There's something therapeutic about revisiting childhood classics—especially the comfort foods we use to (and still) crave. Especially during the cold-weather months, few things are more rewarding than cozying up with a warm bowl brimming with a heartwarming meal that takes us right back home. Macaroni and cheese is one such dish that remains a comfort food staple, whether you're 3 or 33. So if you're seeking a simple dinner option that's sure to satisfy—and take you straight back down memory lane—try one of these playful updates to easy baked mac and cheese recipes you can whip up any night of the week.
Keep clicking for easy baked mac and cheese recipes that turn things up with a flavorful twist.
"The combination of creamy gouda and havarti cheeses make a silky, cheesy macaroni and cheese sauce that tastes far better than the boxed kind," promises Heidi of Foodie Crush. "This recipe, affirmed by all of the 'mmm-this-is-so-unbelievable,' 'can-I-have-more-please' comments, this recipe, with its incredibly silky, cheesy sauce, is the best classic yet."
Claire of The Kitchy Kitchen admits she loves the straightforward, simple version of mac and cheese, but every now and then gets the itch to liven it up a bit. "This is a very simple way to do that: Throw in a little bacon and some peas, and boom, instant elevation," she declares. "The bacon and peas have that lovely salty-sweet combination, with peas bringing a little bit of freshness to this decadent dish."
For even more unexpected additions, Half Baked Harvest's Tieghan explains that this special recipe is "loaded with all things a really good mac and cheese should be loaded with, and then some." What exactly does that entail? "I used mass amounts of sharp Irish cheddar, a little bacon, some kale pesto," lists Tieghan, plus "a little potato chip crumble situation baked on top."
"This easy and extra cheesy one-pot mac and cheese dinner gets a healthified veggie bump, thanks to caramelized cauliflower added to the velvety cheese pasta to create a whole new take on a comfort food favorite," explains recipe creator Heidi of Foodie Crush. "There's nothing like sneaking a little healthy into dinner and knowing the thrill of everyone at the table loving it."
Kick things up with your mac and cheese with the addition of queso for an easy recipe from The Kitchy Kitchen that's sure to impress. "I have to have crunch with gooey mac and cheese, so I topped this recipe with broken-up tortilla chips," admits Claire. "I'm pretty obsessed with it."
"Think sweet roasted squash stuffed with the cheesiest of mac and cheese and then topped with sourdough and crispy prosciutto breadcrumbs," describes Tieghan of Half Baked Harvest. Have holiday parties on the agenda? Tieghan promises this unique recipe serves up "the perfect dish to wow your guests."
Looking for more ways to whip up the comforting dish? Check out our favorite crockpot mac and cheese recipes.