Is there anything better than cheese? Not likely. Whenever a dish feels like it’s missing something, we inevitably spruce it up with some cheese. For instance, Swiss cheese instantly upgrades an average turkey sandwich, and sprinkling Parmesan cheese on a bowl of pasta comes second nature.
There’s a reason why cheese is always the first option to take a dish to the next level. The diverse number of cheeses available means there’s at least one that will pair perfectly with whatever dish you’re serving. But let’s be honest: We’re also after cheese for its soft, melty, gooey texture — something very few other ingredients can match.
It will be very difficult trying to find someone who does not enjoy cheese, but not too hard finding someone who shares your cheese obsession. So whether it be mac and cheese, mozzarella sticks, baked ziti, or the best grilled cheese sandwich in town, here are the tastiest Mashed recipes for all the cheese lovers out there.
Slow cooker mac and cheese
Do you own a slow cooker? Are you able to stir ingredients together? Do you love macaroni and cheese? If you said yes to the first two questions (the third was rhetorical, obviously) we have your new favorite recipe.
Our slow cooker mac and cheese recipe comes together in less than two hours and requires just six steps, and by "steps" we mean things like adding ingredients to the pot, stirring, and opening and closing the lid. It’s really that easy. Stir together the uncooked macaroni, evaporated milk, whole milk, melted butter, and spices, and cook for one hour. Open the slow cooker lid and stir, then cook for an additional 45 minutes. Finally, add the three cheeses –- mozzarella, cheddar, and cream cheese –- and let them melt for five minutes.
Although this slow cooker recipe is remarkably simple, it leaves you with an absolutely delicious dish. You can serve it as a side dish or on its own with crumbled bacon, beans, or ground beef.
If there’s an appetizer better than mozzarella sticks, we have yet to discover it. Hot and crispy on the outside and undeniably cheesy on the inside, these treats never stay on a plate very long. Usually, we may only indulge on mozzarella sticks at a restaurant or sports bar.
That is now a thing of the past. Our recipe for mozzarella sticks can be whipped up right at home. They can be prepped ahead of time, so when you’re ready to cook, they’re cooked in mere minutes.
Anything involving deep frying is usually intimidating, but this recipe is surprisingly easy. Cut your cheese into strips and coat them in flour, breadcrumbs, and egg. Place them in the freezer for about 2-3 hours. Afterward, fry them in oil for just one minute on each side, and you’re done. Grab them while they’re hot.
Pasta and cheese is an unbeatable combination, but we don’t need to look solely to mac and cheese when we’re craving this combo. Traditional Italian dishes are overloaded with pasta and cheese. A prime example is baked ziti, and we have the perfect baked ziti recipe that will have cheese lovers coming back for seconds. Unlike most Italian dishes, this baked ziti is unexpectedly easy to make. As a matter of fact, it can be done in less than an hour.
Once the pasta is cooked and combined with the sauce, spoon half into a baking dish. Then, top with a few spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture –- a combination of egg, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper –- and mozzarella. Let the dish bake for 30 minutes. The most excruciating part will be waiting 10 minutes for it to cool down before plating and diving in.
One-pot mac and cheese
We’ve all worked for hours in the kitchen to create an incredible meal, dived fork-first into said meal, and enjoyed every bite only to return to the kitchen to find a pile of dirty pots and pans. That nightmare situation is now a thing of the past thanks to our one-pot mac and cheese recipe. Not only does the recipe take just 20 minutes to prep and cook, but there’s just a single pot left behind for you to clean.
In a large sauté or saucepan, cook the pasta in a mixture of milk, water, salt, garlic powder, and ground paprika. When it comes time for the cheese, stir in cream cheese before adding in handfuls of grated mozzarella and cheddar. When the cheese is fully incorporated, add some salt and pepper to taste, and you’re ready to dig in.
Grilled buffalo chicken mac and cheese sandwich
If you’re in the mood to indulge, we have the perfect recipe for you: part grilled cheese sandwich, part mac and cheese, with some delicious buffalo chicken thrown into the mix. We’ll warn you ahead of time that this is decidedly a "cheat day" meal. Any attempts to make it healthier would be an injustice.
This grilled buffalo chicken mac and cheese sandwich recipe takes longer to prepare than your average sandwich. But then again, this is no average sandwich. It requires cooking the buffalo chicken and mac and cheese separately. When those two are done, we’re ready to assemble. Butter the outside of each piece of bread along with a slathering of ranch dressing. Then, add the mac and cheese, buffalo chicken, a slice or two of mozzarella cheese, and top it off with some more buffalo sauce. Cook for about five minutes on each side, and you’re ready to dig in.
