50+ Macaroni and Cheese Topping Ideas Plus 4 Great Recipes

Updated on March 10, 2020
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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? | Source

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

4 Great Recipes

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!

Do you prefer orange or white cheddar for your mac and cheese?

See results

What are your favorite mac and cheese toppings?

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    • profile image

      Shanna 

      5 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Hot Fries

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 

      7 years ago

      Mac & Cheese is great any way

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      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 profile image

      KayeSI 

      7 years ago

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

    • profile image

      AshleySears LM 

      8 years ago

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

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 

      8 years ago from Australia

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

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 

      8 years ago from Australia

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

    • Barkely profile image

      Barkely 

      8 years ago

      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...

    • profile image

      hexadtraining 

      8 years ago

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

    • MarcoG profile image

      Marc 

      8 years ago from Edinburgh

      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 profile image

      sammyaddams lm 

      8 years ago

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

    • lollyj lm profile image

      Laurel Johnson 

      8 years ago from Washington KS

      yum yum yum!! Love that mac and cheese!

    • profile image

      MelonyVaughan 

      8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      aquarian_insight 

      8 years ago

      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 profile image

      Pam Irie 

      8 years ago from Land of Aloha

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

    • profile image

      TravelingRae 

      8 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

      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*

    • profile image

      seopintar 

      8 years ago

      more ideas and more delicious. nice lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

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

    • retta719 profile image

      Loretta 

      8 years ago from United States

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

    • shahedashaikh profile image

      shahedashaikh 

      8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      greenlivingsource 

      8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      governmentfunds 

      8 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      curlyhairspecialist 

      8 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Research_Analyst 

      8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      antiquestore 

      8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      careerjobcoach 

      8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      clouda9 lm 

      8 years ago

      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 profile image

      wheresthekarma 

      8 years ago

      Mmmmmmm that about sums it up!

    • profile image

      writer4 

      8 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      buttonhead lm 

      8 years ago

      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 profile image

      TTMall 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing these great resources.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 

      8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      VeseliDan 

      8 years ago

      All of these toppings sound delicious!

    • Bill Armstrong profile image

      Bill Armstrong 

      8 years ago from Valencia, California

      Great lens, gets my thumbs up

    • profile image

      robyn26 

      8 years ago

      love white cheddar

    • profile image

      DianeNassy 

      8 years ago

      Never heard of waffled Mac N Cheese. Interesting!

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 

      8 years ago

      Fresh tomatoes and cauliflower!

    • Cold0911 profile image

      Cold0911 

      8 years ago

      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!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      8 years ago

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

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