it for 30 minutes, the crunch at the top of each bite will set it apart. Eat this dish on its own or serve it with fried chicken like Musgrave suggests.

Recipe: Simple Mac and Cheese (with Crunchy Topping)

Baked Mac and Cheese Casserole

If you're a fan of baked mac and cheese but are rather bored with the recipe already in your rotation, then give this casserole a try. The recipe's main components are what you might expect, but it also has a panko breadcrumb topping for loads of crunch, a creamy white cheese sauce, and fresh thyme for an herby essence in the dish. It only requires 45 minutes from boiling the pasta to taking the finished casserole out of the oven — just enough time to pull together the rest of your meal like steaks or pork chops.

Recipe: Baked Mac and Cheese Casserole

Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

Any home cook that prefers a side dish they can throw in a slow cooker and step away from until it's time to serve should check out this next recipe. Just toss all of the ingredients into the slow cooker — you don't need to boil the macaroni first (surprising, we know). There's no need to work on a béchamel because the combination of whole milk, evaporated milk, and cheeses will melt together effortlessly. Mustard powder and paprika add layers of flavor, and a garnish of fresh parsley finishes it off.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Mac and Cheese

3-Cheese Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Recipe developer Jennine Rye melds three varieties of cheese with chestnut mushrooms for a fusion of flavors in this macaroni and cheese dish. A combination of grated cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan give varying levels of sharpness and nuttiness to each bite. The mushrooms naturally provide an earthy, umami touch plus a bit of protein, so this recipe functions as either a side dish or an entree. You can even toss in some chicken or sausage to really turn it into a complete one-dish meal. 

Recipe: 3-Cheese Mushroom Mac and Cheese

Decadent French Onion Mac and Cheese

Enjoy the rich flavors of French onion soup and macaroni and cheese in one dish with this recipe created by Jennine Rye. It has quite a few cooking steps and takes nearly two hours to pull off, but we think it's worth the effort. The classic flavors of French onion soup come from caramelized onions, beef stock, fresh thyme, and breadcrumbs. Meanwhile, it has gruyere and cheddar cheeses for creamy, nutty, and sharp flavors throughout. The breadcrumbs and more of both cheeses finish off the dish for a crunchy and cheesy finish.

Recipe: Decadent French Onion Mac and Cheese

Roasted Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese traditionally hinges on macaroni or another variety of pasta — but you won't miss it in this recipe developed by Joe Dillard. Cauliflower is mildly nutty yet rather bland, like plain pasta, so it functions in this recipe quite well. It's a great alternative for when you want to skip carbs and get more nutrients, or if you need to use up any cauliflower lingering in your produce drawer. Roast the veggie to bring out deeper flavors, then combine it with a cheese sauce of mozzarella, sharp cheddar, and white cheddar. Best of all, you'll have it on the table in less than an hour.

Recipe: Roasted Cauliflower "Mac" and Cheese

Garlic Shrimp Mac and Cheese

This recipe adds shrimp to a classic mac and cheese recipe that deliciously works as an entree or side dish. The key to pulling off this recipe with minimal effort is to use peeled shrimp whether it's fresh or frozen and defrosted. Then there's the roux — a smooth and creamy cheese sauce with Dijon mustard for a pungent kick — and panko breadcrumbs for a crunchy topping. Kick up the spice level with hot sauce or lean into the seafood and add lump crab or lobster meat to transform it into a complete and decadent meal.

Recipe: Garlic Shrimp Mac and Cheese

Kimchi Mac and Cheese

You might not typically pair kimchi with macaroni and cheese, but this unique spin on the classic side dish should impress anyone fond of fermented vegetables. The kimchi joins chives, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, garlic, and onion for layers of flavor. There aren't many spices in the recipe, but the kimchi will offer acidic, tangy, and spicy notes to each spoonful. A squirt of sriracha will add some heat. Serve it alongside a fresh salad with a tangy vinaigrette to balance out the rich flavors of this side dish.

Recipe: Kimchi Mac and Cheese

Green Chili Mac and Cheese

Do you want a stovetop recipe so you don't have to preheat an oven? This green chili mac and cheese created by recipe developer Kristen Carli offers just that — plus canned green chilis for mild heat. You don't have to worry about making a roux for the cheese sauce because you simply melt butter and shredded cheese into the pot of pasta. It's simple and delicious, plus you can have it ready in just 20 minutes, making it ideal for a last-minute side dish for your weekly dinner rotation.

Recipe: Green Chili Mac and Cheese

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

Our last recipe is an easy one, but still has plenty of flavor thanks to the butternut squash. There's no need to turn on the oven, because this recipe can be made directly on the stovetop. Recipe developer Kristen Carli suggests frozen butternut squash, but canned and fresh also work. The secret ingredient will add nutty sweetness and extra nutrients. Pull out your immersion blender to blend the butternut squash, add shredded cheese and a few other ingredients, and cook. So are you craving mac and cheese yet?

Recipe: Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese