This post has been sponsored by the makers of the LA VICTORIA® brand. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I was so excited to make this recipe for Salsa Mac and Cheese. In college, we had a food truck on campus and it served the most amazing jalapeño mac and cheese, which I used to add hot sauce and salsa to. Because I like my food extra spicy. It was the best. Depending on where it was parked I would occasionally make friends walk the entire campus with me just to get this mac and cheese. So, when my partnership using LA VICTORIA® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa Verde came up, I was so excited to recreate this dish.
Stovetop macaroni and cheese is my favorite way to make creamy mac and cheese. The cheese melts so nicely and the roux helps it to get extra thick. And for this version, you can also toast up the jalapeños for extra flavor. This is a great side dish for summer BBQs or picnics. Or it can be served as a main dish for a delicious dinner. The perfect comfort food. Another great easy go-to meal I love is this Sheet Pan Nacho recipe. It’s another recipe where I use LA VICTORIA® Salsa in the actual recipe. I love using their salsa to cook my recipes, as well as top them off!
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Jalapeño Mac n Cheese
This salsa mac and cheese recipe is so easy to make and comes together fairly quickly on the stove. I hate using my oven during the warmer months, so this is a great recipe that comes together without adding too much heat to your kitchen. It also only uses 2 pots. I use one pot for boiling and cooking the pasta and another saucepan for making the cheese sauce. Then I strain the pasta and add it back into the pot, mix in the cheese sauce, and you’re good to go. I like to use a nice pot for the mac and cheese and serve it directly out of that. But you can also transfer it to a serving dish.
This recipe has an amazing flavor profile. Not only do you have thick, gooey cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses, but you have toasted jalapeños, salsa verde, and spices. It’s not your average macaroni and it packs so much flavor. I hope you give it a try.
Save Now on LA VICTORIA® Salsa here: https://ahalogy.link/LA-VICTORIA_Coupon-Page
I always suggest using exactly what a recipe calls for, especially if you want it to taste and come out correctly. You can try substitutes not mentioned, however, I can’t guarantee their outcome. If you’re looking for gluten-free, dairy-free, etc. it might be best to find a blog with that type of recipe. I am someone with a LOT of dietary restrictions and I can tell you, substituting is not always so easy. You are of course, more than welcome to try it, just a word of warning.
Here are a few notes about these ingredients:
- Pasta: The pasta type for macaroni can vary. Your best options are elbow macaroni, shell pasta, penne/tubular pasta, or cavatappi/corkscrew pasta (like I used here). You want to use these types as they will hold the cheese sauce the best. The sauce is able to get into tubular pasta easily and sticks well to them. And fills in shells as well.
- Butter: I use unsalted almost always so I can control the salt content. Especially since we are adding in a lot of cheese. You want to be able to control how salty the dish is.
- Jalapeño: This controls your spice level. I deseed my jalapeño, but to make the mac and cheese extra spicy you can leave in the seeds or even do two jalapeños.
- Cheese: You really want an extra cheesy dish, that’s why I use a mix of white cheddar and Monterey Jack. I love this combo and it comes together for a creamy sauce. You can substitute the jack for more cheddar if you prefer or even something like gouda or American cheese. It will change the flavor profile, so choose something you enjoy. A note for your shopping list, try to buy a block of cheese and shred yourself. Pre-shredded cheese has preservatives to keep them shredded and can be difficult to mix in.
- Salsa Verde: I am using LA VICTORIA® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa Verde for this salsa mac and cheese, it has delicious chunks of actual tomatillos and they have reliable quality of flavor in every jar of salsa!
Here are some of my go-to tips for making the best creamy macaroni and cheese. Most of these kitchen tips will be listed in the notes section of the recipe card as well so they will be there if you print it off.
- Cooking pasta: Cook your pasta until al dente, firm to the bite. You want it to not be overcooked as it will continue to cook just a bit in the cheese sauce as well. Cook pasta as you cook your cheese sauce so it doesn’t sit out too long, which can dry it out.
