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This Spicy Mac and Cheese recipe is a spicy version of a beloved classic that takes this cheesy pasta to the next level with added spices for a kick. |

Spicy Mac and Cheese

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  • Author: Sam Hu | Ahead of Thyme
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings
  • Diet: Vegetarian


This Spicy Mac and Cheese is a spicy version of a beloved classic that takes this cheesy pasta to the next level. Made with tender cooked pasta in a creamy cheese sauce and seasoned with paprika, cayenne pepper, and Tabasco hot sauce for a kick. Top it off this meal with extra cheese for a creamy, cheesy pasta dish that will make you sweat! 


  • 2 cups elbow macaroni pasta, uncooked
  • ⅓ cup unsalted butter
  • 4 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
  • 1 tablespoon tabasco sauce or hot sauce (to taste)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add macaroni pasta and cook just until before al dente, about 6-8 minutes (you want it slightly undercooked as it will cook further when baked). Drain well, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to make a roux. Stir constantly for about 1-2 minutes until roux is light and golden.
  4. Gradually add in milk, whisking constantly to incorporate. The sauce will thicken and clump in the beginning but once you add in more milk, it will smoothen out again.
  5. Add mustard powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, 2 cups of cheddar cheese, and tabasco sauce. Reduce heat to low and stir constantly until the cheese has melted and the sauce is smooth.
  6. Add in cooked macaroni and stir together to fully coat with the cheese sauce.
  7. Transfer the macaroni into a large oven-proof skillet or casserole dish. Top with the remaining 1 cup of cheddar cheese.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes until bubbly and the edges become crispy. Let it cool for 5 minutes.

  9. Serve immediately. Add more hot sauce if desired.


How to store: Let the baking dish cool to room temperature, then store the mac and cheese leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

How to reheat: You can either pop a serving in the microwave for 2-3 minutes or bake your leftovers in the oven or air fryer at 350F for 4-5 minutes. You can also warm it up in a pan on the stove top. Add a little extra milk and cheese to keep it from being too dry.

How to freeze: You can freeze mac and cheese to enjoy later, but the pasta will soften a bit after thawing. For best results, freeze mac and cheese right before baking. Thaw it in the fridge overnight, then bake it like normal!

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American