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Ditch the Box Mac and Cheese with These 10 Recipes

A red casserole dish full of mac and cheese.
Elena Shashkina/Shutterstock

Indulging in a warm bowl of creamy, cheesy macaroni noodles is exceptionally comforting, especially on a chilly day. We found 10 of our favorite recipes to share with you.

Whether you’re dealing with a time crunch, or just looking for a new way to serve this heart-warming dish to your family, we’ve got something outstanding for you.

We have something healthy, something spicy, and, yes, even a breakfast version of this delicious meal. So, sit back and get ready to drool, because these recipes are downright delightful!

Best Overall: Creamy Baked Mac and Cheese

A bowl filled with baked macaroni and cheese.
The Chunky Chef

Nothing beats the simplicity of traditional baked macaroni and cheese, which is why the Chunky Chef made it to the top of our list. This recipe is as creamy and cheesy as it gets, and the entire family will devour it.

Make a batch this week to test it out. If you get thumbs up all around, you can make it as a holiday side dish.

Get the Recipe: The Chunky Chef

Healthiest: Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

A spoon sticking in a casserole dish full of mac and cheese.
Chocolate Covered Katie

Is there a healthy version of mac and cheese? When you replace half your macaroni elbows with cauliflower florets, yes, there is! If you substitute carb-filled noodles with a healthy vegetable, you replace those calories with healthy, nutrient-dense calories.

Yes, there’s still cheese and milk, but, seriously, it’s macaroni and cheese. If you have dietary restrictions, and this recipe meets your requirements, try this yummy, nutritious rendition.

Get the Recipe: Chocolate Covered Katie

Best Gourmet: Lobster Mac and Cheese

A bowl of creamy lobster mac and cheese.
Food Network

Subtly sweet and fresh lobster added to a homemade pot of macaroni and cheese makes for an elegant, spectacular meal. If you want to show someone how much you love them, this dish is perfect!

Fresh lobster might not be as prevalent in your neck of the woods, and if that’s the case, add some cooked shrimp instead. All of these ingredients create a delicious gourmet meal.

Get the Recipe: Food Network

Best Microwavable: Five-Minute Mac and Cheese

A coffee mug filled with five-minute mac and cheese.
Tasty

When you don’t have much time, and you’ve got hungry little ones shrieking for lunch, this is an excellent alternative to boxed mac. Throw your cooked noodles in a microwave-safe bowl, and then add some milk and cheese.

Zap it in the microwave for a few minutes and presto! You’ve got a quick and easy lunch. Add a little salt and pepper for extra flavor.

Get the Recipe: Tasty

Best Combo Mac: Pizza-Style Skillet Mac and Cheese

A cast-iron skillet filled with pizza mac and cheese next to a small bowl of pizza mac and cheese.
Well Floured

Pizza and mac and cheese are two meals most kids love—some won’t eat anything else. So, the author of this recipe combined the two! It’s been a huge hit in many homes, and now it’s time to share the love.

The rich cheese and tomato sauces with some pepperoni create a no-fuss dinner your family will treasure.

Get the Recipe: Well Floured

Best Veggie Option: Creamy Broccoli Mac and Cheese

A skillet full of broccoli mac and cheese.
Damn Delicious

Broccoli and cheese are a popular duo, so why not add some noodles? This creamy broccoli mac and cheese has ingredients like minced shallot, Dijon mustard, and cracked black pepper, which add to the wow factor.

All the ingredients complement each other so well, you’ll love how the flavor dances in your mouth.

Get the Recipe: Damn Delicious

Best for Meat Lovers: Steak and Cheddar Mac and Cheese

A red skillet filled with steak and cheddar mac and cheese, with a wooden spoon diving in.
Pinch of Yum

If you prefer some meat in your meal, we’ve found a great recipe for you! Steak and Cheddar Mac is one of those all-in-one meals you won’t be able to get enough of. This recipe calls for a few bits of seared steak cooked in brown butter and mixed in a creamy garlic and herb sauce.

Of course, we can’t leave out everyone’s favorite sharp cheddar to make for a truly velvety meal. All you need is a glass of your favorite red wine, and you should be good to go.

Get the Recipe: Pinch of Yum

Best with a Kick: Baked Jalapeno Popper Mac and Cheese

A casserole dish filled with Jalapeno and bacon mac and cheese.
The Chunky Chef

For a little extra spice, try this jalapeno and bacon macaroni recipe. It’s the perfect hybrid of two delicious foods many people love. The fresh jalapenos create that pow in your mouth, while the bacon and cheese sauce cool things down.

Cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, American cheese, and heavy cream make this meal as rich and creamy as it gets. Toasted Panko bread crumbs make the perfect crispy topping. Trust us—you’ll want seconds.

Get the Recipe: The Chunky Chef

Best for Brunch: Breakfast Macaroni and Cheese

A blue bowl filled with breakfast mac and cheese with orange juice on the side.
Food Network

We’ve found the ultimate brunch casserole! This morning-inspired macaroni and cheese is a match made in heaven for those who love all things breakfast.

Breakfast sausage, onion, bell pepper, and cream and cheddar cheese all come together to make a hearty baked dish. Don’t forget the crispy hash browns to top this late morning masterpiece.

Grab your fork and dig in!

Get the Recipe: Food Network

Seafood Mac and Cheese

A casserole dish filled with shrimp and crab mac and cheese.
The Blond Cook

If you’re a crab and shrimp lover, you’ll admire this delicious macaroni and cheese recipe. The three-cheese sauce, combined with lump crab and freshly sautéed shrimp, make the perfect blend.

Panko bread crumbs provide the perfect crunchy finish and texture. Enjoy this with a glass of white wine.

Get the Recipe: The Blond Cook

Emilee Unterkoefler Emilee Unterkoefler
Emilee Unterkoefler is a freelance food writer, hiking enthusiast, and mama with over ten years of experience working in the food industry. Read Full Bio »

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