Roasted poblano peppers, green chiles, and Mexican cheeses star in this stovetop white mac and cheese! Super creamy with delicious, smokey flavor. Recipe includes directions to make this a gluten-free macaroni and cheese if desired.
I hope you’re ready to fall in love with mac and cheese are all over again.
One bite of this uber creamy, chile relleno mac and cheese, and my heart was a fluttering.
Chile relleno is a delicious Mexican dish where roasted poblano peppers are stuffed with cheese (typically Chihuahua® Cheese and queso fresco) and often meat, then coated in masa and fried. And macaroni and cheese, well you probably know this good as gold, American classic well.
Craving comfort, I took elements from each dish to create this cheesy, flavorful recipe. The smooth sauce coats each and every noodle. And it’s simple to make, and made with wholesome, real ingredients, just like many of my gluten-free dinner recipes.
Main Ingredients for White Mac & Cheese
Shredded Chihuahua Cheese is a melting cheese that you’ve probably come across if you’ve had queso fundido. It makes for some seriously luxurious stretch and pull action, which is exactly what I want in my macaroni and cheese. It’s flavor profile is rich, buttery, and mild. Made in the authentic style of Central Mexico, from 100% whole milk, nothing artificial.
Queso Fresco is a crumbling cheese that is such a great topping as it adds additional texture, and saltiness. Soft body, easy to crumble, and softens with heat, but does not melt. I love using it on top of salads too! Made from 100% whole milk, from Midwestern farms.
Gluten-free (which I used) or regular macaroni noodles
Poblano peppers have some heat, but are relatively mild in the land of peppers. Roasting them is key to getting the most flavor out of them to create a rich, complex flavor that raw poblanos can’t match.
Diced green chiles are a pantry staple that supply another element of Mexican flavor.
This recipe is bechamel style macaroni and cheese, so you’ll make a roux first, then add milk + a touch of cream, then the cheese. It’s a lot easier than the name sounds! If you skip making a roux, the cheese inevitably toughens and the grease breaks free later in the process.
How do I make gluten-free macaroni and cheese?
First off, you’ll use gluten-free elbow macaroni noodles. I prefer the Jovial brand. A roux is typically made with a base of all-purpose flour and butter, but you’ll make this with sweet rice flour (which isn’t sweet, that’s just the name of the rice species) to keep it gluten-free. It is relatively flavorless and an excellent thickener, just like AP flour.
Where do I find Mexican cheeses like Chihuahua and Queso Fresco?
V&V Supremo can be found in many regular grocery stores including Kroger, Walmart, Costco, Jewel, Hy-Vee and more! Just look for brightly colored packaging. You can also use their store locator to check your area ahead of time. I’ve seen both of these cheeses at Aldi too.
1/4cupsweet rice flour (or regular all-purpose flour if you do not need this to be gluten-free)
2 1/4cupswhole or 2% milk
1teaspoonfine sea salt,divided
1teaspoonred pepper flakes
8ouncesV&V Supremo Chihuahua Cheese
1(4 ounce) can mild diced green chiles
3ouncesV&V Supremo Queso Frescocrumbled
Prevent your screen from going dark
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place poblano peppers on a sheet pan and roast for 45 minutes, until charred and brown. Remove from oven and put the peppers into a brown bag to steam. After 10 minutes, remove and peel skin off the peppers, and discard seeds and skin. Dice peppers. (You can do this two days ahead of time.)
In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, then add sweet rice flour. Stir constantly for one minute, to cook the flour. Add milk and cream, stirring. Bring to a light simmer, and cook for 8-10 minutes, until liquid is thickened to the consistency of heavy cream. Add cumin,1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic powder, red pepper flakes.
Remove from heat and add 1/2 of Chihuahua cheese, stirring in figure 8’s to melt. Then add remaining amount and repeat.
While sauce is cooking, bring a large of water to a boil with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook macaroni according to directions. Drain when al dente.
Put drained noodles back into their large pot, and add cheese sauce, diced green chiles, and diced poblanos. Stir until completely coated. Top with crumbled queso and extra red pepper flakes. Serve.
Leftovers will stay good for 3 days in refrigerator.