Creamy Jalapeno Mac and Cheese
Mac and Cheese is literally one of the best American classics. This spiced up version is ultra creamy and crunchy. Using all white cheeses that melt beautifully here and adding the jalapenos for spice, turn this mac and cheese into a gourmet entree or side dish. Lets not forget about the funky addition of the Hot and Spicy Cheez-it’s to create a nice crunchy topping.
Creamy Jalapeno Mac and Cheese
- Prep Time
- Cook Time
- Total Time
- 1lb Pasta
- ½ cup butter – 6 tbsp for roux and 2 tbsp melted butter for topping
- 6 tbsp cup flour
- 5 cups milk- I use 2%
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups white cheddar shredded
- 2 cups monetary jack shredded
- 2 cups pepper jack shredded
- 3 jalapenos diced- seeds and ribs removed if you want a mild spice flavor
- 2 cups cheez-it’s, crumbled into fine crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Grease a 9×13 or similar sized baking dish and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to the package but take 2-3 minutes off the cooking time. You want your pasta very al dente, as they will continue to cook in the cheese sauce some. When finished, drain, and set aside.
- In another pot, medium sized, melt 6 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add the jalapeno and allow it to slightly soften for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the flour to create a pasty roux. You want to allow the raw flour flavor to cook out and for the texture to become nice and smooth.
- Slowly add in the milk while whisking to create a nice silky consistency and until your roux has combined nicely with the milk. Season with salt and pepper and turn heat down to medium-low while your sauce thickens up. Make sure to whisk every few minutes to prevent the bottom from burning. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Low and slow is key. You do not want to burn or curdle your sauce.
- While your sauce is thickening, crumble your cheez-its and place in a small bowl. Combine with your melted butter and set aside.
- Once your sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, add in all your shredded cheeses and constantly stir until the cheese is totally melted. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.
- Add your pasta right into the pot with the cheese sauce and stir to ensure all the pasta is fully coated. Evenly top with the cheez-it crumbs and bake in the oven just for 6-7 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and crispy. You still want the mac to be super creamy, so this is why we’re only baking for a few minutes. If you prefer a firmer mac and cheese, you can simply cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and garnish with more fresh jalapenos.
Tips and Tricks
- Take your milk out 30 minutes before cooking to allow the extreme chill to come down to room temp.
- Pasta shapes that have holes in the center or shells that can capture that luscious cheese sauce are the best in this recipe
- Can crumble your cheez-it’s by placing in a Ziploc bag and pounding them with a rolling pin or you can simply crumble with your hands.
- Cooking your pasta for a few minutes less than instructed by the package will ensure your pasta does not overcook and get mushy in the sauce.
- All brands of cheese are different and carry a different amount of salt so be sure to taste your cheese sauce to see if anything needs to be added. Also consider purchasing higher quality cheeses and shredded them yourself so they melt evenly into the sauce and do not cause curdling.