This flavor-packed Curry Mac and Cheese features everything you love about traditional mac with a better spice kick!
I began cooking for my family during my summer break as a freshman in college. Even though I had virtually no experience, I watched the Food Network religiously and felt confident I could whip up anything. I’ll admit I needed a LOT more experience before my recipes were deemed “repeatable,” but I started to step out of my comfort zone to prepare some “pin-worthy” dishes. And this delicious Curry Mac and Cheese is one of them.
The first time I decided to throw curry into my Mac and Cheese, the sauce tasted off, and I literally just picked up the curry and thought to myself, “why not?”. While that may not be the best reason to use a spice, it sure paid off! Almost six years later, I still get requests to make this Curry Mac and Cheese when I visit. It’s just that good.
Why Make This Curry Mac and Cheese
As you can probably tell by now, this is by far one of my favorite dishes to make because it is so fun and flavorful! A few reasons I think you will adore this curry mac and cheese are:
- Easy to make hearty and healthy weeknight meal
- The curry provides the perfect amount of spice
- It offers an incredible Instagram-worthy cheese pull
- Bound to be a crowd-pleaser at Thanksgiving dinners, game days, potlucks, and backyard barbecues.
Curry Mac and Cheese Ingredients
Have curry on hand? Repurpose those leftovers to make a mean pasta dish. This hearty yet flavorful curry mac and cheese come together using the following ingredients:
- White cheddar cheese
- Sharp cheddar cheese
- Shell pasta box
- Fresh dill sprigs
- Panko breadcrumbs
- Yellow curry
(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and instructions.)
How To Make Curry Mac and Cheese
One of the main reasons I love this dish is that it is simple to prepare once you gather your ingredients. To make this spicy and oh-so-cheesy Curry Mac and Cheese at home, you must:
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt (we want it salty like the sea).
- As the water is boiling, melt butter in a saucepan. Toss in 1 cup of milk. Allow the mixture to heat (for about 2 minutes) before adding cornstarch. Stir vigorously to eliminate clumping.
- Pour in the remaining milk and wait for it to thicken, stirring occasionally. Add all of your cheeses, constantly stirring to combine.
- Add your preferred pasta shape to the boiling water and cook according to box/bag instructions.
- Once cooked, strain the pasta (reserving ¼ cup of liquid) and add to the cheese sauce. At this time, toss in the curry, gently mixing together. Then, place your noodles in either a cast-iron skillet (as I did in this recipe), ramekin, or casserole dish.
- Top your Mac and cheese with fresh dill and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs. Place it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Variations and Cooking Tips
Whether making this curry mac and cheese or any other recipe, always feel free to step out of your comfort zone and get creative. After all, this curry mac and cheese recipe wouldn’t exist if I didn’t! Here are some fun recipe variations and helpful tips for preparing this dish you might want to try:
- Don’t Bake It – Those who prefer ooey, gooey mac and cheese can skip the last step of this recipe, which consists of topping the dish with breadcrumbs and tossing it into the oven until crispy. While the crunch adds texture, your curry mac and cheese will taste delightful either way!
- Go Big or Go Home – You can easily modify this recipe to serve a large crowd for holiday dinners, birthday parties, summer cookouts, and other special events. This recipe serves about four adults, so you may double or triple the necessary ingredients to suit your family’s needs.
- Make It Vegan – With numerous plant-based milks and vegan-friendly cheeses on the market, there is no reason you cannot make this recipe. Simply substitute the ingredients to suit your dietary needs and enjoy.
- Switch Up Your Cheeses – Not a fan of cheddar cheese? No worries! Feel free to substitute the traditional and white cheddar cheese in this recipe for one of your favorites. Other great mac and cheese options include shredded Mozzarella, Gouda (both regular and smoked), Parmesan, and Gruyere. You may even incorporate any of these cheeses alongside the cheddar cheese to bring this dish to the next level!
Storage and Freezer Tips
First and foremost, always allow your leftover Curry Mac and Cheese to cool completely before storing it. Doing so will prevent the pasta noodles from turning soft because let’s be honest – who wants to eat mushy pasta? Definitely not me!
The Curry Mac and Cheese will keep in the refrigerator for three to five days when stored in an air-tight container. It will also last in the freezer for approximately two months.
That said, it is easier to freeze creamy versions over baked versions, so you may want to hold off on the last step when freezing the curry mac and cheese. I recommend using a freezer-safe container or layering plastic wrap and aluminum foil over the tray to preserve freshness.
How To Reheat Curry Mac and Cheese
My favorite way to reheat mac and cheese is in the oven. Since I baked this curry mac and cheese, I would toss it in the oven to reheat for about twenty minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
To make this dish extra fancy, I added a touch of fresh dill and breadcrumbs then popped it back into the oven to get nice a “golden brown” crust. And if you’re looking for some added protein, I made this Citrus Roasted Chicken!
- 1 16oz box medium shell pasta or elbow macaroni noodles
- 3 tbs butter
- 2 cups milk, divided
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/2 cup white cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 tsp yellow curry
- 3 sprigs fresh dill
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Prepare pasta in boiling salted water and cook according to box instructions. Strain and set aside.
- In a large sauce pan, melt the butter then add 1 cup of milk. Allow to heat, about 2 minutes, then add the cornstarch. Stir vigorously to eliminate clumping.
- Add the remainder of the milk and wait for it to thicken, stirring occasionally. Add all of the cheese, stirring constantly.
- Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and a 1/4 cup warm water, , then add the curry and gently mix together.
- Transfer the mac and cheese to a skillet (as I did), casserole dish or baking dish and then add the fresh dill and sprinkle with panko breadcrumbs on top.
- Place in the oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve Immediately!