Mac ‘N Cheese Mexicano

Mac 'N Cheese Mexicano

Mac 'N Cheese a la Mexicana
8 to 10 servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: bacon, cheese, Corn, Monterrey Jack cheese, mozzarella, onion, pasta, pati's mexican table, poblanos, Zucchini
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Mac 'N Cheese Mexicano recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 3, Episode 6 “American Classics, My Way”


  • 1 pound penne or elbow-shaped pasta
  • 3 large poblano chiles, rinsed, stemmed, seeded and cut into large chunks, about 3/4 pound
  • 3 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering the dish
  • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups grated Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese, plus 1 cup for topping
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesano-Reggiano cheese, plus 1/2 cup for topping
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 cup corn kernels, shaved from the cob or thawed from frozen
  • 1/2 pound chopped zucchini, (about 1 medium zucchini)
  • 5 to 6 slices of bacon, fried and cut into chunks (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste

To Prepare

  • Bring salted water to a boil in a large pot and cook pasta until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Butter a large baking dish.
  • In the jar of a blender, puree the poblano chiles and milk until completely smooth. Strain into a bowl, pressing with the back of a wooden spoon to make sure you get mostly liquid.
  • In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Once it has melted and begins to bubble, add the flour. Cook, stirring continuously to make a roux or paste until you get the desired color (I go for light brown and a toasty aroma), about 2 minutes. Pour the poblano chile mixture into the roux or paste, stirring as you do. Add salt and freshly ground pepper and cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 to 12 minutes, occasionally stirring. If it gets lumpy, you can smooth the sauce by beating with a whisk. Add 3 cups of Monterey Jack cheese and 1 cup of Pecorino Romano, mix well, remove from heat and stir until well combined.
  • In a large skillet set over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until completely soft and translucent, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the corn kernels and cook for a couple minutes. Add the zucchini, sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, mix well and set aside. We don’t want to cook the zucchini here, as it will cook in the oven.
  • In the large pot, where the pasta was cooked, add the drained pasta, poblano chile sauce and sautéed vegetables, gently toss to mix. If using fried bacon, add it in here! Pour into a buttered baking dish, top with the remaining grated cheeses and place in the oven until the top layer of cheese has melted and begun to crisp along the edges, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot.

120 comments on “Mac ‘N Cheese Mexicano

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  1. This was so good! I made it last night and it is definitely a keeper! I added garlic to the chilis when I blended, added a bit of the pureed chilis to the sauce, and used a mix of cheddar and pepper jack cheese. Yum!

  2. Made this tonight for my husband and I. Cut the recipe in half because only two of us. Oh my! So delicious. Thank you for your great recipes. Tomorrow your carnitas recipe. Thank you.

  3. I made a mac and cheese before reading your great recipe. I just added some sliced chorizo and a can of minced chiles. Everyone loved it.

  4. Pati. I notice that you sometimes use a tapered saucepan. Can you tell me the brand and the size of that pan? It looks like it would be great for reducing sauces.

  5. Pati, i made this today and it’s mouth-wateringly incredible!
    i added a lot of minced garlic, a serrano, and the next time i make this, i’ll leave the seeds intact, since they get strained anyway. it wasn’t very spicy. but oh, so tasty!! i can’t wait to make this again. <3
    aqui te dejo mi foto. 🙂

  6. Very good recipe. I went with the no pasta and reduced the liquid. Very tasty and a nice change from rice and beans.

  7. Yo le agrego chiles, jalapenos o serranos, segun lo que tengo a la mano. Y ahora que tenemos Manchego en el super Mexicano, uso en vez de los quesos US.

  8. this sounds delish ! I being an American girl .love my mac and cheese . But this makes my mouth water . so I will definately try it !! I am sure it is perfect ! thank You Pati !

  9. We watched you make this on Create TV last night and were inspired. Made it for dinner tonight and it was amazing!! Will definitely be making it again! Thanks for the great Recipe!!

  10. I want to make this Mexican Mac and cheese but I was wondering if you could use any other kind of Mexican cheese just to keep it authentic I’m the only one that eats spicy so I can only make 1/2 the recipe.

  11. Hi Pati,
    I ❤ your show. All your recipes look delicious and the recipes I’ve tried come out great. This recipe is by far my favorite. The flavors bring back a mix of childhood memories of my mom’s cooking. This Mac ‘n Cheese Mexicano now has a permanent spot at our Thanksgiving dinner. Thank you

  12. This Mexican macaroni is delicious thank you for your birthday I always cook it on Thanksgiving Day for my family they just love it thanks

  13. I make this for my daughters on St. Patrick’s day so we can have funny green food that isn’t dyed, and they ask for it all year! So yum, tasty and not too spicy. We love it!

