Caribbean Macaroni Pie

updated Jul 25, 2023
Caribbean Macaroni Pie Recipe

This crowd-pleasing dish is packed with heat, herbs and spices, and a few unexpected ingredients — like ketchup, mustard, and New Zealand sharp cheddar cheese.

Serves8

Prep20 minutes

Cook45 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Confession: I didn’t know Caribbeans made macaroni pie until I became an adult. My family wasn’t big on pasta dishes of any kind, so they just “forgot” to introduce it to me. But as fate would have it, I discovered macaroni pie at just the right time, and that discovery has led to a recipe I’ll be passing down to my family for generations to come. 

I first learned about Caribbean macaroni pie when my Bajan friend (a friend from Barbados) made it for a Friendsgiving gathering. By this point, I knew about baked mac and cheese, a staple at pretty much every Black Thanksgiving and cookout, and figured that was as good as it got for macaroni. It isn’t. At Friendsgiving, I discovered macaroni pie is way better than mac and cheese. Yes, this is coming from a Caribbean so I’m obviously biased, but just trust me.  

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Ingredients for the Caribbean Macaroni Pie

Macaroni pie is essentially a Caribbean auntie’s version of baked mac and cheese. It has heat, herbs and spices, and a few unexpected ingredients — like ketchup, mustard, and New Zealand sharp cheddar cheese — that said auntie probably had in her fridge and thought would be good to include just because. And that’s exactly why I love this dish so much. It’s a celebration of the simplicity, tenacity, and outright creativity that makes a home-cooked meal so wonderful. It’s a dish full of love.

The recipe I’m sharing today is my twist on the one from my Bajan friend, who generously entrusted her recipe to me. I use heavy cream for a richer base, removed the flour, and modified the spices. But the end result still brings me the same joy I had the first time I ate it. This year, I’m hoping it becomes my signature Thanksgiving dish — one that my entire family enjoys and that I’ll be known for for years to come.

Caribbean Macaroni Pie Recipe

This crowd-pleasing dish is packed with heat, herbs and spices, and a few unexpected ingredients — like ketchup, mustard, and New Zealand sharp cheddar cheese.

Prep time 20 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes

Serves 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1 cup

    heavy cream

  • Butter or cooking spray, for coating the pan

  • 1

    medium green bell pepper

  • 1

    medium red bell pepper

  • 1

    small sweet or yellow onion

  • 1 pound

    New Zealand sharp cheddar cheese

  • 1

    large egg

  • 8 ounces

    dried macaroni or elbow pasta

  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon

    cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon

    dried oregano

  • 1 tablespoon

    dried parsley

  • 2 to 3 teaspoons

    garlic powder

  • 2 teaspoons

    paprika

  • 2 teaspoons

    dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon

    habanero hot sauce

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons

    cold unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 1 tablespoon

    ketchup

Instructions

  1. Let 1 cup heavy cream sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9x9-inch or other 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray or butter.

  2. Bring a large saucepan of heavily salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, dice 1 medium green bell pepper, 1 medium red bell pepper, and 1 small sweet or yellow onion. Shred 1 pound New Zealand sharp cheddar cheese on the large holes of a box grater (about 4 cups). Beat 1 large egg in a small bowl.

  3. Add 8 ounces macaroni to the boiling water and cook for 1 minute less than package directions. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the bell peppers and onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon dried parsley, 2 to 3 teaspoons garlic powder, 2 teaspoons paprika, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, and 1 teaspoon habanero hot sauce. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove the pot from the heat and let cool for at least 5 minutes. Taste and season with kosher salt and black pepper as needed.

  4. When the macaroni is ready, drain. Add the cream and egg to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Add 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, and 1 tablespoon ketchup. Return to low heat and stir until the butter melts and the mixture is creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 3 1/2 cups of the cheese and stir to combine. Don’t worry about melting all the cheese, it will melt in the oven. Add the macaroni and stir until thoroughly coated in the cheese and pepper mixture.

  5. Transfer to the baking dish and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake until the cheese on top is melted, about 25 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil until the cheese on top is browned and crisp, 2 to 5 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: Full-fat coconut milk can be substituted for the heavy cream.

Make ahead: The macaroni pie can be baked and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead. Reheat in a 350ºF oven until heated through, 15 to 20 minutes.

Storage: You can refrigerate the baked macaroni pie for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 weeks. Reheat in a 350ºF oven until heated through, 15 to 20 minutes if refrigerated or 20 to 25 minutes if frozen. Alternatively, reheat 5-inch sections of the pie in the microwave until warmed through, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes.