Macaroni and cheese isn’t exactly begging to be transforming; the classic version, with its sharp cheddar bite and golden-brown topping, is, of course, one of the best comfort foods ever. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be dressed up to become an even more wow-worthy version of itself. Enter: Creamy Jalapeno Popper Macaroni and Cheese.
The gooey richness and subtle spice you love in jalapeno poppers is baked into Food Network Kitchen’s indulgent mac and cheese (pictured above), a big-batch casserole that’s impressive enough to make for guests yet easy to prepare in less than an hour. In addition to tender sauteed fresh jalapenos, pickled jalapenos are mixed into the smooth cheddar-Gruyère cheese sauce for especially bold flavor — but don’t let the fear of too much heat scare you. The chefs in our Food Network Kitchen explain that the result is simply “pleasantly spicy.” Before baking, blanket the dish with buttery panko and fresh jalapeno slices to guarantee a crispy, crunchy topping.