Macaroni and Cheese Pasta Salad

Maybe, like you, I at first made a face when I came across the idea for macaroni and cheese pasta salad. But then, I thought, hey, I love mac-and-cheese. I love pasta salad. What I thought could be a crazy idea might well be brilliant. And it was. Traditional pasta salad flavors with a bit of cheddar cheese. I often cube cheddar cheese into my pasta salads, so the idea of using boxed mac and cheese really isn’t that much of a stretch. And it’s sure easier.
Macaroni and Cheese Pasta SaladYou can easily double this recipe for a family get-together. And I honestly wouldn’t be afraid to add a minced jalapeno or two to this macaroni and cheese pasta salad for a little kick. I also like to substitute chipotle powder or smoked paprika for the black pepper for a little smokiness.

If you want to make mac-and-cheese, but not out of the box, try my 20-minute version.

Macaroni and Cheese Pasta Salad

Maybe, like you, I at first made a face when I came across the idea for macaroni and cheese pasta salad. But then, I thought, hey, I love mac-and-cheese. I love pasta salad.
Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 134kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 7.5 ounce Original Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cups celery diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper diced
  • 1 4 ounce pimentos diced, drained
  • 4 green onions diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta from the macaroni and cheese and cook per package instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  • In a large bowl combine then cheese packages from the mac and cheese and all of the remaining ingredients.
  • Fold in the pasta.
  • Cover and refrigerate at least one hour before serving. If the salad gets too thick add a bit more mayonnaise and stir lightly.

Nutrition

Calories: 134kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 231mg | Potassium: 77mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 167IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional values are approximate.

Pulled Pork Mac-and-Cheese

Whenever I fire up my smoker to make pulled pork I make sure to make plenty extra. Sure, I love a big ole heapin’ mound of pulled pork on a bun with some slaw and pickles, but pulled pork is also great in mac-and-cheese. It adds such a wonderful smokiness to the dish. I didn’t go overboard on the pork. You want enough so that you get a bit in each bite, but you don’t want to have so much that you think you’re eating a pulled pork casserole.
Pulled Pork Mac-and-CheeseI think you could probably get away with making this same recipe using smoked brisket or chicken. Just make sure the meats are chopped small. And if you prefer more heat, don’t be afraid to add in some chopped seeded jalapenos or more hot sauce.

Pulled Pork Mac-and-Cheese

Sure, I love a big ole heapin’ mound of pulled pork on a bun with some slaw and pickles, but pulled pork is also great in mac-and-cheese.
Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 10
Calories 708kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 pound elbow pasta
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • hot sauce to taste (I used a tablespoon or so)
  • 4 cups sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1 cup smoked pulled pork chopped
  • 1 cup Cheez-It crackers crushed

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 400F.
  • Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Cook the pasta until al dente, normally 6 minutes for dried pasta. Rinse with cold water and rain.
  • Melt the butter in large sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Combine the flour and salt and slowly whisk into the melted butter. Keep whisking until the butter begins to bubble.
  • While whisking, add the milk and cream. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Keep whisking for 10 minutes. The mixture should be nice and creamy thick.
  • Stir in the hot sauce.
  • Add the cheese and stir until melted.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the macaroni and pulled pork.
  • Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and spread out evenly.
  • Sprinkle with the crushed crackers and bake for 25 minutes or until hot and bubbly and the topping has turned golden.

Nutrition

Calories: 708kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 624mg | Potassium: 340mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1513IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 436mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional values are approximate.

Southwestern Macaroni-and-Cheese

Does macaroni-and-cheese with tomatoes and black beans in it make it healthier? I’m not sure. Probably not. I am sure that this Southwestern macaroni-and-cheese was fantastic. You take your pretty favorite standard recipe and add a few things. That’s it. It’s something totally different than the usual. Still creamy and still cheesy, just different.
Southwestern Macaroni-and-CheeseI use Cholula hot sauce in recipes like this southwestern macaroni-and-cheese because I find it to be a great, fairly mellow, hot sauce. It’s not in-your-face hot and it has a great peppery flavor. It’s perfect on just about anything.

Also try my Civil War mac-and-cheese.

Southwestern Macaroni-and-Cheese

Does macaroni-and-cheese with tomatoes and black beans in it make it healthier? I’m not sure. Probably not. I am sure that this Southwestern macaroni-and-cheese was fantastic.
Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 7kcal
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 6-8 prepared macaroni-and-cheese I doubled our great 20-minute mac-and-cheese recipe, prepared
  • 1 15 ounce black beans rinsed, drained
  • 1 large tomato seeded, chopped
  • hot sauce to taste (optional)
  • parsley chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  • Prepare the macaroni and cheese as directed. Keep warm.
  • Stir in the beans and tomato along with the Cajun seasoning or hot sauce, if using.
  • Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

Nutrition

Calories: 7kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 7mg | Potassium: 56mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 190IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional values are approximate.

20-Minute Mac-and-Cheese

Yes, I used to make macaroni and cheese from a box. That was long ago. Now I usually make a totally different take on mac-and-cheese, like my favorite, fire eater chicken macaroni and cheese. But sometimes I just don’t have the time (or ingredients). That’s when this 20-minute mac-and-cheese version comes in real handy. Like the name says, it doesn’t take long to make and it comes out just as ooey and gooey as you’d expect (and want).

