6 Mac and Cheese Dishes We're Dreaming About



Food Stylist: Stephana Bottom Prop Stylist: Marcus Hay

Photo by: Con Poulos

Con Poulos

When we’re struggling to get through the grayness of the season, more often than not, our thoughts turn to dinner. And on these wearying days, happiness looks a lot like a bowl of warm, stick-to-your-ribs mac and cheese. For all the dreamers with visions of cheesy pasta dancing in their heads, here are 6 versions worth fantasizing about.

Food Network Magazine’s recipe takes all the traditional elements of a baked macaroni and cheese dish and does one better. To start, a classic butter-and-flour roux takes a spicy turn with hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard powder and cayenne pepper. On the ooey-gooey side of things are four different cheeses: a blend of white American, sharp yellow cheddar and Havarti in the sauce; and grated Parmesan in the topping. To finish, the recipe calls for switching up breadcrumbs in the topping with crushed butter crackers.

Photo by: Brian Kennedy ©(C) 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Brian Kennedy, (C) 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

No need to preheat the oven for this stovetop mac and cheese recipe – serve it hot off the burners. The dish also leaves out a roux, instead letting cream cheese work to bind the cheese sauce and add richness. Tip: Use reserved pasta water to thin the sauce as needed.

Photo by: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Brian Kennedy, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Just as it does in spaghetti carbonara, the addition of bacon gives mac and cheese an extra layer of crispy texture and savory flavor. As a bonus, reserved bacon fat gets incorporated into the panko breadcrumb topping.

If you haven’t already discovered the wonders of cooking with beer, this mac and cheese dish is one reason to get started. On top of the beer, Damaris Phillips adds a few special ingredients to the mix: harissa, “sharp, sharp, sharp, extra-sharp” cheddar, and smoked Gouda because “smoke and macaroni and cheese are best friends,” she says.

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Another dish we owe to the South is this Baked Mac and Cheese, which proves it’s possible to do mac and cheese right with only five ingredients. In place of a roux, an egg custard helps to add creaminess and bind the cheesy sauce to the noodles.

Geoffrey Zakarian's Truffled Mushroom and Cheesy Macaroni Casserole is seen on the set of Food Network's The Kitchen, Season 7.

Photo by: Jason DeCrow ©2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Jason DeCrow, 2015, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Geoffrey Zakarian’s recipe takes the dish in a sumptuous direction by adding truffle oil to the cheese sauce. Canned cream of mushroom soup fills in for the richness of a roux and adds an extra layer of earthy mushroom flavor.

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