  14. We were watching older episodes of your show online, and when my husband watched you prepare this one, he turned to me and said, “I want that.”

    So I made it tonight, and it was warm and spicy and delicious! The perfect dish for a dreary wintry day. (I also might’ve eaten the crispy cheesy bits stuck to the side of the pan. They’re the best part!)

  15. When I saw this episode, I had to make this for Thanksgiving and it was loved by all! What a fabulous recipe. So cheesy and full of flavor. Love your show and can’t wait to make more of your recipes!

  16. Hola paty yo veo tus programas pero no hablo Ingles ,bueno poquito pero me gustaris que traducieras o pusieras subtitilos porque tus resetas se ven apetecibles o aunquesea tus resetas poder verlas en ESPAÑOL porfa no nos quedes mal .saludos

  17. This was so easy I did from memory except I added a handful of chopped cilantro to the zucchini mixture. It’s cooking now and I can’t wait! But I know if it tasted good going in the oven then it’s even better coming out. Thank you for this. ?

  18. Hi Pati and greetings from Montana! I always make a new recipe exactly as it is. This was perfection just as you said! My husband loved it! Gracias and mucho gusto! Annie

  19. I’ve done a version of this three times. Basically I roast the Poblano Peppers, peel them, de-seed them then chop them and blend them with milk and some flour in the blender and I don’t strain out the bits, a bit of green with the macaroni seems fine to me but then still do the rue with oil and flour then pour the Poblano milk mix in the pan until thickened. I go ahead and use an 16oz of extra sharp cheddar blended into the mix after it thickens. Mix with a 16oz elbow macaroni that’s been cooked, drained and cooled and after that 12 oz of bacon cooked and chopped. A bit of grated cheese on top with some Italian Bread crumbs, cover and put in the refrigerator until it’s time to cook it in the oven. Good times. I would have never thought to experiment with the Poblano peppers if I hadn’t seen Pati blending that on the show as I flipped through the channels and saw her and then stayed for the rest. 🙂 Good stuff.

  20. Dear Pati,
    Omg, I made your mac’n cheese mexicana today and we couldn’t stop eating it! In addition to that my husband made cabbage with sausage and pork chops from the smoker. We both enjoy your show and the love of cooking together. Thank you lady! You are blessed
    Karin and Garrett Robinson

    1. Hi Karin, Thank you for your message! Sounds like a wonderful meal — so happy you guys tried the Mac ‘n Cheese!!

  21. Hi Pati..

    I just saw your episode and have to say your recipes were mouth watering.
    I am going to cook the macaroni and the chicken wins tomorrow.

  22. Hey Pati,

    I cooked this with the modification of cooking the veggies in the bacon grease and adding some bacon on top – I was taking it to a “Bacon-Off Party” and everyone liked it!

    My boyfriend is from Mexico and I’m from the States, so we always enjoy watching your show and it’s a great conversation starter for us to share our cultures with one another. The different places you visit every week introduce me to new places I’d like to vacation and eat all the time! Keep up the amazing work!

  23. You, know, Emily, you are correct! I just wanted Pati to get the feel of the word no one can pronounce. Coming from New England, there is a town called “Worcester” (As in Mass.) that many have problems saying. By the way, Emily, there is no “E” in my name.
    Let us get back to Pati’s delicious, spicy, and excellent cooking. As Jack Pepin says “Happy Cooking”.

    Silicon Valley

  24. Roseanna; I liked you cooking comments, but more commonly Worcestershire is pronounced “woosh-te-sure”. Keep cooking. Emily

  25. “Pati, finally, I made the mac ‘n’ cheese dish”. May I say it was “SMOKING”. The second time I made it I did not have pecorino cheese, therefore, I made it with the best Wisconsin sharp cheddar cheese – it was still great. In addition, I like cooking with the white onions since, I have a tendency to use sweet onions, only. I am looking forward to trying many of your recipes..”you can cook, girl”. By the way “Worcestershire is pronounced, sounds, like (Woo-chess-shy-er)”.

    Rosanna (of Silicon Valley)

  26. Hi Pati. Just saw this episode and my husband actually clapped when you added the bacon to the mac and cheese. We LOVE your show and use your recipes at least once a week. Thank you for explaining things so well!

  27. Hi Pati,

    I’m so excited to make this recipe for a Mexican themed, July 4th party. Can I make it a day ahead or is it best to make it the same day? I want to make extra to keep for myself. How long will it keep? Can it be stored in the freezer or would the cheese not thaw properly? Lots of question but this looks so yummy…I can’t wait to taste it.

    P.s. I love the YouTube video of you preparing this recipe. You are so easy to understand, step by step, instructions beautifully done. I enjoyed the end where you talk about your boys love for bacon.



    1. Thanks, Marlene!
      Yes, you can make it ahead and jet refrigerate and place back in the oven, covered, before you are ready to eat it. It is incredibly delicious just out of the oven too…

  28. Hello Pati,
    Love your show. We tried the mac and cheese recipe……WOW. It was great. The zucchini and corn really add a nice touch. We plan to make this part of our culinary repertoire from now on.
    Best of luck,

  29. I am looking forward to maling this reciep. Since I already have roasted poblanos in my freezer I’m thinking of using them instead. I think the flavor of the roasted poblanos would give a great flavor. I would also like to know why strain the poblanos when you could use it all? Also, kudos on your reciep on the Mexican Lasagna. The first time I made it I thought it was too much just for me so I was going to send the better part of it home with my son-in-law so my daughter would not have to cook dinner that night. Once I tasted it I was hooked. Over the next day ot two I ate the whole thing. It was simply delicious.Of course I had to make one for my daughter and son-in-law they loved it. Thanks Pati.

    1. Hola Irene, So happy you are going to try this recipe. It will be fantastic with the roasted poblanos & you don’t have to strain the poblano puree — it will just be a less smooth sauce, but will have lots of poblano flavor.

  30. Dearest Pati,
    I watch your show religiously–even at 2:30a.m.!! [lol] Your Mexican-ized American classics episode is my absolute favorite! The mac n cheese looks CRAZY good. Bacon makes everything better, right? I was watching this episode recently and my Mother was like, “what the? Why is that mac n cheese GREEN?!” lol. When it was finished she said it looked like one to try and I’m thinking I will 😉

    Thanks for having the BEST cooking show EVER. You were obviously meant to be doing this. I’ve watched MANY cooking shows over the years (it’s kind of an obsession), but your warmth, humor, and fascinating stories of your colorful culture can’t be matched. I am SO glad I found your show. You’ve got a viewer/fan here for life! 🙂

    1. Hola Michelle, THANK YOU so much for your message & for watching!! Yes, bacon does make everything better. I hope you make the Mac ‘n Cheese for your mom.

      1. Hola again, Pati! Just wanted to tell you that I MADE your Mexi-Mac and it is TRULY..THE..BEST Mac n Cheese I have ever had–and, as a Southerner (Alabama), I have had a TON. I love what the poblanos do to the cheese sauce. Wow. Thank you for a great recipe. It is definitely a keeper!


  31. “What’s up Patti?”
    Hi, I love, love, your show – and- I am not even Mexican. To me, you have a great personality, and you are right up there with: Lidia’s Italy, and other master chef’s of cooking. I have not tried the recipe, yet, but, I already make ‘Killer mac and cheese’: your recipe is a new twist.
    Keep up the good work – in addition – I like the fact that you work in jeans – love your kitchen.

    A new fan

  32. Omgoodness !!! In heaven will I be on Sunday when I make the mac n cheese wingsv and brownies!! Gracias !♥

  33. Hello, Pati!

    I am enamored with your show and try to never miss it! You are so easy going about cooking and I’ve learned so much!

    I particularly appreciate your recipes being so easy for the almost gourmet home cooks ~ like me! 🙂

    When I visited Mexico we were served a seasoned black bean paste, sort of hummus like, presented as a condiment on my plate at each meal. It was so yummy! I’ve tried to make it at home but I don’t seem to get the flavor the way I remember it to be. What is your recipe for this Mexican hummus?

  34. You don’t have to subscribe to TIVO. If you have cable or satellite TV you could buy or rent a DVR directly from the cable or satellite company. Or you can go down to your local discount store and buy a VCR or DVD recorder to record from your cable box or satellite receiver. Instructions how to hook up are in the DVR or VCR box.

    Local broadcast TV is free, no subscription cost if you have a TV antenna. Use a VCR or a DVD recorder to record the show from your TV or digital converter box that is connected to a TV antenna if the show is available locally.

    Ask some kids how to hook these things up 🙂 They are pretty good with technical stuff.

  35. Dear Patti; I. like so many others, I love you show and will wait the whole day for it to come on. Here, in southern California, it doesn’t come on until 4 PM! There are so many things going on that time of day on a Saturday. I so wish it would air earlier. Unfortunately, I don’t have tivo. If I did, I would so record you wonderful program. Emily

  36. I made this for Mother’s Day and it was a huge hit with everyone! I’ve been experimenting a lot with mac & cheese lately, and it was so cool to find a more creative, flavorful twist like this.

    Also, I’m crazy about the show; it’s totally my favorite part of the local PBS rotation.

  37. I absolutely loved this idea, Pati! I really want to try it with fire-roasted poblanos. Do you have any ideas on how to get that deep smokey flavor, but also keep the beautiful color and texture of the original recipe?

    1. Hola Neal, You can try it with fire-roasted poblanos. Just char the poblanos as you usually do, then seed and chop them, and use them in the recipe as written. It will be beautiful and delicious!!