20-Minute Mac-and-CheeseAdd a couple pinches of cayenne if you want a little kick in your 20-minute mac-and-cheese. For something totally different, try my macaroni-and-cheese salad. Yes, salad.

20-Minute Mac-and-Cheese

This 20-minute mac-and-cheese version comes in real handy. Like the name says, it doesn’t take long to make and it comes out just as ooey and gooey as you’d expect (and want).
Course Side
Cuisine American
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 520kcal

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup heavy cream half-and-half also works well
  • 1 ounce cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 cup extra sharp Cheddar cheese shredded
  • 2-4 slices American cheese

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 9 minutes. Drain.
  • Meanwhile, heat cream in a large skillet.
  • Add cream cheese and salt and stir until cheese is melted.
  • Add cheddar and American cheeses and stir until melted.
  • Add cooked pasta and stir to coat well.
  • Note: Add a pinch of cayenne for extra kick.
  • Note: If you want a little crunch, sprinkle the top of the mac with panko breadcrumbs and place under the broiler for a few minutes until golden brown. Make sure you use a skillet that can stand the heat, such as a cast iron skillet.

Nutrition

Calories: 520kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 457mg | Potassium: 199mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1211IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 268mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional values are approximate.

Fire-Eater Chicken Mac-and-Cheese

I made a big ole batch of fire-eater chicken the other day. It has a really nice kick to it. Besides sandwiches and other great uses for the chicken, I made this insanely good fire-eater chicken mac-and-cheese. It’s based on a buffalo chicken mac-and-cheese recipe, so you know that it’s great. And you don’t have to use fire-eater chicken, any roasted (or rotisserie) chicken will do, but I highly recommend the kicked-up flavor of the fire-eater version.

Fire-Eater Chicken Mac-and-CheeseThis fire-eater chicken mac-and-cheese is creamy, like it should be. And crunchy, thanks to the celery and panko breadcrumbs. And it has a kick to it. Just like I like.

Fire-Eater Chicken Mac-and-Cheese

I made this insanely good fire-eater chicken mac-and-cheese. It’s based on a Buffalo chicken mac-and-cheese recipe, so you know that it’s great. 
Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 844kcal

Ingredients

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 small white onion finely chopped
  • 2 stalks stalks celery finely chopped
  • 3 cups fire-eater chicken shredded or chopped , or substitute rotisserie chicken
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 3/4 cup hot sauce or Buffalo wing sauce, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 2 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 1 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 8 ounces pepper jack cheese shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  • Salt a large pot of water and cook the macaroni until al denta, about 7 minutes. Drain well.
  • Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with non-stick spray.
  • Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the celery and onion. Cook until soft, 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken and garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
  • Add 1/2 cup of the hot or wing sauce and stir. Simmer until the mixture thickens slightly.
  • In another small skillet or saucepan, melt 2 more tablespoons of the butter.
  • Whisk in the flour and mustard until smooth.
  • Slow pour in the half-and-half while whisking continuously.
  • Whisk in the remaining hot or wing sauce and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses and sour cream until the cheese melts and the mixture is smooth.
  • Pour half of the macaroni into the baking dish and spread out evenly.
  • Top with the chicken mixture.
  • Add the remaining macaroni.
  • Pour the cheese mixture over the top and spread out evenly.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the remaining butter. Add the panko, blue cheese and parsley. Stir and pour evenly over the top of the macaroni mixture.
  • Bake 30-40 minutes or until bubbly hot.
  • Let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 844kcal | Carbohydrates: 56g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 54g | Saturated Fat: 33g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 155mg | Sodium: 1324mg | Potassium: 430mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1666IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 802mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional values are approximate.

All-American Mac-and-Cheese

Who doesn’t love mac-and-cheese? I’ve certainly made lots of variations on the classic, from a Cholula mac, to pepperoni pizza mac, fondue mac, to roasted garlic and thyme mac. I decided to go a more traditional route. Loaded with cheese, my All-American Mac-and-Cheese is just flat-out cheesy. And it has a little twist at the end to boot.

All-American Mac-and-CheeseYou don’t have to sprinkle your All-American Mac-and-Cheese with cayenne pepper, though I do recommend it. Leave it off entirely or try a little dusting of paprika instead. I think it adds a nice (needed) contrast to the tons of (yummy) creamy cheesiness.

All-American Mac-and-Cheese

Loaded with cheese, my All-American Mac-and-Cheese is just flat-out cheesy. And it has a little twist at the end to boot.
Course Side
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 563kcal
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • kosher salt
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • Pinch cayenne pepper plus more for garnish if desired
  • 12 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese shredded
  • 1/4 cup Velveeta cheese cubed (use extra sharp for even more flavor!)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add the macaroni.
  • Continue boiling until the pasta is al dente. Drain, but reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the flour, mustard powder and cayenne. Continue whisking for 1 minute.
  • Whisk in the evaporated milk and continue stirring until thick, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the cheeses and stir until melted.
  • Add the pasta and stir. If the mixture is too thick add a bit of the reserved pasta water.
  • Heat through and season with salt and pepper.

Nutrition

Calories: 563kcal | Carbohydrates: 55g | Protein: 27g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 592mg | Potassium: 483mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 861IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 627mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional values are approximate.