Macaroni and cheese is a timeless institution. Whether it traces its origins to the pastas of Italy or the epicenter of Goulash in modern-day Hungary, it is now here.
It is here, it is everywhere, all ages adore it, and--most importantly--it's full of opportunity.
A recent Reddit thread asked for input from the creative minds of the internet's far reaches. Noodle artists came from far and wide to offer their artistic visions for the basic mac and cheese canvas.
The list came together to offer a wonderful menu of new options for the future of your mac and cheese making. Various meats, spices, preparation methods, and oddball ingredients were all covered.
The thread was an illustration of crowd-sourcing at its finest.
Redditor_2017 asked, "What do you add to enhance Mac and Cheese?"
Necessity Drives Innovation
"Picky eaters in my house have caused much experimentation with this already wonderful meal."
- "Any protein. Sausages, tuna, turkey, and so on."
- "Try adding small amount of other cheeses to the mixing step. Velveeta for cheap. Parmesean for flavor and texture. Try Gouda for smoky. Sure, you could just add more cheddar (mild for additional cheesy flavor, medium for subtle uptick, sharp for a lot more cheesy bang)."
- "Hot sauce. There are endless flavor variations here."
- "I've heard cream corn is good to add, but I'm not that crazy."
Fats and Lipids, Baby
"Bacon and a little tiny bit of truffle oil."
"My friends and I had a mac'n'cheese competition night a few years back. We all made our own versions of loaded mac'n'cheese and everyone + significant others voted on their favorite. These were my favorite additions."
"PS most of the people in my friend group are at least slightly lactose-intolerant, but we persevered."
Covers All the Bases
"I like to combine smoked Gouda + old sharp cheddar + mozzarella. You get the strong flavor, melted stringy cheese goodness and some smoked flavor that is always welcomed." -- moy-moi
"I like sharp cheddar, Parmesan, and goat cheese, plus I replace the butter with mascarpone. Sometimes I add some fresh, finely chopped rosemary, too." -- Rubinev
"Bacon, garlic salt and cayenne pepper." -- GrilledStuffedDragon
"Can interchange bacon with chicken and jalapeño or any peppers will do. The college meal would be hot dogs" -- Shi**yLiftingTips
"garlic salt and pepper automatically make any dish better. it is known" -- Pyrle
Mustard From Out of Nowhere
"Gruyere, paprika, cayenne, ground mustard." -- 01kaj10
"I made this exact mixture the first time I made homemade Mac and cheese. It's delicious. I just threw it all together without any recipe thinking 'this might be good.' "
"If I make boxed Mac and cheese now I always throw in some smoked paprika and fresh ground pepper. It tastes so much better." -- pocketchange2247
"Yes. Also English mustard and mustard seeds. I put mustard seeds in way too many foods" -- Lonelysock2
Ideal Leftover Collaboration
"Mac n cheese and baked brown beans are DELICIOUS together. Nothing fancy, just Kraft and Bush's"
"I also love when the stars align and I have leftover mac n cheese AND leftover taco meat. They are so good mixed together!"
"Chorizo is the best addition I've come across so far, a friend suggested it a little while back and it's quickly become my favorite enhancement!"
"Tuna has also been pretty good, I'll usually put in a can and it mixes in pretty well."
The Right Tools
"Well I'm not sure if this is going to count, but instead of using a stove I use my pellet smoker. If you have a smoker I 100% encourage you to try this!" -- BlueCollarComedyTour
"I will for sure be giving this a try." -- Thechaser45
"Bro, do you smoke?" -- Genocide_Fan
Very Enthusiastic About Bread Crumbs
"BREAD CRUMBS" -- picklesupreme
"Onion powder works pretty well too, plus some freshly grated cheese (as opposed to pre packaged grated cheese)" -- picklesupreme
"Hol' up" -- Crumbs04
All the Food Groups
"Peas. Because peas are awesome and I can lie to myself about now unhealthy my meal really is" -- SaltyChickenDip
"Oh my gosh all the indulgent answers had kind of shamed me out of saying this! So I'm glad there's someone else out there!" -- Manatee3232
"I came here to find somebody else commenting 'peas.' Peas and tuna all the way." -- Niles4Me
Want to "know" more? Never miss another big, odd, funny, or heartbreaking moment again. Sign up for the Knowable newsletter here.
