When I think of comfort food, mac and cheese is one of the first meals that springs to mind. Growing up, my sister and I could depend on my mom to bake us kids her drool worthy mac and cheese recipes as soon as the weather turned a bit chilly (and even if it didn’t, because mac and cheese isn’t limited to a season.) My mom made simple macaroni and cheese that kids and adults alike would scarf down, but there are many marvelous combinations of flavors that work with a simple base of cheese and macaroni noodles.
The recipes we’ve culled here call on some unusual combos of ingredients to bring new new life to an old dish, so some– like the Kale, Mushroom and Quinoa– might be a little harder to feed any kiddos you have, but dumping a pound of cheese on pretty much anything makes it edible to most kids. ( Or most anyone who loves cheese. ) In fact, this might be a genius way of sneaking some veggies into your littles!
These dishes are perfect for not only family night but a fall dinner party, and you can’t go wrong with good, hot comfort food paired with a great beer or cider. Many of these recipes are fairly easy on the budget and your time; what else could you ask for?
1Carbonara Mac and Cheese
Hot, cheesy, delicious food that you can make in 15 minutes? Sold! A Cozy Kitchen’s carbonara mac and cheese is a complete comfort food, as it marries two delicious dishes.
2Chicken Bacon Ranch Macaroni and Cheese
There’s a lot of people obsessed with bacon, many who adore ranch, and tons of people love chicken. So this chicken bacon ranch macaroni and cheese from What’s Cooking Love is pretty much the perfectly decadent calories-be-damned meal.
3Kale & Mushroom Quinoa Mac and Cheese
For those who suffer from Celiac disease, What Jew Wanna Eat offers kale & mushroom quinoa mac and cheese. A gluten-free version of classic comfort food, this is the perfect dish for those who want to indulge in cheesy goodness but can’t eat gluten products.
4Avocado Mac & Cheese
The creamy texture of an avocado does perfectly with cheese. At least, that’s what one would assume based off Two Peas and Their Pod’s avocado mac & cheese recipe. I would have never thought to put avocado into and mac and cheese together, but now I can’t wait to try!
5Greek Yogurt Macaroni and Cheese
Looking for a lighter version of classic comfort food? This Greek yogurt macaroni and cheese from Tori Avey combines two creamy, delicious flavors for a guilt-free dinner.
6Artichoke Dip Mac and Cheese
The Scrumptious Pumpkin’s artichoke dip mac and cheese sounds like a beautiful combination of two beloved dishes. I can’t wait to whip it up in my own kitchen one of these cold nights.
7Southern-Style Mac and Cheese
Being a Southern-born girl, I have a special fondness for The Merry Thought’s Southern-style mac and cheese.With one pound of cheese, this is a decadent and no-holds-barred dish that anyone would desire.
8Italian Mac and Cheese
I want to make The Little Epicurian’s Italian mac and cheese just to put it in these charming containers. This dish stands out for its decadent use of various cheeses — mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, fontina, provolone, and pecorino romano.
9Squash Mac and Cheese
This squash n' mac n' cheese from The Healthy Foodie is a healthier (but equally delicious) version of a heavy meal. Made with sharp cheddar, there are also unexpected ingredients like onion and paprika, giving this dish a more grown-up feel.
Images: Courtesy of The Little Epicurean; A Cozy Kitchen; What’s Cooking, Love?; What Jew Wanna Eat; Two Peas and Their Pod; Tori Avey; The Scrumptious Pumpkin; The Merry Thought; The Little Epicurean; The Healthy Foodie