This grown-up rendition of mac and cheese is ridiculously rich, creamy, and cheesy, just like the classic. But with a little more gusto in the form of some mild heat, thanks to the addition of green chiles and cumin. A smattering of crushed tortilla chips rather than bread crumbs on top brings the Southwestern theme to completion. Comfort food indulgence taken to the next level.–Angie Zoobkoff

A person scooping a spoonful of green chile macaroni and cheese from a bowl.

Green Chile Macaroni and Cheese

5 / 3 votes
For this green chile macaroni and cheese, Lisa Fain mixes Anaheim peppers, Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, onions, cream, spices, snd a topping of finely crushed tortilla chips.
David Leite
CuisineTex Mex
Servings8 servings
Calories582 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time45 minutes


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 Anaheim chiles (about 1 lb | 454 g)*, roasted, peeled, seeded, and finely diced, or more or less to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces white Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish


  • Bring a large of salted water to a boil and add the macaroni. Cook according to the package directions until al dente, then drain the pasta.
  • Meanwhile, in a large, broiler-safe skillet set over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chiles and cook for 30 seconds more. Add the pasta, cream, half the Monterey Jack, and half the Cheddar. Cook, stirring, until the cheeses have melted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the salt, cumin, and cayenne, and then taste and adjust the seasonings if desired.
  • Position an oven rack 6 inches (15 cm) from the upper heating element and preheat the broiler.
  • Sprinkle the macaroni with the remaining Monterey Jack and Cheddar and then with the crushed tortilla chips. Place the skillet under the broiler and cook until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling, 1 to 2 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve warm.


*What can I substitute for Anaheim peppers? 
The best substitutes are poblano and cubanelle peppers. In a pinch, bell peppers may even work but won’t give you the heat you might be seeking. 
Queso Cookbook

Adapted From


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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 582 kcalCarbohydrates: 37 gProtein: 20 gFat: 40 gSaturated Fat: 23 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 120 mgSodium: 740 mgFiber: 4 gSugar: 3 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2017 Lisa Fain. Photo © 2017 Aubrie Pick. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

We made this green chile macaroni and cheese for a weekend lunch when my adult daughter was visiting. I would put her and my husband in the category of macaroni and cheese connoisseurs, and they loved it!

This dish is just loaded with cheese, which becomes part of the super creamy sauce. The addition of garlic, cumin, cayenne, and peppers provides a gentle counterpoint of heat to the sweetness from the onions and creaminess from the sauce. Chips add a very nice crunch.

This is not a macaroni and cheese for everyone. This is a spicy mac and cheese for people like me who love their food spicy. Anaheim peppers are usually fairly mild; in the large quantities used in this recipe, the heat can sneak up on you.

I roasted my own peppers, adding no seasoning or oils. Because the peppers need to be cooled after roasting and before handling, it adds to the time for the recipe.

This is a creamy, delicious, spicy green chile macaroni and cheese! Definitely, a recipe worth a try that can easily be adjusted to an individual’s affinity for heat and spice. I used a 12-ounce bag of Anaheim peppers but will reduce the amount by 1/4 or 1/2 next time I make this.

We ate this as a main dish with a side salad, but my husband and I agreed it would be an excellent side to grilled meat or BBQ burgers. The crushed chips on the top were a nice textural addition. Serve with a cold Mexican beer!

The flavor is SO good—the spices are perfect, I especially loved the roasted peppers, and the crisp tortillas chips on top are a stroke of genius. This spicy green chile macaroni and cheese is good—so good.

But honestly? It’s just too much—too much cheese, too much cream. I would make this again and adjust the ratio either way—more macaroni for more people or less milk and cheese for less grease-covered laundry. Don’t get me wrong—we ate all of it.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    So good! Cant believe I never thought of chips for the topping. Had to use penne since that’s what I had.

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe reminded me to make mac and cheese over the weekend, but since I live in New Mexico I used Hatch green chiles and cut the chile content by 1/2—-Anaheim’s just don’t cut it for us here in Santa Fe! In addition, I switched out the Monterey Jack cheese, which I generally think of as flavorless, to Gruyere, a great melting cheese with lots of flavor. And because I think of bacon as a food group, I grumbled three strips of crispy bacon over the top with the tortilla chips. I also served it with pico de gallo on the side. We had cream of red pepper soup in cups and a glass of Cote du Rhone to complete the lunch. Don’t think dinner will be necessary. This mac and cheese is very good and I consider the recipe a keeper—nd so easy.

    1. Diane, thanks for this. I always love to read about your changes and additions. They add so much to the site for our readers!