Not all cooking is meditative and beautiful, no matter what Chef's Table may suggest. It's often rushed, made in the not-yet-dissipated cloud of workday stress and commuting traffic anger.
But many people do have at least one meal—often only that one—in their arsenal that provides an oasis to it all.
It's a dish they always come back to, as much to enjoy the process of putting it together as enjoying its taste at the end. Or it could be the trusty choice on account of its function: a reliable, delicious plate that manages to impress every time.
And even better than knowing those recipes are somewhere out there is having access to a whole slew of them.
Elizathefirst asked, "What do you love to cook?"
"I love making things with dough. Pasta, noodles, baozi, breads and pizza... I find it greatly soothing watching yeast do it's hard work and imagining magical sparks as enzymes get going and gluten develops; as well as a great treat at the end."
"My family disagrees with me that the dough is part of the reward, but I know."
Checks All the Boxes
"The perfect steakhouse meal: New York strip steaks, grilled to medium-rare, with pan-seared mushrooms and a side of garlic mashed potatoes."
"And if I really like you, or if the group is a little larger, needing to spread the side dishes a bit more, add oven-roasted asparagus and oven-roasted Brussels sprouts."
Key Ingredient: “Wooden Hammer Thing”
"There's this thing my girlfriend taught me how to cook. A Texas BBQ escalope is what she calls it and it's delicious. It's a chicken breast sliced open, tenderized with this wooden hammer thing and laid out flat."
"You Get 2 bowls, one with egg yoke and the other with breadcrumbs, cover the chicken breast in the yoke and then roll it in the breadcrumb bowl so that the breadcrumbs stick to it and then stick it in the oven for a bit, just long enough to get it cooked to the point that the breadcrumbs are going to stay on the chicken properly."
"Then you take it out, pop it in the frying pan until one side is fully cooked. Then you take it out and use a knife to spread BBQ sauce over the cooked side and sprinkle some cheese on it. Pop it back in the frying pan until the other side is cooked. The cheese melts in the process."
"It's bloody delicious."
A Divine Mac
"There's a Slovak dish called Halušky, which is kind of like eating Mac n Cheese, if Mac n Cheese was made by the God of Flavortown. It's pretty simple to make, only requires potatoes, flour (traditionally an egg, but not required), onion, bacon, and cheese." -- bjornnsky
"I'm like 99% sure Guy Fieri has made mac n cheese." -- stormzerino
A Historic Taste
"There is this crazy dish that I cook maybe once every five years. It's an insanely complicated recipe from the 1700s that starts with boning an entire chicken without cutting it into pieces - you cut it open along the spine and then bone out from there while keeping the whole chicken intact. You stuff it with layers of forcemeat, truffles, and nuts, sew it shut, and cook it."
"Sometimes I just really want to cook something ridiculous, and this dish always scratches that itch. It's an all-day, lose-yourself-in-your-cooking task."
Dinner for Breakfast
"Shrimp fried rice, specifically for breakfast. I make extra rice and extra stir fried veggies just so I'll have leftovers to make fried rice with. There's a grocery near me that carries bags of frozen 'salad' shrimp. Rice, veg, shrimp, egg, soy, toasted sesame: breakfast!" -- Flahdagal
"You're telling me a shrimp fried this rice? Yeah okay." -- therealAndrewLingo
"Large scallops and angel hair pasta, its soo flipping easy to make, and scallops are fantastic for me right now since I just had a gallbladder removal surgery and need to be on a low fat diet. I highly recommend trying your hand at scallops and pairing it with any pasta or veggies!" -- zombiamante
"Scallops - the ocean's most perfect food. Preferably seared on hot cast iron." -- acjgoblu
Sensing a Theme Here
"I make a mean nontraditional Irish stew with beef, carrots, potatoes, celery, onions, and a bottle of Heineken. (Tried Guinness once but it was too bitter)."
"It takes a while to make but it is always so worth it and my family really seem to like it so it makes me happy that I can give them good food they genuinely enjoy."
"Bonus: I also love making my coffee/chocolate Bailey's Irish Cream cake."
Meat, Best as a Sphere
"Meatballs. Any and all kinds. Jerk pork meatballs with red pepper gravy, Asian meatballs, lamb meatballs with tzatziki sauce, next is a thanksgiving meatball with cranberry." -- FoodTruckFiletMignon
"Same, I have no recipe and make them a bit different each time, sometime moore cheesy, or more onion, chili, hint of curry, almost anything will work in a meatball. No matter how many I make they are gone same day." -- OldMork
For Winning at Parties
"Not exactly cooking, but I do like to make marshmallows. They're relatively easy, taste great(marshmallows are my favorite candy and homemade ones are way better than the ones you buy), and they're pretty impressive, because people don't really know how they're made. It's also super easy to mess around with flavors."
"Basically, you make a sugar syrup and then whip it a lot with some gelatin. There are tons of recipes online, if you want to make them." -- Llama-en-llama
"I made marshmallows for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I was so impressed with myself and I shamelessly told everybody about it." -- themamajo
Simple, but Beloved
"Chocolate Chip Cookies. Nothing can beat just making Chocolate Chip Cookies." -- 121mc555
"Eating them beats it." -- ZLUCremisi
"I've been driving myself crazy trying to recreate the Famous Amos recipe. Every single 'copycat' I try ends up too pale (even using 100% dark brown sugar) and not deep in flavour enough."
"Also, with the lockdown, I can't share the delicious failures with friends and coworkers." -- _antelopenoises
"Pasta. So many things you can do with it. Toss is with some sauce, toss it with some pesto, toss it at your kids, the opportunities are endless." -- Herogamer555
"The worst part is waiting forever to get the water to boil if you are making a big amount." -- Cowboy_Spongebob
" 'Dad, I'm hungry.' smack." -- poopellar
A Good Friend to Have Around...
"I love baking cakes." -- [deleted]
"Same, I just don't do decorating. I'm not wasting time on something like that." -- MosquitoRevenge
"Oooo! We could be friends! I like to decorate and hate wasting the time baking the cake." -- YouKnowHowIBe
An Impressive Choice
"There are a lot of things I like to cook but candy is one I really enjoy. I make Almond Roca, and a peanut butter cup to die for." -- StalwartExplorer
"I want to be friends with you. Two of my most favorite candies! Is the process hard? I've always wanted to try my hand at candy making. I'm not a good baker bc I hate to follow directions, I wonder if candy making would be better for me." -- counterspell
Keep It Movin'
"I love to cook soups in the fall and winter. Creamy tomato bail parmesan, vegetable, Asiago bisque, and if you count it as a soup, chili."
"In the summer and early/mid fall, I really live to work the grill. Chicken, steak, corn, vegetable and meat kabobs, and sometimes I will smoke a brisket."
"Year round I enjoy making homemade pizza. I hope to have a wood fired oven one day."
"Borscht soup (sour soup)."
"It's a very healthy dish and the only thing my husband taught me to cook that actually stuck with me."
"..I cook it when I'm missing him."
