Macaroni and cheese is the ultimate comfort food, rich and soothing, but it’s even better made zingy with hot sauce, salsa, and other spicy add-ins.

Many hounds add red pepper flakes, Tabasco, or a shot of Sriracha to their basic mac ‘n’ cheese recipes. “Marash pepper has a slight kick, and gives mac and cheese a warm, smoky flavor,” says mariacarmen. “The fruity, fairly mild, slightly oily quality” of marash pepper is fantastic, agrees mebby. “It’s so much more than heat.”

Others add minced jalapeños or roasted poblano or New Mexico chiles to their mac ‘n’ cheese. Even more popular is the addition of spicy, smoky chipotles en adobo. A couple of hounds recommend this chipotle macaroni and cheese with garlic breadcrumbs.

Another option is to incorporate a prepared salsa (jarred or homemade) into the cheese sauce before combining it with the macaroni. PAO likes this Rick Bayless recipe, which includes poblano-tomato salsa, while HillJ prefers using salsa verde to tomato-based versions.

Discuss: Spicing up mac ‘n’ cheese

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