All macaroni and cheese is good macaroni and cheese, but these recipes from New York Times Cooking are especially fine — and wide-ranging, whether saucy or creamy, tender or crispy, meat-studded or dairy-free. The picks below include some of the greatest interpretations, both classic and clever.
1. Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese is, in Eric Kim’s opinion, the most exemplary version of the dish. After testing a number of techniques and ratios, he finally came up with his nostalgic, creamy, Velveeta-y take.
Recipe: Creamy Baked Macaroni and Cheese
2. Southern Macaroni and Cheese
For many Southerners, this recipe from Millie Peartree, adapted by Kiera Wright-Ruiz, is as classic as it gets. The base of milk and eggs lends the pasta an extra-rich, custardy texture, particularly in the molten center (arguably the best part).
Recipe: Southern Macaroni and Cheese
3. Spam Macaroni and Cheese
Know what you can add to any dish to make it even better? Fried cubes of Spam. Trust Von Diaz, whose version of macaroni and cheese merges her upbringing in both Puerto Rico and the South. The base is simple, using a flour and milk slurry for thickness instead of a roux. But “during tough times,” she suggests, “a box of instant mac and cheese and a can of Spam will also yield delicious results.”
Recipe: Spam Macaroni and Cheese
4. Pimento Mac and Cheese
For anyone who’s ever fallen in love with pimento cheese, this new recipe from Vallery Lomas is a no-brainer. The addition of cream cheese, sliced pimentos, jalapeños and paprika to an otherwise straightforward take is exactly as terrific as it sounds.
Recipe: Pimento Mac and Cheese
5. Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Julia Moskin’s recipe is one of the most loved New York Times Cooking recipes of all time, with more than 12,400 five-star ratings (at the time of writing) and well over a thousand glowing comments. The secret ingredient? Cottage cheese.
Recipe: Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
6. Lobster Mac and Cheese
Luxury! Sam Sifton took Julia Moskin’s classic creamy macaroni and cheese recipe, above, and made it extra special with tender pieces of lobster meat. Commenters have called it “fabulous,” “truly delicious” and “superb,” and they’re all correct.
Recipe: Lobster Mac and Cheese
7. Trinidadian Macaroni Pie
There’s so much comfort to be found in this firm, crispy-topped casserole, heavily flavored with savory spices and Scotch bonnet pepper. Lesley Enston’s version of this Trini holiday staple yields excellent leftovers, so don’t cook this recipe only for big functions — make it for yourself and enjoy it over a few days.
Recipe: Trinidadian Macaroni Pie
8. Vegan Mac and Cheese
Alexa Weibel’s vegan version is as spot on as a dairy-free macaroni and cheese can get, thanks to three sources of creaminess: blended raw cashews, nut milk and umami-rich nutritional yeast.
Recipe: Vegan Mac and Cheese
9. French Onion Macaroni and Cheese
Leave it to Ali Slagle, a weeknight dinner wizard, to create a mash-up that makes you say, “French onion soup and macaroni and cheese really do belong together!” The little Gruyère toasts on top really bring it home.
Recipe: French Onion Macaroni and Cheese
10. Vegan Poblano Macaroni and Cheese
Here’s another recipe for the dairy-free: Jocelyn Ramirez’s creamy (and creamless) sauce includes potatoes and carrots for starchiness and sweetness, and charred chiles for lots of smoke and spice. Again, nutritional yeast adds a distinctly cheesy flavor that seals the deal.
Recipe: Vegan Poblano Macaroni and Cheese
11. One-Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese
In Ali Slagle’s 25-minute recipe, the pasta cooks in the milk, along with chopped broccoli, and cheese gets stirred in at the end. It seems almost too easy to be delicious, but it is — and you’re getting equal parts pasta and vegetables.
Recipe: One-Pot Broccoli Mac and Cheese
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