If you’re feeling extra bold, serve this sandwich along with ranch dressing dipping sauce. Be sure to have a big stack of napkins close by.
Baked mac and cheese
While there’s no wrong way to prepare mac and cheese, our baked mac and cheese recipe adds an irresistible crunchy texture that only improves this staple comfort food.
Cook the pasta as you normally would in boiling water. Then comes the cheese sauce. For this, use three different types of cheese, including sharp cheddar, mozzarella, and cream cheese, in addition to cumin, chili powder, black pepper, and Dijon mustard for a pop of flavor.
Place the cooked pasta into a casserole dish, and load on the cheese sauce. Top off the mac and cheese with breadcrumbs and Parmesan, cover the dish with foil, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil for the last five minutes of baking to get that perfect crispiness and browning of the cheese.
Just like that, in less than one hour, you’ll have the best baked mac and cheese in town.
Ultimate grilled cheese sandwich
There are few things as satisfying as biting into a hot, crunchy, gooey grilled cheese sandwich. Now, you may be asking yourself, "How can you improve something that’s so simple, yet perfect?"
Well, our grilled cheese recipe has a few tips that can really enhance the sandwich’s delicious qualities. The first deals with the star attraction: the cheese. Don’t settle for using just one type of cheese. If you do, you’re missing out on the opportunity to add more flavor to the sandwich. We recommend a blend of white American cheddar, Swiss-style Gruyère, and fontina.
You’re also probably accustomed to buttering the outside of the bread slices, which helps give the sandwich its crispiness. Using mayo, which doesn’t burn as easy, will provide the crisp, golden-brown exterior without any burning and sans extra grease.
Once your sandwich is prepared, throw it on the stovetop for a few minutes on each side, and enjoy!
What can be said about lasagna that hasn’t been said before? When it comes to comfort foods, this Italian feast sits very high.
Now, we know what you’re thinking: If only it took less time and effort to make. Well, you’re in luck. Our lasagna recipe uses no-cook noodles to make things a bit simpler for you and provides easy-to-follow steps so your layering is just right. This recipe calls for three different types of cheese: ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan.
We doubt there will be leftovers of the dish, but if there are, we have even more good news. The lasagna will stay good in the refrigerator for several days and can even be frozen for up to six months.
Copycat Chick-fil-A mac and cheese
Mac and cheese may not be the first thing you think of when you hear Chick-fil-A. Even though the chain is best known for its chicken, it cooks up a mighty fine version of this creamy, cheesy side dish. Our copycat recipe allows you to skip the line and recreate Chick-fil-A’s mac and cheese right at home.
The secret behind the restaurant’s mac and cheese is not just the type of cheese it uses, but the number of cheeses. Chick-fil-A’s "special blend of cheeses" includes not one, not two, but five different cheeses: Parmesan, cheddar, Romano, American, and BellaVitano.
With that secret unlocked, you’re well on your way. The rest of the recipe is similar to most other mac and cheese recipes, and can be made in just a half hour.
Slow cooker mozzarella-stuffed meatballs
What could be better than biting into a delicious home-cooked meatball? Biting into a home-cooked meatball that’s filled with mozzarella cheese, of course.
The only drawback to meatballs, or any proper Italian meal, is the time and energy they take to prepare. But our recipe for mozzarella-stuffed meatballs utilizes a slow cooker, which does so much of the work for you while delivering the same great flavor to your tastebuds.
We used ground turkey in our recipe, but beef or pork work as well. When it comes to the cheese of choice, the trick is to use string cheese, which has a soft texture and can easily be cut into cubes that fit perfectly into the center of the meatball.
Cook the meatballs first under the broiler to allow them to solidify. Then, place them in the slow cooker with crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and seasonings. Let the slow cooker work its magic for four hours, and you’re all set. Enjoy the meatballs on top of a pile of spaghetti or all on their own.
Copycat Panera mac and cheese
Panera is the king of quick-serve comfort food, so of course it would serve up a dynamite mac and cheese. Fortunately for you, our copycat Panera mac and cheese recipe lets you duplicate this comfort food in the comfort of your home in just 30 minutes.
The star of the dish is high-quality white cheddar cheese. According to Panera’s website, the chain uses Vermont white cheddar, so we opted for Cabot Vermont to replicate the flavor. Panera also uses a pasta noodle called pipette. If you can’t find it in stores, no worries, because there are a bunch of other good options. Look for a hollow or shell-shaped noodle, preferably with grooves. These features will help the noodle hold onto more of the cheese sauce. The last secret is adding Dijon mustard to the sauce to get that signature tangy flavor.
The cooking process is pretty straightforward. When it’s ready, enjoy the mac and cheese as a side dish or as a hearty meal of its own.