The Ultimate Guide to Mac and Cheese

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

In honor of National Mac and Cheese Day, The Circuit looks at the seven best additions to take Mac and Cheese from comfort food to Michelin Star quality.

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Every July 14, Americans celebrate many different things, from Shark Awareness to Nudity. But perhaps the most important of all is the golden goodness that is Mac and Cheese.


In honor of National Mac and Cheese Day (July 14), The Circuit looks at the seven best additions to your mac and cheese to take it from comfort food to Michelin star quality!


#1: Chicken

Here’s a tip for almost any aspect of life: Chicken makes it better. Adding chicken to mac and cheese is the best addition not only because it tastes great, the white meat mixing with the golden noodles, but it’s incredibly versatile; you can do just plain shredded chicken, you could do buffalo chicken (my personal preference), you could do bbq chicken, or just regular seasoned chicken. The possibilities are endless, and chicken adds a lot of substance to the meal, turning it into a full-blown entree that is guaranteed to fill you up and leave you satisfied.


#2: Croutons

Adding croutons to mac and cheese is a stroke of pure genius. The crunch of the toasted bread mixes so perfectly with the soft ooze of the cheese, especially if you have flavored the croutons with some sort of seasoning. You could also crush the croutons up and sprinkle them on top of the mac and cheese to form a crunchy top layering, which also makes for a great meal. The important thing to remember when adding bread is that it needs to be baked/toasted; regular soft bread gets lost in the cheese, failing to add the crunch and taste you’re looking for.


#3: Tomatoes

Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Does anyone really care? I don’t, but they sure do go well with mac and cheese. Tomatoes rank so highly here because not only can you cut up tomatoes and put the chunks in, but there is another way to add them to mac and cheese to elevate the dish; ketchup. While highly controversial, it is my scientific opinion that adding ketchup to mac and cheese makes it taste 13x better. The cheese and the ketchup not only mix to create a visually pleasing plate, but it tastes great too.


#4: Hot Dogs

As long as you’re adding ketchup to the dish, why not throw some hot dogs in there too? Hot dogs and mac and cheese is a traditional Irish dish, and it tastes fantastic. The dogs and cheese mix to create a filling and satisfying dish for kids and adults alike.


#5: Beef

We’ve talked about chicken and hot dogs, but we’re only halfway done with the meats on this list. Beef is probably the most versatile meat other than chicken, and that holds up in regards to mac and cheese. Hamburger Helper, ever heard of it? Beef and cheese will always be a great combination, so the next time you are whipping up some mac and cheese, throw in some seasoned beef and you will not be disappointed.


#6: Cheetos:

This is the most out-of-left-field addition on this list, but hear me out. When we here at The Circuit were eating in the college cafeteria every day, Monday’s were mac and cheese day, or the best day of the week. Every once in a while, they would throw in some Flamin' Hot Cheetos and our taste buds would be overwhelmed. The Cheetos work on multiple levels; they add in some spice and temperature to the mac and cheese, plus they add in a wonderful crunch that contrasts the softness of the noodles, making it a near-perfect dish. If you want to spice up your dinner, throw in some Flamin' Hot Cheetos to your mac and cheese.


#7: Bacon

I hesitate to add this one, but I cannot deny the popularity of bacon. My hottest take is that bacon is overrated, and I will die on that hill. Bacon is OKAY. It’s not great. Some people pray to bacon, and to those people I say nay. However, a little bacon can be a good thing, especially if it is sprinkled into mac and cheese. This is probably the addition on this list that you have done the most or have seen done the most, which is why it’s on here. Popularity is a big factor of food rankings, and adding bacon to your mac will put a smile on your face.


There you have it! The seven best additions to take you mac and cheese to the next level. Whether you’re looking for something easy to whip up with your roommates, or you’re cooking for a team dinner, experiment by throwing in some of these additions (don’t be afraid to mix in multiple as well!) to impress and satisfy.


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