- Making a roux: To make a roux you are essentially adding fat and flour to create a thick mixture, then make a sauce. Melt down your butter over medium heat or medium-high heat and then add in a little flour. I do something a little less traditional here and add the jalapeños after melting the butter. You still come up with a nice roux, however. You can at this stage use a whisk or a flat silicone or wooden spatula.
- Whisking in milk: To get that thick sauce from the roux and the milk, you need to whisk it on a lower temperature and continue to let it cook for a while. Also, using a milk higher in fat content helps, like whole milk or even heavy cream.
- Adding in cheese: It’s really important to slowly whisk in cheeses in small batches. This helps to melt it in completely. Whisk until melted.
- Add on garnish: Once you mix the cheese sauce and pasta, scoop into a serving dish. Make it look even more beautiful and top with a little bit of cilantro, slices of jalapeños, extra salsa, or a little extra cheese.
How to Make Spicy Mac and Cheese
These are some of the basic steps to make a salsa mac and cheese that you see above.
- Make a roux by melting butter, lightly toasting the jalapeños for a few minutes, and add in the flour. Whisk until the flour is fully incorporated. Then you’ll add milk and let thicken.
- Once the roux and milk have thickened, you will add in your shredded cheese. Shredded cheese will help it melt down quicker. You will also want to add the cheese in batches so that it can melt easier.
- Add in salsa and seasonings. Mix well.
- Take drained noodles and add in the cheese sauce. Mix well. Transfer to a serving dish if you would like. Top with additional garnish and serve!
Some great spices to add to mac and cheese are herbs like parsley and basil in more traditional mac and cheese. You can also add in red chili flakes for some spice. In this recipe, I use chili powder, cayenne, jalapeños, and salsa verde.
The creamiest mac and cheese is made on the stove. You will need to make a roux which will thicken your sauce and make it extra creamy. You will also want a very melty cheese type: cheddars, Monterey jack, fontina, gruyere, American, or anything that will melt well. Lastly, you’ll want a high-fat milk or milk alternative. Whole milk or even heavy cream works great.
Cheeses that are great for mac and cheese are usually ones that are very melty. Typically, you’ll find the main cheeses to be cheddar or American. Then additional cheeses might be added. But you can use any cheese that will melt: cheddars, Monterey jack, fontina, brie, gruyere, mozzarella, American, gouda, goat cheese, cream cheese, or anything that will melt well. Also, try to buy a block of cheese and shred yourself. Pre-shredded cheese has preservatives to keep them shredded and can be difficult to mix in.
Other Recipes to Try
Love this Recipe?
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- 16 oz macaroni pasta elbow/corkscrew/shells
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 jalapeño* deseeded and minced
- 3 tablespoon flour
- 2 cups milk whole fat for a creamier base
- 10 oz sharp white cheddar cheese shredded**
- 8 oz Monterey jack cheese shredded**
- ½ cup LA VICTORIA® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa Verde
- 1 teaspoon sea salt more to taste***
- ¼ teaspoon Pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon chili powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne powder
- Optional Garnish: cilantro, jalapeno, salsa
- Cook pasta in a large pot until al dente (this will vary depending on pasta brand’s instructions). Drain and set aside.
- In a medium to large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted add in the jalapeños and allow to cook down for about 2-3 minutes, whisking occasionally so they don’t burn.
- Add in flour to start your roux. Whisk to incorporate fully. Should be thick and batter-like. Slowly pour in milk and whisk as you do so. Whisk and bring down the heat to a medium-low. Whisk every few minutes until completely thickened and incorporated, which can take about 5 minutes.
- Over a low heat add in cheeses in 3-4 batches and whisk until melted and smooth. Add in salsa and seasonings, then mix.
- In a large serving or mixing bowl, add cooked noodles and cheese sauce. Mix until coated. Feel free to add on additional jalapeños or salsa to garnish.