Mac and cheese meets pasta salad in this zesty macaroni and cheese filled with Tex Mex flavors and bell pepper crunch!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by alli®. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more great recipes visit
Zesty Macaroni and Cheese

Can we all just agree that mac and cheese nights are absolutely, without a doubt the best nights?

Zesty Macaroni and Cheese

I think happy thoughts every day that somebody somewhere will find a way to make a crazy indulgent mac and cheese that is actually calorie free so I can eat it on a daily basis without my thighs hating me….but until then, allow me to introduce you to this Zesty Macaroni and Cheese!!!!!

AKA – the next best thing.

This is basically what would happen if mac and cheese and pasta salad had a love child. FYI.

Zesty Macaroni and Cheese

Cute little elbows are tossed with a sour cream-salsa sauce that somehow manages to be both creamy and fresh in every bite. A rainbow of bell pepper cubes are mixed in for crunch, while grated cheddar cheese makes it just the right bit of indulgent. Personally, I added the cheese while the pasta was still hot so that it could get all melty-like, but you could also veer further down the pasta salad path and allow it all to come to room temperature before mixing.

Party in your mouth with every bite?! Um, yes.

Zesty Macaroni and Cheese

Basically, I’m seeing an excess of mac and cheese nights in our future.

And I’m really liking it.

Zesty Macaroni and Cheese
Mac and cheese meets pasta salad in this zesty macaroni and cheese filled with Tex Mex flavors and bell pepper crunch!
Yield: 4 servings
  • 6 oz uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 fresh lime
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 3 tbsp fat free sour cream
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 medium green bell pepper
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 4 oz low fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup green onions, chopped
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again.
  2. While pasta is cooking, wash and grate the peel from the lime, then squeeze out 2 tablespoons of the juice; reserve.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the grated lime peel (zest), reserved lime juice, cilantro (washed and chopped), salsa, sour cream, oil, cumin and black pepper.
  4. Wash and dice bell peppers. Shred the cheese. Wash and chop the onions. Add the pasta, bell pepper, cheese and onions to the dressing, and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Recipe from alli®
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ of recipe Calories: 287.2 Fat: 5.4 Saturated fat: 1.4 Carbohydrates: 41.8 Sugar: 5.7 Sodium: 325.7 Fiber: 4.6 Protein: 18.1


Zesty Macaroni and Cheese

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19 Responses to Zesty Macaroni and Cheese

  1. Love this recipe, Joanne! In fact, love it so much that I just printed it off at work and will make it tonight. Thanks x

  2. Tina says:

    Great idea and yeah, it’s a love child of pasta salad & my beloved Mac and cheese! The peppers give a good crunch and they are just so darned pretty!

    Hope your sweet babe loves this too ??? Hello to Remy

  3. Katrina says:

    Holy delicious!! Sour cream AND cheese?! Love it.

  4. Sues says:

    It’s so gross and gloomy here in Boston, so this has been pinned and will be made in the very near future!

    Hope you’re doing fabulous!!

  5. How are you blogging with a newborn?! Hats off to you, mama! Hope you and your family are doing great 🙂 🙂
    PS – this looks delish, of course!

  6. SallyBR says:

    Cannot pay full attention to the recipe, even if it’s delish!

    Hope the whole family is doing awesome!

  7. This mac looks amazing! The cilantro, salsa, and sour cream are perfect additions 🙂 Pinning!

  8. Kate says:

    I’m not a fan of the typical, mayonnaisey pasta salad. A mac and cheese version I can definitely support

  9. Gosh, much as I love it, I can’t actually remember the last time I made mac and cheese. I think I just might have to give this version a try before the last of the autumn peppers are all gone.
    Congratulations by the way on the arrival of your gorgeous baby girl – she is just adorable. Lots of health and happiness to you all

  10. Elizabeth says:

    I’m with you. I’d be happy if every night was Mac and cheese night! Your pepper filled mac and cheese sounds wonderful. (I like putting green peas, mushrooms, onion and pimentoed olives into mac and cheese. I also like to mix things up by using rotini instead of macaroni….)

  11. I love mac and cheese in all forms. Now craving Tex-Mex food. Have a great weekend!

  12. That looks perfect for taking to cookouts this summer!

  13. I’m not the biggest pasta salad fan, buuuut mac and cheese is something I can 100% get onboard with. Loving this!

  14. Love it! I think every night should be mac and cheese night!

  15. Christina says:

    Love it! And I was just craving mac n cheese too… 🙂

  16. Johanna GGG says:

    looks so good – of course I would add the cheese to the pasta when hot – nothing like pasta and melty cheese and with all the veg it can feel quite healthy

  17. Sonia says:

    Nice twist on a classic. Looks delicious!

  18. Erin says:

    How does the cheese get all melted? Or does it not melt?

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