Pizza Macaroni & Cheese

published Nov 23, 2021
Pizza Mac and Cheese Recipe

Pizza mac and cheese is two favorites in one cheesy dish.

Serves6 to 8

Prep10 minutes

Cook40 minutes to 45 minutes

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Mac and cheese with a pepperoni pizza topping in a baking pan
Credit: Laura Rege

Pizza night takes a surprising turn when it’s scooped, not sliced. This pizza and mac and cheese mash-up recipe is perfect for those times when you just can’t choose. It’s decadent and over-the-top in all the right ways, but mainly it’s just downright delicious. And just like pizza, it can be topped with whatever you like. We went with pepperoni, but the customization potential is endless.

What is the key to super-creamy and cheesy mac and cheese? A proper cheese sauce! Start by making a béchamel sauce (cooking butter, flour, and milk until thickened), then reduce the heat to low and add the cheese slowly, stirring in small handfuls at a time, to ensure you get the perfect melt.

Credit: Laura Rege

How to Make Pizza Mac and Cheese Ahead of Time

Prepare the recipe up until it goes into the oven. After the macaroni and cheese mixture has been scraped into the baking dish and topped with the sauce, cheese, and pepperoni, cover the baking dish with a lid or tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake. 

What Kind of Pasta Should I Use?

Any medium-sized dry pasta works in place of the cellentani or cavatappi. Penne or rigatoni are great options. Or you could switch it out for smaller, more iconic mac and cheese shapes like elbow or shells.  

Pizza Mac and Cheese Recipe

Pizza mac and cheese is two favorites in one cheesy dish.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 40 minutes to 45 minutes

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt

  • 12 ounces

    dried cellentani or cavatappi pasta (about 4 cups)

  • 1

    small yellow onion

  • 4 cloves

    garlic

  • 3 tablespoons

    unsalted butter

  • 3 tablespoons

    tomato paste

  • 3 tablespoons

    all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish

  • 3 cups

    whole milk

  • 6 cups

    shredded mozzarella cheese (1 1/2 pounds), divided

  • 1 cup

    prepared pizza sauce or marinara

  • 1/2 cup

    mini pepperoni slices

  • 4

    large fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 12 ounces dried cellentani or cavatappi pasta and cook until al dente according to package instructions. Meanwhile, finely chop 1 small yellow onion (about 1 cup) and 4 garlic cloves.

  2. When the pasta is ready, drain and set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden-brown, about 1 minute. Add 3 tablespoons tomato paste and 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly toasted, about 1 minute.

  4. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and stir to combine. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in 3 cups whole milk. Bring to a boil. Boil, stirring frequently, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 4 to 6 minutes.

  5. Reduce the heat to low. Add 4 1/2 cups of the mozzarella, one handful at a time, stirring until melted before adding the next handful. Add the pasta and stir to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

  6. Scrape the mixture into a 2-quart baking dish and spread into an even layer. Spoon 1 cup pizza sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups mozzarella and arrange 1/2 cup pepperoni slices over the cheese.

  7. Bake until bubbling and the cheese on top is melted, 20 to 25 minutes. If you want a browned top, turn the oven to broil and broil until the cheese is golden-brown in spots, about 2 minutes more. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Meanwhile, thinly slice 4 large leaves fresh basil. Sprinkle over the baked macaroni and cheese and sprinkle with more red pepper flakes if desired before serving.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: Prepare the mac and cheese up until baking. Let cool completely then refrigerate wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. If baking from frozen, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Bake until cheese is melted and mac and cheese is warmed through, about 40 minutes.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 5 days.