5 Fresh Ideas for Better Mac and Cheese

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Mac and cheese is that classic dish, that wonderful comfort food you go back to again and again. But there are times when even that old favorite seems to be part of your routine. A routine that desperately needs a change and an infusion of new flavors and textures. The news is good though: you can use some ingredients for a better mac and cheese dish.

Why limit yourself when it comes to making your favorite mac and cheese recipe? You can add so many things to this to shift the taste profile a little, not to mention the nutritional one, and make it seem new every time you try it. All of the recipes you know involve some macaroni and some cheese, as the name of the dish warns or entices. But why only those two?

Here are some ingredients you can use to enhance and make better mac and cheese! And to add some more nutritious elements to the mix! The resulting mac and cheeses will each have their own personalities and tastes. No more routine for you!

5 elements for better mac and cheese

1. Avocado

You can replace the milk or heavy cream in your mac and cheese with some natural, healthy fats found in avocados. Not to mention that avocados are creamy themselves and will lend their texture to your beloved dish. Your mac and cheese will turn out green, cheesy, and full of nutrients. Choose mozzarella as your go-to cheese to pair with avocado. And to turn up the health meter, go for whole grain pasta!


2. Pepperoni

It’s not great just on pizza. I try to work it in everything I eat, somehow. This works best if the pepperoni slices are crunchy and dry, to provide a crispy texture accent amidst all of the creaminess of the dish. But what I do is this: add some slices of pepperoni in the mac and sauce mixture, so there’s a bit of meat to the body of the recipe too. Then I top everything off with the cheese, to melt on top gracefully. And I encrust the pepperoni on top of everything else after the dish has stayed in the oven a little. This way, the slices don’t get too dry or charred. But they’re as crunchy as you want them. Also try with: chorizo!

3. Cauliflower

Cauliflower is vitamin-filled, loaded with antioxidants, and has just the right rich texture to blend well in your mac and cheese sauce. You can add it to the sauce while you’re making it. Once it starts to break down, mash it into the sauce and incorporate it. This leads to an amazingly thick sauce. Mix the sauce with the macaroni elbows and top everything off with some low-moisture mozzarella!


4. Tomatoes

I find that in every way, shape or form, tomatoes and cheese seem to be a match made in heaven. They work together raw in a salad, like nobody’s business, but they also go well together on pizzas, in casseroles, on the grill or in the oven. Why not bring tomatoes together with cheese in a better mac and cheese formula? Add some tomato sauce – if at all possible, of your own making – instead of the usual white sauce you use for the mac and cheese. Sprinkle some herbs in there and some garlic, and you’ve got yourself a good time!

5. Reconsider your cheese

Maybe you’ve been using the same cheese over and over again, like a safety blanket for your macaroni. How about experimenting with other varieties and seeing what they bring to the table? Cheddar is a classic option for mac and cheese, rich in taste with awesome melting ability. Brie has a butter-like consistency and gets really creamy when added to the dish. Parmesan will bring its saltiness to the dish. Try mixing it up with some breadcrumbs for an amazing crust. Cream cheese will make your macaroni and cheese creamier than your dearest dreams. And cottage cheese has a unique texture you will want to take advantage of.

Are you hungry for seconds? Here are some more ideas on how to improve the classic mac and cheese.

And check out this chicken variety.

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