Who doesn’t love mac and cheese? It’s a dinner that will bring a smile to anyone’s face – after all, it is the ultimate comfort food. This macaroni and cheese recipe takes a unique turn by using popcorn as a crunchy topping instead of the more typical bread crumbs. While I enjoyed the uniqueness, the leftovers do not fare well so either make a half batch in a smaller 8 x 8 pan or plan to feed a crowd!
I chose to use our Au Natural gourmet popcorn since I was going to be adding butter and some seasoning. If you are starting with popcorn that’s already seasoned, I wouldn’t add any more salt and you may not even need additional butter. It just depends on the type that you’re using – the butter does help to lightly brown the top, but you’ll likely have just as much success if it’s already buttery.
Popcorn is so much more than a snack – hope this recipe helps to open your eyes to the possibilities!
Popcorn Crusted Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Popcorn.org
- 1 pound elbow macaroni
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 teaspoons mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
- 3 cups milk
- 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 16 ounces)
- 5 cups popped popcorn
- ½ teaspoon parsley flakes
- Cook and drain macaroni according to al dente package directions. Place back in the pot, toss with 2 tablespoons butter, and set aside.
- Butter a 9 x 13 baking pan and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Whisk in the flour, mustard powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, black pepper and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Slowly add in the milk, whisking to combine. Cook until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently (about 8-10 minutes).
- Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese until melted and smooth. Add macaroni to the sauce, stirring to combine then pour into the prepared baking pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes – while this bakes, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter and toss with the popcorn, parsley flakes, and ½ teaspoon of salt.
- Top the macaroni with the popcorn and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Let sit for about 5 minutes before serving.