Mac and cheese is total comfort food, and we have added some smokey chorizo for a Spanish twist on an American classic. This still has the chunks of pasta in a cheesy sauce, but with little bites of chorizo and some hidden vegetables for a nutrient boost. Chorizo mac and cheese also freezes well, making it a perfect for batch cooking.
Mac and cheese is always a family favourite and it gets a bit thumbs up from our kids. However, adding chorizo makes it feel a little more grown up. Whilst you wouldn't think of mac and cheese for a date night or dinner party usually, this is a little bit more special and would be perfect for it.
Why you will love it
- Grown up mac and cheese - I always think of mac and cheese as a kid's meal, but I haven't met and adult that doesn't love mac and cheese too. Whilst I would happily just eat pasta covered in a cheesy sauce, adding chorizo just makes it feel a bit more grown up. Although my kids love this twist too.
- Freezer friendly - Mac and cheese freezes and reheats really well, so we always try to make a couple of extra portions to put in the freezer. There are more detailed instructions on freezing and reheating in the FAQs below.
- Hidden vegetables - Mac and cheese is one of those dishes that is so easy add vegetables to. We have added some cauliflower and chunks of butternut squash, but there are lots of other vegetables you could add too.
- Total comfort food - can you think of anything more comforting? I didn't think so!
- Cheese sauce - We have added our recipe for our homemade cheese sauce. It is so easy to make, with just 4 ingredients. You could use a store bought cheese sauce, but it really won't have the same flavour. I don't find store bought sauces very cheesy, but you could always add some extra cheese.
- Macaroni - This is the base of the dish and whilst using macaroni would keep it traditional, you could really use any pasta shape you like.
- Butternut squash - This is the first of our hidden vegetables and adds some extra creaminess. We cut it in to little cubes so it cooks at the same time as the pasta.
- Cauliflower - Another "hidden" vegetable as it kind of blends in to the pasta. You could even blend it in to the cheese sauce if you really wanted to hide it.
- Chorizo - This is what makes this mac and cheese a little more special. Try to use the best quality you can, as you will be able to taste the difference. It should have a lovely smokiness to it. We like to dice the chorizo, however you could slice it if you wanted chunkier pieces.
- Mozzarella - Mac and cheese needs extra cheese, right? We added some grated mozzarella to the top and then we finish the dish off under the grill to make it nice and crispy. This is optional though.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
Step by step
One: Make the cheese sauce by following the recipe for our Easy Cheese Sauce. Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
Two: Put the macaroni, butternut squash and cauliflower in a pan of boiling water. Reduce the heat and simmer for 12 minutes.
Three: Heat a dry frying pan over a low heat and gently cook the chorizo.
Four: Drain the macaroni and vegetables and return to the pan. Pour in the cheese sauce and mix well.
Five: Remove the chorizo from the pan, taking care not to take out too much of the oil that has been released. Add to the macaroni and mix well.
Six: Transfer to a baking dish and top with grated mozzarella.
Seven: Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
Now, mac and cheese isn't the healthiest dish there is. It is total comfort food, and that's what we love about it. However, we are always looking for ways to make things a little bit lighter, and adding a nutrient boost where we can. Making your own mac and cheese is always going to be a healthier option, as you can control the exact amount of cheese that goes in to it.
We added some "hidden" vegetables to add some nutrients and also bulk it out, so you can use less cauliflower. Cauliflower is low in calories, and also a good source of vitamins C, K and B6. It is also a good source of fibre, and there are 3 grams of fibre in one cup of cauliflower, which is important for digestive health and may reduce the risk of several chronic diseases. Cauliflower is also a good source of antioxidants, which protect your cells from harmful free radicals and inflammation.
We also added some cubes of butternut squash, which is a great source of fibre, potassium, vitamins C and A as well as magnesium.
There are so many ways that you could change up this mac and cheese. As mentioned above, you can use any pasta shape you like (although we wouldn't really recommend using spaghetti).
You could also change the cheese that is added. We used a strong cheddar to make the cheese sauce, however you could keep with the Spanish vibe and use a Mahon or Manchego cheese (which have a lovely sweet and nutty flavour to it). If you wanted to make this a little more indulgent, then crumble some stilton on top before it goes in the oven. It adds SO much flavour.
