This mouthwatering Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese casserole recipe combines two of our favorites in a creative way. Warm Spinach Artichoke Dip, one of our absolute favorite appetizers, and Macaroni and cheese, the ultimate comfort food, are combined to create this dish’s iconic taste and creamy, cheesy richness.
How to add flavor to mac and cheese casserole?
Mac and cheese is a classic comfort food, but sometimes you want to elevate it with some extra flavor. Here are a few ways to add a delicious twist to your mac and cheese:
- Add herbs and spices: Sprinkle in some dried herbs like thyme, oregano, or parsley to give your mac and cheese a burst of flavor. You can also experiment with spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, or garlic powder for a little kick.
- Mix in different cheeses: While cheddar cheese is the go-to for mac and cheese, you can mix in other cheeses to add complexity. Try adding a bit of gruyere, Parmesan, or Monterey Jack to enhance the cheesiness.
- Incorporate bacon: Cook up some crispy bacon and crumble it into your mac and cheese. The smoky, savory flavor of the bacon pairs wonderfully with the creamy cheese sauce.
- Add vegetables: For a healthier twist, throw in some sautéed vegetables like broccoli, spinach, or mushrooms. They not only add flavor but also provide a pop of color and extra nutrients.
- Try different pasta shapes: Switch up the traditional elbow macaroni and opt for unique pasta shapes like shells, spirals, or penne. The different shapes can hold more sauce and create a more interesting texture.
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Why is my spinach artichoke dip runny?
Your spinach artichoke dip may be runny due to excess moisture from ingredients like spinach or artichokes that weren’t properly drained or the dip wasn’t baked long enough to evaporate excess liquid. Additionally, using a high-water content cheese or not enough binding agents (like cream cheese or mayonnaise) can contribute to a runny consistency.
To fix it, you can try draining excess liquid from your ingredients, adding more binding agents or cheese, and baking the dip for a bit longer until it thickens to your desired consistency.
What cheese has the most flavor for mac and cheese?
Cheddar cheese is often considered the best choice for adding a rich and flavorful taste to mac and cheese. Sharp or extra sharp cheddar varieties, in particular, provide a strong, tangy flavor that can enhance the dish’s overall taste.
You can also experiment with other cheeses like Gruyère, Parmesan, or Monterey Jack to add depth and complexity to your mac and cheese, but cheddar is a classic choice known for its bold flavor profile.
Combining different cheeses can also create a well-rounded and delicious flavor for your mac and cheese.
What are the ingredients to make Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese?
This recipe has a prep time of 15 minutes and a cook time of 30 minutes. Here are the ingredients you’re going to need for four servings.
- Small dry pasta (shells, elbows, mini penne, or ditalini): Serves as the base of the dish, providing a satisfying and substantial texture.
- Milk: To create the creamy sauce for the mac and cheese.
- Heavy cream: Adds richness to the sauce, making it even creamier and more indulgent.
- Cream cheese: Contributes to the creamy texture of the sauce and adds a tangy flavor.
- Baby spinach: Adds a healthy and vibrant element to the dish, providing a pop of color and nutrition.
- Marinated artichokes: Bring a distinct, tangy, and slightly acidic flavor to the dish, along with a pleasant texture.
- Shredded cheddar cheese: Provide a rich, cheesy, and slightly sharp taste.
- Panko breadcrumbs: Add a crispy and textured contrast to the creamy mac and cheese.
- Melted butter: Help brown and crisp the topping during baking.
- Fresh parsley: Add a burst of color and a fresh, herbaceous flavor to the finished dish.
- Garlic powder: Adds a subtle garlic flavor to the sauce.
- Sea salt and black pepper: Provide a balance of saltiness and a touch of heat.
How to make Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese?
It’s time to put this recipe together now that you’ve gathered all of your ingredients.
- First, preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Next, lightly grease a 3 qt. casserole dish and set it aside.
- While the oven is preheating, heat a large pot of lightly salted water over high heat and prepare the pasta according to package directions, cooking 1 to 2 minutes less than al dente. The pasta will continue to cook during baking. When the pasta is finished cooking, reserve one-half cup of the cooking liquid and set it aside. Then drain the pasta but do not rinse it. Return the pasta to the cooking pot. Add reserved cooking water, milk, heavy cream, and cream cheese. Stir it gently until the cream cheese melts.
- After that, add the baby spinach, artichokes, and cheddar cheese. Stir to combine then add salt and black pepper according to your taste.
- Then transfer to a prepared casserole dish.
- In a small bowl, stir together the panko, melted butter, garlic powder, and fresh parsley. Sprinkle the panko topping over the casserole.
- Lastly, bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the pasta is hot and bubbly and the topping is golden-brown. Enjoy!
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- 12 oz. small dry pasta such as shells, elbows, mini penne or ditalini
- 1 c. milk
- ½ c. heavy cream
- 1 8-oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 c. baby spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 8-oz. jar marinated artichokes, roughly chopped
- 1 ½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
- 1 c. panko breadcrumbs
- 2 T. melted butter
- ¼ c. fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 t. garlic powder
- sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven 400°F.
- Lightly grease a 3 qt. casserole dish and set aside.
- While oven is preheating, heat a large pot of lightly salted water over high heat and prepare the pasta according to package directions, cooking 1-2 minutes less than al dente. (Pasta will continue to cook during baking). When pasta is finished cooking, reserve one-half cup of the cooking liquid and set aside. Drain pasta but do not rinse. Return pasta to cooking pot. Add reserved cooking water, milk, heavy cream, and cream cheese. Stir gently until the cream cheese melts.
- Add baby spinach, artichokes, and cheddar cheese. Stir to combine. Add salt and black pepper, to taste.
- Transfer to prepared casserole dish.
- In a small bowl, stir together the panko, melted butter, garlic powder, and fresh parsley. Sprinkle the panko topping over casserole.
- Bake until the pasta is hot and bubbly and the topping is golden-brown, 10-15 minutes. Enjoy!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1192Total Fat: 55gSaturated Fat: 32gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 153mgSodium: 863mgCarbohydrates: 134gFiber: 10gSugar: 12gProtein: 40g
These nutritional calculations might not be accurate. Please speak with a licensed nutritionist to assist you.