Happy National Mac and Cheese Day! July 14 officially marks the day we show reverence for our favorite childhood dish. Who can resist the potent power of a big batch of noodles smothered in a creamy, gooey bath of melted cheese? It may be the hot, sweaty, smack dab middle of summer, but that just goes to show that mac and cheese goodness is truly seasonless.
The only respectable way to spend the holiday is by indulging in some mouthwatering renditions of the classic meal. Mac and cheese purists might have to look the other way when it comes to some of these more experimental takes, but all will be satisfied once the bubbling cheese cools to an irresistible bite of noodle and cheese perfection no lover of mac and cheese will be able to refuse. Jazz things up with spicy jalapeños, sweet peaches, crispy bacon, and savory pumpkin. Go the extra mac and cheese mile by remixing the homemade staple with other fare like stuffed portobellos, tomato soup, Caprese, and Sloppy Joes. Bring in new cheesy flavors by way of gouda, feta, and gruyere. National Mac and Cheese Day comes but once a year, so serve up some hot cheesy gooey perfection with these 18 delicious ways to celebrate.
1. Jalapeño Broccoli Mac & Cheese
Turn up the heat with this spicy number by I Am A Food Blog. This "creamy, dreamy jalapeño broccoli mac and cheese" provides a healthy dose of broccoli so you can get your daily serving of veggies while indulging in decadent cheesy goodness.
2. Sloppy Joe Mac & Cheese
Combine two of your childhood comfort food favorites in this crowd pleasing concoction by Taste And Tell. The cheesy wonders of mac and cheese meet with the meaty heartiness of Sloppy Joes for the perfect marriage.
3. Caprese Mac & Cheese
Simply Delicious brings an Italian twist to this classic American dish with ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, and "milky, luscious fior di latte," or another variant of mozzarella.
4. Gouda Mac & Cheese with Peaches and Prosciutto
This creative take on mac and cheese is decidedly summery and "shockingly good." Shredded aged gouda is combined with the refreshing tang of yogurt as well as peaches and prosciutto, a combination which recipe creator My Name Is Yeh says is, "like Hilary Duff and Dan Humphrey and Vanessa from Gossip Girl before things got weird."
5. Apple Sauce Mac & Cheese with Apple Sausage
For some homey goodness, try this "slightly sweet hot mess of deliciousness" by Adventures In Cooking. Salty, creamy, and spiced with nutmeg, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cloves, the results are super comforting with extra apple sausage to give it added heartiness.
6. Beer Mac & Cheese
If you've ever wondered how beer cheese soup would taste with pasta, this is it. How Sweet It Is serves up this lethal combo that will make you say, "Hello heaven" after experiencing the other world cheesiness with that perfect crunch.
7. Butternut Squash and Bacon Mac and Cheese
You simply can't beat sweet butternut squash getting up close and personal with gooey savory gruyere. Brown Eyed Baker mixes the tasty duo with crisp bacon for even more tantalizing results.
8. Pesto Mac and Cheese with Corn and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Foodie Crush used shell pasta for this recipe because of how the "lush cheese sauce and "nuggets of corn and tomato get all up in the crevices of the noodle." This dish calls for aged gouda and smoked fontina for an "earthy touch," and complex flavor.
9. Gnocchi Mac and Cheese with Crispy Kale
Step up your mac and cheese game with pillowy gnocchi. How Sweet It Is gives the thick doughy pasta "a gigantic cheese bath" and elevates it with a generous serving of crunchy kale, "taking this old school casserole to another level."
10. Spicy Green Chile Mac and Cheese
A Spicy Perspective dreamt up this green chile take on mac and cheese. The real life results delivers intense flavor and heat that serves as the perfect pairing to sharp cheddar cheese.
11. Carnitas Mac and Cheese
Meat lovers can get their fix with this beefy meal by Cookies & Cups that's to be baked "until it's all bubbly and gorgeous."
12. Greek Style Mac and Cheese
Feta and creamy Havarti with dill make up the cheeses in this Greek-inspired concoction by Steamy Kitchen. Add in some juicy pitted kalamata olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, and lots of fresh spinach, and you have a scrumptious vegetarian meal.
13. Spam Mac & Cheese
Get out of your comfort zone with this fun recipe by I Am A Food Blog that adds in crispy cubes of pork to complement the creamy, cheesy, gooeyness of the mac and cheese. Think of it as a more filling way to add that cravable top layer of crunch.
14. Roasted Tomato Soup Mac and Cheese
Get ready to get cozy with this Adventures In Cooking recipe that blends together filling mac and cheese with warming roasted tomato soup, complete with little sourdough bread cubes. No need to pair a grilled cheese with this one.
15. Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Making Thyme For Health describes this macaroni dish as "a big blanket, just waiting to snuggle with you." The creamy, cheesy recipe is ready to caress your tastebuds with a hint of savory pumpkin flavor.
16. Mac and Cheese Stuffed Brown Sugar Portobello Mushrooms
It may seem downright sinful, but you won't regret stuffing juicy portobellos with bubbling mac and cheese. Just follow How Sweet It Is' lead and top with garlic brown butter breadcrumbs for truly scrumptious results.
17. Greek Yogurt Mac and Cheese
Give this tangy twist on mac and cheese by Tori Avey an extra kick with cayenne pepper and smoked paprika. Bake until golden brown then take in the zing of Greek yogurt goodness.
18. Lobster and Shrimp Mac and Cheese
Table For Two promises this lobster and shrimp mac and cheese is fully loaded. Rich and creamy gruyere cheese gives way to generous chunks of seafood for the perfect decadent dish that doesn't skimp.
Images: Brown Eyed Baker, I Am A Food Blog (2), Taste And Tell, Simply Delicious, My Name Is Yeh, Adventures In Cooking (2), How Sweet It Is (3), Foodie Crush, A Spicy Perspective, Cookies & Cups, Steamy Kitchen, Making Thyme For Health, Tori Avey, Table For Two