Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

What can you do that’s new to mac and cheese? What about adding 1.) red pepper flakes, 2.) hot sauce, 3.) cayenne pepper, and 4.) jalepeño pepper? This spicy macaroni and cheese is creamy, rich, and spicy.

Blue casserole of spicy macaroni and cheese with breadcrumbs on top and sliced of jalapeno peppers

Kick this classic comfort food up a notch by spiking it with jalapeños, hot sauce, pepper flakes, and cayenne. Although if you’re the spice-averse type, you can cut back or eliminate any or all of these elements without sacrificing any rich, cheesy awesomeness.–Angie Zoobkoff

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 30 M
  • 1 H
  • Serves 8
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Prepare the oven and pan

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Butter a 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) ovenproof casserole or baking dish.

Prepare the penne

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water, add the penne, and cook until al dente, according to the package directions. Drain well and return to the pot.

Make the sauce

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir in the garlic and chopped jalapeños and cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds. Add the flour and cook, stirring almost constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes.

While whisking constantly, slowly pour in the milk and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 2 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Mix the pasta

Add 1 cup of the cheese, the mustard powder, hot sauce, and red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the drained pasta and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish.

Bake and serve the pasta

In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cayenne, and 1 cup of cheese. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cheesy pasta. Bake until bubbling and golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes.

Top with sliced jalapeños and serve immediately.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This spicy macaroni and cheese is SO good! I love macaroni and cheese and just could not wait to try this one out. It is so cheesy and creamy—the addition of the jalapenos and a few other spices gives it just enough of a kick to elevate it to something out of the ordinary. I was unable to get fresh jalapenos at this time of the year, as I live in a small town that is completely encapsulated in ice until early April. So I substituted pickled jalapenos with little trouble; the heat and flavor didn't really seem to be compromised. I will definitely be making this again, most certainly before the sun comes back. The mild heat and sharpness of the cheese make this a perfect winter comfort food.

I made this spicy macaroni and cheese on Valentine’s evening for my sweetie and myself. He was feeling a little ill with a cold and I was ambitious! He came home and was so surprised by the kind of spicy scent in the air. To say my hubby loves his spicy food would be an understatement. He was stoked I was making something with some spice! And honestly this dish turned out fantastic! The decadent sauce had just the right amount of spice for me because I am not a huge fan but even pleased my spicy loving husband. Which is a rare feat. I have never made homemade mac and cheese with Gruyere cheese before and let me tell you, I will be doing that again. It was fantastic. Everything about this dish was perfect. The recipe was perfect. I have absolutely no corrections. It was easy to follow and ended with a delicious perfect product! This has been my favorite recipe test recipe by far. Just such a comforting and delicious meal!

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  1. This spicy macaroni and cheese is outstanding! Macaroni and cheese is winter regular on our table. My family considers themselves connoisseurs of the dish. We have had many successful macaroni and cheese dishes that had different types and combinations of cheeses, mixed with shrimp, lobster, or buffalo chicken and with a combination of vegetables like broccoli and tomatoes. It’s easy enough to make as a weeknight dish, but exciting enough to serve to company, which I did, and served it with grilled ribeye steaks and salad. My company had a variety of tolerance to spice. While I love my food extra spicy, there is a point where it can ruin the appreciation and distinction of other flavors. We used one large jalapeno and the spice was not too overwhelming for mild palates and still had a nice kick. As with other macaroni and cheese dishes, it could be made a bit in advance and then baked to accommodate the timing of your meal. The only bread I had on hand were onion rolls, and wow, they made a great topping!

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