The upcoming 5th annual Mac ‘n Cheese Bowl in upstate New York pits commercial restaurants and onsite operations against each other in a delicious battle. This year, Ithaca College will be bringing its A-game with an undisclosed mac by Executive Chef JJ Molina. In the past, Ithaca has used donation drives combined with the event to benefit FoodNet’s Meals on Wheels program. Pictured here, this 3 Lily mac ‘n cheese competed in the vegetarian category last year.
Smoked gouda with chipotle pepper mac
Ithaca won the Vegetarian category in the previous year as well, with this mac ‘n cheese that gets intense smoky flavor from two sources: Gouda cheese and chipotle peppers.
Cheesy mac burger
University of Richmond
The dining team at the University of Richmond goes all out during the Burger Bash event with a variety of new specialty burgers created by the dining team. The winning burger goes on the menu. This cheesy mac burger was selected as this year’s winner and it’s incredible: 1/3-pound beef burger with Sriracha mac ‘n cheese, melted pepper jack cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and tomato, all on a brioche bun.
Grilled mac ‘n pulled pork
Continuing with the sandwich game, this grilled cheese/mac ‘n cheese with pulled pork from Marzetti Foodservice brings barbecue into the equation. Get the recipe here.
Fajita mac ‘n cheese
Southwest flavors play very well with mac ‘n cheese, the spice and the creaminess coming together perfectly. This dish was created for K-12 by Barilla and Chef Ben Guggenmos of Waypoint Advantage.
Mac ‘n cheese bar
Wayne Central Schools
A mac ‘n cheese bar is the latest in Wayne (N.Y.) Central Schools’ My Way Café concept. Students can add broccoli, corn, olives, jalapenos, diced tomatoes, crunchy noodles, onions and a protein. Foodservice Director Nique Wilson created My Way Café a few years ago when she wanted to offer some customizable fun to students. “It’s been a big hit and students and staff are asking when it will be on the menu again and again,” Wilson says.
Customization that fits with school lunch
Wayne Central Schools
“Students are served whole-grain, reduced-fat mac ‘n cheese and are offered a choice of protein: Buffalo chicken, diced chicken, reduced-fat chorizo or turkey bacon bits,” Wilson says. “We serve these items in order to ensure students receive the appropriate amount of grain and meat/meat alternate.”
Chef Brock DeSantis of San Diego State University created this creamy, dreamy—and veggie-centric—mac ‘n cheese with pureed parsnip, onion and turmeric, and topped it with crunchy seasoned panko breadcrumbs for a crisp finish.
Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board
This recipe comes straight from the grandma of Wisconsin’s 70th Alice in Dairyland, Crystal Siemers-Peterman. “This is the ultimate comfort food that reminds me of my family, friends and many memories that encompass fall,” Siemers-Peterman says. Get the recipe here.
Vermont cheddar and blue cheese mac with broccoli
Jamie Baribeau/Brattleboro Memorial Hospital
Recently, the Vermont Healthcare Nutrition Network has been working with local cheesemakers to include some of the region’s best cheeses into both the patient and retail menus for dishes like this Vermont cheddar blue cheese mac ‘n cheese with broccoli. Get the recipe here.
Shells and crawfish mac ‘n cheese
Adding crawfish to mac ‘n cheese instantly takes it to a different place: specifically, Louisiana’s seafood-rich shores.
Breakfast mac ‘n cheese
Jones Dairy Farm
Crossing dayparts is just another one of mac ‘n cheese’s superpowers. In this breakfast casserole, cheesy pasta meets up with sausage, cheddar and country bread. Get the recipe here.
Smoked mac ‘n cheese
The signature mac (and most popular dish) at Common Grounds, a soup-and-sandwich coffee venue at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., features hickory-smoked cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, which are smoked daily in the on-campus smoker, which gives the cheese a distinctly deep and complex flavor. See the recipe.
Mac ‘n ado
Avocados From Mexico
Making the most of avocado’s naturally creamy properties, this recipe begins with an avocado mornay sauce, made with flour, butter, milk and pureed avocado. The finished dish is green and gorgeous.
Beefed-up mac ‘n cheese
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association/Beef Checkoff
Mac ‘n cheese with pot roast and gravy? Add some gorgonzola and chopped fresh sage and this recipe could be a winter menu all-star for sure.
Sweet potato and sage mac ‘n cheese
North Carolina Sweet Potatoes
This recipe was created by a dietitian with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and packs a nutritional punch while still being creamy and dreamy. Get the recipe here.
Pecan-smoked pulled pork mac ‘n cheese
Another instance of barbecue making life infinitely better, this mac ‘n cheese would be the perfect way to use extra pulled pork from your barbecue concept.
Lobster mac ‘n cheese
And last but not least, lobster is an iconic mac ‘n cheese add-on that’s guaranteed to elevate the dish.
Three-cheese mac ‘n cheese
Sometimes, more is more. And that’s certainly true in Las Vegas, where Mandalay Bay Place Chef-Owner Rick Moonen improved on mac ‘n cheese by adding a variety of cheeses—two types of Gouda and a sharp cheddar. Get the recipe here.