Spicy Mac and Cheese Casserole is a creamy and delicious homemade dish that is filled with shell pasta, chorizo, paprika, chili flakes, panko, and parmesan cheese. The sauce is made with milk, cheese, butter, flour, and dijon mustard and is delightfully rich and thick. It’s a dish that the whole family will love and ask for over and over again.
What is Spicy Mac and Cheese Casserole?
This spicy mac and cheese dish is easy to make and perfect for a make-ahead dish. You can freeze it and pull it out for a main or side dish any day of the week. This baked mac and cheese recipe is the best you’ll ever have! The spicy chorizo adds rich depth and a crispy breadcrumb topping provides a fun texture.
There are plenty of ways you can alter this dish to fit your personal preferences. You can change the pasta, cheese, seasoning, or add-ins depending on what you like. Tasty options for these changes are below.
- 1⁄2 pound (250g) shell pasta, half-cooked: Small pasta works best for mac and cheese.
- 2 cups milk: Whole milk is best to make a thick sauce.
- 2 cups cheese, shredded: Cheddar cheese makes a delicious sauce that coats the pasta.
- 2 tablespoon butter: Salted or unsalted butter works fine for this dish.
- 2 tablespoon flour: All-purpose flour helps thicken the sauce.
- 2 teaspoon dijon mustard: Creamy dijon mustard offsets the richer flavors in this dish.
- 1⁄2 cup chorizo, sliced: Chorizo can be found in the meat section at the grocery store.
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika: Smoked paprika has a different flavor from original paprika. Choose the one you like best.
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes: Chili flakes are optional to make this casserole spicy.
- panko breadcrumbs: These crispy breadcrumbs toast up nicely and add crunch.
- parmesan for topping: Shred a little parmesan on top of the breadcrumbs before baking.
How to make spicy mac and cheese casserole:
Here’s a brief overview of how to make this dish. See the recipe card below for the specific recipe instructions.
1. Preheat the oven.
2. Coat the bottom of a medium pan with vegetable oil and cook chorizo pieces until crispy and transfer onto paper towels.
3. Pour in half of the fat left on the pan and add butter into another half.
4. Sprinkle flour into the butter and whisk for 30 seconds.
5. Pour in milk, add smoked paprika, chili, and mustard. Cook the sauce for 5-7 minutes.
6. Mix in shredded cheese (leaving 1⁄2 to 1 cup for topping) and leave it to melt completely.
7. Combine the cheese sauce with half-cooked pasta.
8. Divide pasta and sauce between two small baking pans and top with chorizo, leftover cheese, some breadcrumbs, and cheese.
9. Bake at 190C/375F for 20 minutes. Broil for 5 minutes.
Tips for success:
Here are a few tips for success and variations you can try to make this the best spicy mac and cheese casserole you've ever had.
- You can use other types of melty cheese like Velveeta, mozzarella, Monterey jack, Colby jack, Gruyere, Havarti, or parmesan.
What other types of pasta can I use?
There are many different types of pasta you can use in this dish. Some options are elbow, penne, rigatoni, campanelle, bowtie, orecchiette, or ziti. Choose a smaller type of pasta that you’ll be able to eat easily in bite sizes.
What other ingredients can I add to this mac and cheese?
There are endless varieties of mac and cheese that you can play around with. Some options are spinach, garlic, green chiles, corn, pulled pork, shredded chicken, asparagus, green beans, squash, mushrooms, or anything else that would work well with mac and cheese.
Can I make this dish not spicy?
If spicy isn’t your thing, you can substitute the chorizo with tuna, bacon, pulled pork, ground beef, ham, or shredded chicken. You can also leave out the chili flakes altogether.
How to store:
Store any leftover casserole in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days. Reheat it in the microwave with 30-second increments until it’s hot all the way through.
To freeze the entire casserole, wrap it in aluminum foil and plastic wrap. Label it with what it is, how to cook, and the date. Labeling will help you remember later. Remember that if you cook it from frozen, it will take longer to cook in the oven without thawing first. Keep the foil on until the last 30 minutes of cooking so the top can brown.
How can I make this casserole in an instant pot?
If you’d rather make this dish in a pressure cooker to save the oven space or just because you like using your instant pot, you can definitely do so. It also makes it a one-pot meal. Follow the steps to create the sauce, add the other ingredients, seal the lid on, and set the time to 20 minutes. Carefully release the steam, remove the lid, and serve immediately.
Can I make this dish in a slow cooker?
Can I make this dish in a slow cooker?
You can also make this mac and cheese in a crockpot. Follow the instructions to start the dish on the stovetop and then pour the mixture into the bowl of the slow cooker. Place the lid on, set the timer for four hours on high, and serve immediately.
What can I serve this spicy mac and cheese casserole with?
While you can eat this mac and cheese dish on its own as a main dish, you can also pair it with other dishes. Try chili, barbecue brisket or ribs, roast chicken, or cheeseburgers.
- 1⁄2 pound (250g) shell pasta, half-cooked
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups cheese, shredded
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1⁄2 cup chorizo, sliced
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon chili flakes
- panko breadcrumbs, parmesan for topping
- Coat the bottom of a medium pan with some vegetable oil (you can skip this step if your chorizo has enough fat in it).
- Cook chorizo pieces until crispy and transfer onto paper towels.
- Pour in half of the fat left on the pan and add butter into another half.
- Sprinkle flour into the butter and whisk for 30 seconds.
- Pour in milk, add smoked paprika, chili, and mustard. Cook the sauce for 5-7 minutes.
- Mix in shredded cheese (leaving 1⁄2 to 1 cup for topping) and leave it to melt completely.
- Combine the cheese sauce with half-cooked pasta.
- Divide pasta and sauce between two small baking pans and top with chorizo, leftover cheese, some breadcrumbs, and cheese.
- Bake at 190C/375F for 20 minutes. Broil for 5 minutes.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1089Total Fat: 78gSaturated Fat: 40gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 31gCholesterol: 214mgSodium: 1925mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 2gSugar: 14gProtein: 53g