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The Surprising Pasta Choice for Irresistible Baked Mac and Cheese

The Unlikely Pasta You Should Use For Baked Mac And Cheese

Mac and cheese is a beloved comfort food that has stood the test of time. It’s a dish that brings back fond memories of childhood and warm family gatherings. While traditional mac and cheese recipes often call for penne, bowtie, or elbow macaroni, there is an unlikely type of pasta that can take this classic dish to a whole new level of deliciousness. In this article, we’ll explore the surprising pasta choice for baked macaroni and cheese and why it’s worth a try.

The history of macaroni and cheese

Before we dive into the unexpected pasta, let’s take a moment to appreciate the rich history of mac and cheese. According to MEL Magazine, this cheesy, creamy pasta dish has been enjoyed in various forms since 1390. It has evolved over the centuries and remains a beloved staple in many households today.
The popularization of macaroni and cheese took a major step forward during the Great Depression when Kraft introduced boxed macaroni and cheese in 1937. This affordable and easy-to-prepare meal quickly gained popularity and became a go-to option for families during hard times.

The versatility of pasta shapes

When it comes to macaroni and cheese, the choice of pasta shape plays an important role in the overall flavor and texture of the dish. While traditional shapes like penne, bowtie, and elbow macaroni are commonly used, there are other types of pasta that can elevate the mac and cheese experience.

Spaghetti: A Surprising Contender

An unlikely pasta that works remarkably well in baked macaroni and cheese is spaghetti. Although spaghetti is often associated with classic Italian dishes like spaghetti and meatballs, it can also shine in this creamy, cheesy comfort food.
As pointed out by The Takeout, some New Orleans restaurants use spaghetti in their baked macaroni and cheese. The long strands of spaghetti allow for a thicker, casserole-like dish. The cheese gets a chance to melt and soak into the pasta, creating a delightful combination of flavors and textures.

Orecchiette: An Unexpected Twist

While spaghetti is an excellent choice for baked macaroni and cheese, another unexpected pasta type suggested by The Takeout is orecchiette. This small, ear-shaped pasta offers a unique twist on the traditional mac and cheese recipe.
Orecchiette’s concave shape allows it to hold cheese and seasonings exceptionally well. It creates a similar experience to stuffed shells, with the flavors blending perfectly inside the pasta. If you’re looking for a mac and cheese that’s both visually appealing and delicious, orecchiette may be the pasta shape for you.

Experimenting with Unconventional Pasta Shapes

By exploring beyond the usual pasta choices, you can unleash your creativity in the kitchen and discover new and exciting versions of macaroni and cheese. Spaghetti and orecchiette are just two examples of the many unconventional pasta shapes you can experiment with.
Keep in mind that while spaghetti and orecchiette work exceptionally well in baked macaroni and cheese, they may not be the best options for traditional stovetop recipes. Your choice of pasta will depend on the texture and presentation you want for your dish.


Mac and cheese is a timeless classic that continues to captivate our taste buds. By venturing beyond the typical pasta choices and embracing the unexpected, we can take this beloved dish to new heights. Whether you choose the long strands of spaghetti or the unique shape of orecchiette, you’re sure to create a deliciously cheesy macaroni and cheese that will delight your family and friends.
So the next time you’re in the mood for some comfort food, don’t be afraid to break the mold and try an unlikely pasta type for your baked mac and cheese. Let your taste buds lead you on a culinary adventure that celebrates the versatility and creativity of this beloved dish.


Can I use spaghetti instead of traditional pasta shapes for baked macaroni and cheese?

Absolutely! Spaghetti can be a fantastic choice for baked macaroni and cheese. Its long strands allow for a thicker, casserole-like dish, and the cheese gets a chance to melt and soak into the pasta, creating a delightful combination of flavors and textures.

What other types of pasta can I try for baked macaroni and cheese?

In addition to spaghetti, you can experiment with other unconventional pasta shapes, such as orecchiette. Orecchiette’s concave shape holds cheese and seasonings exceptionally well, creating a unique and visually appealing mac and cheese experience.

Will using spaghetti or orecchiette affect the taste of the macaroni and cheese?

Using spaghetti or orecchiette can add another dimension to the taste and texture of your macaroni and cheese. The cheese has a chance to be more evenly distributed throughout the dish, resulting in a flavorful and satisfying bite.

Can I use the same cooking method for baked macaroni and cheese with non-traditional pasta shapes?

Yes, you can use the same cooking method to make baked macaroni and cheese with non-traditional pasta shapes. The key is to make sure the pasta is cooked al dente before baking, as it will continue to cook and absorb the flavors in the oven.

Are there any other advantages to using non-traditional pasta shapes for macaroni and cheese?

Using unconventional pasta shapes can add visual appeal and variety to your macaroni and cheese. It allows you to think outside the box and get creative with your dish, making it a memorable and unique culinary experience for you and your guests.

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