This spicy mac and cheese is coated in a cheddar and pepper jack cheese sauce, and with
added jalepeño, it takes this delicious meal to the next level. A must as a holiday side dish, and with this spicy cheese sauce, you’re sure to have people begging for seconds!
If your inner child is as alive and well, like mine is, you’re always craving a big, creamy
bowl of mac and cheese. Macaroni and cheese is such a versatile dish, I’ve done many
versions including my lobster mac and cheese and 4 cheese mac and cheese.
Why You’ll Love This Baked Spicy Mac and Cheese
- This cheesy meal adds an interesting kick to this delicious family favorite recipe. With a
spicy cheese sauce, it makes for the ultimate comfort food for a rainy day indoors.
- Be the highlight of the holidays with the toasted buttery breadcrumbs that add a crunchy contrast to the rich and creamy macaroni.
- The fresh garlic, garlic powder, and onion powder adds so much flavor!
- Pasta – I highly recommend using a short-shaped pasta such as elbow macaroni, pipette, rigatoni, or cavatappi.
- Whole Milk – For a rich and delicious macaroni and cheese I recommend sticking to whole milk.
- Freshly grated cheddar and pepper jack cheese – Don’t use pre-shredded. They have anti-caking agents that can make the sauce grainy. Freshly shredded allows your cheese to melt a whole lot smoother, giving the sauce a velvety texture.
- Dijon Mustard – Feel free to use spicy mustard, grain mustard, or dry mustard.
Can you make Mac and Cheese Ahead Of Time?
The best way is for the pasta to cool, then toss with sauce and add breadcrumb topping. Refrigerate or freeze, then bake on the day of.
Top Tips And Flavor Variations
- Stir constantly so the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
- There are a ton of add-in options. Add shredded
chicken, caramelized onions, bell peppers/capsicum, bacon, hot sauce, or dried
herbs of choice. You can definitely get creative with it!
How Long Can It Stay In The Fridge?
This spicy mac and cheese recipe is good for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Reheat in a microwave or pan.
Yes! Assemble, but do not bake, let it cool completely and then freeze it. Thaw and bake it the day you decide to serve it.
Tried this recipe? Please leave a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card below and/or a review in the comments section further down the page. And consider following me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!
Spicy Mac and Cheese
- 16 ounces pipette pasta or elbow macaroni
- 3 cups cheddar cheese
- 2 cups Pepper Jack cheese
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese
- 4 garlic cloves finely minced
- 1/2 jalapeno deseeded and diced
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
Ritz Cracker Topping
- 2 cups ritz crackers crushed
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup cheddar cheese
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt generously.
- While the water boils, melt 4 tbsp of butter in a skillet and cook the fresh garlic and jalapeño for 30 seconds. Add the all-purpose flour and whisk over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.
- Add the cold whole milk and whisk to remove any lumps. Cook over medium-high heat until the sauce thickens. This should take about 20 minutes. Make sure to stir frequently. While the sauce is thickening, cook the pasta according to packaging instructions.
- Once the sauce thickens, turn off the heat. Stir in the 3 different kinds of cheese, dijon mustard, cayenne pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Season the cheese sauce with salt and pepper.
- When the pasta is almost done cooking, drain it and add it to the cheese sauce. Place the macaroni and cheese sauce in a greased casserole dish and top it off with the ritz cracker topping.
- In a large bowl, combine the crushed ritz crackers and 4 tbsp unsalted melted butter. Top the mac and cheese with the cracker mixture. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Wait 10 minutes to cool, and enjoy!
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