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.
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!