Kicked Up Sausage Macaroni and Cheese

Total Time:
1 hr 5 min
35 min
30 min

4 to 6 servings

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 1 pound homemade-style spicy pork sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
  • 4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 3 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (8 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter a large casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain well.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, stirring, until browned and the fat is rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan. Add the onions, bell peppers, and 1 teaspoon of the Essence, and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and anise seeds, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.

Melt the remaining stick of butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook over medium heat until thick, 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the flour brown. Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking constantly, until thick and smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of the cheese, and stir well. Add the noodles, cooked sausage and vegetables, and stir well to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup of cheese with the breadcrumbs and remaining 2 teaspoons of Essence. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Essence (Emeril's Creole Seasoning):

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Yield: about 2/3 cup

Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch. Published by William and Morrow, 1993.

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    Great recipe! I have made this several times before but this time I timed by 5 & it still turned out great:
    This was so good I had it for breakfast the next day! It's perfect! If you use unsalted butter you will need to add all of the salt. I didn't change a thing!
    Can't go wrong with an Emeril recipe! This is the best mac n' cheese I've ever made, and I've made many of the 'adult' varieties. This one is fairly quick and easy and didn't make a dent in my wallet. As a bonus, everybody in my family of 6 loved it, including my toddler! Yum, Yum, Yum!!
    I started making this a couple years ago after my dad made it for many years, no need to change a thing. Sometimes the sauce is a bit runny and I cut back the milk a bit. Only change I make is 1/2 cheddar 1/2 Italian 4 cheese blend. Awesome leftover too!
    What a great recipe! Traditional mac and cheese but with some personality...just how I like it. I get compliments every time I make this. On the nights I'm pressed for time, I skip last step and serve it without baking the mac and cheese with the bread crumbs and last cup of cheese. Sometimes I keep the sauce separate and just scoop it onto the pasta so I can have it all week long without having overly soggy noodles. Five stars all the way! Well worth the effort.
    Wow, wow, wow! Was never a mac & cheese lover until I made this recipe. It was absolutely fabulous:-)!
    This is absolutely the best mac and cheese I have ever tasted. It takes a little extra time but well worth it. I make a large dish because my family actually enjoys it as leftovers too. I serve this with asparagus done in the oven with some essence sprinkled over it. Gives the asparagus a nice bite to it. I highly recommend the mac and cheese and remember to make extra.
    This dish was spicy and full of flavor.It was pure deliciousness. Adding some extra olive oil and some half & half makes the meal creamy.
    I've made this dish multiple times and for all sorts of people and they all agree that this is the best mac and cheese ever! I substituted red peppers for the green since they look and taste better in my opinion and kept everything else. Cooking times varied depending on what stove I used to cook the flour (gas vs. electric) but it turned out great every time. Best part was, if there were leftovers, it still tasted great, if not better!

