The Best Type Of Pasta For Homemade Mac And Cheese

Is there anyone who doesn't love mac and cheese? Rich, comforting, and full of creamy dairy, the classic side dish makes an ideal accompaniment to barbecue, meatloaf, fried chicken, and well, pretty much anything else. Whether you prefer the stovetop version or the oven-baked casserole version, the dish can be a delight to make at home, filling your kitchen with the tantalizing aroma of melty cheese and promising a crowd pleaser for anyone who plans to share in the spoils.

When it comes to mac and cheese recipes, there's a lot of discussion about what type of cheese to use, with recommendations ranging from cheddar and Monterey jack to Gruyere and, of course, classic American (via PureWow). There's not much guidance to be found, however, on what type of pasta to use in the dish. While many of us are likely accustomed to reaching for a box of elbow macaroni, can other pasta shapes create a delectable mac and cheese? The answer is yes. You just have to know what you look for in other types of pasta.

Look for pastas with nooks and crannies

If you love making mac and cheese at home but are tired of using standby elbow macaroni as the "mac" part of the dish — or if you simply want to try something new — it's easy to substitute other pasta shapes once you know what to look for. As noted by Kitchn, pasta is a crucial part of mac and cheese. After all, it's essentially half the dish, so don't just grab whatever's lying around your pantry. The site recommends avoiding long, thin pastas like spaghetti, angel hair, linguine, and fettuccine, which aren't the right type to grab and hold onto the rich cheese sauce.

Instead, you'll want to look for pasta shapes featuring "nooks and crannies," the outlet writes. These include pasta shapes that are hollow and tubular, such as penne or ziti, shells of varying sizes, and campanelle, a bell-shaped pasta with fluted edges and a hollow center (via Fine Cooking). These shapes catch lots of gooey cheese sauce, whereas smooth pasta shapes such as spaghetti will let it slide right off. eHow also recommends bow ties, corkscrewed fusilli, and cavatappi, which are corkscrews that are tubular and are also hollow in the center. So the next time you slide a dish of mac and cheese into the oven, try mixing up your routine with a different type of "mac."