Kimchi Mac And Cheese

Macaroni and cheese in its most basic form has been a go-to comfort food for decades, but recently embellished versions of this dish have been having a moment. Coincidentally enough, so has another food that is new to some of us, although others have been enjoying it for years: the fermented superfood known as kimchi. As recipe developer Keith Kamikawa tells us, "I grew up eating kimchi and obviously mac and cheese, and I love both." He goes on to say, "I can't remember what trendy restaurant I was in when I first had it, but of course, I needed to order it! One bite, and there was no going back.

Lucky for us, Kamikawa decided to recreate this restaurant dish at home and share the recipe so we can all experience this "awesome combo." As he describes the flavor, "The gojuchang and kimchi add a nice mellow heat and umami flavor. This recipe has a nice rich cheese sauce so the spice won't get to you." He also mentions the fact that "The kimchi and breadcrumbs add a great texture and crunch to the dish!"

Assemble the ingredients for the kimchi mac and cheese

This is some high-level gourmet mac and cheese here, so no box mix needed! Instead, you're going to be cooking your own elbow macaroni and making a sauce from butter, flour, milk, cream, and two types of cheese: cheddar and Monterey Jack. The recipe gets its flavor from garlic powder, gochujang, Dijon mustard, and, of course, kimchi, while the crowning touch is a crunchy crumb crust made from panko breadcrumbs and sliced green onions.

Nearly all, if not all, of these ingredients should be available at any basic supermarket, although if your grocery store is on the smaller side, there's a chance you may have to go a bit further afield for the kimchi and gochujang. Any Asian grocery store should have quite a selection of both of these ingredients, however.

Prepare the crunchy topping and cook the pasta

As a first step, preheat the oven to broil. As it's heating, there are a few more prep steps you can complete. For starters, melt three tablespoons of the butter, and mix the melted butter with the panko breadcrumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Set the breadcrumb mixture to the side as you proceed to the next step, cooking the pasta. Boil the elbow macaroni in salted water until it becomes al dente, which Kamikawa says should take about seven minutes. Drain the macaroni and set it aside as you make the sauce.

Make the cheesy sauce and add the mac

Melt the remaining butter in a Dutch oven or a large, heavy pot. Whisk in the flour and garlic powder along with a quarter of a teaspoon of black pepper, and cook the roux for one minute. Slowly whisk in the milk, cream, mustard, and gochujang, then bring the mixture to a boil. Once it boils, reduce the heat to medium and cook the sauce, stirring, for five minutes.

Turn off the heat, then whisk both types of melted cheese into the hot sauce. Once the cheese is melted, turn the burner back on to medium and stir in the cooked, drained macaroni. Cook, stirring, for five more minutes, then stir the kimchi and three-quarter of the onions into the mac and cheese.

Finish off the mac and cheese in the oven

Scoop the mac and cheese into an oven-proof baking dish and finish it off by sprinkling on the breadcrumb mixture and the remaining green onions. Put the baking dish on the middle rack of the oven and broil until the topping is golden brown, which Kamikawa says should take about five minutes. Let the mac and cheese cool for five minutes before you serve it.

Kamikawa says of this kimchi mac and cheese, "You can certainly have it as a side or a main dish." If the former, he suggests, "You could serve it as a side to Korean BBQ, much like regular mac and cheese is served as a side in American barbecues." If you'd rather have it as a main dish, though, he tells us, "A common, and awesome, addition to kimchi mac and cheese is adding Spam, another cool American/Korean pantry staple!"

Kimchi Mac And Cheese
5 from 28 ratings
Macaroni and cheese in its most basic form has been a go-to comfort food for decades, but recently embellished versions of this dish have been having a moment.
Prep Time
Cook Time
kimchi mac and cheese
Total time: 35 minutes
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese
  • 16 ounces kimchi
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced about ¼-inch thick
  1. Preheat oven to broil.
  2. Melt 3 tablespoons butter and combine with breadcrumbs and Parmesan. Set aside.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon salt to 4 quarts of water. Bring water and salt to a boil.
  4. Add elbow macaroni and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain the pasta.
  5. Melt remaining butter in a heavy pot or Dutch oven.
  6. Whisk the flour, garlic powder, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper into the melted butter and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Slowly whisk the milk, cream, mustard, and gochujang into the roux and bring the sauce to a boil.
  8. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the sauce for an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Remove sauce from heat and slowly whisk in the cheeses.
  10. Return the sauce to medium heat and add the cooked elbow macaroni, stirring while it heats for another 5 minutes.
  11. Mix the kimchi and ¾ of the onions into the mac and cheese.
  12. Empty the pot of macaroni and cheese into an oven-safe dish and top with the remaining green onions and the breadcrumb mixture.
  13. Bake on the top rack of the oven for about 5 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
  14. Let the macaroni and cheese rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Calories per Serving 1,087
Total Fat 63.3 g
Saturated Fat 37.8 g
Trans Fat 1.1 g
Cholesterol 187.7 mg
Total Carbohydrates 88.9 g
Dietary Fiber 6.3 g
Total Sugars 13.9 g
Sodium 1,167.9 mg
Protein 40.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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