50+ Ways to Make Mac and Cheese Better including a wide range of topping ideas and flavor combinations. These easy additions will elevate simple macaroni and cheese to a gourmet dish!
We love all mac and cheese in this house, and we’re always adding crazy toppings. I thought it was time to put together a list of some of our favorite topping ideas and flavor combos. Next thing I knew, I had this list of 50+ Ways to Make Mac & Cheese Better!
If you’ve ever wondered how to elevate boxed mac and cheese or homemade mac and cheese, I’ve got some ideas for you. Doesn’t matter if you’re using a box of mac and cheese or your favorite homemade recipe, there are some ideas here for everyone!
Or scroll further down to see some of favorite combos.
Be sure the vegetables are precooked and cut into small bite-size pieces.
- Onion (or even Pickled Red Onions)
- Baby spinach
- Bell pepper
Small bite-size pieces work best and make sure any raw meat is also precooked.
- Pulled pork (like this Instant Pot Pulled Pork)
- Italian sausage
- Andouille sausage
- Hot dogs
- Ground beef
Fish & Seafood
Just like everything else, make sure the fish or seafood is precooked before mixing in with your mac and cheese.
Sauces & Condiments
If you can, heat up your sauce or condiment a little before mixing into the hot mac and cheese.
- BBQ sauce ( store-bought or homemade like this Root Beer BBQ Sauce or even this Korean BBQ Sauce)
- Pesto (like Spinach Basil Pesto or Cilantro Pesto)
- Truffle oil
- Pasta or tomato sauce
- Alfredo sauce (Homemade Alfredo Sauce or store-bought)
- Buffalo sauce
- Salsa (like this Freezer Salsa or Spicy Freezer Salsa)
- Pizza sauce
- Ranch dressing (Homemade Ranch Dressing or store-bought)
- Hot sauce
- Boom sauce
- Pickles (homemade pickles or store-bought)
Spices & Herbs
Dried spices or fresh herbs are a great addition!
- Ranch seasoning packet
- Cajun seasoning
- Caribbean Jerk seasoning
- Garlic powder or chopped garlic
- Italian seasoning
- Onion powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Green onion
- Mushroom powder
- Taco seasoning (Homemade Taco Seasoning or store-bought)
Perfect for a little crunch on top of creamy mac and cheese.
- Bread crumbs
- Panko crumbs
- Cracker crumbs
- Pretzel crumbs
A few more possible mix-ins!
- Canned beans, drained
Mac and Cheese Combo Ideas
1. Buffalo Chicken – Shredded precooked chicken, buffalo sauce, chopped raw celery, chopped raw carrot, and a little blue cheese. Check out my Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese.
2. California – Chopped precooked chicken, chopped fresh tomatoes, chopped avocado, and a drizzle of ranch dressing.
3. Mexican – Salsa, taco meat (like pre-cooked ground beef with taco seasoning), chopped red onion, black beans, jalapenos, and fresh cilantro. Check out my Slow Cooker Mexican Macaroni and Cheese.
4. Asian – Chopped salmon, edamame, wasabi, and a sprinkle of furikake (Japanese seasoning).
5. Veggie Lover – Broccoli, onions, mushrooms, and cauliflower.
6. Pizza – Tomato sauce, chopped pepperoni, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.
7. Philly Cheesesteak – Chopped deli roast beef, onions, and peppers.
8. American – Chopped hot dog, onions, pickles (these homemade Spicy Pickles would be great), and a drizzle of ketchup.
9. Italian – Italian sausage, baby spinach, and Italian seasoning.
10. Cajun – Shrimp, bell pepper, onion, and Cajun seasoning.
11. Sloppy Joe – Ground beef, sweet tomato sauce, bell pepper, and onion.
12. Cheeseburger – Ground beef, ketchup, onion, and pickles (maybe these easy homemade Refrigerator Sweet Pickles).
13. Cuban – Chopped ham, pulled pork (like this Instant Pot Pulled Pork), pickles, and spicy mustard.
14. Southern BBQ – Pulled pork, pickled onions, and BBQ sauce (this Sweet and Spicy Root Beer BBQ Sauce would be fun).
15. Bacon Ranch – Chopped chicken, bacon, and ranch dressing (this Homemade Ranch Dressing is way better than store-bought).
Tell me in the comments what you like in your Macaroni and Cheese!