  38. Just a quick note, to say Hola, and Gracias.

    Just wanted to let you know you solved my dilemma. Being a single gay male in Denver, with friends who are mostly couples, as you can imagine the ability to get a WOW reaction from my peer group is not an easy task. Either its been done, or done better…

    We are having our gay pride celebration in June, and everyone usually brings liquor or a dish..

    I am above average in the kitchen, but in my group, above average doesn’t cut it, you have to me original, creative, and imaginative, in order to get a sincere nod of approval.

    Your Mexican MAC & CHEESE will be the perfect dish to bring to the event. Its basic enough that the younger kids are gonna luv it, but different enough that the adults will want seconds.

    Just giving you props, for the idea…

  39. Loved your Mac N Cheese recipe. Tried it for the first time on Easter Sunday. Had a few friends over and they raved about it. My husband was a little nervous because I had not done a trial run. My friends laughed and said there was always “plan b.” No plan “b” needed it was great and I sent the recipe via e-mail to all who came over for lunch. What a change from regular Mac n Cheese. Soooo tasty. I also included the bacon. Awesome.

  40. Hi pati . Long time fan. In my grocery stores the poblano chiles are called pasillas. I cannot find poblano chiles. I shop at Safeway, lucks, raleys and the mexican stores. The poblano a you use are fatter and the chiles I get are thinner. Ughh

  41. I happen to see your show for the first time and couldn’t wait to try this. I just made it and it’s the best Mac and cheese I’ve ever had in my life. Thank you so Much for sharing this amazing recipe. I know my family will love it!

  42. Hi, I watched your TV show today and you made a Mexican hotdog. but i cant find the recipe and I don’t remember how you made it.

    1. Hi Anne, Thank you for watching! Here’s how you make the Sonoran hot dog…Grill a turkey sausage and wrap in bacon, then split in half and add 2 tablespoons of grated melty cheese (such as mozzarella or monterey jack), and place back on the grill. Butter a hot dog bun and heat on grill. Assemble the hot dog in the bun, and top it with sausage, mayo, mustard, ketchup, chopped tomato and onion, and a grilled jalapeño chile. I hope you try it!

  43. Hola Pati,
    I love your show. I just started watching recently on PBS and if I’m not home, I make sure to dvr it. I’m so excited to try all of the “Mexicanized” American recipes. They all look mouth watering. Thank you so much for all of your wonderful work. ;o)

  44. Love the show and your recipes. Our satellite TV PBS channels no longer carries your show. It was a pleasant surprise to find it on a semi-local “Create” TV channel off-air via regular TV antenna.

    I retouched the online photo of the dish. You may replace your dark online photo with my lightened version at no cost :-). I’m just trying to help you like you help us with your instructional TV show.

    Thank you for your show.×307-Edited.jpg

  45. Estimada Patti!! I love watching your program. We moved to Olympia, Washington from El Paso, Texas. My Mother was from Madera, Mexico and of course I grew up eating amazing Mexican food. As a foodie, I love making new and unique foods. Your program excites me and you make me homesick for the amazing foods and flavors that I grew up with and the way you reinvent foods. You are giving us great recipes that can be made by everyone and sharing the tastes of Mexico with us.

    Thank you for your excitement and love that you send us. Benediciones y carino!

  46. My mouth was watering when watching the mac n cheese episode. I just had to try to get the receipt. Being that we are trying to eat healthier, I will have to try to make it dumbed it down from the way Patti does it. It’s one of those once in a lifetime type dishes.

  47. The first time seeing you on TV I felt that I had to try your mac and cheese.

    I forgot the bacon, but followed everything else pretty close and it was great. I don’t even normally eat mac and cheese but will do this receipt again!


  48. Can’t wait to try your Mac and cheese…we have loves a chipotle Mac and cheese at a local restaurant this is going to be a perfect substitute and new favorite.

    Any thoughts on a recipe I have been wanting to recreate for years. I had a smoky poblano polenta once that I still crave to this day. Just wonder if your milk and poblano trick might work there too.

  49. Patti, your program doesn’t come on until later in the afternoon. It is so worth waiting for. I am never disappointed. Your recipes are originally imaginable, and you are so enchanting and a delight.
    Keep up the great inspirational recipes coming. Emily

  50. Hola, Pati!

    I’ve been watching your show since its first season, and I absolutely love it! Your clever recipes and and warm personality are a perfect match. And your timing is perfect, too!

    Imagine my surprise today as I watched your show featuring American classics with a Mexican twist. Your Mac ‘N Cheese Mexicano, Chipotle Agave Chicken Wings, and Extreme Brownies with Carmelized Pecans look very doable and delicious! I’ve been wanting to make dishes like these but didn’t know how to begin. Now I do!

    Thanks for being such an inspiration!