All macaroni and cheese is good macaroni and cheese, but these recipes from New York Times Cooking are especially fine — and wide-ranging, whether saucy or creamy, tender or crispy, meat-studded or dairy-free. The picks below include some of the greatest interpretations, both classic and clever.
Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese is, in Eric Kim’s opinion, the most exemplary version of the dish. After testing a number of techniques and ratios, he finally came up with his nostalgic, creamy, Velveeta-y take.
For many Southerners, this recipe from Millie Peartree, adapted by Kiera Wright-Ruiz, is as classic as it gets. The base of milk and eggs lends the pasta an extra-rich, custardy texture, particularly in the molten center (arguably the best part).
Recipe: Southern Macaroni and Cheese
Know what you can add to any dish to make it even better? Fried cubes of Spam. Trust Von Diaz, whose version of macaroni and cheese merges her upbringing in both Puerto Rico and the South. The base is simple, using a flour and milk slurry for thickness instead of a roux. But “during tough times,” she suggests, “a box of instant mac and cheese and a can of Spam will also yield delicious results.”
Recipe: Spam Macaroni and Cheese
For anyone who’s ever fallen in love with pimento cheese, this new recipe from Vallery Lomas is a no-brainer. The addition of cream cheese, sliced pimentos, jalapeños and paprika to an otherwise straightforward take is exactly as terrific as it sounds.
Recipe: Pimento Mac and Cheese
Julia Moskin’s recipe is one of the most loved New York Times Cooking recipes of all time, with more than 12,400 five-star ratings (at the time of writing) and well over a thousand glowing comments. The secret ingredient? Cottage cheese.
Recipe: Creamy Macaroni and Cheese
Luxury! Sam Sifton took Julia Moskin’s classic creamy macaroni and cheese recipe, above, and made it extra special with tender pieces of lobster meat. Commenters have called it “fabulous,” “truly delicious” and “superb,” and they’re all correct.
Recipe: Lobster Mac and Cheese
There’s so much comfort to be found in this firm, crispy-topped casserole, heavily flavored with savory spices and Scotch bonnet pepper. Lesley Enston’s version of this Trini holiday staple yields excellent leftovers, so don’t cook this recipe only for big functions — make it for yourself and enjoy it over a few days.
Alexa Weibel’s vegan version is as spot on as a dairy-free macaroni and cheese can get, thanks to three sources of creaminess: blended raw cashews, nut milk and umami-rich nutritional yeast.