My second ever mac of the month is here and I’m proud to present Cheetos Mac and Cheese! Cheetos are one of my very favorite kind of chip, so this was an obvious choice. When you use them as a topping for mac and cheese, it’s like using Cheetos breadcrumbs. And as amazing as breadcrumbs are, Cheetos crumbs are a whole new type of deliciousness.
I used a combination of old/sharp cheddar with monterey jack cheese with jalapenos for this recipe. Fun fact: If you’re Canadian and wonder why recipes always talk about “sharp” cheddar but you never see that type of cheese at the grocery store, it’s because in Canada it’s just called old cheddar. And honestly, sharp is probably a better word for it than old!
If you want a spicier mac and cheese, you can increase the proportions of spicy cheese that you use and decrease the regular cheddar. You can also use Flamin’ Hot Cheetos instead of Crunchy Cheetos which I suspect would be SO good.
To pulverize (I love that word) the Cheetos, I put them in my food processor. I highly recommend getting a food processor if you don’t already have one. Mine is a KitchenAid brand version and I love it! If you don’t have one, you can get creative with crushing your Cheetos. You can put them in a big Ziploc bag and crush them with a rolling pin or a kitchen mallet or even a wine bottle! Whatever you’ve got to do to get them to a finely ground texture.
The mac and cheese recipe I use for this gives you a very rich and creamy result! If you have a recipe you already know and love, feel free to use it and then try adding Cheetos to the top!
As you see from the picture, I used a very wide skillet to bake my mac and cheese. If you use a narrower pan, your Cheetos crust will be denser and thicker. Feel free to use less or more Cheetos/butter for the crust until you get the amount you like. This recipe is very forgiving!
Cheetos Mac and Cheese
- 3 cups uncooked rotini Or four servings of your desired noodle
- 4 tbsp butter For roux
- 4 tbsp flour
- 3.5 cups milk I used 1%
- 0.5 cups heavy cream For a richer mixture
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 0.5 tsp salt Or more, to taste
- 0.5 tsp ground mustard
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 2 heaping cups shredded cheddar Not from a bag - shred yourself for a way better result
- 0.5 heaping cups shredded monterey jack with jalapenos Or other spicy cheese
- 2 tbsp butter For Cheetos topping
- 2 cups Cheetos Crushed into crumbs
- In a large pot of salted water, boil your pasta according to package directions. Cook for one minute less than the package states if you like your pasta more al dente. While the pasta cooks, preheat your oven to 350F.
- In a large saucepan, melt 4 tbsp. of butter on medium heat. Once the butter has melted, whisk in the 4 tbsp. (1/4 cup) of flour, mixing constantly.
- Once the butter and flour are mixed and begin to form a paste, SLOWLY add the milk and cream. Stir constantly! Add the salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and mustard powder, and mix well. Keep cooking this mixture on medium heat until it begins to thicken and gently bubble.
- Once the roux is gently bubbling and has thickened up a little bit, turn off the heat. Now, add your 2.5 cups of cheese and stir gently. Turning off the heat and just allowing the heat from the roux to melt the cheese helps prevent the cheese form getting stringy.
- Add your cheese mixture to the noodles once all the cheese has melted and incorporated. Stir gently and pour into a butter, oven-safe dish.
- Melt 2 tbsp. of butter on medium heat. Add the crushed Cheetos to the melted butter and stir until it's all coated, about one or two minutes. Now spoon the buttered Cheetos crumbs onto the macaroni and cheese. Cover with tin foil or a lid, and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Watch for the Cheetos turning brown and open the door if you need to.
- Remove from the oven, serve, and enjoy!
- Feel free to use different types of cheese, but I always, always, always recommend shredding it yourself rather than buying pre-shredded cheese.
- Use more or less Cheetos according to how thick and dense you want the Cheetos crust to be. Be sure to use more/less butter for the topping as well according to how much Cheetos crust you use.
- I stored leftovers in the fridge and ate them for the next two days. The Cheetos topping isn't QUITE as crunchy after being in the fridge, but it didn't get soggy and still tasted awesome.
- If you use a different noodle than rotini, just follow package directions and cook four portions. I always measure pasta generously and like to use heaping portions.
Okay – I really hope you guys try this one! I think you’ll find it’s pretty much impossible to screw it up and not end up with something incredible! Stay tuned for March’s Mac of the Month!
xo – C
PS. Did you miss the first ever Mac of the Month? You’ll find it here.