All macaroni and cheese are good macaroni and cheese, but these recipes from New York Times Cooking are especially good — and wide-ranging, whether saucy or creamy, tender or crunchy, studded with meat or dairy-free. The selections below include some of the greatest interpretations, both classic and clever.
Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese is, in Eric Kim’s opinion, the most perfect version of the dish. After testing a number of techniques and pedigrees, he finally came up with his hearty nostalgia, Velveeta-y.
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 give the pasta a very rich custard texture, especially in the molten middle (arguably the best part).
Recipe: Southern macaroni and cheese
Do you 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 incorporates its origins in both Puerto Rico and the South. The base is simple, using flour and milk for the fish in place of the roux. But “in tough times,” she suggests, “a packet of instant macaroni and cheese and a packet of spam will yield delicious results.”
Recipe: Spam pasta and cheese
For anyone who’s fallen in love with pimento cheese, this new recipe from Vallery Lomas is a no-brainer. Adding cream cheese, sliced paprika, paprika, and paprika into an otherwise straightforward method is just as awesome as it sounds.
Recipe: Pimento Mac and Cheese
Julia Musquin’s recipe is one of the most beloved New York Times cooking recipes ever, with over 12,400 five-star ratings (at the time of writing) and over a thousand glowing comments. Secret ingredient? cheese.
Recipe: Creamy macaroni and cheese
luxury. luxury! Sam Sifton took the classic Julia Musquin macaroni and cheese, on top, and made it even more special with a juicy cut of lobster meat. Reviewers called it “awesome,” “really delicious,” and “awesome,” and they’re all correct.
Recipe: Lobster Mac and Cheese
There’s plenty of comfort to be found in this sturdy, crunchy casserole that’s intensely flavored with delicious spices and Scotch pepper. Lesley Enston’s version of the Trini staple produces excellent leftovers, so don’t just cook this recipe for big jobs—make it yourself and enjoy over a few days.
The vegan version of Alexa Weibel is in place as dairy-free macaroni and cheese, thanks to three sources of cream: blended raw cashews, nut milk, and umami-rich nutritional yeast.
Recipe: Vegan Mac and Cheese
Leave it to Ali Slagl, a nighttime diner, to create a combo that makes you say, “French onion soup and macaroni and cheese really go together!” The little Gruyère bread on top really brings it home.
Recipe: French onion macaroni and cheese
Here’s another dairy-free recipe: Jocelyn Ramirez’s creamy (skim) sauce includes potatoes and carrots for starch and sweetness, and cayenne pepper for plenty of smoke and spice. Once again, nutritional yeast adds a distinct flavor to the cheese that seals the deal.
Recipe: Vegetarian Poblano Macaroni and Cheese
In Ali Slagel’s 25-minute recipe, pasta is cooked in milk, along with chopped cauliflower, and cheese is stirred in at the end. It sounds so easy to be hearty, but it is – and you get equal parts pasta and vegetables.
Recipe: One bowl with broccoli mac and cheese