Macaroni Con Queso – Mexican Mac and Cheese

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Sometimes, I’m a genius. The think machine starts firing, and before I even know what’s hit me I’ve had a great idea. That’s right, I’m not going to tone it down for you, I’m brilliant.


This, if I do say so myself, was one of those times. Macaroni Con Queso – or Mexican Macaroni – was the result of staring into the fridge and realizing I was pretty much food broke, except for cheese and a jalapeno pepper. Leave it to me to turn a sad situation into a tasty invention!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Macaroni Con Queso

1 lb. elbow macaroni
8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
2 oz. monterey jack or pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 TBSP unsalted butter
2 jalapeno peppers, diced or sliced into rounds (optionally seeded/deveined)
1/2 onion, diced fine
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup salsa (or pico de gallo)
1/4-1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
Optional: freshly chopped cilantro (I wish I’d had this on hand, but alas…)
Optional: hot sauce, to finish (Cholula, is my favorite, here)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until al-dente, drain, and set aside.

While the water is coming to a boil, heat another pot or sauce pan over medium-high. Optionally, remove the seeds and veins from the jalapeno — this is where most of their heat is, so only leave them in if you like things spicy. Add the butter, jalapeno, and onion to the pan and saute for 2-3 minutes to soften. Add the all-purpose flour, and stir for a minute or two, to make a roux. Add the corn and reduce the heat to low.
In a small bowl, combine the milk, sour cream, and salsa. Add to the pot slowly, and stir until thickened. Add the cheese one handful at a time, stirring until melted in between handfuls. Once the cheese is thoroughly melted and smooth, stir in the pasta and crushed red pepper flakes. Optionally, add a handful of freshly chopped cilantro, and a dash of hot sauce, and serve.

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(You’ll just have to imagine a beautiful drizzle of hot sauce, here… I’m only brilliant sometimes.)

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34 Responses to Macaroni Con Queso – Mexican Mac and Cheese

  1. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes February 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    Haha I think you are brilliant all the time!

    We have a CASE of Cholula at our house; it is simpy the best!

    • Willow February 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm #

      Yay! Finally somebody else who knows what Cholula is! There are some other hot sauces that I might choose for specific situations, but Cholula is my #1 all time favorite.
      And thanks, but clearly that means I don’t share enough of my failures. :P

    • Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes March 2, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

      We get so excited when we see Cholula- even justin, he spies it even if the label is only half showing; movies, magazines- he will randomly say hey they have Cholula too! Apparently he is amazed that other people know about our favorite hot sauce :)

  2. Billy Vasquez February 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    I enjoy your blog, keep up the good (cooking) work! I’ve added you to my blogroll, too — The 99 Cent Chef ;-p

    • Willow February 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

      Thank you so much!

  3. Courtney J February 21, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    I am a sucker for both mac n cheese and mexican flavours. So, to me, this looks like heaven! :)

  4. Valerie @ From Valerie's Kitchen February 22, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    I agree Willow, this is brilliant and delicious!

    • Willow February 22, 2012 at 1:40 pm #

      Thanks, Valerie!

  5. TheDad February 23, 2012 at 10:02 am #

    Wow! If I don’t get some of this one of these days, I’m gonna disown you! ; )

    • Willow February 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

      LOL – oh no! Still working on finding a date when you can come over for dinner, don’t worry. I’ll be sure to make something good. :)

  6. Maggie February 23, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Yup! Definitely brilliant…even genius! :-) What a great idea for mac n cheese, such a great avenue for so many flavors.

  7. Andrea February 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

    this macaroni looks so delish. I love the jalapeno. I could eat jalepeno in everything. thanks for sharing.

    • Willow February 23, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

      You’re welcome! :)

  8. Jen @ Juanita's Cocina February 24, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    I just wanted to know if you have leftovers?

    • Willow February 24, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

      Not really… it was way too tasty! There was a tiny bit that The Boyfriend took to work the next day, but hardly enough to call a meal.

  9. Memória February 26, 2012 at 2:11 am #

    Ooo, I’m going to try this out with pepper jack and a bit of queso fresco on top. Now to think of a substitute for sour cream; I don’t like the stuff haha. The dish looks PHENOMENAL!

    • Willow February 27, 2012 at 2:12 am #

      Thanks, I hope you like it! I would suggest a bit of plain yogurt, or even a dollop of cream cheese, in place of the sour cream. Anything to make it a little thicker and richer. Let me know how it turns out!

  10. Heather March 1, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    Tried this for dinner tonight and I’m wishing I’d followed my instinct to make a roux for the cheese sauce and follow that traditional technique. The flavors are good in the proportions you suggest, but I ended up with a lot of stretchy cheese that didn’t want to stick to the noodles, instead of a smooth cheese sauce like you’d get with a normal stovetop mac & cheese.

    • Willow March 2, 2012 at 3:04 am #

      I’m very sorry to hear that! I realize that can be a problem, though. Personally I try to avoid using a roux unless I’m doing a baked mac and cheese, but I’ll happily make a note that using one can help stabilize the sauce.
      Glad you liked the flavor, though!

  11. Katherine Martinelli March 3, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

    Oooh love everything about this! Thanks again for linking up to my blog hop! Pinned :-)

  12. Part Time House Wife March 6, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Yes PLEASE! hahah looks amazing! Buzzed ya!

  13. RavieNomNoms March 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm #

    Yes please!! That looks so good!!

  14. Kiri W. March 6, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

    You ARE a genius. Omnomnom. Nomnom. Nom. That looks amazing.

  15. Anonymous May 1, 2012 at 3:25 am #

    is there anyway that you can tell me how to make it for about 30 people ?

    • Willow May 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm #

      I would say the recipe, as written, serves 3-4 people. So I would make maybe 8-9 times the original recipe.
      If I were making it for 30 people I would cook all of the pasta first, in as many batches as necessary (depending on the size of your pots). Once the noodles are drained, immediately toss them with a little butter or oil to keep them from sticking and clumping, then set them aside.
      Chop all the veggies, mince the garlic, shred the cheese, etc., and make the cheese sauce (in a large stock pot, if you have one, or split between two large pots if necessary). Dump in the noodles, and heat until warmed through.

      Hope that helps!

    • Anonymous May 2, 2012 at 1:28 am #

      Okaay thaanks .!

  16. RecipeNewZ June 25, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    I found this post though Pinterest. The photo was so beautiful that I just had to come here to read the recipe! Love it! And love your site :-).

    I would like to invite you to share this post (and your other posts :-) ) on a new photo based recipe sharing site that launched in May. The idea is simple: all recipe photographs are published within minutes of submission. And, of course, the images link back to the author’s site.

    It’s called RecipeNewZ (with Z) –

    I hope you get a chance to visit and to share some of your delicious posts with our viewers. It would be a pleasure to have you on board :-)

    • Willow June 25, 2012 at 3:51 am #

      Wonderful – glad you liked the recipe! And thanks for the invitation, I’ll definitely check out the site!

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