    No substitutions are needed, I'm ntot a fan of peppers so I left them out. this recipe is excellent and better the next day...made this on numerous occasions. Best when coming home after a hard nights work at the bars ;)
    Very good. the family likes things on the mild side. dropped the "essence" and replaced with "old bay"
    This recipe would have been great except we followed the advice from other reviewers and left out the salt. If you are using unsalted butter in the recipe, add the extra salt. It really does need it. Aside from the decided lack of salt, the cheese sauce turned out lovely. The children liked the addition of the sausage.
    WOW!! This was yummy! I started this recipe too late in the evening, and instead of baking in the oven, I served into bowls & put additional cheddar cheese on top (omitted breadcrumbs). It was still AWESOME!! I would definitely recommend 4 total cups of milk AND chopped up tomatoes, and no anise seeds, bell peppers, or salt necessary (add salt afterwards if still needed). I WILL make this again. Thanks Emeril!
    This is an awesome mac and cheese recipe and the first home made one i've ever tried. The sausage and onions add something really special to it.
    I just made this for dinner tonight & wow! The flavor is GREAT & it came out very rich & creamy. I made a few adjustments however. I used hot chicken sausage & didn't use the green pepper (my husband doesn't like them). I also added more milk (about 4C) & used panko breadcrumbs w/parm. for topping. My husband can't stop raving about it!
    I made this with Turkey Italian Sausage, home made "Essence" minus the onion powder, and Monterey Jack + Sharp Cheddar combo and it was stupendous! Great recipe to experiment with....
    I liked it but before I made it the first time I checked the reviews. I eliminated the salt, a good move, I added an additional cup of milk, could use a little more and decided to use sweet Italian sausage instead of hot. I felt that the Essence would provide enough heat and it did.
    If you eliminate the breadcrumbs on the top it will brown very nicely which is what you would expect with a Macaroni and Cheese dish.
    Will make it again.
    This is an exceptional macaroni and cheese recipe. I did make a few substitutions and was very happy with the outcome. I used spicy chicken sausage, skim milk instead of whole, added some shredded zucchini, and used lower fat cheddar and added some parmesan . Yum!
    I tried this recipe and followed it exactly. It was good and spicy, but VERY salty. I plan to make it again with no salt, more cheese and more pasta. Also, I probably won't use the bread crumbs on the top unless I melt some butter with them so that it isn't just powder on the top. (I used pre shredded cheese, and although it was fresh the top of the casserole was dry.)
    Last Friday I was looking for the ultimate comfort dish. My boyfriend had had a rough week and been at a funeral all day, it was cold, it was rainy ? you get the picture. I immediately thought of macaroni and cheese, but was visioning the kind with cherry tomatoes that exploded upon my bite, and a top that was crusty with breadcrumbs, but an inside that was creamy and full of flavor. Though I find most recipes for mac & cheese bland (despite multiple types of cheese) and greasy, I figured Emeril would be my best source in this case, and boy, he delivered in a BIG way.

    This recipe was everything that I was hoping for. Crusty on top, soft and creamy on the inside, not greasy in the slightest, full of flavor, and I loved the spicy kick. I was actually shocked that only one type of cheese (in this case, sharp cheddar) would produce such a result. Of course we made a few minor adjustments. We left out the anise seeds, substitute andouille turkey sausage for the spicy pork sausage, used panko crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs, and used an entire box of wheel-shaped pasta, instead of the ? lb. the recipe called for. Even with the extra pasta, the cheesy mixture was still chock full of flavor. We also divided the mixture into two smaller casserole dishes and had plenty of leftovers (which proved to be just as great). Next time I might substitute red pepper for the green pepper, but otherwise, I am thrilled to add this recipe to my repertoire.
    This was the best mac and cheese ever! It was so good that my sister-in-law (who LOATHES mac & cheese) dared to try it and absolutely LOVED it! She served herself seconds! Within a week's time, I've made the dish twice! And I'll be having it again VERY soon!
    Didn't have anise or peppers or cayenne, and without these, mine probably came out much more bland, but was still delicious and we loved it. I used spicy sage sausage (store bought) which was perfect, and was nervous as all I had was angel hair, but still, again, delicious! Good comfort food during the winter.
    This was a nice variation on the original. Very heart & satisfying comfort food. Everyone in my family enjoyed it.
    I try to find excuses to make this as much as I can! It is absolutely delicious, but beware of all those calories. :)
    My family really liked this casserole. We did not use as much cayenne pepper as the recipe calls for--didn't add the 1/8 tsp. Glad I didn't because it was pretty spicy to me.
    Absolutely the best tasting Mac and cheese
    Good idea, creamy, but not "kicked up"
    Easy to prepare. I left out the anise seeds because I don't like that flavor and the peppers because I hate them. I baked a small batch just to see how it would come out which was very dry. I added an additional cup of milk to the large batch and it came out very creamy. I would add more cheese and diced tomatoes. Overall a very yummy meal!
    Emeril, you put the best adult touch on the oldest kids meal in the book. You da man!!!
    Did not have any anise seeds but turned out spectacular. Takes a little time to make, but definitely worth it in the end. Very flavorful!
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    Kicked Up Mac and Cheese

    Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse