Harissa macaroni and cheese is spicy, creamy, and worth every bite of indulgence!
spicy harissa macaroni and cheese

This time of year makes no sense.

On the one hand: New Year’s! Diets! Health! Resolutions!

On the other hand: IT’S “FEELS LIKE -5 DEGREES OUTSIDE”.

See. Mixed signals.


Also, we are knee-deep in football playoffs and I think we all know I can’t possibly sit through two games in one weekend without some kind of cheese bribery.

I mean, that’s a given.


Besides, I like to think that what this lacks in nutritional value, it makes up for in FLAVOR.

Three cheeses + a large and in charge volume of harissa. You just can’t go wrong.


And wasn’t it Dr. Oz who claimed that spicy foods increase your metabolism?

Well if he said it, then it must be true probably doesn’t have an ounce of basis of reality, but we can dream, baby. We can dream.


I actually made the unfortunate life mistake of eating totally mediocre mac and cheese recently.

It was wrong on so many levels, but mainly because I always feel like if you’re going to indulge, it had better be WORTH IT.

Macaroni that might have been covered in cheese, but could also have been covered in glue because THAT’S HOW FLAVORLESS IT WAS?

Not worth it. Ever.

Though, to be fair, I also think that salads that taste like leafy cardboard are not worth it either, no matter how nutritionally dense they are. I’m an equal opportunist that way.


My point is, eat every calorie like it’s your last, whether you’re noshing on kale or ALL THE CHEESE.

And for real get this pan of cheesiness into your life ASAP. You know you want to.


Spicy Harissa Macaroni and Cheese
Harissa macaroni and cheese is spicy, creamy, and worth every bite of indulgence!
Yield: 6 servings
  • 1 lb macaroni
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 3-4 tbsp harissa
  • 6 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2¼ cups vegetable broth
  • 3½ cups whole milk
  • 8 oz colby jack cheese, grated
  • 8 oz gruyere, grated
  • 8 oz extra sharp cheddar, grated
  • black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
  1. Heat oven to 400F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta in the boiling water for 5 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, mustard, and harissa and saute for a minutes, or until fragrant.
  3. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute or until golden. Slowly whisk in the vegetable broth and whole milk. Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the cheeses until melted and incorporated. Season to taste with black pepper.
  4. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. Pour the pasta into the pan and then top with the cheese sauce. Stir to combine. Top with the bread crumbs.
  5. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and bread crumbs are browned. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
An Eats Well With Others Original
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bowl


More mac and cheese!

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Buffalo Cheddar Mac and Cheese with Garlic Croutons

macaroni and goat cheese with roasted red peppers

Macaroni and Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Peppers

spicy chard mac n cheese bites

Spicy Chard Mac and Cheese Bites

From Around the Web:

Artichoke and Spinach Macaroni and Cheese from Ruffles and Truffles

Broccoli Cheddar Mac and Cheese from Simply Recipes

Baked Macaroni and Cheese from Leite’s Culinaria

Slow Cooker Three Cheese Macaroni and Cheese from Fake Ginger

Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Sliders from Climbing Grier Mountain


spicy harissa macaroni and cheese
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64 Responses to Spicy Harissa Macaroni and Cheese

  1. totally a mixed signal and there is nothing cheese cant fix. i think you are on a right direction 🙂

  2. Disappointing mac & cheese is the worst – so much anticipation and then let down. This, however, looks glorious.

  3. omg, this mac n cheese looks SO worth it

  4. Mixed signals, indeed! This looks delish and strikes to the core of my cheese loving heart.

  5. This would be so warm and comforting on this chilly (I mean, freeeeeeezing) New England day! Looks fantastic.
    My parents are visiting the Cabot cheese factory in VT today, ironically!

  6. Julia says:

    I love this! I have a half-used jar of harissa paste in the cupboard that I’ve been trying to find a use for and, coupled with my recent craving for mac and cheese, this is perfect!

  7. I definitely agree – there’s no room in life for lackluster indulgences. or lackluster salads. This mac and cheese looks insane. Plus spicy mac is my jam.

  8. Meg says:

    Harissa is unfamiliar to me, but it sounds like I need some in my life this second. This looks awesome! Anything spicy and salty is totally making Pregnant Me happy, and my husband is a mac-and-cheese addict . . . two birds, one stone!

  9. It’s so hard to eat light and healthy when it’s so darn cold out. I crave comfort food. This mac and cheese is the most perfect choice. I looks wonderful, Joanne!

  10. Lynn says:

    I’d like to sit that whole casserole dish in front of me and just dig in. Looks SO good!

    That’s one of the things that annoys me the most about January – all the fitness, diet center, resolution stuff. Every year the same thing.

  11. There is sooooo much epic yumminess to this… I. Can’t. Even…

    If Dr Oz recommended mac and cheese like this more often for my sanity, rather than kookie supplements for my health… I’d probably believe him, ya know?

  12. Julia says:

    Oh heck yeah. mediocre mac n cheese is so disappointing because you’re expecting the experience to boggle your mind, and when it doesn’t: womp woooomp. A disappointing salad is no biggity big, but less-than-stellar mac is just heart breaking. Harissa and gruyere in my mac n cheese? Ugh! Bangarang! I want to faceplant into that big casserole dish!

  13. I am hating the cold right now!! WAH! I just want to stay inside all day long…with this macaroni. Amazing idea to put harissa in it!

  14. Jordan says:

    “This time of year makes no sense. On the one hand: New Year’s! Diets! Health! Resolutions! On the other hand: IT’S “FEELS LIKE -5 DEGREES OUTSIDE”.” YESSS. My thoughts exactly lately! I know I should be eating something light and fresh but I really just want to face plant in a mac and cheese like this one. Cheesy AND spicy? Yes please!

  15. elly says:

    Uhh yeah. This looks pretty amazing. The harissa and that crunchy topping? Yes, please.

  16. Susan says:

    There is nothing more inviting that a dish of mac n cheese! I love your grown up version!

  17. Heather says:

    I will never be able to even attempt going paleo, mostly because I can’t imagine a world without mac ‘n cheese. YUM!

  18. You see, that is why I don’t believe in starting a diet in January. You are setting yourself up for failure no matter how you look at it. Just let yourself continue eating spicy, cheesy deliciousness and maaaaaaybe think about that salad at the end of winter at least. Life is too short to deny yourself a nice bowl of harissa cheesy deliciousness.

  19. I have never had harissa, but I know a little of how it tastes and I can just imagine how amaze balls this is! Like OMG I should do a thai inspired one too!.

  20. Yes!!!!! I absolutely want to!!!!! <3 I am LOVING the Harissa flavoring in this Mac n Cheese! And as far as Jan's concerned, I think we should definitely consider the fact that it's freezing outside!!!! (We can always get back to healthy once Winter's over! ) hahahaha!!!!! Pinning ! 😀

  21. Mira says:

    Love mac and cheese, never tried it with harissa, but these look absolutely scrumptious! Will try them for sure!

  22. You can’t post mac and cheese and expect me not to get hungry lol. I am so hungry right now though. Amazing dish

  23. Stefanie says:

    Yes!!! Creamy cheesy things pair well with spice! And I totally believe you that spicy stuff boosts your metabolism. Gunna need that boost and a side of kale with this guy! Amazing!

  24. Joanne, you have a way of making me hungry every. time. I come to your blog! Macaroni and cheese is often on the bland side for me; I love the idea of kicking it up with harissa!

  25. Kathleen says:

    Oh I am so trying this! My kind of mac n cheese!

  26. Omg, I so agree. I need this in my life!!

  27. HARISSA! Such an amazing flavor that I do NOT use nearly enough. I’ve never tried pairing it with cheese but I’ll bet it’s delicious!

  28. Yum. I need this right now. I tell myself I should make salad since I have 2 free hands for all the chopping but then it is 20-degrees out so I just want grilled cheese!

  29. yay harissa! i love the sound of it in a cheesy dish…..mmmm!

  30. Zainab says:

    Eat every calorie like it’s your last <— WORD!!

  31. I concur. January is just a hot mess. Pass me a bowl of this. STAT.

  32. Pam says:

    It looks delicious and perfect for this cold weather. Bet there’s a kick to it with the harissa. Good recipe!

  33. Emma says:

    You are like, an evil genius. Harissa MAC AND CHEESE?! Ah-mazing.

  34. I speak the truth and nothing but the truth. While I was reading this post, my boy who’s sick and stayed home didn’t eat a thing from morning. He said he wasn’t hungry. He sees the picture, that too with harissa, he wanted to eat it right away. I’m glad I have some harissa from recipe testing and I will be making it for him asap.

  35. Eileen says:

    Yes, please! Mac & cheese has to be one of the prime comfort dishes to eat all winter long. Spicing it up with harissa is a perfect plan!

  36. I can’t even begin to express my heart felt feelings about mac and cheese. It might be my ultimate comfort food. I like spicy and I like how you did the crumbs on top. The photos totally captured
    my taste buds’ attention.

  37. Teffy says:

    I have a love affair with harissa. I just love the stuff, and slather it on anything and everything I can. For some reason though, I’ve never tried it on pasta!
    That has got to change, and it shall very soon!

    {Teffy’s Perks} X

  38. Amanda says:

    This is rockin’ my world, what a great idea!!!

  39. Cailee says:

    YUM!!! This looks so amazing!!! I Love it! 🙂 And I hear ya on the mixed signals!! haha… I love balance this time of year! We need a little comfort food on these chilly days!

  40. Merryn says:

    I love the addition of harissa and garlic with 3 cheese thise is sensational. Lots of flavour as I agree some mac and cheese dishes are very bland.

  41. Oh, I do love the addition of harissa to this dish – Joanne – it is one of my favourite spice mixes.

  42. Gaaahhh I love mac and cheese, especially spicy mac and cheese! This is perfection.

  43. Spicy mac and cheese sounds like a winner Joanne 🙂

  44. Kelly says:

    It’s so cold here and I need all the comfort food I can get. Love this spicy mac & cheese!

  45. Kathryn says:

    Whoa…this sounds so good! I’m always looking for a way to spice up macaroni cheese and this absolutely ideal!

  46. SUCH mixed signals! The weather is telling me to bulk up because it’s frigid outside and I don’t want to die. So eat more, right? But New Year’s Resolutions! Ugh, the agony.
    Meanwhile, my sister and I didn’t end up journeying down to NYC a few weeks ago, ergo I didn’t reach out. I will for sure let you know next time I make it down there!

  47. Erika says:

    Oh my goodness girl! This is calling my name.

  48. I’ve been wanting to make harissa mac and cheese for evvvvver. Now you’ve convinced me to make that day to-day! Perfect comfort food for this devilish weather we’ve been having. Miss you!!! xo

  49. Harissa in mac and cheese – now that’s one way I would eat mac and cheese!

  50. I’ve still never made or used harissa…but i need to try! I wish I wasn’t off of dairy right now because you’ve got me majorly craving some mac and cheese 🙁

  51. Reeni says:

    I’m loving all things spicy and comforting lately! This looks super cheesy and crazy delicious. Pass me a big bowl please!

  52. Chris says:

    I’d dive right into that mac and cheese! I’d really like to bread it and deep fry it…..that’s healthy right? 😉

  53. Spicy macaroni is such a great idea, I would dive in headfirst 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  54. grace says:

    i like a little kick to my mac and cheese–while i like my desserts richer than rich, iv’e found that cheesy stuff needs something to cut through to satisfy me. great recipe!

  55. Cheyanne says:

    Spicy Harissa + Mac n cheese?? OMG, Drooling all over my keyboard. This looks (and sounds) delicious beyond words. I normally put Sriracha on my mac, but harissa? That is a stroke of genius! Totally trying this next time I make a bowl of Mac n Cheese… so like tomorrow. 😉 Thanks for sharing!!

  56. Kate says:

    It’s a great time of year…for mac and cheese.

  57. Joanne, I’m not sure what I’ve been doing with my harissa all this time, but I’m confounded that I’ve never used it in mac and cheese. That changes now.

  58. […] *Harissa Macaroni & Cheese.  Sorry, I’ll be right back, guys, I need to go make this. […]

  59. Lisa says:

    Guess what’s in the oven as I type this? Yep! This recipe! I am so excited to try it as I have never had Harissa. And I love mac-n-cheese. I tested the cheese sauce before I put it on the macaroni and I’m pretty sure Harissa is going to be one of my new favorites! Thanks for sharing.

  60. Johanna GGG says:

    This recipe makes me sad – I am torn between wanting to make it to use up harissa and pep up my macaroni cheese and to make something a 5 year old will eat (which is why the harissa in the fridge doesn’t get used much! It does look wonderful

  61. […] I’m always in pursuit of the next best recipe and I have a sneaking suspicion this recipe from Eats Well With Others could be it! I have never put Harissa in anything. Actually I had never heard of it until recently […]

  62. […] Spicy Harissa Macaroni and Cheese from Eats Well with Others […]

  63. […] Spicy Harissa Macaroni and Cheese from Eats Well with Others […]

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