The spicy mac and cheese hack that will change everything

Mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Whether you like creamy, stovetop mac and cheese, cheesy and crispy baked-in-the-oven mac and cheese, or the beautiful bright orange processed kind that comes out of the blue Kraft box, it's familiar and addictive perfection. It is definitely a dish that goes along with American history. While Thomas Jefferson often gets the credit for how this favored dish became en vogue at dining tables in the United States, food historian Adrian Miller is quick to counter that it was actually James Hemings, a black slave, who had to learn to prepare it, pointing out that mac and cheese was often a celebratory weekend food (via Chicago Tribune). Today, mac and cheese is a dish that often conjures up the nostalgia from our youth, with each of us being partial to eating the meal the way it was prepared for us when we were children.

However, sometimes, when you are feeling like you've fallen into a culinary rut, it's nice for your taste buds to change things up. We've all heard the saying, "If it's not broke, why fix it?" and that kind of sums up our feelings about mac and cheese, but the beauty of this dish is how easily you can customize it to fit your mood, and break out of your dining doldrums. One way to do just that is to try this spicy hack that will change everything you know and feel about your favorite mac and cheese recipe.

How to create a spicy mac and cheese vibe

No matter which way you prepare your mac and cheese, this spicy riff will give your comfort food a kick to take your recipe to the next level. It's really easy and requires only one additional ingredient. In fact, you probably have a jar in your pantry. To create a spicy version of your favorite mac and cheese, grab some pickled jalapeño peppers, chop them up, and stir them into the pot. This unexpected addition will immediately add a punch that complements this cheesy dish. If you are feeling a little adventurous, you can even top it off with some sour cream, and chopped cilantro (via Eat This, Not That!). 

Cooking blog Modern Honey shares a creamy version of this spicy recipe and notes that the ingredients work well together because jalapeños add subtle spice to balance a rich and creamy sauce. Similarly, try adding jalapeños, some crispy bacon, and use cream cheese with your other cheeses to create a baked spicy jalapeño popper mac and cheese (via Spicy Southern Kitchen). However you like your mac and cheese, you will like it even more with this hot hack.