Noodles and cheese provide the ultimate canvas for experimentation with trend-forward ingredients, bold flavors and lots of texture. Consider playing up global-inspired riffs, translating a winning flavor system through this familiar platform, or making it into a snack-worthy bite at the bar.
Get inspired with these five innovative mac and cheese menu ideas from managing partner Ric Scicchitano of Food & Drink Resources, a Centennial, Colo.-based consulting agency.
Layered Southern Mac and Cheese Bowl
Mesquite smoked bacon topped with mac and cheese, cooked greens and spicy buttermilk fried onions
Why it works: “It provides a complete Southern comfort meal in a bowl: creamy mac, smoky bacon, bitter greens and a sweet-savory crunch for texture.”
Lump Crab Four-Cheese Mac and Cheese
Sweet lump crab folded into a four-cheese mac topped with Old Bay butter crumbs
Why it works: “Move over lobster mac. Use four cheeses to balance sharpness, creaminess, saltiness and tartness of the lump crab and add Old Bay for a slight crunchy of texture.
Shawarma Mac and Cheese
Lamb shawarma in a creamy yogurt-based mac and cheese topped with za’atar
Why it works: “It combines global comfort foods, taking the heavily spiced shawarma and creamy neutral yogurt-based mac and cheese, topping it with the toasted, tangy flavors of za’atar.”
Mac and Cheese for Octoberfest
Baked creamy mac and cheese with Gruyère, mustard and pretzel crumbs
Why it works: “Combines the common regional flavors of Bavaria with the crunch and color of rustic pretzel croutons, the zing of a stout German mustard, and complements the flavor of Gruyère while cutting into the creaminess of the mac and cheese.”
Breakfast Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese with American cheese, scrambled eggs, crispy julienned bacon and green chiles
Why it works: “This is for the Millennial that was out late, walking down the street to work, eating out of a paper to-go cup. Perfect to combat a night of IPAs or bourbon—fatty, yummy, crunchy and spicy.”