Some Pleasant Monotony
"Stuffed grape leaves! My Egyptian mother in law taught me how to make them, and I'm so grateful. Filling them and rolling them up is so relaxing, and they're so delicious." -- sentient-cookie
"If you like doing that, may I recommend making gołąbki too? It's a similar process but a different culture's but still really relaxing and tasty." -- deekochana
A Spin on the OG Pancake
"Buckwheat salty pancakes. It's a traditional dish from Brittany, France. You mix an egg, 300g buckwheat flour and water. Make large and thin pancakes. Fry the pancakes in butter, put cheese, an egg and some ham on it while is frying and close it."
"It's bloody delicious. You can put anything you want in it, cheese+egg+ham is just the classic combination."
Do you have something to confess to George? Text "Secrets" or "" to +1 (310) 299-9390 to talk to him about it.
The unique crowd-sourcing capabilities of the internet has changed the game for most of the niches and corners of people's interests that exist.
Cooking techniques are a prime example.
The world of cooking techniques and secret recipes no longer looks like it once did. Just a few decades ago, obtaining a secret recipe was a monumental act.
You had to get in touch with your parents or a relative, look at a 60-year-old index card covered in your great-grandmother's illegible script, and make blind guesses at the measurements--which were noticeably absent.
Then, after two or three attempts, you finally work the dish out perfectly. After all that work, it's a fat chance that you'd ever pass an earned heirloom like that along to even your closest friend.
Now, you click around for about 10 minutes until you find a very well explained recipe on a website that's hidden just enough to ensure not everyone at the upcoming potluck read it. Boom, secret recipe.
One Reddit thread went so far as to quicken the process even more. It's a helpful forum full of techniques and casual recipes. It's as beneficial as it is existentially threatening to the "secret recipe" altogether.
speakthat asked, "What is your personal and unique quick recipe/food hack?"
"If you can afford actually good balsamic vinegar, just a little drizzle can be amazing."
"People have regularly been like, 'Wow, I don't usually like salad but this is awesome' or, 'Damn, you make the best vegetables.' ... It's literally just a bit of pretty decent balsamic (not the insanely expensive stuff, but not off the shelf of your average grocery store), olive oil, and salt."
"Also works to brush on stuff like roasting carrots for a glaze."
"You can throw nearly anything on pancakes and most times it will taste good." -- Red_Distruction
"Pancakes and burgers is the fun, but ugly, cousin to chicken and waffles." -- johnnycakeAK
"When making mac and cheese, blend up some (cooked) carrots and cauliflower with some milk/water so you end up with an orange-y liquid, add cheese and then mix in some cooked macaroni. It makes it creamier, healthier and thicker and you barely taste any difference."
Split and Unite
"If you're making an omelette, separate the yolks and the whites before you cook them. Whisk them both up individually (do the whites until they become frothy), mix the two back together and then cook them as normal. It'll make it super wobbly and fluffy as opposed to a patchy dry mess."
"Crack an egg and stir (or not) into the boiling soup of any cheap-a** (or not) instant noodle and you've now got some tasty ghetto fabulous broth to enjoy. Use two eggs if you're feeling naughty."
For the Warm Weather Coming
"Sliced cucumber with no fat Italian dressing, salt, pepper, paprika. Its healthy, bright, and has a little kick. A nice, cheap summer time snack."
"I substitute unsweetened, plain Greek yogurt for sour cream all the time. On home-made tacos and burritos most often, but even with a bit of ranch seasoning for veggie dip."
"It has more of a bite than the sour cream, which I like, and I feel like I'm getting a better nutrition bang for my buck. I don't like sweetened yogurt, so this has been a nifty way to work it in to my diet still."
A Take on the Flatbread
"Naan bread, any type of sandwich meat, tiny tomatoes, spinach, gouda cheese. Throw in random spices of the day, usually garlic salt, paprika, Italian seasoning, and ground black pepper."
"Throw everything to half a side of the naan bread, fold over bread, throw naan on pan with lid to grill and melt the cheese. Serve with taziki sauce or mayo sriracha. 👌 sounds like a lot of work but it takes me less than 10 minutes to have a easy semi healthy dinner."
