22 Twists on Mac 'N' Cheese

Dig into slimmed-down, flavor-packed versions that you'll love as much as the kids do.

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Muffin Bites Mac 'N' Cheese

Ryan Liebe

Muffin Bites Mac 'N' Cheese

These bites are perfect for an on-the-go snack or packing lunches—you can't go wrong either way.

1. Stir 1 egg into prepared mac ’n’ cheese

2. Spoon into 20 greased mini muffin cups

3. Sprinkle with shredded cheddar and pepper (optional)

4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes at 400°F. 

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Pumpkin Mac 'n' Cheese

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Better-For-You Baked Mac

Joseph De Leo

Better-For-You Baked Mac

This fontina-cheese mac contains about 70 calories and 13 grams of fat fewer than typical baked versions.

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Veggie Blend Baked Mac

Joseph De Leo

Veggie Blend Baked Mac

"Kids will barely notice the carrots and onion in this version," says Curtis Stone, dad of Hudson, 2, and host of Top Chef Masters.

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Greek Style Baked Mac

Joseph De Leo

Greek Style Baked Mac

For extra flavor and nutrients, add artichoke hearts and garlic to mac 'n' cheese, suggests Victoria Shanta Retelny, R.D., author of The Essential Guide to Healthy Healing Foods and mom of two.

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Greenalicious Baked Mac

Joseph De Leo

Greenalicious Baked Mac

How will you persuade your child to eat spinach? Put it in their mac 'n' cheese, suggests Parents contributing editor Catherine McCord, a mom of two and author of Weelicious Lunches.

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Sneaky Squash Baked Mac

Joseph De Leo

Sneaky Squash Baked Mac

This vitamin A-rich veggie will blend in with the Cheddar cheese, says Sharon Palmer, R.D., author of the forthcoming book Plant-Powered for Life.

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Protein Boost Baked Mac

Joseph De Leo

Protein Boost Baked Mac

Give mac 'n' cheese a protein boost with edamame, says celebrity chef Cat Cora, a mom of four kids under age 10.

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BBQ Inspired Baked Mac

Joseph De Leo

BBQ Inspired Baked Mac

Chef Steve Chiappetti, of J. Rocco Italian Table & Bar, in Chicago says his kids like mac 'n' cheese with shredded chicken and barbeque sauce.

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Simple Stovetop Mac

Joseph De Leo

Simple Stovetop Mac

Yogurt adds creaminess to this speedy, lighter version.

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French Onion Stovetop Mac

Joseph De Leo

French Onion Stovetop Mac

Use Gruyére cheese and caramelized onions. It's a Parents test-kitchen fave!

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Pasta E Fagioli Style Stove-Top Mac

Joseph De Leo

Pasta E Fagioli Style Stove-Top Mac

Mix in cannellini beans, tomato puree, and rosemary, says Jeffrey Saad, author of Jeffrey Saad's Global Kitchen: Recipes Without Borders.

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Mickey Approved Simple Stove-Top Mac

Joseph De Leo

Mickey Approved Simple Stove-Top Mac

Walt Disney World chef Gary Jones makes a version with ground chicken and cumin.

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Pizza Time Stove-Top Mac

Joseph De Leo

Pizza Time Stove-Top Mac

Can't decide between pizza or mac 'n' cheese? Blend together the flavors with this recipe from Sarita Ekya, co-owner of S'MAC, a mac 'n' cheese hot spot in New York City.

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Seafood Spin Stove-Top Mac

Joseph De Leo

Seafood Spin Stove-Top Mac

Cat Cora stirs in a cup of chopped cooked shrimp and a pinch of Cajun seasoning just before serving.

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Little Italy Stove-Top Mac

Joseph De Leo

Little Italy Stove-Top Mac

Go more grown-up by adding baby spinach, oregano, and a little chili.

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Better-For-You Boxed Mix

Joseph De Leo

Better-For-You Boxed Mix

If you don't have the time or ingredients to make your own macaroni and cheese, opt for a healthier boxed version. My kids like Annie's Homegrown Shells & White Cheddar, and I'm a fan because it has less fat and sodium than many other brands and no artificial ingredients. Use the 10.5-oz. Family Size box to serve four, and prepare it according to the directions.

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Mini Meatball Boxed Mac

Joseph De Leo

Mini Meatball Boxed Mac

Heat frozen mini meatballs and stir them into the dish, says Carla Christian, Parents test-kitchen project manager.

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Crab and Cheese Boxed Mac

Joseph De Leo

Crab and Cheese Boxed Mac

Lori King, a chef at The Pantry, in Norwich, Connecticut, suggests mixing in a can of drained crabmeat during cooking.

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Southwestern Boxed Mac

Joseph De Leo

Southwestern Boxed Mac

Top the mac 'n' cheese with sautéed sliced bell peppers and onions, advises Jackie Newgent, R.D., author of The With or Without Meat Cookbook.

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Creamy & Crunchy Boxed Mac

Joseph De Leo

Creamy & Crunchy Boxed Mac

Retelny recommends adding ground flax seed and farmer's cheese to impart an extra-creamy texture and a mild nutty flavor.

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Buffalo Chicken Boxed Mac

Joseph De Leo

Buffalo Chicken Boxed Mac

Get the flavor of buffalo wings without all the fat of frying!

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A Twist on Dogs and Cheese Boxed Mac

Joseph De Leo

A Twist on Dogs and Cheese Boxed Mac

Add chicken sausage to the dish, suggests James O'Donnell, executive chef at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse in Chicago.

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