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50+ Macaroni and Cheese Topping Ideas Plus 4 Great Recipes

Sadie has been creating content for herself and others for 10 years. She loves writing about animals, travel, food, and parenting.

Are you looking for some mac and cheese inspiration?

Are you looking for some mac and cheese inspiration?

How Many Ways Can You Eat Macaroni and Cheese?

Buttery, cheesy, yummy . . . one of my favorite guilty pleasure foods is macaroni and cheese.

When I first wrote this article, I had only 25 topping ideas, but this list has quickly grown to over 50! Please feel free to add your favorites to the comments section below so that I can continue to update this article over time.

Spoiler alert: My personal favorite macaroni and cheese ever is this bacon mac and cheese!

Meat and Seafood Toppings

Tuna

Bacon crumbles

Fried chicken pieces

Diced ham

Turkey bacon

Lobster

Grilled chicken

Hot dogs

Shrimp

Shredded pork

Kielbasa

Roast beef slices

Vegetable and Vegetarian Toppings

Broccoli

Carrot

Squash/zucchini

Cauliflower

Mushroom

Grilled onions

Tomato

Roasted red peppers

Baby corn

Bamboo shoots

Bean sprouts

Scallions

Tofu

Beans

Shredded spinach

Herbs, Seasonings, and Sauces

Sea salt

Curry powder

Cilantro

Garlic salt

Cayenne pepper

Parsley

Black pepper

Taco seasoning

Basil

White pepper

Mustard

Tarragon

Chili flakes

Ketchup

Soy sauce

Truffle oil

Worcestershire sauce

Teriyaki sauce

Toasted sesame oil

Ranch dressing

Hot sauce

Salsa

Chilies or jalapeños

Sriracha

Cheeses and More Dairy

More cheddar!

Smoked gouda

Gruyère

Parmesan

Fontina

Sour cream

Pepper Jack

Gorgonzola

Butter

Other Toppings

Bread crumbs

Almonds

Pine nuts

Crumbled Cheez-Its

Crumbled tortilla chips

Crumbled potato chips

Oyster crackers

Pickle chips

Olives

1. Best-Ever Mac and Cheese

You've got your favorite toppings all picked out, but what kind of mac and cheese are you going to put them on? How about this one? I think it's one of the best I've ever tasted.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound uncooked shell noodles
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 4 cups whole milk or half-and-half
  • 1 pound shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (for the topping)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Cook the noodles on the stovetop.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat so that it doesn't burn.
  4. Stir in mustard, Worcestershire sauce, flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
  5. Cook over low-medium heat, stirring, until the mixture is smooth.
  6. Remove the pan from the burner and stir in the milk.
  7. Return the pan to the burner and heat to boiling, while stirring. Boil and stir for 1 minute as the mixture thickens.
  8. Stir in the cheese.
  9. Cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted.
  10. Drain the noodles and stir them into the cheese sauce.
  11. Pour the noodle-cheese mixture into a 4-quart casserole dish.
  12. Make the topping: Stir together bread crumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle the topping over the top of the macaroni and cheese.
  13. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the bread crumbs are toasted.

2. Carrot Macaroni and Cheese

This recipe features the bright orange flecks of carrot, as well as the bright citrus of orange.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 navel orange, zested and juiced (zest removed in strips with a vegetable peeler)
  • Salt
  • 3 cups penne rigate
  • 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • Freshly ground white pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a saucepan, combine the carrots, zest, juice, and 1/4 cup of water. Add salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Cover and simmer over low to medium heat until the carrots are completely soft. This will take about 25 minutes.
  4. Discard the zest. Pour the carrots and any liquid into a blender and puree until smooth.
  5. In a large saucepan of boiling water, add salt and cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, but save 1 cup of the cooking water.
  6. Return the pasta back into the pot and add the reserved water and the carrot puree. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
  7. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese and cook, while stirring, until creamy. This will take about 3 minutes. Add the tarragon, stirring, and season with salt and white pepper.
  8. Pour the pasta into a baking dish and cover with the remaining 1/4 cheese.
  9. Bake for about 20 minutes. It's best to let this one sit out for a few minutes before serving.

3. Light Macaroni and Cheese (Low Fat)

Lighten it up a bit with this lower-fat recipe. Sometimes, we want comfort food that's a little less heavy.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups uncooked penne pasta
  • 1 (12-ounce) carton low-fat (2%) cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cook the pasta, drain, and place it in a large bowl.
  3. Pour the cottage cheese into a food processor and process until it is smooth. Combine cottage cheese, cheddar, 1/4 cup Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Add this mixture to the pasta and stir.
  4. Spoon the mixture into a greased large glass or ceramic baking dish.
  5. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan, panko, and parsley in a bowl. Sprinkle this topping over the pasta mixture.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. Then, broil for 1 minute.

4. Waffled Macaroni and Cheese

Waffled mac and cheese? Yes, please! Did you know there's a website entirely devoted to explaining how various foods can be made into waffles, including mac and cheese? Here's a succinct version of the recipe.

Ingredients

  • Leftover mac and cheese
  • Egg
  • Flour
  • Bread crumbs
  • Grease of some sort

Directions

  1. Take the leftover mac and cheese and spread it into a thin layer on a baking sheet. Place it in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Cut out a waffle-sized slab of the mac. Dip it in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.
  3. Put it into your (well-greased) waffle maker for about 3 minutes.
  4. Be careful when you take it out; it's fragile!

What are your favorite mac and cheese toppings?

