Sriracha Gouda Mac and Cheese

Are you ready to get your spicy on? Sriracha Gouda Mac and Cheese is a creamy mac and cheese recipe that uses gooey gouda with spicy Sriracha and a fresh crunch for texture.

sriracha mac and cheese on a fork


 

Sriracha Mac and Cheese

My husband is notorious for thinking any and every recipe would be made better if only it had bacon and hot sauce. I could serve him Cheerios and he’d ask for the hot sauce.

On many occasions I disagree, that it covers up the flavor profile of my food, but for mac and cheese, it pairs perfectly. Hot, piquant Sriracha with salty, crunchy bacon and smooth, smoked gouda is like a match made in flavor heaven.

Top is with panko crunchies and lush scallions and you have just hit the mac and cheese motherload, foodie friend.

Why You’ll Love This Sriracha Gouda Mac and Cheese

A creamy and spicy mac and cheese that’s super easy to make- what’s not to love!

  • Adds some spice to your life – Whether you like a little spice or a lot, this mac and cheese can deliver.
  • Mix it up – While the base recipe is perfect as is, it’s super easy to put your own spin on things and change it to your liking.
  • Make it a meal – If you throw in some grilled chicken, it’s super easy to make this mac and cheese it’s own entree.

Ingredients

These ingredients are super simple and can easily be found at your local grocery store.

  • Rotini pasta – I personally like using rotini so that all that creamy, cheesy goodness gets in all the crevices. But you can use any other noodles of choice. Boil pasta according to box directions.
  • Panko breadcrumbs – You can use Italian style breadcrumbs instead, but I personally had panko on hand and just added italian seasoning.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – We just need a little bit to help the breadcrumbs not stick to the pan when we’re toasting them.
  • Milk – We use both whole milk and half & half as the liquid to thin out our cheese sauce. You can use a different milk, the cheese mixture will just be thinner.
  • Unsalted butter – If all you have is salted butter that’s fine. Just taste the cheese mixture before adding any additional salt.
  • All-purpose flour – When combined with butter, this will help us to form the roux that is the base for the cheese sauce.
  • Smoked gouda cheese – I know pre-shredded cheese is easy and convenient, but there is an additive that prevents it from melting smoothly. I prefer to grate my own.
  • Bacon – You want this to be cooked and crumbled. I personally think it’s easier when the bacon is crispy.
  • Sriracha – I personally love the flavor of sriracha. You can use any hot sauce, but it will dramatically change the flavor.
  • Scallions – These are used as a garnish and are optional. However I love the flavor, color and crunch it adds to the dish.
  • Spices – I use a simple blend of ground black pepper, fine sea salt and fresh italian parsley. Ground mustard, garlic powder and onion powder would be good additions too.
mac and cheese in a casserole dish

Variations

When it comes to mac and cheese, the sky is the limit in terms of swaps and variations. Here are some of my favorite ways to personalize this sriracha mac and cheese recipe.

  • Add more protein– make this a meal by adding 1-2 cups of cooked shredded chicken or cooked sliced sausage.
  • Hide the Veggies– The best way to hide vegetables is in the form of cheese and pasta. Chop them up and cook them, then fold right into the sauce. This recipe is saucy enough that it should adequately coat all the add-ins. Peas, broccoli and spinach are all great ideas.
  • Amp up the Heat- If you really want to sweat, stir in an additional 1 teaspoon of Sriracha to the actual cheese sauce and also 1-2 tablespoons of fresh hot pepper like jalapeno, habanero or poblano.
  • Top it with Flakes– You can also top it with more color and heat with crushed red pepper flakes or aleppo pepper.
  • Don’t like heat? Leave the Sriracha sauce off altogether or only top half of the tray so you have mild and spicy options.

How to Make Gouda Mac and Cheese

  1. Cook the pasta of choice according to package directions for al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  2. Toast breadcrumbs. Next, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the panko bread crumbs and pepper. Brown bread crumbs, stirring once a minute for 5 minutes. Remove from burner and set aside.
  3. Make roux. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Quickly whisk in flour to form a roux.
  4. Warm milk. Microwave the milk and half and half for 3 minutes in an oven safe container, being careful to not burn yourself.
  5. Add milk. Roux should be a light brown and have a nutty smell. While whisking, pour in milk. Initially it will be clumpy and thick, but keep on whisking- FAST! Sauce will be a creamy white and thick after all milk is added.
  6. Add cheese, parsley and bacon. Whisk in the gouda until smooth. Still whisking (does your arm hurt yet?) add the parsley, bacon and salt. Remove from heat.
  7. Toss pasta in cheese sauce. In a large bowl, gently toss cooked pasta with gouda cheese sauce.
  8. Preheat broiler on high. Coat individual oven-safe bowls or a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Transfer mac and to casserole dish(es). Sprinkle with panko bread crumbs.
  9. Broil. Place under high broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.
  10. Add toppings. Remove and drizzle with Sriracha and scallions.

Mac and Cheese Sauce- Bechamel

People tend to think an excellent macaroni and cheese reaches legendary status due to gobs of, well, cheese. I beg to differ. Macaroni and cheese connoisseurs will agree that it starts with a bechamel sauce. And then comes pairing with the perfect cheese.

One of the classic “mother” sauces, bechamel sauce is the beginning to many tasty meals. Rich and creamy, it is the base for any fabulous cheese sauce.

The basics of a bechamel start with equal parts butter and flour. I like to use clarified butter, but I realize that isn’t always in the game plan. Whisk in flour until a paste forms. Wait until it browns just a little, this adds flavor.

Then you whisk in whole milk (don’t skimp and use anything less than whole, it needs the fat) and finally, the cheese. Then come add-ins, like bacon!

Mastering the bechamel is the hardest part of making macaroni and cheese. But then you get to run around saying the word “bechamel” like a fancy person and that is always fun.

overhead of making a bechamel sauce in a saucepan

Smoked Gouda- Or Another Cheese

Choose your cheese wisely, I liked aged smoked gouda because it has a smoky flavor with a slightly funky aroma. The consistency is just right- not too dry or soft- for a sticky cheese sauce.

Gouda doesn’t break the bank, but it is more expensive that your run-of-the-mill cheddar, so it is a good thing that a little goes a long way. You’ll need about an 8 ounce wedge, but in all honesty, having a little less or a little more won’t drastically change the recipe.

Also feel free to swap out another flavor of cheese like fontina, munster, havarti or cheddar cheese. Or use a combination!

wheel of smoked gouda in red wax

Best Pasta for Mac and Cheese

After mastering the sauce, make sure you select the correct pasta. One with nooks and crannies does well so it really clings to the sauce. There are our top picks:

  • Elbow macaroni
  • Rotini
  • Fusilli
  • Wagon wheels
  • Shells
angle view of gouda mac and cheese topped with sriracha, scallions and bread crumbs

Storage and Freezing

Mac and cheese is notorious for being a make ahead recipe that is also perfect for potlucks and parties. This version is no exception, however, I syggest when making any mac and cheese for a party, increase the liquid in the cheese sauce.

Liquids will absorb into the pasta and leave you with a dry sauce. Add an additional 1/2 cup of half and half to the mix to prevent this from happening. I think we can all agree that it is better to have more cheese sauce than not enough.

How to Store Leftover Mac and Cheese

Store leftovers covered in the fridge for up to five days. Reheat in the microwave, oven or on stovetop.

Can I Freeze Gouda Mac and Cheese?

You sure can! You can freeze this mac and cheese in an airtight container for up to three months.

spoon digging into a dish of baked mac and cheese

More Homemade Mac and Cheese Recipes

Is there anything more comforting than a hot bowl of mac and cheese? These are some od our favorites.

overhead of lobster mac and cheese with large piece of lobster meat on top

Lobster Mac and Cheese

4.61 from 23 votes
Sweet lobster, creamy cheese & a crunchy panko topping come together to make the BEST Lobster Mac and Cheese recipe! Perfect for any elegant or casual meal!
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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

4.86 from 14 votes
The healthier twist on mac and cheese! This Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese is made with lots of good-for-you stuff and ready in just 30 minutes!
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Roast Garlic Mac and Cheese

5 from 6 votes
Cheesy, creamy and amazingly delicious Roast Garlic Mac n Cheese will be your new go-to holiday side dish recipe.
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close up of gouda mac and cheese for pinterest
white bowl of sriracha mac and cheese

Sriracha Gouda Mac and Cheese

5 from 7 votes
Sriracha Gouda Mac and Cheese is a creamy homemade mac and cheese recipe that uses gooey gouda with spicy Sriracha and a fresh crunch for texture.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Equipment

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Cook the pasta of choice according to package directions for al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process.
  • Next, heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the panko bread crumbs and pepper. Brown bread crumbs, stirring once a minute for 5 minutes. Remove from burner and set aside.
  • In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Quickly whisk in flour to form a roux.
  • Microwave the milk and half and half for 3 minutes in an oven safe container, being careful to not burn yourself.
  • Roux should be a light brown and have a nutty smell. While whisking, pour in milk. Initially it will be clumpy and thick, but keep on whisking- FAST! Sauce will be a creamy white and thick after all milk is added.
  • Whisk in the gouda until smooth. Still whisking (does your arm hurt yet?) add the parsley, bacon and salt. Remove from heat.
  • In a large bowl, gently toss cooked pasta with gouda cheese sauce.
  • Preheat broiler on high. Coat individual oven-safe bowls or a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Transfer mac and to casserole dish(es). Sprinkle with panko bread crumbs.
  • Place under high broiler for 3-4 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned.
  • Remove and drizzle with Sriracha and scallions.
  • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings!

Nutrition

Calories: 848 kcal, Carbohydrates: 71 g, Protein: 35 g, Fat: 46 g, Saturated Fat: 27 g, Cholesterol: 148 mg, Sodium: 1696 mg, Potassium: 458 mg, Fiber: 2 g, Sugar: 10 g, Vitamin A: 1305 IU, Vitamin C: 2.9 mg, Calcium: 750 mg, Iron: 2 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 848
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: homemade mac and cheese recipe, oven baked mac and cheese
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
sriracha mac and cheese for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. Thanks for linking up at Sweet and Savoury Sunday, I’m the new co-host and would love for you to link up this weekend. This looks delicious and with the addition of sriracha, I can imagine it’s addictive.

  2. 5 stars
    I can’t believe I’ve never tried Sriracha or Gouda!! Gotta change that soon, this looks great!

  3. 5 stars
    This looks delish. I love any type of Mac & cheese. I’m stopping by from “My Turn For Us” twitter mention. Your blog is great!