5 Unique Recipes That Prove Mac and Cheese Is the Ultimate Comfort Food

They're ultra-creamy and outrageously cheesy!

Macaroni and cheese will always have a special place in my heart not because of some old, passed-down family recipe, but because it was what my grandmother made for me the very first time my heart was broken. I was in the first grade and I had just received the news that my childhood crush — we’ll refer to him as "Freddie" — was moving to Florida at the end of the school year.

To say that I was devastated would be an understatement. I couldn’t even bring myself to play with my Beanie Babies, which if you were six in 1998, was a pretty big deal. I was convinced the world was ending, and that my little heart would never, ever recover. And that’s when I got a phone call from my grandma, asking me to come over.

Taking my sorrows with me in my backpack, I walked up to the house next door and rang the doorbell. A few seconds later, standing on the other side of the door, was my grandma with a steaming bowl of freshly made mac and cheese at the ready.

Suffice to say, "Freddie" was old news by my third bite. There was just something about the creamy-dreamy combo of melted cheddar cheese and elbow pasta that made me instantly feel better. Mac and cheese has been my cure-all ever since.

Whether you’re dealing with your own "Freddie" situation or want to change up your weeknight dinner plan, macaroni and cheese is a solid solution. Still not convinced? These five creative takes on mac and cheese are sure to turn you into a believer.

Whether you decide to make it for Sunday brunch or as a midnight snack, this eggy mac and cheese creation is #comfortfoodgoals. Simply spread warm mac and cheese in a skillet and, using the back of a spoon, create small wells for your eggs. Bake for 10 minutes and dig right in. Oh, and make sure to have your phone handy when you start eating — something tells us you'll want to document that runny yolk.

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER MAC AND CHEESE,

Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

What happens when you combine zingy hot sauce with the decadent creaminess of macaroni and cheese? The answer: this mouthwatering baked mac and cheese casserole. Though it's completely free of meat, this incredible dish is loaded with hot sauce-infused cauliflower to give you a fiery punch of flavor in every bite. To make the golden crunchy top, combine panko, blue cheese and parsley and generously sprinkle all over before baking.

MACARONI_CHEESE_SOUP_22.tif

MACARONI_CHEESE_SOUP_22.tif

Food stylist: Jamie Kimm Prop stylist: Marina Malchin

Photo by: Antonis Achilleos

Antonis Achilleos

This Parmesan and Cheddar soup may be unlike anything you've ever had before, but it's sure to become one of your go-to favorites the next you're craving something cheesy. To give your velvety soup additional color and texture, arrange slices of plum tomatoes and baguette bread on a sheet pan and bake until golden brown. When serving, place a slice of each on top of your bowls of soup — it's like a deconstructed grilled cheese sandwich, but so much better!

Ree Drummond adds chopped lobster tails to her buttery macaroni and cheese to make it ultra-indulgent. To form the creamy sauce, follow Ree's lead and mix half-and-half, Parmesan, Cheddar, fontina, goat cheese, butter and milk. It's so delectable, we wouldn't judge if you stole a few spoonfuls before serving.

FNK_ MacaroniAndCheesePancakes_H

FNK_ MacaroniAndCheesePancakes_H

Food Network Kitchen’s Macaroni and Cheese Pancakes, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Renee Comet

Renee Comet

If you ever found yourself unsure of what to do with leftover mac and cheese, these pancakes are for you! To make these savory flapjacks, stir mac and cheese leftovers into prepared pancake batter, scooping the mixture onto a hot skillet once combined. Next, sprinkle some Cheddar cheese onto each round and flip over until they are golden brown, and the cheese is melted. Serve in stacks of three and drizzle with hot sauce-infused maple syrup for additional boldness.

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