Mac N’ Cheese is one of my food weaknesses. I can eat Mac N’ Cheese of all kinds. I love pasta in general but love more of the creamy, cheesy pasta recipes with southern flavors and always the spicy ones. This Jalapeño Mac and Cheese is so delicious. It’s cheesy, it’s creamy and it’s spicy!
If you love cheddar mac and cheese and if you love jalapeno poppers, you are going to adore this Jalapeno Mac and Cheese! Pasta covered with melty cheddar then topped with crunchy panko breadcrumbs and spicy jalapeno slices. Delicious!
Why you’ll love this Jalapeno Mac and Cheese
- A satisfying crunchy topping. Crisp panko breadcrumbs crown the mac and cheese recipe, giving a wonderful mix of textures in every bite.
- A spicy kick! Slices of fresh jalapenos, mixed with jalapeno cheese give this dish a perfectly spicy kick!
- An easy weeknight meal. Only a handful of ingredients needed, you can whip this up for lunch or dinner in no time!
Ingredients you’ll need
- Elbow Pasta– Feel free to swap it with any other pasta
- Jalapenos-remove the seeds if you like to make it less spicy
- Cheese: Mozzarella and cheddar Cheese, but feel free to use any cheese you like
- Butter– salted or unsalted is fine.
- Flour-to thicken up the sauce
- Panko Breadcrumbs-I prefer panko because it has a very nice crisp effect
How to make Jalapeno Mac and Cheese
- Cook the pasta – As per package instructions, you want it al dente.
- Make the cheese sauce – In a heated skillet, melt butter and whisk in the flour, allow to simmer then add in the cheese and seasoning.
- Combine – Add in the pasta to the sauce and coat well, then top with breadcrumbs and jalapeno slices.
- Bake – In an oven for 10 mins
- Serve and enjoy!
Recipe notes and tips
- Use a preheated oven.
- When cooking the pasta be sure to stir it as soon as you drop it into the boiling water, this ensures the pasta does not stick to the pan.
- Make sure to season the water for boiling the pasta, with salt.
- Ideally shred your own cheese, pre shredded cheese contains anti caking agents which means it doesn’t melt as well.
- Top with some fresh parsley for a pop of color.
Is this Jalapeno Mac and Cheese spicy?
This easy mac n cheese recipe is not super spicy but you can totally dial up or down the spice levels. If you want a milder taste, remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapenos. You can also use a milder cheese.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Sure thing! Simply make as directed, but stop before adding the panko breadcrumbs and do not bake. Instead, transfer to baking dish and cool completely. Cover with foil and refrigerate 1-2 days ahead. Before baking, let the dish sit on counter for 30 minutes, then bake for 15-20 mins or until hot and bubbly.
What to serve with mac and cheese?
This mac and cheese can be served on it’s own are can be amped up with sides. Here’s some ideas:
- Air Fryer Chicken Strips
- Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
- The Best Roasted Garlic Bread
- Crispy Homemade Chicken Nuggets
If you would like to add some proteins to this dish, you can always cook them on the side and place in at the same time you put in the pasta. Just add 1/2 cup cheese and 1/4 cup more milk to prevent it from coming out dry because the proteins suck up some of the sauce.
Other Mac and Cheese recipes
- Creamy Broccoli Mac N’ Cheese
- Easy Cajun Mac and Cheese with Chicken
- One Pot Whole Wheat Macaroni and Cheese
I hope you enjoy all the recipes I share with you, including this Jalapeno Mac and Cheese recipe. I hope you try it, enjoy it, rate it and share it with your friends and family!
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Jalapeño Mac and Cheese
- 8 oz. large elbow pasta uncooked
- 3 tbsps. butter
- 3 tbsps. all purpose flour
- 2 cups white cheddar cheese shredded, or Jalapeno white Cheddar for more spice
- 1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 3 cups whole milk or 2 cups milk, 1 cup pasta water for lower calories
- 4 oz. cream cheese low fat
- 1½ tsp. onion powder
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- ¾ tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 large jalapeños one diced with seeds off, one sliced
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 tbsps. butter
- Preheat oven at 375 F.
- Cook pasta al dente according to package direction. About 6-7 minutes.
- In a large skillet over medium-low heat, melt 1 tbsp. of butter and add in the panko crumbs. Mix the crumbs with the butter and continue mixing over medium low heat until the crumb are "lightly" golden brown in color. Remove from skillet and set aside on a plate or bowl. Clean the skillet with a paper towel to remove any leftover crumbs.
- In the same skillet over medium heat, melt 3 tbsps. of butter and add in the garlic and diced jalapeno to sauté for a minute or two. Then add in the flour and whisk well with the butter to obtain a nice smooth pasty texture.
- Pour in the milk and continue whisking for a minute until any lumps of flour are completely gone. Add in the salt, black pepper and onion powder and cream cheese. Mix well to combine.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to thicken up a little while you continue to mix slowly for a couple of minutes.
- Add in the white cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese and mix to combine well until the cheese melts completely and sauce thickens up. Pour in the pasta, sliced jalapenos and mix to coat well with the cheese sauce.
- Pour the pasta into a baking dish or keep in the same skillet if skillet is oven proof to make it a one pot dish.
- Top the pasta with the breadcrumbs mix and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes before serving. Garnish with some freshy chopped parsley and sliced/ diced jalapeno peppers.