The Open-Faced 1970s
"A can of tuna mixed with a can of cream of mushroom soup. Scoop it onto halves of hamburger buns. Sprinkle it with cheddar cheese. Bake open faced in oven at 350 until cheese is melted. My mom learned this in Home-Ec in junior high in the 70's!"
A Premium Extra Layer
"When I bake banana bread, I always butter the loaf pan, then throw in a tbsp or two of sugar to coat all of the butter. Gives the bread a really nice sweet finish on the outside without the use of a glaze."
"I tried this with dark brown sugar once and ended up with a loaf soaked in molasses, which was disgusting so definitely stick with normal granulated sugar for this one lol."
Do you have something to confess to George? Text "Secrets" or "" to +1 (310) 299-9390 to talk to him about it.
Cooking is hard. Not only that, but it takes a lot of time and energy to make a good meal. However, there are some cheat codes when it comes to making yourself some tasty food. In fact, there are plenty of meals that you can make using only three ingredients. Here are some examples, straight from Reddit.
u/moneybot13 asked: What is the best three ingredient meal?
Black beans, rice, and one topping of choice. Always delicious.
I do salsa and maybe some cheese. Eat it with corn chips.
The best meal.Giphy
Take a standard sized tumbler, add a splash of whiskey, then fill it the rest of the way up with whiskey. I call it "a big glass of whiskey".
Sorry, never mind. More whiskey.
Hey, that's cheating.
I can make a fantastic pizza by combining just cheese, tomatoes, and a fully prepared pizza.
Tortilla, sauce, mozz cheese. It won't be great because theres no seasoning but it'll be pretty solid.
Buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes, basil.
I just learned that buffalo mozzarella is from buffalos.
Wait 'till you hear about their wings.
Both excellent choices.Giphy
Pasta, butter, grated Parmesan cheese.
Pasta, olive oil, garlic.
There's a lot you can do with eggs.
Eggs, salt, and pepper.
Fried egg, white rice, and soy sauce is pretty great.
A universal favorite.Giphy
I'm in the US and poutine is on my bucket list of foods to try! I feel like it wouldn't be the same if I just made it myself...
Love a good Spam.
Rice, Spam, eggs.
Yeah Filipinos know: rice, sunny side egg, (any salty protein).
Spam, bacon, sausage, dried fish, hot dog even.
That sounds so good.
Cacio e pepe. Trust me man. Super easy and absolutely delicious. You only need spaghetti, pecorino (you can use parmesan) and black pepper. Thank me later!
Sriracha is good on everything.Giphy
Toast, poached egg and a drizzle of sriracha mayo.
If you're allowed to branch out, add some sliced avo and some crumbled Danish feta.
That actually sounds amazing.
Baguette, brie cheese & jalapeños.
Box of cake mix, 1/2 a cup vegetable oil, 2 eggs. Makes "cake box cookies" that taste just like your favorite cake. My favourite cookies!
My mouth is watering.Giphy
Slightly more than 3 ingredients but...
Take some potatoes and cut them into quarters long ways. Then cut then into about 1/4 inch thick slices.
Sautee an onion in oil of your choice with garlic.
Add a little more oil, enough to cover the potatoes but not too much. Add potatoes and turn heat down to just above half.
Cover the shit out of them with salt and pepper, stir every 30 seconds to a minute adding more salt and pepper each time. Make sure to cover the potatoes in the stuff every time you stir them.
After cooking for about 20 minutes, or until desired softness, serve.
It's a family recipe. German fried potatoes. Wonderful side dish for any meal.
Udon noodles, tin of tuna and hot sauce.
My go to quick meal.
The humble potato is pretty much everyone's favorite comfort carb. It's the kind of thing that can be elevated fine dining, casual street food, or even a knock out drink!
Potatoes can be bread, pasta, a snack, a meal - or even an artistic medium and source of energy if you're not in the mood to actually eat the super spud.
