This Spicy Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese recipe is a fun twist on the original, but still made in less than 15 minutes! With standard macaroni and cheese ingredients and the addition of tomatoes, jalapeno and pepper jack cheese for a kick! This is sure to be a crowd favorite!
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Homemade Mac and Cheese (But Make It Spicy!)
Macaroni and cheese has to be one of the best comfort foods there is. I mean, c’mon, it’s creamy, rich, and loaded with tons of cheese. Food doesn’t get much better than that!
But this Spicy Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese is not your ordinary mac and cheese. Loaded with Jalapenos, tomatoes, pepper jack cheese, Tabasco and cayenne pepper, it packs in a lot of heat that’s mellowed out by the creamy cheese sauce.
This spicy mac and cheese recipe can be made on the stovetop in less than 15 minutes. Perfect for busy weeknights, weekend lunches, or meal-prepping!
- Cavatappi Pasta: I like this pasta for this Spicy Mac and Cheese for its shape and ability to hold the sauce on the inside, but you can use any dry pasta you like. Penne, farfalle or elbow macaroni would all work great!
- Roux: Make a simple roux as the thickening base for your cheese sauce using unsalted butter, all-purpose flour, and milk. Whole is best, but you can use any type of milk you prefer.
- Pepper Jack Cheese: This is one of the ingredients that gives this Spicy Mac and Cheese its kick. You can also use Monterey Jack cheese instead or sharp cheddar cheese.
- Cherry Tomatoes: Add a pop of color, texture and pops of sweetness to the mac and cheese! I use either cherry tomatoes or whole diced tomatoes. Whatever I have on hand.
- Jalapeno + Tabasco Sauce + Cayenne Pepper: Along with the pepper jack cheese, these make this homemade mac and cheese spicy, but not overly hot.
- Fresh Parsley: For garnish and pops of green
How To Make Spicy Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese
- Cook the Pasta: Boil the Cavatappi until al-dente, rinse with cold water in a colander and set aside.
- Make the Cheese Sauce: Start by preparing your roux. First, melt the butter in a small saucepan, then whisk in flour. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes, until toasted. Add the milk, and whisk constantly to combine while simmering for 3-4 minutes, or until thick. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese until melted and smooth.
- Add Mix-Ins: Stir in tomatoes, jalapeno, Tabasco, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.
- Assemble and Serve: Pour cheese sauce over the cooked noodles and toss to combine. Serve with a sprinkle of parsley for garnish.
- Make this a meal by adding some blackened chicken or shrimp! Even bacon or pancetta would be delicious. It’s also a great vegetarian meal all on its own!
- Add a variety of cherry or grape tomatoes for more color! Heirlooms are great for this.
- Add some diced bell peppers and/or minced garlic for more flavor without additional heat.
- Add some crunch by topping with toasted bread crumbs!
Want to make this as a casserole? Go for it! Just assemble in a baking dish and warm in the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or so, or until bubbling around the edges. Top with some shredded pepper jack and/or breadcrumbs, if desired.
Storage and Reheating Instructions
Store leftovers in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze this Spicy Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese for up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container or plastic bag, or you can freeze it as a casserole for easy reheating later.
Reheat in the microwave until warmed through and bubbling, or pop the casserole in the oven at 350 for 45 minutes until warmed through and bubbling around the edges.
More Pasta Recipes To Try
- Crockpot Chicken Alfredo
- Penne alla Vodka with Sundried Tomatoes
- Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
- Macaroni Salad
Spicy Pepper Jack Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups Cavatappi pasta, uncooked
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
- 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 1 teaspoon jalapeno, minced
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- salt and pepper, to taste
- fresh parsley chopped for garnish
- Boil pasta until al-dente.
- Meanwhile add butter to a small saucepan. Heat until melted.
- Stir in flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes.
- Add milk and simmer whisking constantly for another 3-4 minutes until thick.
- Take off of the heat and whisk in cheese until fully melted.
- Stir in tomatoes, jalapeno, Tabasco, cayenne pepper, ground mustard, Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour cheese sauce over the cooked noodles and toss to combine.
- Serve with a sprinkle of parsley for garnish and serve immediately!