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Spicy Mac and Cheese – Spicy Southern Kitchen

This Spicy Mac and Cheese recipe is an easy stove-top recipe with lots of kick from cayenne pepper and pepper jack cheese. It has all the things you love about mac and cheese, plus some heat.

Spicy Mac and Cheese in a skillet.

Ultra Creamy and Cheesy

The base for the mac and cheese is a bechamel sauce which is made from butter, flour, and milk. It forms a nice, creamy base for the cheese sauce. Added to the bechamel sauce are two types of cheese: Pepper Jack cheese and cheddar cheese in even proportions. The Pepper Jack adds some heat and melts well and cheddar cheese is practically a must for mac and cheese recipes.

Mac and Cheese in a skilet.

Turn Up The Heat

A half teaspoon of cayenne pepper combined with 1 1/2 cups of shredded Pepper Jack cheese adds quite a kick to this mac and cheese. If you want even more heat, serve with TABASCO Hot Sauce or Crystal Hot Sauce. They are two of my favs.

Recommended Equipment

  • Large Pasta Pot– this Stainless Steel Pasta Pot with straining lid makes it super easy to drain the pasta.
  • Whisk– I love to use a Balloon Whisk.
  • Box Grater– Mac and cheese always taste best if you shred your own cheese with a grater.

Add More Flavor

This mac and cheese tastes great with some browned andouille sausage or kielbasa sausage mixed in.

Spicy Mac and Cheese in a bowl.

Spicy Mac and Cheese Recipe Tips

I highly recommend grating your own cheese for this recipe rather than buying preshredded. Not only will it have better flavor, it will melt better too.

Be sure to salt the water when you cook the pasta and don’t overcook the pasta or your mac and cheese will have a mushy texture.

Add the cheese in batches and let it melt before adding more cheese. This will result in a smooth cheese sauce, not a grainy one.

Pasta Substitutions

Large elbow pasta is my preferred pasta shape for this recipe but you can use regular elbow macaroni, wagon wheels, penne, or cavatappi.


Leftovers will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If it gets a little dry, add a splash of milk before reheating in th microwave.

Fork lifting mac out of bowl.

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