Reddit user flacidballoon asked:
The result is an ode to the only root to ever derail a potential presidential campaign; and it is GLORIOUS. If you're low-carb or no-carb, you might want to skip this article. For the rest of us, grab your forks and let's get down.
Butter Butter Butter
It's kind of amazing how much butter you can get into finely mashed potatoes. Fine dining restaurants use about a 3:1 ratio (three pounds potatoes: one pound butter). Ridiculous.
A famous chef actually used half and half. Apparently it tastes like heaven... Probably because you're considerably closer to going there if you eat it a lot.
If something tastes like heaven at a restaurant you can be quite sure it's because of excessive amounts of cream or butter in the dish.
Flavor Delivery Device
All potatoes are just flavor delivery devices. Potatoes are very bland, hence why nearly every method to prepare them uses tons of salt or other condiments.
Ever had unsalted french fries? Nasty.
Mashed potatoes without butter, salt and milk? Nasty.
Potatoes au-gratin? Tons of cheese, salt and cream.
Pommes dauphinoise? Again with the salt and cream.
Pommes Anna? Salt and butter.
Hasselback potatoes? Salt, butter and herbs.
Potatoes make a very good base to add other flavors to. It's all in how you prepare them. A baked potato is not fully prepared until you slather it with butter and other toppings. Just like mashed potatoes aren't fully prepared till you add the butter, milk and salt.
Source: classically trained chef.
I liked them boiled. Or mashed. Maybe stick 'em in a stew.
What's taters, precious??
This. With extra crispiness on the outside
Non-crispy hash browns are a total why bother.
With a runny egg and country gravy on it.
Carne Asada Fries
Carne asada fries.
Someone wanna explain what this is? I know I could google but that doesn't help the next guy, or further the discussion. Carne is meat, what kind of meat? What does asada mean?
Carne Asada is a type of steak often used in Mexican food. Marinated, grilled, and thinly sliced. It's absolutely delicious. Carne Asada fries is just fries, steak, cheese, and then whatever other toppings you want (guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo, etc).
Scalloped Does Not Mean Scallops... Or Cheese
Scalloped with lots of sharp cheddar.
I avoided them my whole childhood because I hate scallops, big mistake.
Me too! I never really asked I just heard and declined immediately, with that kind of name I must not like them. I went like 15 years without the deliciousness in my life. Who wouldn't like potatoes with tons of cheese?
My grandma made the BEST scalloped potatoes. Thin sliced so all potatoes were tender, lots of cheese plus some (I think) sour cream to make it all creamy. Tissue-thin onions that melted into the cheese sauce.
She's been gone 7 years. My aunt makes them every holiday, but she's a joke of a cook and takes short cuts so it's all crap. I know I could recreate it, so could my mom. But, it's just not the same. You KNOW it's not made by grandma.
I miss my grandma.
Here is my weird hill to die on. Scalloped potatoes do not have cheese! I love cheese so much, BUT scalloped potatoes should be a white sauce. If including cheese you are now making potatoes au gratin. I am the type of cook who will at least double the cheese in any recipe, but we grew up eating scalloped ham and potatoes on special occasions and there was no cheese.
Thank you! I was dumbfounded everyone was agreeing and no one was pointing this out.
Poutine- french fries covered in cheese curds and gravy.
Not my favorite way per se, but a way that I just tried recently. Pickled potatoes.
The Mexican restaurant on the corner serves pickled potatoes alongside their pickled jalapenos. I decided to give them a try. Sliced potatoes 1/4" thick and boiled them for about 10 minutes until they were edible but firm. I packed them in a jar with 50/50 vinegar/water and 2 tbsp of salt. Other herbs and spices to taste. I used oregano, thyme and crushed red pepper.
After a week in the fridge, they're a great beer snack. Also add carrots and jalapenos to the same batch for a variety of pickles in a single jar.