Green Chile Mac and Cheese is one of those dishes that if a restaurant has it on the menu, I’m 100% going to order it. There’s just something about that green chile flavor paired with creamy cheese that I can’t get enough of. So why, in green chile heaven, had I not made it myself at home yet?? It was time to fix that. ;)
Green Chile Mac: The Long Way and The Short Way
There are a few ways you can go about making green chile mac, but they all fall into two categories: the long way or the short way. The long way means buying fresh hatch chile peppers and roasting them yourself before adding them to your mac and cheese. This will definitely get you the most delicious and smokey green chile flavor, but in most of the U.S. fresh hatch chiles aren’t readily available year-round.
So I decided to make my green chile mac and cheese the short way, using canned green chiles. It’s fast, easy, and still gets you a good amount of that green chile flavor! And that’s more my style (most nights of the week, anyway).
Is it Spicy?
Green chiles can be spicy or mild. If you can’t handle the heat, make sure to look for a canned green chile that specifically says “mild” on the label. The recipe below also includes a pinch of crushed red pepper and while that ingredient can be spicy, it’s in such a small quantity in the recipe that it will not add a significant amount of heat to your green chile mac and cheese.
What Kind of Cheese is Best for Green Chile Mac and Cheese?
For macaroni and cheese in general, you want something that melts smoothly instead of stringy. Cheeses in the cheddar family melt smoothly, while mozzarella is a good example of a stringy cheese. To go with the green chile and cumin flavors in this dish, I recommend going with either a white cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a pepper jack if you want your mac to be a little spicier.
How Are the Leftovers?
Cheese sauces are usually a lot better when fresh compared to after refrigeration and reheating, but I still enjoyed the leftovers of this green chile mac and cheese quite a bit! While the cheese sauce wasn’t quite as smooth and saucy, the green chile flavor does intensify as it refrigerates, which added to the enjoyment.
What to Serve with Green Chile Mac
I wouldn’t be opposed to sitting down to a large bowl of this as my whole meal, but it’s probably best used as a side dish. I’d serve this macaroni and cheese as a side to something like BBQ Cheddar Baked Chicken, Turkey Taco Skillet, Easy Cilantro Lime Chicken, Chipotle Portobello Oven Fajitas, or Smoky Black Bean Soup.
Also be sure to check out my extra cheesy classic Homemade Mac and Cheese recipe!
Green Chile Mac and Cheese
- 1/2 lb. macaroni ($0.50)
- 2 Tbsp butter ($0.10)
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour ($0.02)
- 2 cups whole milk ($0.82)
- 8 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded ($1.69)
- 2 4oz. cans diced green chiles ($1.78)
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin ($0.05)
- 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. Once boiling, add the macaroni and continue to boil until tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the macaroni in a colander.
- While the macaroni is cooking, prepare the green chile cheese sauce. Add the butter and flour to a saucepot and cook over medium heat while stirring for about 2 minutes.
- Whisk the milk into the cooked butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk and cook over medium heat until the milk begins to simmer, at which point it will thicken to a cream-like consistency.
- Turn the heat off. Begin stirring in the shredded Monterey Jack cheese, one handful at a time, until fully melted into the sauce.
- Drain the canned green chiles and stir them into the cheese sauce along with the cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Make sure it is heavily seasoned as the flavor will dilute slightly when mixed with the pasta.
- Finally, combine the cooked and drained pasta with the green chile cheese sauce. Serve hot.
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How to Make Green Chile Mac and Cheese – Step by Step Photos
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the macaroni. Once boiling, add 1/2 lb. macaroni and continue to boil until the macaroni is tender (7-10 minutes). Drain the macaroni in a colander.
While the macaroni is cooking, begin the cheese sauce. Add 2 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour to a sauce pot. Cook over medium while stirring for about 2 minutes.
Whisk 2 cups whole milk into the saucepot with the butter and flour. Continue to cook and whisk over medium heat until the milk comes up to a simmer, at which point it will thicken. It should thicken to the consistency of cream.
Turn off the heat and begin stirring in the 8oz. shredded Monterey Jack cheese, one handful at a time, until it is all melted into the sauce.
Drain two 4oz. cans of diced green chiles, then add them to the cheese sauce along with ½ tsp cumin, ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper, and ¼ tsp salt. Stir to combine, then taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings to your liking if needed. The sauce should taste heavily seasoned as the flavor will dilute a bit when mixed with the pasta.
Finally, combine the cooked and drained pasta with the green chile cheese sauce.
Serve and enjoy while it’s hot and creamy!
Made this today, exactly as in the recipe. Turned out so good! Love love love
I accidentally kept the heat on while adding the cheese and the milk curdled a little :( Besides the texture, the taste is nice.
Super delish! I did use a whole pound of pasta, it was swimming in sauce with a half pound. I also doubled up on the spices. Would be good to use a can of Rotel (would have to cut back on the milk a bit or it would be too thin) and a can of green chilies. It’s a keeper!
I used soy milk instead of whole milk to cut down on the dairy a little bit – it still came out great!
I made this tonight but without the red pepper flakes. It was unbelievably delicious. I paired it with the cilantro lime chicken and roasted broccoli. I cannot wait to eat the leftovers for lunch.
I’ve gotten away with using almond milk for basically every other Budget Bytes mac and cheese recipe, but it didn’t work here. Be warned! Although a little soupy, the flavor was amazing.
I used oatmilk and it was a tad thin, but I wouldn’t call it a fail.
MMM this was so good and flavorful! Loved the spice – just enough to give this dish a great flavor but was not spicy to us at all.
OMG. I used the shredded triple pepper (jalapeno, habanero and ghost pepper) jack cheese from the store and this was SOOO good. I had to stop myself from eating the whole pot.
Great recipe. I subbed shells for macaroni, brown rice flour for white flour, med sharp cheddar for monterey jack cheese, and reduced fat milk for whole milk. Also left out red pep flakes, not my thing.
Really good recipe. Totally hit the spot.
Fantastic web site. Lots of useful info here. I am sending it to several friends and additionally sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks for your sharing!
I’ve followed Budget Bytes for years, love her! You know what else would be great? Add some warm homemade salsa. ❤️🌶🍅
Oooh, I love that idea!
Looking to make a half-recipe and have everything but Monterey Jack. In our cheese drawer is a wedge of parm, sliced swiss and provolone, herb goat cheese, and cream cheese. Would any (or combo) of these work in a pinch?
And a bit of feta.
You might be able to combine the cream cheese and provolone. Provolone tends to be one of the stringier cheeses when melted (it’s often used on pizza with mozzarella and gives that nice cheese “pull” effect), but the cream cheese might help it smooth out. But that’s just a guess, it’s hard to say without trying it and I wouldn’t say that any of those cheeses are really the best choice for this type of recipe.
I can’t wait to make this! My husband and I lived in NM for a few years and we miss green chile in everything. This right up our alley!
This sounds so good. I sent the link to the recipe to my granddaughter who mostly eats some form of mac and cheese for most meals!