Spicy harissa and flavorful roasted red peppers are the perfect duo of flavors in this rich and cheesy harissa mac and cheese!
Heat lovers, you’ve just found the mac and cheese of your dreams!
Just going under the assumption that I’m not the only one that vividly dreams about mac and cheese on a regular basis. This roasted red pepper harissa version has been the star of those dreams lately and it’s not too hard to see why.
I mean, we’ve got sweet red peppers paired with smoky, spicy harissa and so much rich cheesy action. It’s the dream team of mac flavors.
If you’re not ready to dive into that pan yet, you’ve got some serious self control skills.
This Harissa Mac and Cheese features…
- A rich and cheesy mac and cheese base with Monterey jack and cheddar cheese
- Smoky and sweet roasted red peppers
- Spicy and flavorful harissa paste
Making the Harissa Mac and Cheese
(scroll down to the bottom of the post for the full recipe)
Ingredients You Will Need
- Unsalted butter
- All-purpose flour
- Heavy whipping cream
- Monterey jack cheese
- Cheddar cheese
- Roasted red peppers
- Harissa paste
- Panko breadcrumbs
What is Harissa?
Harissa is a Middle Eastern chile paste. It’s made up mostly of smoked chile peppers, roasted red peppers, spices, garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes.
Harissa is a very flavorful ingredient, but also packs a bit of a punch so use it sparingly and taste as you go! If you’re sensitive to spice, you can easily leave it out or cut back the amount.
Where do I buy it? You can find harissa in a Middle Eastern store/market as well as the international section of most major grocery stores. We’ve also bought it on Amazon before.
Tips for Perfect Mac and Cheese
- Make a roux – a roux is equal parts butter and flour and it is the base to your sauce. Cook the roux over medium heat, whisking constantly until a light golden brown.
- Slowly drizzle in milk + cream – use a whisk to evenly incorporate the liquids into the roux to avoid lumps.
- Cook sauce over medium heat – once the milk and cream have been added, cook the sauce over medium heat and stir often to avoid burning. The sauce is done when it’s bubbly and can coat the back of a spoon.
- Fold in cheeses offheat – this will prevent the cheese from burning. Once the sauce is thickened, remove from heat and whisk in cheeses until melted.
Try these ideas for your own spin on this recipe!
- Add meat – cooked chicken, sausage, or bacon would be great meaty additions.
- Change up the cheese – try shredded gouda, provolone, colby jack, or mozzarella.
- Add more veggies – sautéed zucchini, mushrooms, broccoli, or carrot would be delicious extra veggie additions.
Adjusting Spice Level
This mac and cheese is very easy to adapt to your personal spice preference!
- Mild: use about 1 tablespoon harissa paste.
- Spicy: use suggested amount of harissa paste.
- Very Spicy: use suggested amount of harissa paste and a few shakes of red pepper flakes.
The smoky flavor from the harissa is just absolutely BOMB with the super rich and cheesy mac! We literally eat this mac straight from the pan, it’s that good.
You’re about to kick mac and cheese night up a notch in the absolute best way!
Save this recipe using the ‘save to recipe box’ button below. If you make it, please let us know! Leave a comment + star rating below, or take a photo and tag it on Instagram with #wholeandheavenlyoven.
More incredible macs to try next!
- Smoked Cheddar Green Chile Mac and Cheese
- One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese
- Balsamic Caramelized Onion Mushroom Mac and Cheese
Roasted Red Pepper Harissa Mac and Cheese
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups 2% or skim milk
- 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 cup roasted red peppers, cut into 1/2-in cubes
- 1/4 cup harissa paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lb pasta (shells, elbows, penne, etc) cooked according to package instructions to al dente
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round baking dish or a 9×13 baking dish. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic and cook 1 minute until fragrant. Whisk in flour until smooth and let cook 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Slowly drizzle in milk and cream, whisking constantly until smooth and incorporated.
- Cook sauce over medium heat, stirring occasionally until sauce is bubbly and thickened. Remove from heat and add cheeses, red peppers, and harissa whisking until cheese is melted. Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
- Combine cooked pasta and sauce and scrape into prepared pan. Top with breadcrumbs.
- Bake mac and cheese at 400F 20-25 minutes until bubbly and top is browned. Serve hot and enjoy!
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