Want some more added vegetables? We have lots of options! You give add some peas and sweetcorn towards the end of the pasta cooking time and that would add lots of colour. You could also add some greens by stirring in some spinach at the same time as the cheese sauce. We added cauliflower, but you could add broccoli or even a mixture of the two. Courgette (zucchini) can easily be grated in to the sauce, but peel the green outside off if you want to really hide it. Chopped up roasted red pepper is also a nice way to add lots of flavour.
The butternut squash could be swapped for sweet potato (although we find this a little too carb heavy) and if chorizo isn't your thing then you could use cooked chopped bacon instead.
We had added some mozzarella on top and then grilled the finished dish to make it it nice and crispy. However, you can make it even crispier by mixing some breadcrumbs (we recommend panko) in to the mozzarella to make it extra crispy.
What to serve it with
Everyone know that garlic bread and pasta are a match made in heaven. Carby heaven! Either buy some ready made, or make your own easy garlic bread by cutting up some French stick and spreading it with a mix of butter, crushed garlic and dried herbs. Then pop it in the oven for 10 minutes.
You could also keep it simple with a big green salad. The key to an epic green salad is to use a variety of greens, like romaine, spinach, kale and rocket. You want leafy greens, but crunch too. Then you need the perfect dressing. Why not try our Lemon Vinaigrette, Honey and Mustard Dressing or Tomato and Basil Vinaigrette. You could also try our Grilled Little Gem Salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
Once leftovers have fully cooled, you can store it in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Yes, this freezes really well, so we always make extra to store for busy days. Portion out in to freezer containers and it will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Make sure it has fully defrosted and then you can reheat it in the microwave for a couple of minutes or in a frying pan on the hob. You may need to add a little bit of water to loosen it up a little.
Yes, you can make this in advance. Follow the recipe up until just before you put it in the oven and you can put it in the fridge after you have sprinkled the cheese on top. You can keep it there until the next day and then put it in the oven. You might need to cook it for a little longer, if it is cold from the fridge.
If you use gluten free pasta, then this is a gluten free dish. Just check the chorizo, because whilst most chorizo is gluten free, there might be some cross contamination. Make sure you gate your own cheese, as pre-grated cheese has a coating on it that might not be gluten free.
• Make the topping of this chorizo mac and cheese extra crispy by mixing some panko breadcrumbs in to the mozzarella.
• If you love some spice in your meals, you can add a sprinkle of red chilli flakes to the cheese sauce.
• Add a boost of greens to this by stirring in some spinach at the same time as the cheese sauce.
• If chorizo isn't your thing, then you can swap it for cooked chopped bacon.
More pasta recipes
If you’ve tried this chorizo mac and cheese recipe, let us know how you got on in the comments below.
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Chorizo Mac and Cheese
- 200 g (7 oz) Macaroni
- 150 g (1 cups) Butternut squash - cut into small cubes
- 140 g (1.5 cups) Cauliflower - cut into small florets
- 640 ml (2.75 cups) Cheese sauce
- 100 g (1 cups) Mozzarella - grated
- 100 g (3.5 oz) Chorizo - cut into small cubes
- Make 640 ml Cheese sauce by following the recipe for our Easy Cheese Sauce. Preheat your oven to 200°C/180°C(fan)/400°F/Gas 6.
- Put 200 g Macaroni, 150 g Butternut squash and 140 g Cauliflower in a pan of boiling water. Reduce the heat and simmer for 12 minutes.
- Heat a dry frying pan over a low heat and gently cook 100 g Chorizo.
- Drain the macaroni and vegetables and return to the pan. Pour in the cheese sauce and mix well.
- Remove the chorizo from the pan, taking care not to take out too much of the oil that has been released. Add to the macaroni and mix well.
- Transfer to a baking dish and top with 100 g Mozzarella.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Make the topping of this chorizo mac and cheese extra crispy by mixing some panko breadcrumbs in to the mozzarella.
- If you love some spice in your meals, you can add a sprinkle of red chilli flakes to the cheese sauce.
- Add a boost of greens to this by stirring in some spinach at the same time as the cheese sauce.
- If chorizo isn't your thing, then you can swap it for cooked chopped bacon.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.