5 Surprisingly Good Toppings for Mac and Cheese

Can macaroni and cheese get any better? As is, it’s essentially a perfect dish. Gooey cheese and elbow pasta are a match made in food heaven. And while some people might argue that what isn’t broken doesn’t need to be fixed, I ask: Why settle for an A when you can get an A+? Here are some mac and cheese toppings that will get you some extra credit at the next family potluck.

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Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / iStock

If you eat meat, you’ve probably tried mac and cheese scattered with crispy, crumbled bacon. It’s an elite topping that adds depth and smokiness to the flavor profile of the dish and, perhaps most importantly, a  satisfying bit of crunch. What if we upped the crunch factor even further by adding crushed pretzels? Pretzels are crunchy, sturdy, and have more staying  power than, say, breadcrumbs. These aren’t getting soggy anytime soon. Flavored pretzel bits would also do the dish all kinds of favors, particularly Snyder’s Honey Mustard & Onion Pretzel Pieces, which pack a punch all on their own.

Spicy Guac
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Guacamole is mushy and that means it easily blends into a bowl of mac and cheese. These two are fighting on the same side of justice and create an unstoppable force when combined. As someone who already likes a bit of a kick in their mac and cheese, adding a guac with some spice scratches that itch for me. And, as a Californian, the rumors are true: I am obsessed with adding avocado to things. This checks all the boxes for me, and the fact that avocado chunks and well-cooked pasta have virtually the same texture needs to be celebrated more.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / iStock

Spicy, sour crunch in my mac and cheese? Take my money!! Spice on its own is great, but I’m an even bigger of advocate for spicy sour foods. In this case, the sourness of the kimchi cuts through the creaminess of the mac and cheese, ensuring that it is not too rich—and that you’ll be digging back in for another bite. So sour, so good.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / iStock

Sporked social media manager Mark Catangui swears by ketchup in mac and cheese. Like kimchi, ketchup adds a bit of acidity to the dish, giving you a little bit of a kick with each bite. As Mark says, “It’s a notch below hot sauce, but adds more depth flavor wise beyond just wet pasta and cheese.” The acidity and that hint of sweetness are what earn this topping a W.

Peanut Butter
peanut butter
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Alright, stay with me here. This one comes straight from Rhett, Link, and Nicole. Peanut butter on mac and cheese tastes like Nabs, aka those cheesy peanut butter sandwich crackers you could (and probably still can) find in most vending machines. They’re a childhood lunch bag classic for me, so the idea of being able to have this in meal form is very appealing. It’s a nostalgic comfort meal that combines sweet and savory in a single bite. What’s not to love! Admittedly, the texture can be a bit daunting if you go ahead and mix together the peanut butter and cheese sauce, but I believe the correct way to consume this dish is just as it is served to Rhett & Link on Good Mythical More during their Weird Mac and Cheese Toppings Taste Test: with one big dollop of peanut butter right on top. That way there’s PB when you want it and mac when you need it. This method also allows you to control just how much peanut butter you’re getting in one bite. If you’re as big a peanut butter fan as Rhett & Link, this may be the topping to end all toppings.

cheetos mac and cheese

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About the Author

Naajia Shukri

Naajia Shukri is the legit biggest fan of candy corn. She is interested in all things food, art, and beauty. After living in Korea for the past two years, she has gotten back to her L.A. roots, frequenting thrift stores and art museums.

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  • First you add guac. Then you add corn. Then some fresh salsa. Then hot sauce (your choice). Then some rotisserie chicken. Then you sleep for hours.

    • That sounds awesome

  • Broken up sardines and Homade brand Chili Sauce, thank me later

  • Trader joe’s Cowboy Caviar with French’s fried onions on top. Magical combo.