what goes well with mac and cheese

What Goes Well With Mac and Cheese

The Ultimate Guide to Perfect Mac and Cheese Pairings

Envision a creamy bowl of mac and cheese, rich in flavour and comforting in every bite. Mac and cheese is a classic comfort food loved by many, but what if you could elevate your mac and cheese experience? This guide will introduce you to the perfect pairings for your next mac and cheese meal.

We’ll dive into the world of cheese, exploring beyond trusty cheddar, and venture into the surprising realm of honey. Plus, we’ll unearth traditional food companions and innovative ingredients that can reinvent your bowl of mac and cheese. Let’s dive into the cheesy goodness!

what goes well with mac and cheese

What is Mac and Cheese?

Mac and cheese is a quintessential classic comfort food consisting of cooked macaroni pasta combined with a creamy cheese sauce. The dish originated in the United States but has since gained popularity worldwide, including in Australia. While the basic components remain the same, variations abound, with different cheeses, seasonings, and additional ingredients lending unique twists to the classic recipe.

what goes well with mac and cheese

Step-by-Step Guide to Making Mac and Cheese:

Now that we’ve explored what complements mac and cheese, let’s dive into how to make this comforting dish from scratch. Follow this step-by-step guide for a delicious homemade mac and cheese:


  • 250g elbow macaroni or any short pasta
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (such as cheddar, mozzarella, or a combination)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: additional ingredients like crispy bacon, sautéed mushrooms, or grilled prawns for serving


  1. Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once melted, whisk in the flour to create a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and bubbly.
  3. Gradually pour in the milk, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and gradually add the shredded cheese to the sauce, stirring until melted and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add the cooked macaroni to the cheese sauce, stirring until evenly coated.
  6. Serve the mac and cheese hot, optionally topped with crispy bacon, sautéed mushrooms, grilled prawns, roasted cherry tomatoes, or green peas.
 what goes well with mac and cheese

The Backbone of Mac and Cheese: Cheddar’s Role

At the heart of every mac & cheese lies a power player – cheddar. Its creamy texture and sharp, mature flavour make it a perfect choice of base for mac and cheese. Cheddar’s robust character stands up to pasta’s mild taste, creating a harmonious blend that’s hard to resist. But, understanding cheddar cheese is key to mastering mac and cheese.

Cheddar comes in varying maturity levels, each lending a unique profile to your dish. Mild cheddar is creamy and soft, while mature versions offer a stronger, fuller flavour. Choosing the right cheddar is like picking the perfect wine – it can transform your rich dish from delightful to delectable. Remember, quality matters. Opt for high-quality, full-fat cheddar to truly elevate your mac and cheese.

what goes well with mac and cheese

Venture Beyond Cheddar: Exploring Other Cheeses

Cheddar may be the traditional delicious option for mac and cheese, but venturing beyond it can take your dish to new heights. Incorporating different cheeses can add complexity to your dish. Consider melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella for a stringy, indulgent experience, or add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese for a flavour explosion.

For those seeking a gourmet touch, delve into the world of blue cheeses. Gorgonzola or Roquefort can add a luxurious tang to your mac and cheese. And, don’t forget smoked cheeses, which offer a hint of smokiness and are perfect for a unique twist. With an endless array of cheese combinations at your disposal, the combinations are endless!

what goes well with mac and cheese

Hive Time: An Unexpected yet Delicious Addition to Mac and Cheese

Picture this – your creamy, cheesy mac & cheese drizzled with the sweet, delicate savory flavor of honey. It might sound out of the ordinary, but honey can add a surprising depth of flavour to your dish. Honey’s sweetness complements the richness of the cheese, adding a delightful contrast that can tantalize your taste buds.

Opt for quality, raw honey to truly appreciate this combination. A light drizzle is all you need to transform your mac and cheese into a gourmet delight. Plus, honey is not just a topping. Consider incorporating it into your cheese sauce for a delicate, underlying sweetness that will make your mac and cheese stand out.

what goes well with mac and cheese

Classic Companions: Traditional Food Pairings with Mac and Cheese

Mac & cheese, with its creamy, indulgent character, pairs well with a variety of foods. Traditional companions like crisp, green salad cut through the richness, while a side of grilled sausages complements the cheese’s robust flavours. And don’t forget a comforting bowl of tomato soup, a pairing that’s stood the test of time.

Try complementing your mac and cheese with pickles or a dash of vinegar. The acidity cuts through the cheese’s richness, offering a refreshing contrast. Or, add some crunch with toasted breadcrumbs or crispy bacon. Exploring these classic combinations can lead to your next favourite mac and cheese pairing!

what goes well with mac and cheese

New Combinations: Unique Additions to Reinvent Your Mac and Cheese

Reinventing your mac and cheese can be as simple as trying a new ingredient. Experiment with spices like smoked paprika or cayenne for a hint of heat. Or, introduce some freshness with herbs like chives or basil. Truffle oil can add a touch of luxury, while caramelised onions offer a sweetness that enhances the cheese.

For the adventurous, try mac and cheese with kimchi for a tangy, flavorful twist or seaweed for a hint of the sea. These unique additions can elevate your mac and cheese from comforting to captivating. Don’t be afraid to get creative and play around with ingredients – you might stumble upon a groundbreaking combination!

what goes well with mac and cheese

FAQs About What Goes Well with Mac and Cheese:

what goes well with mac and cheese

Wrapping Up: Your Next Steps for Mac and Cheese Mastery

In the world of the classic dish of mac and cheese, the possibilities are endless. From cheddar to honey, traditional sides to unique add-ons, there’s a whole world of flavours waiting to pair with the next serving of your ultimate comfort food mac and cheese. Remember, the best mac and cheese is the one you love – so don’t be afraid to experiment and find your perfect pairing.

As you embark on this cheesy journey, remember to focus on quality. High-quality cheese, honey, and ingredients make a world of difference. So go ahead, get creative, and elevate your mac and cheese game. Your next unforgettable mac and cheese experience is just a pairing away!