Macaroni cheese, how I love thee!

Macaroni and cheese has to be one of my favorite foods on the planet. There's something so comforting about some hot cheese and pasta. It makes me feel young again. However, as an adult I want a little upgrade. Enter stage left: habanero macaroni and cheese!

I'm sharing this recipe right now because we're heading into fall and this is THE fall macaroni and cheese. Why? The bit of heat the habanero cheddar brings to this dish will literally warm you up on a hot day.

Look, I've been working on perfecting this recipe for weeks now. Dave has to be so tired of macaroni and cheese right now. I wanted to try different ratios and cheeses to find that perfect heat balance and I've done it. As far as I'm concerned, this is the perfect macaroni and cheese. The only thing that could improve it is some Colorado green chili, but that's a whole world of work.

I'm going to walk you through the process quickly. I just have a few thoughts. Please feel free to scroll away and skip this if you're feeling mac and cheese confidence.

Ok, this is wicked simple. After you've made this once and know the process, I swear you can do the entire thing start to finish in 20 minutes.

You'll want to start by getting your water boiling (don't forget to add some salt and olive oil to your water) and preparing your ingredients. You want to shred your cheeses first. I use 1 cup habanero cheddar, 1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar and 1/2 cup parmesan. If you're not into spicy or you are feeding kids, I would recommend 1 cup extra sharp cheddar, 1/2 cup parmesan and 1/2 cup swiss. I also like to mise en place everything for my sauce. That means "putting in place" in French. It just means to separate each ingredients into little bowls so each step is pre-prepared.

Your pasta water should be boiling, so dump your pasta of choice in your pot and set your timer to cook it al dente. It may cook a little extra when you add the sauce, so you don't want to overcook it. No one likes overcooked pasta anyway. Yuck. While your pasta is cooking, you'll make your sauce. Starting by melting your butter in a saucepan on low medium heat and then you're going to make a roux. A roux is another French term. It's when you cook a flour and a fat together to thicken a sauce. So, you'll add your flour, mix until fully integrated (see photo below), then quickly mix in your salt and pepper. Then we're going to slowly add the whole milk. You want to keep whisking while you slowly pour, making sure it's fully mixed. Then you'll want to leave your sauce to thicken a little. It just needs to be a little heavier. Keep whisking periodically until this happens. You'll then remove your sauce from heat and slowly whisk your cheese into your sauce. Once it's all added and whisked until smooth, give it a quick taste and see if it needs any seasoning. The parmesan usually gives it plenty of that salty taste, but I would check anyway. Red chili powder is also a great addition.

Your pasta is probably done right about now. You're going to strain and add it back to your pot with the sauce. Turn the heat to low and mix until fully mixed. Then it's time to serve! I like to add some of the bagged Mexican cheese to the top. I love the way it melts once you mix your bowl. It's a great wow factor. If you're a person who loves to add a bit of crunch, try broken up Ritz crackers.

Super easy. Seriously, so easy. If it sounds hard just do it and I swear it's hard to mess up. You're going to love it. :)


-pasta of choice - I prefer macaroni or cavatappi

-1 cup habanero cheddar

-1/2 cup parmesan

-1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar

-1/4 cup butter

-1/4 cup flour

-dash of salt and pepper

-2 cups whole milk

-Mexican cheese to top

  1. Boil the water with salt and olive oil.
  2. Shred your cheeses and mise en place your sauce ingredients while the water comes to a boil.
  3. Add your pasta to the water and cook until al dente.
  4. While your pasta cooks, melt the butter in a saucepan at medium low heat. Once melted, add the flour to make a roux. Then add the salt and pepper. Slowly integrate the milk, whisking continuously. Let your sauce thicken for a few minutes. Remove from heat and slowly add your cheeses. Whisk until fully integrated.
  5. Strain your pasta and add back to the pot with your sauce. Put your pot on low heat until you've fully mixed your pasta and sauce. Then you're all done!
  6. Serve with Mexican cheese topping.