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  • Writer's pictureLulu Perez

Spicy Three Cheese Mac and Cheese

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

Mac and cheese is probably the world's greatest guilty pleasures. Although, there are a ton fan favorites, this one makes it on that list.

This recipe is one that I always make on Thanksgiving for my friends and family.

It is a crowd pleasure for sure!

Here I am, finally able to share with you guys!

It makes a perfect side to any family barbecue, get together with friends, or for the holidays. Mac and cheese is here to stay.

Spicy Three Cheese Mac & Cheese

Yield: 10-12 servings

Cheese Sauce Ingredients

  • 1 lb. Cavatappi or Macaroni pasta

  • 3 cups milk

  • 1 cup heavy cream

  • 4 oz diced cream cheese, room temperature

  • ½ cup flour

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (½ cup)

  • 2 cups shredded Gruyere

  • 2 cups shredded mild cheddar

  • 3 ½ cups pepper jack (reserve 1 ½ cups to sprinkle)

  • ½ tsp kosher salt

  • ¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper

  • Pepper

  • 3 tbsp chipotles in adobo, chopped

Peppers mixture for cheese sauce Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 2 jalapeños, diced

  • 1 red bell pepper, diced

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper

Panko Topping Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup Italian breadcrumbs

  • ½ cup panko

  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp fresh cracked pepper


  1. Preheat a medium size saute pan to medium, drizzle olive oil. Add the garlic, jalapeños, bell pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes until soft and fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

  2. In a small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, panko, paprika, salt and pepper. Set aside.

  3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a large baking dish (9x13).

  4. Bring a large pot to boil. Season the water with a good amount of salt, once it comes to a boil. Cook the cavatappi for about 8-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside.

  5. Meanwhile, preheat a large pot to medium low, add the butter and let it melt. Add the flour to make a roux (thickener for the sauce). Stir the butter and flour for about 3 minutes, until the flour turns a light brown color. Start adding the milk and heavy cream in batches slowly and stir continuously with a whisk until all incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cream cheese and stir. Let it simmer on low heat for about 5-7 minutes, until cream cheese is melted and incorporated. The sauce should thicken slightly.

  6. Start adding the cheese in batches, and whisk continuously as you are adding it into the sauce.

  7. Once the cheese is all melted into the sauce, add the sauteed peppers, garlic mixture and the chipotles in adobo. Turn the heat off. Mix until all combined. Add the cooked cavatappi and mix until all combined. Pour half the pasta in the large baking dish, sprinkle the reserved pepper jack cheese. Add the rest of the pasta. Top with panko and breadcrumb evenly.

  8. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Until bubbly and topping is crisp.


  • For a less spicy sauce, use less chipotles in adobo or don’t add in the jalapenos.

  • If you don’t want it spicy, leave out the peppers mixture and chipotles in adobo.

  • You can sub the gruyere for any kind of cheese you’d like.

  • Avoid pre shredded cheese, fresh shredded cheese melts better and the quality of the taste is much better.

  • If you allow to bake longer than 30 minutes, the pasta will absorb the cheese sauce, it'll make for a less saucier mac and cheese.

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