Kicked-Up Mac and Cheese


Creamy mac and cheese gets a Southwest kick with the addition of tortilla chips, green chiles, and homemade taco seasoning.

Kicked-up mac and cheese fresh from the oven and waiting to be served.
Photo: Antonis Achilleos
Hands On Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
8 (serving size: about 1½ cups)


  • 1 pound cavatappi pasta

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

  • ½ cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon Taco Seasoning

  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 4 cups whole milk

  • 2 (4-oz.) cans chopped green chiles, drained

  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)

  • 8 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 2 cups), divided

  • 1 ½ cups crushed tortilla chips

  • Chopped scallions, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes (you want the noodles undercooked here since they keep cooking in the oven). Set aside.

  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low. Add onion and jalapeño; cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add flour, Taco Seasoning, and salt; cook, stirring constantly, until darkened, about 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium and simmer, whisking constantly, about 4 minutes. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until thickened, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in chiles. Add Monterey Jack cheese and 1½ cups of the Cheddar cheese; cook, whisking constantly, until cheese is melted and smooth, about 2 minutes.

  3. Remove mixture from heat and stir in cooked pasta. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish.

  4. Toss together tortilla chips and remaining ½ cup Cheddar cheese in a bowl. Sprinkle evenly over top of pasta mixture. Bake until bubbling and top is golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; garnish with scallions.

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