Shanna on February 12, 2020:

Was in a pinch, All I had on hand was two small bags of croutons. The kind you get w/ to go salads, Crushed them up and whola you have a topping. lol It was good, in a pinch.

anonymous on May 30, 2013:

Hot Fries

kabbalah lm on March 01, 2013:

Mac & Cheese is great any way

anonymous on November 01, 2012:

I like bacon bits and extra cheese on my macaroni and cheese. Mac-n-cheese is like pizza. If you add toppings it can only get better! :)

KayeSI on August 14, 2012:

Great recipes. Bet my grandkids would love to try several of these. Thanks.

AshleySears LM on April 30, 2012:

Every time I visit this page, it makes me hungry! Oh how I love Mac and cheese

AJ from Australia on April 11, 2012:

I like traditional macaroni and cheese - nothing fancy. In fact, so much so, I now know what is for dinner tonight. Blessings.

AJ from Australia on April 11, 2012:

I like traditional macaroni and cheese - nothing fancy. In fact, so much so, I now know what is for dinner tonight. Blessings.

Barkely on April 04, 2012:

My husband likes ketchup on his mac and cheese, my son likes his straight up:-) Unfortunately wheat doesn't agree with me, so it's not something I get to eat...

hexadtraining on April 02, 2012:

I like breadcrumbs. This crunchy topping takes that old fav to a whole new level for me!!!

Marc from Edinburgh on April 02, 2012:

I love Mac and Cheese with Chilli sauce...or Garlic Chikki sauce. In Scotland, they make it in a pie, that's really nice too...or in a toastie...nom nom nom x

sammyaddams lm on April 02, 2012:

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite dishes, love the ideas to change it up.

Laurel Johnson from Washington KS on April 01, 2012:

yum yum yum!! Love that mac and cheese!

MelonyVaughan on April 01, 2012:

Your lens has made me soooo hungry! I'm itching to try the waffled macaroni!

aquarian_insight on April 01, 2012:

I was born and brought up in England, so mac and cheese is not something we eat much here. However, my Italian partner recently asked me to try to make some as he was curious about it. So, I found a recipe online and tried it, I have to say that I actually quite enjoyed it, especially with a topping of breadcrumbs. Thank you American friends and thank YOU for this lens.

Pam Irie from Land of Aloha on April 01, 2012:

Any of the toppings on this page would be perfect for me. YUM!

TravelingRae on March 31, 2012:

I don't know if this is available in the US as I've never seen it there, but in Canada we have VH Asian Five Spice sauce and it is the perfect complement to mac and cheese. I like to dip a forkful into the sauce to get just a bit of zing.

anonymous on March 30, 2012:

My kids, as everyone else's too love Mac and Cheese. You've made this hub and great spot to come back for other recipes to dazzle the child's taste buds, well done here! *blessed by a squid angel*

seopintar on March 29, 2012:

more ideas and more delicious. nice lens

anonymous on March 29, 2012:

So many choices. Very hard to pick. Great lens!

Loretta from United States on March 29, 2012:

a dash of paprika always goes great on top of mac and cheese!

shahedashaikh on March 29, 2012:

Really ravenous lens made me hungry.i have bookmarked for the toppings.

greenlivingsource on March 28, 2012:

These are really cool toppings, I have not tried them all but the ones listed look good.

governmentfunds on March 28, 2012:

Have you tried stove top cooking? I tried it with a frying pan full of water, take it to a boil, then add the macaroni noodles, when ready drain off the water and then add the cheese, it melts pretty fast and the ingredients are done in like minutes without baking.

curlyhairspecialist on March 28, 2012:

My kids like it when I put hot dogs in their macaroni and cheese meal, at first I thought it would not taste good but it does.

Research_Analyst on March 28, 2012:

I like to add tomatoes to my pasta and cheese, it seems to add more flavor, you have some really great ideas here.

antiquestore on March 28, 2012:

I just made some mac and cheese last night, thanks for the recipes.

careerjobcoach on March 28, 2012:

This is one of my favorite dishes, thanks for all the amazing mac and cheese ideas.

clouda9 lm on March 28, 2012:

I could eat mac and cheese while standing on my head...that is how much I love it! And more cheese is always an option I use ;) *Blessed today for your yumilicious recipe shares and tasty addition ideas!

wheresthekarma on March 28, 2012:

Mmmmmmm that about sums it up!

writer4 on March 28, 2012:

Well this lens is truly an eyeopener. You certainly have some original toppings to put on macaroni. Don't know if I'd try one but they are original.

buttonhead lm on March 27, 2012:

Mmmm! These suggestions are amazing. I feel so boring, because I usually don't put anything in my mac and cheese -- except mac and cheese! But, I have to admit, sea salt sounds really good, and so goes bacon!

TTMall on March 27, 2012:

Thanks for sharing these great resources.

Rose Jones on March 26, 2012:

Angel blessed for great choices - especially the macaroni and cheese waffle.

VeseliDan on March 25, 2012:

All of these toppings sound delicious!

Bill Armstrong from Valencia, California on March 25, 2012:

Great lens, gets my thumbs up

robyn26 on March 25, 2012:

love white cheddar

DianeNassy on March 25, 2012:

Never heard of waffled Mac N Cheese. Interesting!

LouisaDembul on March 25, 2012:

Fresh tomatoes and cauliflower!

Cold0911 on March 25, 2012:

There is a restaurant here in St. Louis that serves only oven baked skillet mac with about 30 different varieties.

Only been once myself. I had a mac with provel cheese blend and salsiccia!

anonymous on March 25, 2012:

Tomatoes and a variety of cheeses. You have several idea I hadn't thought of trying before. Time to get cooking.